Let the Consumer Beware
This is the claim supporters of liberal free market repeat: businesses should seek to maximize profits, and if the product or service they provide has some undesired characteristics… Well, that is a problem for the market to deal with.
The assumption is that consumers are intelligent and knowledgeable, that they can make good decisions, that they will reject poor and harmful products, and that companies selling undesirable products will go out of business.
I have recently encountered an example proving this assumption glaringly wrong.
I am at a hospital. (To avoid getting into trouble, I will not mention its name.)
In the center of the lobby, where the traffic of sick people filters in, there is a Krispy Kreme donut shop.
Donuts sold in a hospital????
Donuts are flour deep-fried in oil and covered with sugar. Wouldn’t any nutritionist say no, no, no?
And yet, the donuts are selling quickly. There is a line, and the shop is clearly doing very good business…in a hospital. In a hospital!
Why are the customers not more selective? They know better.
Take me for example. Do I know better?
Yes, I do.
Did I eat some donuts?
Yes, I did.
Because I have no willpower. That’s it.
If the people in that hospital could take better care of themselves, many of them would not be there in the first place.
No, the consumer is not strong enough to beware and make healthy choices. We need the government to help by forbidding what is unhealthy.
I am going back to that hospital—God, help me to look the other way as I pass by that death bin.
Dr Ichak Kalderon Adizes
Founder and CEO, Adizes Institute Worldwide