Thursday, July 13, 2006

Perception vs. Reality

Yesterday's USA Today print edition had an online survey on what industries the survey participants felt needed to be more strictly regulated by the government. The results were not surprising. Topping the list was the oil industry, followed by the pharmaceutical industry, HMO's and other healthcare providers.

Hmmmmm .... Very odd that the industries most in need of regulation are the ones in which consumers are the most upset about the prices they are paying.

This segways nicely into the recent news of disaster at the Big Dig in Boston.

For some reason the construction industry wasn't on the USA Today list. Not that the construction industry has a terrible record overall when it comes to safety, but isn't the lack of concern for safety in the construction of a tunnel far more disconcerting than any of the supposed abuses of the pharmaceutical industry, the oil industry, or anyone else mentioned in the USA Today poll. Not that I mean to bash the construction industry, but the lonely libertarian can think of any number of construction projects that went over budget, took longer than expected, and wasted a hell of a lot of money. Construction at my high school and my college comes to mind. The problem with construction is that the public at large doesn't really feel the brunt of construction costs. Unlike the other industries mentioned above, construction costs are paid out primarily through government entities and corporations- the public only experiences these costs indirectly.

My point, as always, is that public perception of big business is not always reality- in fact, public perception is usually based on the most superficial of observations.


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