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No Freedom without RegulationThe Hidden Lesson of the Subprime Crisis$
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Joseph William Singer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300211672

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300211672.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 11 August 2020

Why Consumer Protection Promotes the Free Market

Why Consumer Protection Promotes the Free Market

Chapter:
(p.58) 3 Why Consumer Protection Promotes the Free Market
Source:
No Freedom without Regulation
Author(s):

Joseph William Singer

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300211672.003.0003

Chapter 3 explains why, far from interfering with free markets, consumer protection laws are an essential foundation to economic transactions and to economic liberty. Fraudulent, unfair, or deceptive practices undermine confidence in markets; they discourage participation in market transactions and undermine the economy. Moreover, when they take the customer's property on false or misleading pretenses, they constitute a form of theft, undermining property rights and personal dignity. Consumer protection regulations do not interfere with our liberty or paternalistically deprive us of choices. Nor do they inhibit "free markets.” Rather, they ensure that we get what we want when we enter the market and they free us from the fear that businesses will take advantage of us. Markets are supposed to serve our interests by allowing us to act on our preferences so that we can get what we want. But one thing we want are laws that protect our justified expectations when we enter those market relationships. We want not only the freedom to choose the terms of our contracts but freedom from the fear of being cheated or injured by those with whom we make deals. For that reason, conservatives, as much as liberals, should favor strong consumer protection laws. Rather than limiting freedom of contract, those laws promote it; rather than infringing on the property rights of business owners, they protect the property rights of consumers. Indeed, rather than interfering with the free market, consumer protection laws enable it to work.

Keywords:   markets, free markets, consumers, consumer protection, law, regulation, minimum standards, property, justified expectations, expectations, cheat, dignity, fraud, deception, deceptive, fair

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