Sunday, January 13, 2008

An Interesting Example "Gotcha Capitalism"

An Interesting Example

This morning I listened to Terry Gross's NPR show Fresh Air and she interviewed the author of the book, Cheats Fees and Gotcha Capitalism by Bob Sullivan .

Here is a link to that episode of Fresh Air.

Mr Sullivan is also a columnist on MSNBC's "The Red Tape Chronicles" which specializes in internet scams and consumer fraud. Here is the link on Amazon.COM to the book Cheats, Fees and Gotcha Capitalism

Everyone runs into this sort of thing all the time. We understand Internet scams and Consumer fraud but what Mr. Sullivan talks about are 'legal' scams and fraud that are built into our market economy.

The long and short of it is that we must maintain constant villigence or the folks we do business will 'nickle-and-dime' us to death.

This also confirms some behaviors that I beleive govern how complex systems evolve. That is, they, the complex systems, always evolve into monocultures which naturally cause the emergence of opportunistic strategies that compromise the monoculture. Why this happens is connected with game theory and optimal strategies.

The reaction of the monoculture to the opportunistic strategy causes it to evolve and become more robust (it could also go extinct).

In the case of hidden fees imposed on the population by Banks, Merchants, and Credit Card Companies the 'reaction' that makes the culture more robust is driven by the Federal Trade Commission. Interestingly enough the FTC manpower has decreased by almost 1/2 since 1979. Mr Sullivan, in the interview, gave the connection to the FTC and its changes.

This does not bode well, and is at a fundamental level why folks should, in their own self interest support candidates like John Edwards and other liberal, progressive candidates.

This is not to say that Democrats are totally immune to the lobbying of industry who are quite happy for the FTC to be way overworked and understaffed but they, the progressives, are light years ahead of their Republican colleagues in being sensitive to such issues.