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A Letter to a Politician

Here’s one of the few letters that I’ve ever sent to a politician:

16 September 2008

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC

Dear Sen. Nelson:

friend forwarded to me a mass-email that you recently sent to your
Florida constituents.  In it, you brag about introducing legislation –
the "Prepaid Calling Card Consumer Protection Act of 2008" – to
"protect" consumers from what you allege to be harmful practices by
merchants who sell telephone calling cards.

You identify, as a chief justification for this government intervention, "low barriers to enter the market."  How curious.

entry barriers means that competition is especially robust.  It means
that merchants who cheat consumers, or who simply don’t offer the best
deals possible, will quickly lose customers to rivals who treat
consumers better.  The only way such competition will fail to work
under such circumstances is if the vast majority of consumers in this
market are utter imbeciles, unable to detect when they’re getting
ripped off or too witless to switch to competing suppliers.

by introducing this bill, you show that you obviously regard most Americans to be
utter imbeciles, you surely cannot fancy that your election to the
Senate is the result of a wise, or even defensible, judgment by Florida
voters.  These people, after all, are among those whom you regard as
incapable of sensibly choosing among competing telephone calling-cards.

you’re correct about the (lack of) intelligence of ordinary Americans,
then you and other members of Congress owe your political success only
to what you, as revealed by your words and actions, believe to be the
intractable stupidity of your fellow citizens – which prompts me to
ask: Why should anyone take you seriously?

Donald J. Boudreaux


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