I’m staying in a hotel tonight. Not because I had planned to but because an airline screwed up and I missed the last flight. I spoke with many airline employees today, and almost all were both rude and incompetent.
Ferdinand Bardimu likes to rip on LIEbertarians, as he calls them. I was a libertarian as a lad, then a conservative, and now I’m just a sick, evil fascist. Libertarianism is one of those isms that sounds good when you are young and naive. But whatever the ism is, you find the world doesn’t work that way.
A free-market economy, we are assured, will produce many companies eagerly competing for your business, providing a plethora of high-quality, low-cost goods and services. Many years ago, “customer service” was not a joke. If you had a problem with something, you could usually with a little effort find someone who would help you out with it. Companies competed to provide good customer service- I was actually a customer service manager and paid a pitiful wage to listen to people vent and try to calm them down.
That goes back to the 80’s though and since the fall of communism, the quality of goods and services has declined as a whole. Back then there were liberals, who were for the government, and conservatives who were for business. Businesses felt compelled to prove they were not evil and did not need to be more regulated. But with Clinton liberals decided to be pro-business. They appealed to their constituents on social issues or providing them jobs but not on taxing or regulating business.
What happened was businesses, not fearing a negative reaction, decided not to provide service. I don’t know the economic theory, but the empirical evidence is that unrestrained capitalism produces oligopolies that produce low- to moderate-quality products or services at low to moderate prices- the emphasis being on the low.
The quality of something is related to both how well it normally works, and how easily it can be fixed if it doesn’t work. Software is a prime example. It is just accepted that software will not work a lot of the time. People can live with this because rebooting takes care of most problems. A car that runs great 98% of the time but is very hard to fix when it breaks might be less useful than a car that is not so great 90% of the time but is easy to fix.
All services- I’m thinking of airlines, cell phone services, and banks in particular- run on the same principle. They work OK usually. But if something goes wrong, you can’t get any help from anyone. You can call somebody, but rather than actual help solving the problem you get first, a defensive response- they aren’t responsible. They lecture you for being dissatisfied, and either offer a non-solution or try to transfer you to somebody else. The customer is always wrong.
The late capitalist company is in some ways much like a communist enterprise. There is no meaningful competition. Managers are idiots selected for their loyalty, and constantly coming up with stupid ideas to improve things that waste everybody’s time. Many employees are there to monitor and maintain political conformity. It’s more efficient and the product is better, but the product is not good.