(Some) Economic Rights of the Individual

Original source: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-business/chapter/consumer-rights/

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*Right to Safety

The assertion of this right is aimed at the defense of consumers against injuries caused by products other than automobile vehicles, and implies that products should cause no harm to their users if such use is executed as prescribed. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has jurisdiction over thousands of commercial products, and powers that allow it to establish performance standards, require product testing and warning labels, demand immediate notification of defective products, and, when necessary, force product recall.

     Caveat: Add short-term and long-term dimensions to the measurement of safety. It is not enough that the good or service being provided is safe within the boundaries of manufacturer/supplier-specifications. Rather, the good or service in question must not have any harmful effects, even if they are secondary or tertiary in severity/nature. 

     Caveat II: Add that companies or businesses with repeated occurrences of producing/selling/supplying faulty and/or harmful products or services to consumers should be severely penalized financially. The goal is to hasten the bankruptcy (or modification of operational behavior) of these problematic companies and businesses. 

*Right to Be Informed

This right states that businesses should always provide consumers with enough appropriate information to make intelligent and informed product choices. Product information provided by a business should always be complete and truthful. This right aims to achieve protection against misleading information in the areas of financing, advertising, labeling, and packaging.

     Observation: this is a minimalist or deflationary threshold for the business or company’s obligation to provide information.

     Opinion: this is be far more stringently stated. It is inadequate as is. Businesses should provide as comprehensive of information as possible on a website and via phone line (that customers call in to) that pertains to their good/service. The website can be simplistic, such as a large publicly searchable database of user-submitted inquiries, so long as the business vets the answers and gives accurate/factual information. 

*Right to Choose

The right to free choice among product offerings states that consumers should have a variety of options provided by different companies from which to choose. The federal government has taken many steps to ensure the availability of a healthy environment open to competition through legislation, including limits on concept ownership through Patent Law, prevention of monopolistic business practices through Anti-Trust Legislation, and the outlaw of price cutting and gouging.

     Opinion: there should be a governmental option provided for as many goods and services as appropriate, but it will be simplistic and minimalistic. Not necessarily cheap (in quality), but certainly lacking aesthetic complexity and most likely cheaper (in price) than other options on the market.

*Right to Be Heard

This right asserts the ability of consumers to voice complaints and concerns about a product in order to have the issue handled efficiently and responsively. While no federal agency is tasked with the specific duty of providing a forum for this interaction between consumer and producer, certain outlets exist to aid consumers if difficulty occurs in communication with an aggrieving party. State and federal attorney generals are equipped to aid their constituents in dealing with parties who have provided a product or service in a manner unsatisfactory to the consumer in violation of an applicable law.

     Caveat: absolutely NO possibility of forcing a consumer into mediation as a substitute or replacement for the opportunity to seek litigation at a local, state, and/or federal level. 

*Right to Satisfaction of Basic Needs

To have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water, and sanitation.

    Define: adequate food as nutritionally sound and varied. That is to say, not sodium-concentrated ramen noodles and Kool-Aid mixed with 8 sugar packets. The food has to be nutritious from a general standpoint (i.e. barring allergies, health conditions, etc.) and contain a bare minimum of variety (i.e. no forcing someone to eat the same kind of beans day in and day out).

     For clothing, it has to be of a durable material and not an inferior quality (i.e. not clothes made of unacceptable scraps).

     For shelter, it has to be a home capable of withstanding the elements of their particular neighborhood and has to provide a bare minimum of comfort beyond pure functionality.

     For health care, it should be government-funded medical care for all citizens (with a fair and just process for non-citizens to become citizens and a separate fund to take care of non-citizens.

     For education, it should be a secular education based on the acquisition and expansion of competencies that emphasizes both critical thinking and creativity.

     For public utilities, utility bills should be calculated on reasonable usage rather than pure usage.

*The Right to Redress

To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.

    Consolidate: find a way to combine this right with the right to be heard. Perhaps, the right to ‘expression’? Or the right to publicly review?

*Right to Consumer Education

To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.

*Right to a Healthy Environment

To live and work in an environment which is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.

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