Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Here's another example of how my opinions are different than most people's in many ways.

I have a negative view of the restaurant and agriculture industries.  Restaurants are typically a waste of money, serving food that is loaded with empty calories and little nutrition.  The agriculture lobby is responsible for horrible public policy that wastes loads of taxpayer money while raising obesity rates in our country and causing much pain and suffering for poor people on other countries.

I don't really like the retail industry, except for the parts of it, like Wal-Mart, that deliver needed goods efficiently.  A lot of stores exist to get people to waste money on luxuries in search of social status.

I don't like the sports or film industries either.  I recognize, intellectually, that there is nothing wrong with them, that they are providing a service people want, but to my way of thinking it is a massive waste of money, and that people's time would be much better spent reading books or furthering their education.

I don't see anything wrong with the airline industry.  They don't create the demand for travel, they just serve it as best they can.  People are constantly complaining about bad service, but if they really cared about service they would fly first class or otherwise base their purchasing decisions on something other than price.  Yes, it used to be much more pleasant to fly.  It also used to be a lot more expensive.  You get what you pay for.

I don't have much of a problem with drug companies.  Yes, there is some unethical behavior, but they have been responsible for a lot of good things.  I dislike the attitude of people who want to fix all of their problems with pills rather than changing their behavior, and maybe drug company advertising is responsible for that, but in general the drug companies have caused a vast improvement in health and longevity, while being much cheaper than things like surgery or hospital stays.

Ditto banking companies.  Very few people realize how useful it is to have a good financial system.  When it was working properly, it brought vast amounts of wealth into this country.  The recent mess, while it should have been avoided, is a relatively small price to pay for a long history of economic growth.

And finally, oil and gas companies.  Why on earth would anybody dislike them?  It makes no sense.  They are doing their best to provide us with a resource that we really need.  Any ecological damage they cause is insignificant compared to habitat loss due to farming and development.  Yes, they can cause problems when they work in places where you can bribe and corrupt local officials.  But if we weren't getting our gas from them, we would be getting it from the even worse, and more wasteful, operations of petro-states.

One vague trend I notice is that the population surveyed seems to like the providers of unnecessary luxuries, while hating people who provide necessities.  That seems backwards to me, but I understand it.  People feel entitled to certain things, and they get upset when their expectations are not met.  But when it comes to optional purchases, they only buy what they like and they end up with mainly positive experiences.

I am much more willing to cut people some slack when they are doing work that needs to be done, while I am more critical of anyone that works on optional luxuries.  The former are meeting demands that already exist, while the latter are usually in the business of artificially generating demand for their stuff.


e said...

in the case of agriculture being one of the lone 'necessities' getting approval, could it be a rose-colored view of the pastoral (and overlooking of the lobbies) that gets people's approval?

Richard Bruns said...

I'm not sure why people like agriculture. Maybe some combination of history, culture, and advertising.

But I will point out that, for most people, food is more like a luxury than a necessity. Compare how much they do spend on food, compared to how much is needed for basic nutrition.