John Singleton, “The great consumer protection trick,” Nation Review, May 28-June 3, 1976, p. 802. An earlier version titled, “The consumer protection confidence trick,” was published over two issues of Advertising News: October 3, 1975, pp. 6-7; and October 17, 1975, pp. 8-9. Also in John Singleton, True Confessions (Stanmore: Cassell Australia, 1979), pp. 68-73, as “And Now Announcing Consumer Protection”.

Business in Australia today is, as usual, allowing itself to lie down and be raped by government intervention without even a whimper of protest. And in the case of the consumer protection legislation, business is even going one step further, and publicly welcoming the legislation which says in effect that business is dishonest, irresponsible and immoral.

Business just doesn’t seem to realise that the consumer protection legislation being administered by the trade practices people, plus the departments of health and media and etc, are really nothing more than a vicious attack on the integrity of everyone concerned in all business, of which advertising is the most public part.

To understand just how real and dangerous the attack is business has to reappraise itself. It has to first look at its own real assets and it will then ascertain that the single most invaluable ingredient to the present and future profitability of any business is its reputation.

Without a reputation for a quality product and honest dealings, all the other assets of any business will inevitably become worthless. When business now accepts and even welcomes the consumer protection legislation, what it is accepting and saying is that all reputations of all businesses are all equal which is blatantly untrue. Reputations are not and never will be equal unless the consumer protection legislators continue to have their way; and then the equality of reputation will be only that each business is equally untrustworthy and irresponsible.

By business accepting this governmental judgement, then it will come to pass that business will only be allowed to operate with the permission and under the control of legislation set up and enforced at the point of a gun by the petty bureaucrats and socialists in Canberra. This means that business today is accepting that its integrity is zero, but on the other hand the integrity of the Canberra bureaucrat is unimpeachable, which is not only naive but grossly misleading, dangerous and self-destructive.

Reputation for a quality product and honest dealings takes business years, generations, to build up — whereas a clean bill of health by some petty government official can be bought through the bribery and corruption which is an inevitable part of all legislation handed over to frail human beings who are granted immense power through big brother legislation.

What I say is not crystal-balling. The destruction of business and its reputation is apparently as much the intention of the Libs as it was of the honest socialists in Canberra.

In the first major speech delivered by Mr Clyde Cameron in his new portfolio as minister for science and consumer affairs at the Indian National Academy in New Delhi on June 16 last year, he said:

My aim will be to use science to assist consumers to combat the efforts of those who seek to exploit them by deception and by the manipulation of prices. I will need greater coordination between government and the forces, between science and technology and, secondly, I will need the constitutional power to control prices. Unless this is done consumer exploitation will continue, prices will sky-rocket and the rate of inflation in Australia will pass the 20 percent ceiling before January next year.

As Minister for Labour, I had the great satisfaction of having presided over the most massive redistribution of income in favour of labour that Australia has ever seen in any one year. It is now my job to see that gain is retained. I must see that it is not filched away by shoddy goods, by misrepresentation or by overcharging.

Working people can be cheated in many ways. One way is to underpay them for the goods they produce and another is to overcharge them for the goods they have to buy. They are usually cheated in both directions at once.

Multinationals have one concern and one concern only and that is to make money. The majority of them are not concerned about serving humanity or of saving the earth and its atmosphere from being poisoned or permanently sterilised.

Multinationals are in pursuit of profits. That’s all. If by chance they discovered a way of helping humanity, then that is merely accidental.

When Mr Clyde Cameron makes these accusations, he is talking about you and everyone else involved in business. When the Libs leave the legislation untouched, they are agreeing with Cameron. They both fail to understand that it is precisely the “greed” of the businessman, his profit-seeking, which is the unexcelled protector of the consumer.

Drug companies can only sell their drugs because of their reputation. The sale of any dangerous product immediately reduces the market value of the drug company.

If there is the slightest doubt as to the trustworthiness of a stockbroker’s word or commitment, he would be out of business overnight. In exactly the same way, would an SP bookmaker be bankrupted if his reputation was in doubt.

The A. V. Jennings reputation for the building of houses in Australia is a far greater guarantee than any amount of building regulation agencies with their weird and wonderful rules and corrupt officials.

The Heinz name on a can of baby food is a greater guarantee of quality than could ever be achieved by some power-lusting official in the department of health. If a doctor is shoddy or is seen falling over drunk on his way to practise, his business will disappear.

When the housewife had to decide whether she would pay a higher price for the friendliness of the corner grocer or a lower price for the cold world of a supermarket, she chose the supermarket.

And who protected the business of the greengrocer?

The real issue is that it takes years of consistently excellent performance to acquire a reputation and to establish it as a financial asset. You only have to imagine the risk any company takes by letting down its standards of quality to realise that in the free market place, competition and profit is the greatest consumer protection of all.

Government regulation is not and will never be an alternative means of protecting the consumer. All it does is contribute to a society of envy and hatred. It sets out to give protection to one human being at the expense of another in the name of equality.

Government’s only contribution to consumer protection is the substitution of force and fear for incentive as a protector of the consumer. At the bottom of every pile of endless paper which characterises all our existing and proposed legislation, lies a gun.

The forced protection drives out the good and natural. It places the reputable company on the same basis as the newcomer and the fly-by-nighter. It declares all business is equally suspect and years of evidence to the contrary does not free a man from years of suspicion. It pretends to grant an automatic guarantee of safety to the products of all business by setting minimum standards without understanding that those minimum standards automatically become maximum standards.

The government “guarantee” undermines the necessity of a good reputation. It tells consumers that no choice or judgement is required and that the record of a business and its years of achievement are irrelevant.

Protection of the consumer by regulation is one of the greatest brainwashing confidence tricks perpetrated by socialist governments throughout the world in this campaign to destroy business and move all power to the state.

“The socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange” is the written objective of the Labor Party. Business does not seem to believe it, but the Libs have changed not one thing. Not even the PJT. And instead of isolating the consumer from the dishonest businessman, government is rapidly and urgently destroying the only reliable protection the consumer has: competition for reputation.

It is an act of expropriation of wealth created by integrity. The value of a business — its wealth — rests on its ability to make money. The act of any government seizing a factory or business or devaluing its reputation are in the same category: both are acts of expropriation. Businessmen are being subjected to government coercion before the commission of any crime. Business is guilty until proven innocent.

If Australia were a free economy, the government would only be permitted to step in when a fraud had been perpetrated or demonstrable damage done to a consumer; in such cases, the only protection required is that of criminal law.

Government regulations don’t eliminate dishonest individuals. They merely make their activities harder to detect or easier to hush up. Reputation is bought in exchange for a bribe.

The possibility of individual dishonesty applies to government employees fully as much as to any other group of men. There is nothing to guarantee the superior judgement, knowledge and integrity of an inspector or a public servant — and the deadly consequences of trusting him with arbitrary power are obvious.

The hallmark of the socialist is his deep-rooted distrust of freedom and the free market process. The socialist advocacy of so-called “consumer protection” exposes the industry to his basic premise most clearly. The Australian consumer protection legislation is doing no more than showing the socialist preferences for force and fear over incentive and reward as a means of human motivation. This confesses the socialist view of man as a mindless animal whose self-interest lies in fly-by-night, quick kills.

The socialist denies the role of individuals in the production process — its confesses the socialist’s inability to grasp the moral values which are the motive power of capitalism and free enterprise.

Capitalism is based on self-interest and as a consequence, self-esteem; capitalism holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the market place. In a free market, business only survives by means of virtues rather than vices.

But business in Australia does not see things in this way. Or if it does, then its cowardice in accepting and paying lip-service to government regulations will result in business destroying itself.

When business accepts consumer protection legislation of any kind, let alone to the degree it does in Australia, it is in effect saying that it is unworthy of any trust and in fact is prepared to pass to government its own future and its own freedom.

These opinions are not just my own.

Those in business who have been brainwashed to the degree where they don’t see the validity of what I have said may find some reassurance in the knowledge that these stated views are also exactly those of Mr Alan Greenspan, who is chairman of president Ford’s economic advisory council in the United States. In the book Capitalism: the unknown ideal, these philosophies are spelled out in full.

Greenspan’s appointment in the US gives that country every chance of reversing its socialist inroads and gives the US the best chance of any country in the world to regain and retain freedom. If Australia is to have a similar opportunity, then it demands that business and all who are involved with it stand up and fight the “consumerists”. It demands that they regain their self-respect and say to the governments of this country that business believes its reputation is held in far greater esteem than that of any petty power-hungry politician.

If business in Australia does not do this and do it urgently, then business in Australia has no future and once the freedom of business is destroyed, then all individual freedoms are destroyed naturally and automatically with it. Business can win and it must win, but first it has to decide whether or not it is even going to fight.

(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  2. Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
  3. Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
  4. Singo and Howard on Compromise
  5. Singo and Howard on Monopolies
  6. Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
  7. Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
  8. Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
  9. Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
  10. Singo and Howard on Drugs!
  11. Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
  12. Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
  13. Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
  14. Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
  15. Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
  16. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  17. John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
  18. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  19. Singo and Howard on Aborigines
  20. Singo and Howard on Conservatism
  21. Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
  22. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  23. John Singleton changes his name
  24. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  25. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  26. Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
  27. Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
  28. Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
  29. Singo and Howard on Rights
  30. Singo and Howard on Crime
  31. Singo and Howard on Justice
  32. Singo and Howard on Unemployment
  33. John Singleton on 1972 cigarette legislation
  34. Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
  35. Holed up, hold-up and holdout
  36. The libertarian alternative vs the socialist status quo
  37. Workers Party Platform
  38. Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
  39. Singo and Howard on Business
  40. Singo and Howard on Discrimination
  41. Singo and Howard on the Greens
  42. Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
  43. Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
  44. Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
  45. Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
  46. Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
  47. Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
  48. The last words of Charles Russell
  49. Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
  50. Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
  51. Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
  52. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  53. "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
  54. Introducing the new Workers' Party
  55. Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
  56. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  57. Voices of frustration
  58. Policies of Workers Party
  59. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  60. AAA Tow Truck Co.
  61. Singo and Howard on Context
  62. Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
  63. Singo and Howard on Apathy
  64. Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
  65. Singo and Howard on Decency
  66. John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
  67. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
  68. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  69. The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
  70. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  71. Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
  72. A Farewell to Armchair Critics
  73. Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
  74. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  75. David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
  76. Bludgers need not apply
  77. New party formed "to slash controls"
  78. The Workers Party
  79. Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
  80. The great consumer protection trick
  81. The "Workers" speak out
  82. How the whores pretend to be nuns
  83. The Workers Party is a Political Party
  84. Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
  85. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  86. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  87. Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
  88. Singo and Howard on Young People
  89. Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
  90. Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
  91. Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
  92. Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
  93. Singo and Howard on Consistency
  94. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  95. Political branch formed
  96. Government seen by new party as evil
  97. Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
  98. Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
  99. Singo and Howard on Licences
  100. Singo and Howard on Gun Control
  101. Singo and Howard on Human Nature
  102. Singo and Howard on Voting
  103. Singo and Howard on
    Inherited Wealth
  104. Singo and Howard on Education
  105. Singo and Howard on Qualifications
  106. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  107. Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
  108. Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
  109. A happy story about Aborigines
  110. John Singleton on Political Advertising
  111. Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
  112. Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
  113. How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
  114. The Discipline of Necessity
  115. John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
  116. Libertarians: Radicals on the right
  117. The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
  118. Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
  119. Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
  120. Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
  121. The impossible dream
  122. Why can't I get away with it?
  123. The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
  124. Time for progress
  125. The loonie right implodes
  126. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  127. John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
  128. Censorship should be banned
  129. "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
  130. John Singleton on Advertising
  131. John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
  132. Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
  133. Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
  134. John Singleton defends ockerism
  135. Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
  136. The Census Con
  137. Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
  138. Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
  139. Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
  140. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  141. John Singleton on elections: "a Massive One-Day Sale!"
  142. John Hyde's Progress Party praise
  143. King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
  144. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  145. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  146. John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
  147. Save Parramatta Road
  148. 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
  149. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  150. Singo and Howard on Unions
  151. Singo and Howard Smash the State
  152. Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
  153. Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
  154. A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
  155. Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
  156. Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
  157. John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
  158. Thoughts on Land Ownership
  159. 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
  160. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  161. The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
  162. The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
  163. Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
  164. The mouse will roar
  165. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  166. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  167. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  168. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  169. Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
  170. Ocker ad genius takes punt on art
  171. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  172. John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
  173. Murray Rothbard championed on Australian television in 1974 (pre-Workers Party!) by Maureen Nathan
  174. John Singleton profile in 1977 Australian MEN Vogue
  175. I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
  176. Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
  177. John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
  178. Singo and Howard on Ballet
  179. Product innovation comes first
  180. Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
  181. A party is born
  182. Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
  183. John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
  184. Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
  185. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  186. John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
  187. Counterculture must exclude government handouts
  188. John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
  189. John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
  190. Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
  191. Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
  192. Maxwell Newton chapter of Clyde Packer's No Return Ticket (1984)
  193. Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
  194. Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
  195. Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
  196. John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
  197. Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
  198. John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
  199. Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
  200. Return Australia Post to Sender
  201. Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
  202. John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
  203. John Singleton on cigarette advertising
  204. Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
  205. John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
  206. John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
  207. Gortlam rides again
  208. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  209. John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
  210. 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
  211. Singo asks two prickly questions
  212. VIOLENCE, TV BAN, DRINK - SINGO SPEAKS HIS MIND
  213. Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
  214. Why John Singleton Defends Smokers Rights
  215. Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
  216. An Ode to Busybodies
  217. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  218. How many tits in a tangle?
  219. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
  220. John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
  221. A speech from the Titanic
  222. A crime must have a victim
  223. John Singleton vs Australia Post
  224. Minimum wages the killer
  225. Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
  226. John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
  227. John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
  228. John Singleton vs Don Lane
  229. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  230. John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
  231. Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
  232. John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
  233. Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
  234. Charity: An Aesop Fable
  235. Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
  236. New improved moon
  237. Announcing people ... YES, people!
  238. Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
  239. John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
  240. Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
  241. John Singleton schools ad course
  242. John Singleton: advertising awards
  243. Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
  244. John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
  245. John Singleton sacked for telling the truth about Medicare
Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5