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Consumer Advocacy

Thomas Sowell, in his book The Vision of the Anointed, 1995

Arguing that the Corvair would be safer with higher pressure in the tires, [Ralph] Nader condemned the engineers for having "succumbed to the great imperative - a soft ride." (...)

Displacing responsibility from the consumer to the producer has been a crucial part of consumer advocacy. "The American automobile is produced exclusevily to the standards which the manufacturer decides to establish," according to Nader, though what the automaker actually decides, with millions of dollars at stake, is far less likely to reflect some personal caprice than what consumers are apt to buy.

What the Nader approach boils down to is that third parties should preempt the consumer's choice as to whether he wants to sacrifice a comfortable ride in order to make a remote danger slightly more remote. Considering that the tiredness that comes from uncomfortable rides can also affect safety, it is by no means obvious that there would be greater safety on net balance by creating a harder ride.

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