Depressing. You know how lots of industries have sales and rebates and different rates that change for no reason (retail, hotels, airlines)? That's called shrouding, and it's a way to keep consumers from comparing on price, because when consumers can compare on price, a race to the bottom ensues among competing businesses, which is great for consumers but bad for the competitors.
So a major retailer (J.C. Penney) said, "We're going to try to stop confusing our customers," and started a campaign of honest, open pricing. And it's been a disaster for them. Consumers punish honesty. What's saddest is that economists knew this already, from studies on the hotel industry.
It turns out that politicians do exactly the same thing - shrouding their value to a voter by refusing to answer direct questions, like the ones at votesmart.org. We can try to pass laws that keep companies (and politicians) from doing this, but as long as consumers and voters keep rewarding this behavior, it will keep happening. This is exactly why education and critical thinking matter.
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