“Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, is clearly what my father would have called a piece of work.
Early in the pandemic he made headlines by saying that older Americans should be willing to risk death so that younger people could “get back to work.” More recently, he suggested that Texans who found themselves with $17,000 electricity bills after the February freeze had only themselves to blame, because they didn’t “read the fine print.”
Funny, isn’t it, how politicians who denounce liberal elitists sneer when ordinary Americans get into trouble?
But something else struck me about Patrick’s take on supersize power bills: How did we become a country where families can face ruin unless they carefully study something as mundane, as normally routine, as their electricity contract?
And electricity isn’t a unique example.
As The Times’s Margot Sanger-Katz has documented, many people end up with heavy financial burdens because they chose the wrong health insurance plan — yet even experts have a very hard time figuring out which plan is best. Using an out-of-network health care provider can also lead to huge medical bills.
Wait, there’s more. One cause of the 2008 financial crisis was the proliferation of novel financial arrangements, like interest-only loans, that looked like good deals but exposed borrowers to huge risks.
What these stories have in common is that they’re snapshots of a country in which many of us are actually offered too many choices, in ways that can do a lot of harm.” . . .