Missed myths

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But wait!  There's more!  In addition to the myths about the rulemaking process in the last post, others have suggested misconceptions to include on the list.

“Let the lawyers handle the comments.”  Not necessarily.  Legal perspectives add to the conversation, of course, but just about every FTC staffer who’s worked on a rulemaking has a story to tell about a practical point raised by a business person or consumer that led to a change in the final rule.

“I don’t have a problem with what the FTC’s proposing since it’ll stop some of my competitor’s shady practices.  So there’s no need to file a comment.”   Here’s the problem with that one:  You can be sure we’ll be hearing a different story when your competitor files a comment.  If you think a proposed change is a good idea, it’s important to express that opinion, too.

“Being the one to tell the government it’s wrong?  No, thanks.”  There’s a courthouse in a large city built on the site of a historic event.  On a marble plaque is the pronouncement that an artifact from that event has been returned “to it’s rightful place.”  Maybe it’s not always comfortable to point out mistakes, but don’t you think the mason would have appreciated a heads-up about the misspelling before it was quite literally etched in stone?  Foreshadowing the Wiki Revolution, the rulemaking process is grounded on the principle that the best results are reached through a plain-talking public point-counterpoint.  So if a proposed rule could lead to consequences not foreseen by the FTC, we’re grateful when someone points that out before anything’s carved into the Code of Federal Regulations.

“Filing a comment increases the chance the FTC will investigate my company.”   This canard seems to make the rounds, but it’s just not true.  So what might factor into the FTC’s decision to go forward with an investigation?  Complaints from consumers or competitors, concerns raised by government agencies, public officials, or industry self-regulatory groups, and the FTC’s own monitoring of the marketplace are just a few examples.  But the fact that a company filed a public comment?  No.


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