Government and the Consumer

This article takes up four major topics. First, the principal characteristics of governmental action with respect to consumer protection are reviewed, with emphasis on developments during the past thirty years. Second, the traditional pleas for consumer protection are examined with a view toward determining the inadequacies in governmental action. Third, the problems of the consumer are studied in the context of oligopolistic industrial markets in which nonprice competition accentuates the place of advertising and severely restricts the dissemination of factual information that is essential to enlightened purchase decisions. Fourth, the ingredients of a meaningful consumer protection program are outlined and the probabilities for their political implementation appraised.