Let the Buyers Beware

Consumer advocates retrench for hard times

Like bulwarks along an abandoned beach, federal regulations designed to protect the consumer are crumbling against the new tide of free-market economics championed by Ronald Reagan. Most businessmen see the trend as a key to reviving the economy. But consumer activists see it as a catastrophe and are busily seeking ways to slow it. "Consumers are being ignored," says Ralph Nader, patriarch of the movement. 'This Administration is out to destroy the rule of law as it applies to corporations."

At the heart of the dispute is a gulf in philosophy as big as a couple of...

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