Consumer Needs

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Consumer Needs

The same familiar process of power begetting an offsetting or countervailing power works here. The management to which the consumer is subject produces resistance. This leads to organization to provide better information, to get legislation ensuring the safety, durability and quality of products and to force disclosure of all exotic, inedible and carcinogenic ingredients. The movement we call consumerism is an admirable example of this tendency for power to develop offsetting power. Ralph Nader, as we may have said, didn't just happen. His movement was born out of the corporate effort to manage the consumer. This the corporations have sensed. General Motors detectives even investigated him a few years ago. They hoped to find something disgraceful - that he secretly watched television commercials or ate non-nutritious breakfast foods.

And now we have departments of consumer affairs in governments. A manifestation of the same tendency. That is the answer of people who feel that the protection of the consumer has gone too far. And some of the talk of deregulation comes from our fellow economists, who are persuaded that this might save the market. There is room for a touch of romance even in economics. The principal proponents are at the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University and at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

The Stanford people are very solemn scholars who are trying to recapture the world of Herbert Hoover - it's a very worthy idea, intellectual archaeology as it were.

Once aging and righteous scholars of conservative mood dreamed of going to heaven.

Now it's to the American Enterprise Institute.

There will, of course, be no general deregulation, and the market will not be redeemed.

But We do not criticize the effort; one must understand and even sympathize with people who resist their own obsolescence.

They believe it easier to change the world than to change their own ideas.

That's natural even if it's not a very practical position.


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Social Processes

We are saying only that science and technology is not exempt from social process.

Wherever you have a position of great political strength, you generate anxiety over the uses to which that strength is put.

And that applies for scientists as well as for corporations and the military-industrial complex.

A good thing for all.

How does the consumer get managed by the corporation? It has become a very high art, the most studied modern art form.

It's the purpose of marketing research, salesmanship, advertising, and in the United States it's what finances our television... see: Social Processes


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