Describing the consumer watch group called “Consumer Alert” and its important role in the economy.
CONSUMER ALERT In an era when free enterprise is the key to an efficient, productive, and successful country, business sometimes digresses from their true duties of producing goods and services at an honest and decent price. Consumer Alert, founded in 1977, was founded with a single purpose in mind: “to advance the consumer interest through advocacy of free-market solutions to consumer dissatisfaction and scrutiny of any action which discourages competition in the marketplace.” Consumer Alert was founded in 1977 as a national, non-profit membership organization for people concerned about excessive growth of government regulation at the national and state levels. Consumer Alert’s mission is to inform the public about the consumer benefits of competitive enterprise and to expose the flawed economic, scientific and risk data that underlie certain public policies. Now, Consumer Alert is the home to the spare time of over 6,000 volunteers. Each of these volunteers donate their valuable time to Consumer Alert for the sole reason of upholding high ethics within the American marketplace. Anyone can become a member. The only qualification is that the individual have a distinct and strong faith in competitive enterprise, a healthy skepticism of government solutions, a dislike of government related monopolies, labor, or business, and be in the favor of safe technology, free trade, smaller government and lower taxes. We found that to become a member, all it would take is $35 and a mailed in request to their office in Washington. Consumer Alert depends on contributions from individual donors, corporations, and foundations to protect consumer choice and competition and promote sound science. Some basic facts about Consumer Alert are that the size of their annual budget (1988) was $411,900. This helps to maintain their bimonthly publication, Consumer Alerts Comments, and pay their full-time president, vice-president, and contracted legal counsel. Currently, their salaried executive officer is Frances B. Smith, and his office is where his lobbying is needed most, Washington DC. Consumer Alert has only one interest in mind, and only a single area where their influence can be fully realized. With a central office in Washington DC, Consumer Alert is always up-to-the-minute on news that effects the consuming public. They are continually active in issues such as privatization, free trade, deregulation in the marketplace, reduction in government spending, and a balanced budget without tax increase. Consumer Alert operates the National Consumer Coalition, which is comprised of 20 public policy organizations. Members of the coalition participate in various events, including a Washington DC forum that examines critical consumer issues. The coalition advances solutions to real consumer problems and seeks the most cost-effective manner in which to achieve desired results. As the coalition’s sponsor, Consumer Alert actively publicizes public policy achievements by member organizations. Consumer Alert also sponsors conferences to foster discussion of important consumer issues. Consumer Alert is clearly on the side of the consuming people. The people, and preventing their abuse, is the number one priority for Consumer Alert as seen through their vigilant watch over legislation in out government. They are our watchdogs. Consumer Alert’s National Consumer Coalition forum features leading public policy experts, journalists, authors, scientists, and public officials. With an educated board of members continually at their side, we believe that their tendencies would be towards a more conservative Republican standpoint. Just as Republicans call for minimization of government control over the economy, as does Consumer Alert with their strong stance on the deregulation of the marketplace. Consumer Alert is also very effective in their influence. Representatives of Consumer Alert are often called upon by federal regulatory agencies and congressional committees to testify on the consumer effects of proposed regulations and legislation. For example, Consumer Alert recently testified before both Senate and the House Banking subcommittees on how changes to disclosure laws would make the mortgage process more understandable to consumers. Consumer Alert identifies consumer problems that can be solved through litigation and supplies information to public interest legal groups active in protecting individual rights and consumer choice. Consumer Alert was instrumental, for example, in fostering legal action that successfully prevented universities from forcing all students to fund causes with which they do not agree, such as Public Interest Research Groups. Through a national program that stresses public education, coalition-building, litigation, testimony, conferences and forums to advance these views, Consumer Alert has a significant impact on the issues. The group supports the third rule of Lineberry’s traditional democratic theory: enlightened understanding. With offices in Washington DC, Consumer Alert has individual members in all 50 states, and along with their bimonthly publication, Consumer Alert does a good job of ‘alerting’ consumers and allowing them to have a louder voice in today’s marketplace. WORKS CITED Jaszczak, Sandra. Ed. Encyclopedia of Associations. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1996. Consumer Alert World Wide Web site: ;www.his.com/~calert; Zipperer, Rich. Consumer Comments June 1996, Vol. 20.