The growing concentration in the United States upon protection of consumers from exploitative and fraudulent commercial practices represents the convergence of numerous social and political developments during the past decade. Attention to problems of poverty has led to the belief that low income is a function not only of truncated opportunities but also of deeply entrenched mechanisms which compound original barriers against achievement of a decent standard of living. Poor persons do not, for instance, have access to adequate consumer information, the wherewithal or the time to comparison-shop, or the resources to take advantage of bulk-buying or more attractive credit opportunities. Penned into their own neighborhoods, they are often at the mercy of local dealers, who charge prices and engage in schemes that are patently exploitative.
The slow but inexorable adjustment of American society to the imperatives of its stated commitment to racial equality has also brought about increased awareness of the problems of minority-group members in the commercial world. The investigation of the McCone committee following the 1965 riots in Watts, a Negro neighborhood of Los Angeles, reported the sale of