How did the consumer impulse of the 1960s and early '70s succumb to the anti-regulatory fervor of recent years? ""What had we accomplished? Where had we gone wrong?"" As staff director of the Senate Commerce Committee, Pertschuk launched one after another consumer-protection law; as the Carter-appointed chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (""the fulfillment of an adult fantasy""), he had to fight to keep the agency alive. Here he offers a wry and rousing appraisal of that dramatic reversal--and of the prospects for consumerism today. His major point: under certain conditions, public-interest entrepreneurs can mobilize latent sentiment for remedial, business-curbing legislation; but business influence on government decision-making will ultimately prevail. So we see, in the prosperous, anti-Establishment mid-'60s, zealous young Committee staffers evoke public outrage over flammable children's clothing and channel that outrage into a demand for Congress ""to strengthen the flammable fabrics law."" We see the moment, in the faltering mid-'70s, at which business took fright (""You touched the money nerve,"" said a Chamber of Commerce rep); mobilized in turn (the PACs); and, given new respectability by the free-enterprise economists, found ""a public voice."" And, later, we see the crestfallen FTC reaction to being tagged--in the Washington Post!--the ""National Nanny"" (because of its proposed constraints on children's TV advertising). Early and late, Pertschuk shrewdly and appreciatively weighs the impact of Ralph Nader--as prophet or scourge. Buoyant and pithy.