"The term consumerism has been current since the middle 1960s, about the same length of time as the Department of Transportation itself. Literally interpreted, the word means 'an ideology based on the opposite of being productive.' This ideology has caused enormous changes in the American economy. At one time complaining was a cottage industry. The typical maker of complaints gave them to (or traded them with) friends and family members. Sometimes the complaints were sent to newspapers or included in prayers. Friends, family, the press and God then ignored the complaints. In the sixties, however, various consumer advocates began to help complainers find a market for their wares. There is only one organization that is required to take everyone -- and their complaints -- seriously. So the government became the foremost grumble customer. And it is, of course, the government's bureaucratic agencies who have to do the buying."
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