The American consumer movement has gone "too far, too fast," according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official.
In a speech last week in London, Jeffrey H. Joseph, director of government and regulatory affairs of the Chamber, said that the American public is beginning to take a serious look at the cost of regulation.
"Frankly," Joseph said, "there is a growing number of Americans who once defined the problem as providing protection for the consumer, but are now perceiving the greater problem to be the hidden cost to society for regulating the conduct and practices of American business."
Joseph said the "consumer crusaders' armor has begun to look badly tarnished."
The defeat in congress of the consumer agency bill earlier this year was cited by Joseph as an indication of the movement away from consumer legislation, which he said had earlier "poured out of congress affecting everything from seat belts to swimming pool slides."
Joseph said that in spite of the trend toward more scrutiny of regulatory efforts, "government regulation of business continues to be one of the growth areas of the American economy."
In fiscal 1979 the U.S. government will spend some $4.8 billion to operate 41 agencies, he added. "Clearly the cost of operating federal regulatory agencies is rising more rapidly than the federal budget as a whole, the population of the country, the gross national product or any applicable basis for comparison," he said.