Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a United States’ based self-governing agency. It was founded in 1914. The enabling act that saw the creation of this agency is the Federal Trade Commission Act (Holt, 1974). Essentially, the historical perspective surrounding the mystery behind the formation of the agency can be alluded to the public outcry in the late 19th century after the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) failed to address the then escalating issues on gross abuse of economic power. In response to the public outcry and the State of the Union Message (1913) for a widespread antitrust legislation, the FTC was created. The purpose for which the agency was created is traced back to the need for the development of a body that prevents unfair competition approaches taken by businesses as well as to protect consumers (Labaree, 2000).
The agency makes sure that the consumer or the buyer is not worried about the products in the market because their primary goal is to ensure that quality and safe products in the United States of America are made available in the market for consumption. Unfair business competition before the agency’s initiation were very rampant in the U.S. including coercive monopoly, which in one way or the other posed a lot of challenges both to business partners and to consumers. This prompted the formation of the agency primarily to protect businesses and consumers against these unethical behaviors among some business entities. In other words, the agency was given the mandate to enforce the all the provisions as provided and states in the Federal Trade Commission Act (Labaree, 2000). Even though the agency was entrusted with the ability to enforce these provisions, just like any other agency, it is was deprived of punitive authority but is can on the other hand issue stop and discontinuation instructions as well as take part in dispute cases in both administrative and federal courts. Up to date, the federal Trade Commission performs its duties of protecting both businesses’ rights as well as customers’ rights. Indeed, the agency has played a crucial role in its endeavors to uphold its purpose for which it was formed.
This federal agency performs its assigned duties through individual bureaus of consumer protection by overseeing the advertising practices undertaken by businesses to ensure truthfulness. Consequently, this eliminates deceptive advertising practices that seek to market the business’ products falsely, which is indeed a bad habit that hurts consumers (Labaree, 2000). The agency is also endowed with the authority to monitor the marketing initiatives assumed by businesses in attempt to do away with poor marketing habits that are in one way or the other aimed at tainting other businesses’ public image as well as attract customers through deceitful marketing practices. Antitrust issues among businesses also encouraged the development of the agencies as a means to regulate and encourage good competitive behaviors such as to eliminate monopoly practices through fair competition. In addition, government involvement with private businesses has a significant impact on the performance of these businesses through regulation influence on various markets and industries. As such, the agency was entrusted with the mandate to analyze of these regulations in a bid to identify stringent measures that are neither beneficial to the government or to the businesses and do away with them to allow businesses to thrive successfully (Holt, 1974).
In essence, the functions of FTC are divided according to the three classes of bureaus belonging to the agency. These include analyses, enforcement measures, buyer and company education, which is the primary functions entrusted to the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection (Labaree, 2000). In executing these functions, the bureau puts much of its efforts in several integral areas such as marketing and advertising, monetary products and undertakings, privacy, and distinctiveness security. On the other hand, FTC’s bureau of competition is given the power to anticompetitive business activities through the necessitation of antitrust rules and regulations, assessment of projected mergers and/or acquisitions, and other unfair dealings that might harm effective competition in the business environment. This is made possible through a recommendable collaboration with the Justice’s department (Labaree, 2000). Another bureau is known as the bureau of economics whose functions is to provide an invaluable support to the aforementioned bureaus including both the bureau of consumer protection and the bureau of competition.
The accomplishments of the agency can be traced back since its inception as far as its activities in business and customer protection against unfair business activities. These include numerous investigations and disputes of cases raised by customers and business organizations of media concerns regarding various issues affecting them. For instance, according to Labaree (2000), in 1995, the agency initiated “Project Telesweep” as its first fraud sweeps leading to the filing of instantaneous lawful actions alongside several telemarketing swindle targets that saw a serious crackdown on a hundred business opportunity frauds. In 1984, the agency gained full control of funeral homes and was able to address several customer needs by spearheading a number of programs. The General Price List and a regular review of the list by funeral homes is one of such programs that sought to protect customers from potential exploitation due to overcharging (Labaree, 2000). As such, this saw funeral homes provide an outline of their goods and services with their prices provided to potential customers as and when they request for them. Indeed, the achievements of the agencies are many and have a greater impact on consumer and business protection from fraud and deception.
The development by the Federal Trade Commission has also been contributed by the many criticisms hurled at the agency. For instance, the Nader Report served a similar purpose by identifying the agencies weaknesses and telling it to the face of the agency for immediate action. The critique claimed that the agency was inefficient and passive about its core duties and responsibilities as regards to finding out numerous violations that were increasingly hurting customers and businesses (Labaree, 2000). The criticisms also pointed out that the agency focused on issues with negligible area of impact instead of identifying open problems that affect people on a wide scale. Other critics claim that the agency is fond of camouflaging behind concealment and robust political as well as commercial relationships leading to its inability to execute its primary duties of protecting the interests of many customers and businesses. Certainly, the agency is ineffective in terms of its ability to do its course because of the fact that the agency is befriending businesses, which is compromising its ability to exercise full control and ensure its assertiveness of the issues of interest emerging from such businesses. In my opinion, it will be ideal for the agency to avoid a friendship relationship with businesses to be able to identify violations and many other problems that are indeed under their jurisdiction.
Holt, W. S. (1974). The Federal Trade Commission: Its History, Activities, and Organization. Brooklyn: AMS Press.
Labaree, R. V. (2000). The Federal Trade Commission: A Guide to Sources. Garland: Psychology Press.