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The current severe economic downturn, coupled with scandals of business misfeasance and malfeasance, raises expectations for another surge in the U.S. consumer protections. Because it happened three times before, the human temptation to seek historical parallels readily fuels either optimistic hopes or the paranoid ravings of fact-free commentators on a broadcast news network. A simplified historical perspective brings an odd mix of hopeful optimism and reluctant pessimism.