Opening Remarks - 90th Anniversary Symposium
Judith Bailey, Deputy Executive Director and Chair, 90thAnniversary Events
September 22, 2004
Good Morning and Welcome to the 90th Anniversary Symposium of the Federal Trade Commission.
Henry Ford said that "history is bunk." But we clearly don't believe that at the FTC. We think that understanding the past is valuable for charting the course of our future. Since 2001, when Tim Muris became chairman, we have organized three different events to celebrate historic moments.
September is our month.
In September 2001, we marked the 25th anniversary of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. It took more than 60 years after the 1914 enactment of the Clayton Act, but HSR finished the job in 1976 and gave the government the tools it needed to investigate, litigate, and fashion effective remedies in response to anticompetitive mergers. To celebrate HSR, the FTC held a reception and heard from many people who were there at its birth. Special among them were the recollections sent to us by former House Judiciary Chairman Peter Rodino, the legislation's lone surviving sponsor. (Although Chairman Rodino had long since retired as a law maker, he is still active as a law teacher. Now in his mid-nineties, he is on the faculty of Seton Hall University Law School in Newark.)
Then in September 2003, we remembered the 100th anniversary of the Bureau of Corporations, the predecessor organization to the FTC that was part of the Department of Commerce. The duties of the old Bureau of Corporations were to collect information, to conduct industry and policy research, and to prepare reports at the request of Congress and the President. Many of these duties in the modern FTC have been assumed by our Bureau of Economics. So last year, in a day-long roundtable discussion, we highlighted the accomplishments of our own Bureau of Economics. Participating were 13 of the 14 living BE Directors going back to 1950. Now I know when we are talking about a group of economists the first adjective to enter your mind is not usually - "exciting." But this was an exciting event. It was clear that the former BE directors truly enjoyed being in each others' company, and their enthusiasm was infectious to all of us who attended.
Now in September 2004, we observe the 90th anniversary of the Federal Trade Commission with this Symposium. President Woodrow Wilson signed the FTC Act that created our agency on September 26, 1914 - we're just four days shy of our actual birthday. For the next two days, we intend to take a look at our whole story. Approximately 50 participants will race through 90 years of history. We'll look at what's worked well; what hasn't worked so well.
I got an early peek at the outlines and papers in progress and found them fascinating. A few teasers of what's ahead -
- We'll hear about the role played by a group of law students, who were part of Nader's Raiders, back in 1968, which led to the historic Kirkpatrick Commission Report and ultimately to the revitalization of the FTC.
- In the international arena, we'll learn about the path we have taken in just 14 years to move from conflict between nations over issues of competition law to a great degree of convergence. We'll also ponder the challenges that remain.
- And we'll hear the story behind some of the FTC's biggest consumer initiatives over the past four decades - cigarette labeling, children's advertising, and the national Do Not Call Registry. Do Not Call is everyone's new favorite. That includes humorist Dave Barry, who -- some of you may have read -- dubbed Do Not Call the best federal program since the Elvis Stamp.
Now that's just a smattering of the items on our program. I hope you all can stay for the full two days to hear the whole story.
Just as we are celebrating the FTC's past, we're also starting a new chapter in our future. A little over a month ago, we swore in our newest Chairman, Deborah Platt Majoras.
Debbie is the FTC's 52nd chairman, but only the 16th permanent FTC Chairman who was appointed by the President. Those of you who have studied your FTC history - or peeked ahead in the text to study our Commissioner chart - know that only since the Reorganization Act of 1950, has the FTC Chairman been appointed by the President and no longer selected by the other Commissioners.
Debbie came to us most immediately from the law firm Jones Day. Before that, she served at the Department of Justice as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division. During her three-year tenure at Justice, she oversaw matters involving software, financial networks, defense, health care, media and entertainment, and banking. She also was deeply involved in international activities and served as chair of the International Competition Network's Merger Working Group.
I am pleased to introduce the FTC's new Chairman, Debbie Majoras.