As I've said before, I think grade inflation is a myth. By this I mean not that there's no phenomena the phrase describes, but rather that calling it 'grade inflation' is a misdiagnosis. What we are actually experiencing is grade confusion, not inflation. If you look at the standards for grading from college to college, you will find very quickly that (1) they are all vague, and part of the reason for this is that they throw together absolute measures (students did work) with relative measures (students performed exceptionally well); and (2) they do not obviously match up with each other, with some colleges emphasizing the absolute measures and others emphasizing the relative measures. The absurdity in the whole thing is the common assumption that grades are univocal measures. They are not, and there is no way for faculty to coordinate grading on a national scale, which is what would be required for faculty to do anything about it even if they wanted to do so. Part of the problem is (as you can see from the charts at the link above) people started out with what at least seems to have been a common understanding of what the grades A, B, C, and D were supposed to mean (just judging from the shapes and medians of the curves it looks very much like the original understanding was that it was supposed to measure not the degree to which students had met standards of competence but performance relative to one's peers). What we have seen since is not inflation but the breakdown of this common understanding. It was stupid from the beginning to take every A to be equivalent to every other A; what has changed is merely that it has become obviously stupid.
The suggested cause of the shift, consumer-based approaches to education, is probably part of the cause, but is not likely to be the only one in operation. As I think I've also said before, a lot of the shift, so far as faculty are concerned, can be attributed entirely to two psychological facts: (1) most teachers like their students; and (2) most teachers hate grading. There are other pressures on teachers, but most of them are not likely to have a largescale effect on their own. One of the candidates for the primary cause of this shifting in grades is given in the article above as if it were just to be expected:
The authors argue that grading standards may become even looser in the coming years, making it increasingly more difficult for graduate schools and employers to distinguish between excellent, good and mediocre students.
Surely it has occurred to some of these people that the fact (and even if it weren't a fact, the impression) that employers use grades to sort hires provides more of an incentive and pressure on students, faculty, and administration for increasing A's than anything else that could be put on the table? Given this, it was inevitable. And there's no putting things back because, again, it's a matter of different grading philosophies across the board, not inflation of an otherwise univocal measure. Those who regard this as a problem really have only one option available to them: start pushing for a different kind of grading system.