"Needless Fears" at the NYT:

The NYT editorial board casually dismisses fears about implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, causing Overlawyered's Walter Olson to not-so-casually dismiss the NYT's editorial judgment.

I am with Walter on this one. This was a horribly overbroad law that was going to force countless small businesses into a choice between ruin and civil disobedience, and thank goodness for the eleventh-hour moratorium that staved off disaster. I still want to know what lobbyist or trade organization wrote this law (something that wasn't supposed to happen under the Dems, by the way).
2.18.2009 6:00pm

The NYT editorial board casually dismisses fears that about implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, causing Overlawyered's Walter Olson to not-so-casually dismiss the NYT's editorial judgment.
2.18.2009 6:03pm
SSFC (www):
The CPSC moratorium doesn't stave off disaster. The law is enforceable by State AGs, and it has whistleblower provisions.

It's only been in effect for 8 days. Just you wait, and the suits will come. The NRDC, PIRG, and their followers are already flooding the web with "you just want kids to die" comments when this is brought up at sites where they don't expect to be savaged. Meaning sites other than Overlawyered.
2.18.2009 6:06pm
Houston Lawyer:
It's amazing that any of us are alive today given the absence of this law when we were children.
2.18.2009 6:09pm
mga (mail):
I respectfully disagree with Walter Olson. The New York Times can no longer be described as the nation's "leading newspaper."
2.18.2009 6:35pm
Bored Lawyer:

As many parents, and ultimately manufacturers, learned the hard way, the Bush administration did not make the safety of toys and other products a priority. That led to the recall of millions of toys — some because of lead paint, others because of hazards such as small and powerful magnets that children swallowed.

Once again, the NY Times displays an astonishing illogic and lack of understanding.

Doesn't the fact that there were recalls of "millions" of toys were recalled illustrate that the safety regime under the Bush administration worked as planned -- private industry identified and recalled dangerous goods.

Further, the costs of such recalls should encourage manufacturers to make safer goods in the first place -- and avoid these costs. Thus the "manufacturers learned the hard way."

Is there something in the Obama plan that will work better?
2.18.2009 6:41pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
To be fair to the NYT editorial board, these laws didn't exist when they were growing up, which means most of them ate far too many lead paint chips when they were children to do a better job than this.
2.18.2009 6:45pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
The delay has caused confusion and allowed opponents to foment needless fears that the law could injure smaller enterprises like libraries, resale shops and handmade toy businesses.
Translation: Such fears are needless because these smaller enterprises don't use union labor or buy ads in the NYT. Shutting them down is a feature, not a bug.
2.18.2009 6:48pm
I got a kick out of the last paragraph from the NYT editorial:

President Obama must quickly replace the commission's acting chairwoman . . . [and] choose the kind of enlightened leadership that every parent and toy lover needs . . . .

That's what we need! Enlightened leadership.

Oh Great One, please take pity on us poor, benighted souls, who obviously don't care about the children!!!
2.18.2009 6:57pm
David Welker (www):
I am sure that children will soon be banned from libraries all across the country. Hysteria to what one imagines could be the consequences of this unimplemented law is definitely the only rational response.
2.18.2009 7:14pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Ronald Reagan pointed out that the ten most frightening words in the English language are:

"I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you."

The more I see, the less those words seem like some bit of humorous, right-wing humor....
2.18.2009 7:23pm
josil (mail):
Instead of banning toys and books in libraries and thrift shops, it seems a more effective approach is to ban children. We need to get at root causes. A side benefit is the elimination of troublesome issues like abortion, and various aspects of illegal immigration. As I understand it, some countries in Western Europe have initiated efforts along these lines.
2.18.2009 7:54pm
MatthewM (mail):
This law is one of the most sinister and monstrous things to have come down the pike from Washington in recent years. There are many culprits -- activist groups, ignorant and benighted Congress members, etc., but the press stands out as criminal number one. Not only did it fail to report on the legislation's incredibly overbroad provisions, but it actively cheerleaded for passage of the bill and whipped up a hystrionic fog of fear and hatred on the subject. On this subject the press has failed its first duty -- to investigate governmental abuse, and has actively become a courtier to the state. Is it any wonder that many of us are hoping for national newspaper bankruptcy?
2.18.2009 8:54pm
jaed (mail):
thank goodness for the eleventh-hour moratorium that staved off disaster

Eh? Disaster hasn't been staved off. Books are being thrown out. Many small companies are going out of business. Many others are having trouble because retailers won't buy their products without the necessary testing - regardless of what the Commission promises about enforcement (partly because of inertia - these policies were generally set late last year - and partly because, as SSFC points out, state attorneys general can still bring charges and the retailers don't want to risk it). The basic problems - of the cost of testing, the effective ban on one-of-a-kind or short-run items because of the need for destructive testing of the finished item, the difficulty getting testing from an approved lab at all - still remain.

The only benefit is that some of these problems have been put off until August - unless, of course, you happen to come to the attention of a state attorney general who either has some reason to dislike you and your business or who needs a campaign issue. (And that's assuming the moratorium isn't lifted immediately by whoever is appointed to the Commission, which I would not lay odds against. "Obama appointees reverse industry-friendly decision by lame-duck Bushies" has got to be a tempting narrative.) A last-minute, partial and temporary moratorium on enforcement from one of the agencies that can bring charges under the law doesn't eliminate the effect of the law.
2.18.2009 9:13pm
Sarcastro (www):
Really, we need to ban juries.
2.18.2009 10:32pm
Have since implementation day, Feb. 10, talked to 5 owners of impacted businesses. Without exception they hadn't heard of the law. Isn't that what the media are for, getting out the news?
Fat chance.
2.18.2009 10:55pm
The New York what? Times? Oh, you mean the paper whose Sunday edition costs more than a share of its stock.

It will be gone soon. Here's hoping it's quick.
2.18.2009 11:07pm
Darrow (mail):

I think what is truly needed to protect the public is a requirement that all new front page articles in newspapers be certified by a neutral three member board before publication. This board would certify that the facts given in the article are in fact true and that all of the relevant facts are included. The board would also scrutinize the article for obvious bias and remove it.
Board approvals can be given a number and posted on the internet. The approval number must be posted at the end of each article in order to be published on the front page of any newspaper.
This is essential so that our children get the truth so that they may learn and make proper life decisions. With proper enlightened leadership we may rid the world of all of the articles with blasphemous right wing content.
True this requirement may lead to blank front pages, but you know? It's for the children.
2.19.2009 6:43am
Bored Lawyer:"private industry identified and recalled dangerous goods."

I think that's rather generous. In reality, I'd imagine it was something like private industry weighed the cost of a recall against the cost of a class-action lawsuit, plus damages, and took the cheaper route.
2.19.2009 11:55am
Bored Lawyer:

Bored Lawyer:"private industry identified and recalled dangerous goods."

I think that's rather generous. In reality, I'd imagine it was something like private industry weighed the cost of a recall against the cost of a class-action lawsuit, plus damages, and took the cheaper route

D.A. -- you may or may not be right (there were no govt. ordered recalls in the Bush Administration?), but from where I sit, your comment is irrelevant. The issue isnot whether we are awarding Boy Scout merit badges to the captains of the toy industry. The issue is what is the most efficacious and cost-efficient way of ensuring safe products and minimizing injuries.

My point is that under the Bush administration, which presumably had a more free-market approach, the costs of a recall (whether govt. ordered, or to avoid the still more costly prospect of paying injury damages) encourage safer designs. That there are recalls is not a reason why that system doesn't work, it is a reason why it works.

Is there any evidence that requiring expensive testing beforehand produces safer products in the long run? Or more to the point, avoids injuries more than a relatively free market approach which results in an occassional recall?
2.19.2009 4:40pm
book lover:
Sure, let's throw out all out old books because Mattel imported Chinese toys with lead. Perfectly sensible.

The undderreporting on this is amazing. The affected and complaining groups aren't just cranky right-wingers. You've got mainstream to even mostly-liberal groups like the American Library Association, and some of the small, homemade craft sellers are are culturally lefty. So why can't Congress step back on this? Is it purely the ego of not admitting they are wrong, or do the Waxmans actually believe that this law should stay this way, even if it got through by accident or stealth or whatever? Does anyone really believe that all these books are dangerous?
2.20.2009 11:14am

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