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Destructive Toy Story:

Walter Olson explains the problems of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in today's WSJ:

This law has saddled businesses with billions of dollars in losses on T-shirts, bath toys and other items that were lawful to sell one day and unlawful the next. It has induced thrift and secondhand stores to trash mountains of outgrown blue jeans, bicycles and board games for fear there might be trivial, harmless—but suddenly illegal—quantities of lead in their zippers and valves or phthalates in their plastic spinners. (Phthalates are substances that add flexibility to plastic.) Even classic children's books are at risk: Because lead was not definitively removed from printing inks until 1985, the CPSC has advised that only kids' books printed after that date should be considered safe to resell.

Yielding to a business outcry, the agency postponed until next February the law's highly onerous product-testing requirements, which many small manufacturers have said will impose costs exceeding their annual profit or even revenue. It also has postponed enforcement of the law's effective ban on kids' bikes and power vehicles, which unavoidably contain leaded brass or similar alloys in certain components.

Nevertheless, the law's latest shock hit businesses on Aug. 14. That's when the law's tracking-label mandate went into effect, requiring that makers of childrens' goods "place permanent, distinguishing marks on the product and its packaging, to the extent practicable." The idea is to facilitate recalls and make it easier to trace safety problems. The result will be to capsize yet more small businesses.

John McEnerney (mail):
Any silly law is OK as long as you're doing it for the right reason:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_the_children_(politics)
"Won't somebody please think of the children"
9.14.2009 9:15am
Floridan:
I'm not sure what Mr. Olson (no partisan, he) sees as the solution. No oversight of childrens' clothing and toys?

What I take away from his article is "profits before safety."
9.14.2009 9:42am
monaz001 (mail) (www):
Yes it is good if the children are protected.Small business can still survive within the safety regulations.It is not that difficult.

[spam portion of comment removed]
9.14.2009 9:42am
_quodlibet_:

Even classic children's books are at risk: Because lead was not definitively removed from printing inks until 1985, the CPSC has advised that only kids' books printed after that date should be considered safe to resell.

How is this not a violation of the First Amendment? It effectively bans the sale a subset of books (those printed prior to 1985) based on their content (i.e., whether they are children's books).
9.14.2009 9:56am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
You need to delete all of the monaz comment; there's still a link in the "www" section. I'm not clicking on it, but it looks like it's for some kind of liposuction clinic or something.
9.14.2009 10:06am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Floridan, is that what passes for debate on the left now? You label everybody who opposes any provision as partisan and don't even bother to respond to the arguments raised?

You do understand that regulations have consequences and impose costs, don't you? Do you actually want all small manufacturers to go belly up because they can't comply with the increasingly large number of federal regulations, and be absorbed by large multi-national behemoths because those behemoths can afford to hire lawyers and do the ridiculous amount of testing required by this bill?
9.14.2009 10:09am
Ken Arromdee:
I'm not sure what Mr. Olson (no partisan, he) sees as the solution. No oversight of childrens' clothing and toys?

The problem is that it's pretty certain the items are harmless, but they can't be sold because they're not tested or labelled, and testing and labelling is an expensive practice that is only practical for large corporations who make millions of the same toy. (Not to mention that testing destroys the item.)
9.14.2009 10:09am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'm not sure what Mr. Olson (no partisan, he) sees as the solution. No oversight of childrens' clothing and toys?
Well, here's a good first pass at a solution: repeal the CPSIA, and leave the same regime that was in place for decades, during which there was absolutely no problem which called for this law to be passed.
9.14.2009 10:12am
name:
Olson has been making dire predictions about this law for about a year now. If its effects are so terrible, I would expect to see some actual data and not just the anecdotes he offers here.
9.14.2009 10:23am
PeteP:
Henry Waxman is totally out of control. The CPSIA is only one of his incredible big government monstrostities. Cap 'N Tax is worse, by orders of magnitude.

The man apparently either WANTS to destroy our economy, or doesn't realize that's what he's doing.
9.14.2009 10:24am
Arkady:


[R]epeal the CPSIA, and leave the same regime that was in place for decades, during which there was absolutely no problem which called for this law to be passed.


Well, CPSIA may be bad legislation, but to say "there was absolutely no problem..." is, to say the least, misleading:


As More Toys Are Recalled, Trail Ends in China

...

The latest recall, announced last week, involves 1.5 million Thomas &Friends trains and rail components — about 4 percent of all those sold in the United States over the last two years by RC2 Corporation of Oak Brook, Ill. The toys were coated at a factory in China with lead paint, which can damage brain cells, especially in children.

Just in the last month, a ghoulish fake eyeball toy made in China was recalled after it was found to be filled with kerosene.



You want your kids to suck on those things?
9.14.2009 10:28am
JB:
Arkady,
There was no problem with small, artisanal toys. And the big companies whose toys caused problems?

They aren't being forced to comply with the CPSIA at all

So yes, there was a problem, and no, this law does not solve it.
9.14.2009 10:44am
Hannibal Lector:
Under Carter an attempt was made to rein in some of the more egregiously harmful regulations promulgated by the CPSC. Back then I briefly worked as a consultant evaluating the regulatory standards for carpets and rugs and mattresses. Small manufacturers were overwhelmed by the burdens. I can still remember some crying from frustration, anger, and outrage when I interviewed them. Even most of the CPSC employees with whom I worked agreed that the regulations were unneccessarily burdensome. It looks like since then regulatory creep has once more and predictably taken over the agency.
9.14.2009 10:45am
Alan Gunn (mail):

It looks like since then regulatory creep has once more and predictably taken over the agency.

Not at all. It isn't the agency that's to blame, it's Congress. Blaming the agency is one of the things that helps Congress get away with this kind of thing (a common example is blaming the IRS for things in the Internal Revenue Code).

The CPSIA is a nice test case for looniness; it really has no supporters (except for the big toy companies that will profit from having their competitors stifled), so it's a fair bet that anyone who defends it is at the least a rabid fan of government action per se, no matter he consequences. This may be the worst consumer-protection legislation ever enacted, and it passed the house with only one "no" vote.
9.14.2009 10:55am
David M. Nieporent (www):
You want your kids to suck on those things?
Well, what I really want is for the government to stop trying to raise my kids, and let me worry about them. But we don't live in that world, so focusing on the law in question,

(a) Why would my kids be doing that? My infant daughter will put anything in her mouth, but I'm not giving such toys to infants. Ten-year olds do not ordinarily put random toys in their mouths, so why do we need a law aimed at toys for all children under 12?

(b) Why are my kids sucking on them if they've been recalled? This is what I mean: that recall happened under the existing law. Why do we need a new one that changes the rules, rather than just enforcing the existing rules?

(c) If it happens, it happens. It's not a tragedy. The fact that lead can be harmful if ingested does not mean that zero exposure to even the mere possibility of ingestion is a reasonable standard. If the children's toy/clothing/book industries were so dangerous that we couldn't tolerate the risk under the pre-CPSIA legal regime, then where's all the evidence of actual harm under that legal regime?
9.14.2009 10:56am
George Smith:
Gosh, makes me wonder how we all survived those bad ol' days before the Great Nanny.
9.14.2009 11:12am
Bob White (mail):
Part of the reason you haven't seen anything so far is the CPSC used (read: probably exceeded) what discretion it has to delay implementation of everything it could for as long as possible earlier in the year. That sort of thing would work so long as the CPSC had vacancies and was deadlocked at 1Rv1D. Now, it has the D majority you'd expected, and it's getting done. Still, you really can't blame the CPSC for this one-the CPSIA was written with hardly any regulatory discretion.

JB:
Take another look at the story you linked to-the CPSC simply accredited Mattel's in-house facility as an authorized testing facility. If you look at the updated list of authorized testing facilities, I'm pretty sure Mattel's in-house place is on there, and the CPSC doesn't normally issue press releases when it accredits testing facilities.
9.14.2009 11:13am
Arkady:
David, I prefaced my comment by saying that the CPISA may be(ok, is) bad legislation. I was objecting to the implication that there is not a problem. If I misunderstood just what problem you were calling out, my bad.


If it happens, it happens. It's not a tragedy.


I'm going to be charitable and assume that you mean if the kid just puts the toy in his or her mouth, not that if the kid does so and gets lead poisoning. In the latter case, it's only a tragedy if it's your kid, I suppose.

And yeah, it's bullshit that the rent-seeking large companies get to skate and the smaller ones get the shaft.
9.14.2009 11:17am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'm going to be charitable and assume that you mean if the kid just puts the toy in his or her mouth, not that if the kid does so and gets lead poisoning. In the latter case, it's only a tragedy if it's your kid, I suppose.
Yes, I meant the former.
9.14.2009 11:23am
ShelbyC:



If it happens, it happens. It's not a tragedy.


I'm going to be charitable and assume that you mean if the kid just puts the toy in his or her mouth, not that if the kid does so and gets lead poisoning. In the latter case, it's only a tragedy if it's your kid, I suppose.


Since the "it" he's refering to is in response to your "You want your kids to suck on those things?" It's not at all charitable to assume that he means "if his kids suck on those things". It's just reading.
9.14.2009 11:27am
JB:
Bob White,
"JB:
Take another look at the story you linked to-the CPSC simply accredited Mattel's in-house facility as an authorized testing facility. If you look at the updated list of authorized testing facilities, I'm pretty sure Mattel's in-house place is on there, and the CPSC doesn't normally issue press releases when it accredits testing facilities."

My point is that Mattel's products have had lead in them, and have had to be recalled, and are sometimes made in China, while none of that is true for books, small artisanal producers of textiles, and other items. So Mattel, which has had problems, is allowed to self-police, but companies which have not had problems are not.
9.14.2009 11:29am
Steve:
There are many problems with the CPSIA, but a law requiring labelling is not unreasonably onerous. Yes, at the margins, even the mildest regulation represents a death knell for some small business that was barely surviving under the prior regimen - and you can always get the WSJ to deliver a sad eulogy on their behalf - but let's be real here. It's not outrageous to say that people should have a way of knowing where a product came from, in case they have a problem with it.
9.14.2009 11:39am
Floridan:
PatHMV: :Floridan, is that what passes for debate on the left now? You label everybody who opposes any provision as partisan and don't even bother to respond to the arguments raised?"

1) How would I know what passes for debate on the left? I haven't received any instructions as of late.

2) Mr. Olson's article would have had more credibility if he had suggested what solutions might be found to insure that childrens' clothing and other products are safe.

3) He might also have provided some proof that small businesses will be forced into bankruptcy by this regulation.

4) Finally, I don't think I labled "everybody" who opposes "any" provision as partisan; in this case, just Walter Olson. Or perhaps I misinterpreted such phrases as "antibusiness groups claiming to speak for consumers."
9.14.2009 11:40am
Gabriel McCall (mail):
It's not outrageous to say that people should have a way of knowing where a product came from, in case they have a problem with it.


How about this: People who prefer labelled products should be free to refuse to buy unlabelled products, without imposing their preferences on everyone else.
9.14.2009 11:46am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
How do you know that labeling is merely reasonably onerous. Have you explored the cost of labeling? And by that I don't mean the cost of sticking a little label on the product, I mean the cost of investigating the origin of every single component and sub-component that goes into your product.

Label the product with the end manufacturer's name, fine, that's no biggie. Label showing that one component of the ink in the book came from India, then was mixed in China with another raw ingredient which came from some mine in Africa, while the paper came from trees grown on a sustainable tree farm in Indonesia and was milled at a plant in the U.S., well, that takes a lot more effort, and frankly makes it next to impossible to do for small companies.

Floridan, you and your side are the ones who want to impose the new regulations. Is it too much to ask that YOU describe exactly the dangers found in childrens' clothing and the like which will be prevented with this garbage?
9.14.2009 11:50am
hymie (mail):
I don't understand why "small artisanal items" should be presumptively safe. They may be painted, and I doubt all the artisans are making their own paint. They may be nailed, stapled, and glued, and so have parts that could come off or cause injury. It may be that the new law is not a good way to deal with safety issues, but I don't see why I should believe that only things made by large companies can be risky.
9.14.2009 11:50am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
For example, how many children have actually suffered lead poisoning from books printed prior to 1985?
9.14.2009 11:51am
Floridan:
Pat HMV: "For example, how many children have actually suffered lead poisoning from books printed prior to 1985?"

I give up . . . how many?
9.14.2009 11:58am
DennisN (mail):
You want your kids to suck on those things?


If a kid is sucking on his go-kart or bicycle (Yes those things are covered and basically can no longer be sold.) he's got bigger problems than lead poisoning.

I dumped my entire line of children's clothes because of CPSIA. It was only a couple of hundred bucks, so it's not a big item for me, but there was no way to get the stuff tested. The stuff that fits, I give to my grandkids. The rest, I'll turn into air pollution.

I'll not bother to sell those lines anymore - it's too much hassle.

All the grandkids' old toys go to the dump, because Goodwill and the Salvation Army can't afford to test the stuff. I guess only rich kids should have toys.

I've never heard of a case of a child being poisoned from sucking on the brass zipper pull of his jacket. I've never heard of a child being poisoned by his bicycle. I've never heard of a child being poisoned by handmade wooden toys made by artisans, and not painted. The big problems with lead poisoning were lead paints and tetra ethyl lead in gasoline.

Solutions? Scrap CPSIA and start on clean paper. There was no crisis requiring Ready - Fire - Aim action. Start by doing epidemiologic studies of lead poisoning and seeing (1) if there is a problem, and (2) where it is. Then, attack the trouble spots.

Particular areas where I see potential health problems, are paints and dyes. Manufacturers should be able to rely on supplier certification, backed by testing. That stuff is made in far greater quantities than craft-knit sweaters.
9.14.2009 11:59am
Steve:
How about this: People who prefer labelled products should be free to refuse to buy unlabelled products, without imposing their preferences on everyone else.

Sure, in a libertarian fantasyland, that's how it works. In the real world, people may not think about labels until they realize there's a problem with the product and there's no label to show who made it. We do not require consumers, who have little or no information about the potential risks of a product and the likelihood of those risks, to engage in some sort of complex cost-benefit analysis before each and every $10 purchase.

The humorous thing about this op-ed is that the bill was practically written verbatim by lobbyists for the big toy companies, in order to create barriers to entry for their smaller competitors, but Olson is such a shill he has to pretend like it was all the fault of those mean old consumer groups.
9.14.2009 12:00pm
Bob White (mail):
JB:
I think you're conflating two separate problems. Problem #1 is Mattel, which has had problems before, is allowed to test its products in-house. This obviously creates incentive and monitoring problems, even if Mattel's in-house testing facility meets or exceeds all the standards any third-party testing facility has to meet to be accredited. I don't think there's anything in the CPSIA banning this. Problem #2 is that the CPSIA covers a huge number of goods that don't seem to pose much risk and its testing requirements favor large producers. These are, of course, both major problems, but they're different ones that have the same beneficiaries.

The CPSIA reminds me of the '33 Securities Act, actually, in that what it really does is codify into law the existing best practices of the largest participants. It serves primarily as a deterrent to smaller players and to entry rather than "solving" the "problems" that existed before its passage.
9.14.2009 12:01pm
DennisN (mail):
_quodlibet_:

How is this not a violation of the First Amendment? It effectively bans the sale a subset of books (those printed prior to 1985) based on their content (i.e., whether they are children's books).


No, it's a ban on a subset of physical products based on their supposed (even though false) toxic properties. The content the law objects to is lead.

Would you object to banning the distribution of books that had toxic quantities of, say, arsenic, and that had a record of causing poisonings?
9.14.2009 12:03pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
I predict nothing will change with this regulation, and the actual choices that actual Americans have to buy actual products that actual children will actually like - will actually diminish. I sent a letter to my senators and representative asking them to explain why the two senators voted for it and what all three of them were doing to fix the mess, and so far the one Democrat in the bunch wrote back and said he was very proud to have voted for it and is glad I agree with him about how we need lots and lots of regulation - the two Republicans have had the letters for two months and haven't said anything. Someday the idea of giving old toys to charity or picking up a used book for your kid or buying anything handmade for a child at all will seem as quaint and bizarre as letting kids walk long, sidewalkless distances to school by themselves or not worrying if someone in the car next to you is wearing his seatbelt.
9.14.2009 12:11pm
Esquivel102 (mail):
Steve,

This is why it's good to read and carefully consider your opponents' position before reflexively criticizing without much knowledge of the situation. Had you kept up with the site, you would know that the fact that big toy companies basically wrote the law and are using it to leverage out competition has been recognized many times by Olsen and others that share that position, and is yet another reason that's been put forward that the law is awful.

But you didn't keep up. You misread, misunderstood and misrepresented to make an irrelevant point.

Is it that hard to admit that, at least in this case, "consumer" groups represent anything but consumers, that a nonpartisan interpretation could mean both being critical of uninformed congressmen and rent-seeking corporate lobbyists, and that the law was not necessary or helpful and does more harm than good?

Next you'll come out with "it's for the children" and pretend that's enough to justify any law without further debate. I know that's the sort of generalization you made about Olson that turned out to be completely incorrect, but I'd bet money it was on the tip of your tongue...
9.14.2009 12:13pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
To my knowledge, Floridan, zero children have been harmed as a result of the the existence of children's books made prior to 1985. Which is why I think it's a useless, waste of time, waste of money regulation. But you support that regulation, so I would think you would be able to show me the harm that it is preventing.
9.14.2009 12:20pm
Joe T. Guest:

Yes, at the margins, even the mildest regulation represents a death knell for some small business that was barely surviving under the prior regimen - and you can always get the WSJ to deliver a sad eulogy on their behalf


Steve, I don't think it's going to far to say that somebody who says things like that is a callous ass. There are a lot of people out there that can't afford to pay retail. The way they get clothes for their family, and toys for their kids, is to hit a used toy store or a thrift shop. And there are a lot of people who make their living - they eek out a modest, "sustainable" living doing artisanal work.

As you note, you don't care about them. Good to see that you're comfortable being in bed with the Democratic Party and its big business overlords. If I called Mattel "Big Toy" would you see the light?

Man. Used to be a time when liberals stood up for the little guy. Not sure how much I like it now that y'all have started worshipping big money and corporate power over your party.
9.14.2009 12:20pm
Wudndux (mail):
No benefit is too trivial if the costs bankrupt even a single ruling class oppressor artisan or Salvation Army post. Oh...wait...bankruptcy is the feature...

Seriously, though, just what effect does this have on the collectors' market for antique children's books? Do first editions of 'Tarzan of the Apes" with original dust covers and 'Tree in the Trail' now need to be trashed? Hard to believe, but then nowadays we are surrounded by the hard to believe.
9.14.2009 12:21pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Its the over kill that makes this law objectionable.

Bath toys or toys in general are one thing. Kids do suck on those things.

Bikes? Go-carts? Pant zippers? Books?

Can anyone point to a single child who ever got lead poisoning from any one of these?

Can anyone even say that they have ever seen a child putting these things in their mouths?

The ironic thing is that the impact will mainly be on poor people due to the lack of used children's clothing and it is those Democrtaic champions of the poor like Waxman and Obama that got the law passed.
9.14.2009 12:23pm
subpatre (mail):
Arkady writes, "And yeah, it's bullshit that the rent-seeking large companies get to skate and the smaller ones get the shaft."

But that's exactly what the Act intended from the beginning.

There have been no cases of prohibited lead-levels in American-made products for decades. The Consumer Product Safety Commission —those charged with enforcing this legislation— were prohibited from testifying during hearings and passage of the legislation.

(DennisN - There is no case or documentation of printed books contributing to or causing lead poisoning. Ever.)

CPSIA extended no additional oversight; CPSC got no funding and no extra positions at a time when they can't test chemical levels with current staffing. The law is simply crafted to add a huge burden to small producers and a negligible action for mass manufacturers.

Only oversees importers with proven histories of illegal lead-levels have been allowed to perform testing "in house" by unaudited labs.
9.14.2009 12:29pm
JB:
"The ironic thing is that the impact will mainly be on poor people due to the lack of used children's clothing and it is those Democrtaic champions of the poor like Waxman and Obama that got the law passed."

This particular law was passed under Bush.
9.14.2009 12:29pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
There is another element to this that I think is sad and underrated.

This law effectively bans the exchange of older, classic or antique toys on the basis that they may be harmful for the purpose for which they were originally manufactured. This means that such toys cannot be sold even as collectors items and not even to museums. However none of this really follows.

This law basically:
1) Shafts small businesses
2) Drives up consumer prices
3) Creates a major market for big businesses in replacement toys
4) Isolates us from our history

The first three are bad but could be remedied. The fourth is more permanent even if the act is repealed at some point.
9.14.2009 12:41pm
subpatre (mail):
JB writes: "This particular law was passed under Bush.

So it's OK to screw the poor because it was under Bush ? Partisans —on both sides— need a mulekick in the arse for this kind of 'reasoning'.

CPSIA passed with one opposing vote, a bipartisan effort to screw everyone except big business. The Republicans should be condemned for shafting the small businesses and entrepreneurs they loudly champion, and the Democrats should be condemned for choking the poor and working class consumers they so loudly champion.
9.14.2009 12:42pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
No doubt some older books - children's and otherwise - have some lead in the ink they are printed with. The real question is, how much lead is there, or put differently, how many pages does the kid have to lick the ink off of or eat in order to get a harmful dose?

As for "artisanal" toy manufacturers, etc., there are many small craft shops making toys and clothing, often of a very high quality. While I am sure that few if any of these would use lead paint - if only that lead paint is basically unavailable in the US - but I'm sure that many of the toys are made with parts that are screwed, nailed or glued together. But even if a toy is made of one solid piece of wood - as many craft toys are - I'm sure that a really active child could break off (or chew off) a corner. At some point, one needs to exercise some parental judgment in the selection of toys for one's children, with regard to potential hazards and general age (and individual child) appropriateness.

In defense of such craft toys - one might say, traditional toys - it should be noted that many parents prefer not to give their children factory-made plastic toys (even though they might be safer from breakage and chewing) but prefer to stick with more traditional toys made of wood, which most large manufacturers of toys have long since ceased to manufacture.

The people who manufacture such craft toys are rarely large companies; as has been mentioned, they are incapable of affording or performing the testing that is required under the CPSIA and thus will go out of business - unnecessarily.

This sort of consumer nannyism rears its head in other ways,too. In 1998, Massachusetts passed a gun law that requires all handguns to pass a safety drop test: take 5 guns, cock them and drop them from one meter up onto a concrete slab in various orientations; if they fire they are unsafe to sell in MA. This might be understandable for a sef-defense carry gun which might get dropped, but for an Olympic-class target pistol? The result is, that no Olympic-class target pistols are allowed to be sold in MA - the very guns, one might assume, that the anti-gun types who passed this legislation would want to encourage! When a high quality target pistol costs several thousand dollars, and the manufacturers are small companies, what manufacturer is going to destroy five of these guns in order to sell a few dozen (maximum) in MA? The legislature more recently passed a law exempting target handguns, but the legislation was too loosely written, and the anti-gun bureaucrats writing the regulations made the application process so difficult that to date only three guns are on the list, and none of these are Olympic-style target pistols, but police combat style target guns.
9.14.2009 12:50pm
geokstr (mail):

I've never heard of a case of a child being poisoned from sucking on the brass zipper pull of his jacket. I've never heard of a child being poisoned by his bicycle. I've never heard of a child being poisoned by handmade wooden toys made by artisans, and not painted.

I haven't either, but I'm sure that with a little research one could come up with a scientific study (likely performed at Harvard on a million dollar federal grant) where, when injecting the amount of raw lead a child would ingest by eating the equivalent of 400 books a day over his lifetime, directly into the bloodstream of a lab rat specifically bred to react to such a stimulus, the rat gets sick. Or the equivalent of licking the paint off Yamaha's entire annual production of go-carts, all-terrain vehicles and bikes might do it as well.

Obviously we have to regulate such irresponsible behavior by the capitalist-roaders. It is for the children, after all, and what else is a village to do?
9.14.2009 12:52pm
JB:
Subpatre,
Seriously? Read the thread a little. I was pointing out Bob from Ohio's reflexive Democrat-bashing, not making some point in support of this absurd law.
9.14.2009 12:56pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
JB writes: "This particular law was passed under Bush.

Yes, but who was in control of the Congress at the time it was passed? Probably the Democrats. In any event, it certainly doesn't excuse Republicans who ought to know better, and it doesn't excuse Bush, who should have vetoed the bill - but probably didn't really read it or ask anyone's opinion on it (not that I'd trust the opinion of a bunch of White House Lawyers - Republican or Democrat - on an issue like this, they'd simply say sign it, it's "for the children;" "cover your arse."

Let's face it, Washington has basically lost touch with the people.

The democrats talk about caring for the little guy, but seem to be owned by big business and the unions, and when the legislation comes down, the little guy gets reamed and bug business and the unions make out like bandits.

The Republicans do a little better, but not much, in that they are a bit more realistic and tend to be a bit more leery of big business and the unions. But they, too have bought into the nanny state model
9.14.2009 1:07pm
Floridan:
PatHMV: "To my knowledge, Floridan, zero children have been harmed as a result of the the existence of children's books made prior to 1985. Which is why I think it's a useless, waste of time, waste of money regulation. But you support that regulation, so I would think you would be able to show me the harm that it is preventing."

And your knowledge is based on . . . what?

It would be difficult to attribute lead poisoning to a single source. The problem is that lead poisoning is a cumulative phenomenon that results, most often, not in a dramatic outcome such as death, but rather in symptoms such as learning and developmental difficulties.

The Mayo Clinc describes it thusly:

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over a period of months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children under the age of 6 are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development.
So no, pre-1985 childrens' books alone are not likely to cause serious lead poisoning, but they can be a contributing factor.
9.14.2009 1:22pm
ShelbyC:

Sure, in a libertarian fantasyland, that's how it works. In the real world, people may not think about labels until they realize there's a problem with the product and there's no label to show who made it. We do not require consumers, who have little or no information about the potential risks of a product and the likelihood of those risks, to engage in some sort of complex cost-benefit analysis before each and every $10 purchase.

The humorous thing about this op-ed is that the bill was practically written verbatim by lobbyists for the big toy companies, in order to create barriers to entry for their smaller competitors, but Olson is such a shill he has to pretend like it was all the fault of those mean old consumer groups.



Well, I guess we were living in a libertarian fantasyland before Aug 14. Who knew?

As for Olsen being a shill, maybe you missed the part where he mentions Mattel lobbied for exemptions that benefited itself? He has more stuff about that on overlawyered.com. It's not something he has neglected.
9.14.2009 1:25pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Floridan:

So out of print books should be recycled instead of resold?

Should Caldecott's original books be banned from resale just on the possibility the inks might contain lead?

I am sorry but I just can't agree with this.

I would be ABSOLUTELY FINE with mandatory warning stickers saying "this was published before 1985 and may contain lead."

I am not fine with banning the sale of specific literature.
9.14.2009 1:28pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
"The ironic thing is that the impact will mainly be on poor people due to the lack of used children's clothing and it is those Democrtaic champions of the poor like Waxman and Obama that got the law passed."

This particular law was passed under Bush.
By a Democratic Congress. To b fair, Obama did not actually vote on it, but I think it likely, given that the only no votes were from four very conservative Republicans (DeMint, Coburn, Kyl, and Paul), I think he'd have voted in favor, if he had bothered to vote.
9.14.2009 1:29pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
So no, pre-1985 childrens' books alone are not likely to cause serious lead poisoning, but they can be a contributing factor.
How?

How is the lead from the book -- the lead that there's no evidence exists, mind you -- supposed to poison the child?
9.14.2009 1:32pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Read the thread a little. I was pointing out Bob from Ohio's reflexive Democrat-bashing, not making some point in support of this absurd law.


Everybody know the GOP hates poor people and supports big business like Mattel, right.

What about Waxman and Obama? I though the Democratic Party was different? Didn't you read Ted Kennedy's letter to the Pope?

I guess Dems hate poor people too.
9.14.2009 1:33pm
Steve:
Had you kept up with the site, you would know that the fact that big toy companies basically wrote the law and are using it to leverage out competition has been recognized many times by Olsen and others that share that position, and is yet another reason that's been put forward that the law is awful. But you didn't keep up. You misread, misunderstood and misrepresented to make an irrelevant point.

But this isn't a post from overlawyered.com, it's an op-ed in the WSJ. Most readers of the WSJ don't "keep up" with Walter Olson's website either (I know, what fools they are, right?). I suppose it's a coincidence that in this piece meant for wider consumption, Olson just happened to put the blame on the consumer groups as opposed to the major companies that actually wrote the law.

Anyone who labels consumer protection groups as "antibusiness" has earned the title of corporate shill quite clearly. Of course not every regulation sought by consumer groups will be a good idea, but characterizing them as a bunch of radical activists who simply hate the concept of profit and want to destroy business just for personal satisfaction is laughable.

There are a lot of people out there that can't afford to pay retail. The way they get clothes for their family, and toys for their kids, is to hit a used toy store or a thrift shop. And there are a lot of people who make their living - they eek out a modest, "sustainable" living doing artisanal work.

Yes, and it's a very tired mode of argument that tries to pretend that any kind of new regulation will put Mr. Jones, the struggling craft-store owner, out of business, and why do Democrats hate Mr. Jones? No wonder we find it so hard to enact reasonable public policy when the discussion basically consists of people screaming "you hate small businesses" at people who scream back "you want little kids to get lead poisoning."
9.14.2009 1:41pm
Steve:
Well, I guess we were living in a libertarian fantasyland before Aug 14. Who knew?

Yes, before August 14, consumers all made thoughtful, considered choices about whether they would prefer labeled or nonlabeled products, and yet we chose to interfere with this deeply personal decision. You sure nailed me with that one.
9.14.2009 1:43pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Steve, you've agreed that the bill was written by big corporate interests. So why are you trying to defend it? Are you saying that this bill represents the "reasonable" public policy you endorse?
9.14.2009 1:45pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Also, I responded to your comment about labeling with, I think, a fairly coherent explanation of why "labeling" is not as innocuous a requirement as it sounds. Why is it that you, like President Obama, prefer to merely decry the "liars" rather than address the actual, reasonable criticisms directed at your position?
9.14.2009 1:49pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

Yes, and it's a very tired mode of argument that tries to pretend that any kind of new regulation will put Mr. Jones, the struggling craft-store owner, out of business, and why do Democrats hate Mr. Jones?

"A very tired mode of argument" as opposed to your, "...b-b-but it's for the children" shtick?
9.14.2009 1:51pm
Allan (mail):
First, I don't like children getting sick from lead poisoning.

Second, I don't like this law, as it seems to be overbroad.

Third, there is a problem, we have had many imported toys with lead poisoning. They had to be tested, but the importers wanted to be fair, so they made the testing apply to all toys, whereever and however manufactured.

The problem is that the Republican party, generally, applied the ostrich strategy to attack the issue. This is an example, once again, of Republicans recognizing a problem, offering no solution, and criticizing the Democrats' solution.

I look forward to the day when Republicans offer a solution to a problem that is something other than lowering taxes. That day may come, but it may be for my great-grandchildren to see.
9.14.2009 2:05pm
Bob White (mail):
One point of clarification: the CPSIA only applies to products for children under 12. Classic collectible books, like the first editions referenced above, are for adult collectors and thus the CPSIA doesn't apply to them. I'm pretty sure the CPSC has ruled as much, thought I'm not sure if that ended up in the Federal Register.
9.14.2009 2:10pm
Gabriel McCall (mail):
Yes, before August 14, consumers all made thoughtful, considered choices about whether they would prefer labeled or nonlabeled products, and yet we chose to interfere with this deeply personal decision. You sure nailed me with that one.

If consumers cannot be trusted to decide what toys they will allow their children to put in their mouths, then by the same token they cannot possibly be trusted to vote. If you really do believe that the masses must be governed by the elites for their own good, then you've got much bigger problems to worry about than children's books- such as that pesky Constitution.
9.14.2009 2:17pm
Steve:
Steve, you've agreed that the bill was written by big corporate interests. So why are you trying to defend it? Are you saying that this bill represents the "reasonable" public policy you endorse?

Considering that my very first words in this thread acknowledged that there are many problems with the CPSIA, I'm not sure why anyone would think that I'm interested in defending the bill, except that maybe it's fun to argue with a strawman who offers nothing but "...b-b-but it's for the children" shtick. In fact, if given the choice, I think I'd prefer to start over with no bill at all than work within the parameters of the bill we've got.

That said, my point was simply that a labelling provision is reasonable and not that big a deal. Some of the provisions of the CPSIA are, indeed, quite burdensome on small business and individual resellers, but I don't believe this is one of them. Considering this is a provision that applies to manufacturers and not resellers, it's downright amusing to find myself being told that I'm the sort of callous ass who looks down on people who shop at thrift stores.

Unlike most of the commentors here at the VC, I'm a fairly traditional liberal who doesn't buy into the looking-glass world where the opponents of affirmative action are the true foes of racism, the opponents of consumer-protection laws are the true friends of consumers, and the like. And using legislation drafted by big business as a pretext to take a fact-free shot at consumer advocates, as Olson does in this op-ed, is not just Orwellian but downright dishonest.
9.14.2009 2:22pm
Steve:
If consumers cannot be trusted to decide what toys they will allow their children to put in their mouths, then by the same token they cannot possibly be trusted to vote.

Right, if we can't "trust" people to take the time to analyze thousands of minor issues requiring specialized knowledge in the course of their day - like the question of what sort of labelling should appear on consumer goods - then I guess we think they're all stupid and shouldn't be allowed to vote for President. This is a college-freshman level of sophistry and you could go your whole life repeating this sort of tripe without convincing a single person.
9.14.2009 2:28pm
DennisN (mail):
Bob White:

One point of clarification: the CPSIA only applies to products for children under 12. Classic collectible books, like the first editions referenced above, are for adult collectors and thus the CPSIA doesn't apply to them. I'm pretty sure the CPSC has ruled as much, thought I'm not sure if that ended up in the Federal Register.


I don't recall the details, but I believe the CPSC set some relatively reasonable tests for determining which childrens' books are sold for kids and which for adult collectors. They had to do with how the stuff was marketed, IIRC.

Of course, the cost for getting it wrong could be pretty high in terms of fines and legal fees, so if I were a booseller, they would go under armed guard (pistol in my pocket and no, I'm not happy to see you), to the dump. It's just too risky to play tag with the Secret police.

I'm not sure what to do with a lot of small sized sleeping bags. I'd like to sell them for Scouts, but you can enter Boy and Girl Scouts at 11.
9.14.2009 2:30pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Bob White:

One point of clarification: the CPSIA only applies to products for children under 12. Classic collectible books, like the first editions referenced above, are for adult collectors and thus the CPSIA doesn't apply to them.


I didn't say first editions. I said out of print books. These might be classic books of other sorts, or just books parents remember being read to and want to provide the same book to their kids.

The second question that comes to mind though is what the difference between books for kids and books for parents is in actual application? If I buy a book for either of my kids (ages 1 and 5), are those for practical purposes MY books or the child's books?

Finally, even if we draw a distinction, any parent who has ever watched a child try to eat the telephone directory knows that parents' books can end up eaten by the child, so there is no rational basis for such a distinction.
9.14.2009 2:49pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
(For example I have a 1911 printing of the Grimms Brothers Fairy Tales collection and read it to my 5-year-old. Is that a book for under-12 or not?)
9.14.2009 2:50pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
You know, UL Laboratories has worked pretty well at keeping mass numbers of folks from being killed by bad wiring and the like. Local governments have done, on the whole, a pretty decent job with building codes to protect our homes. If in fact lead poisoning in children's books, or zippers, or whatever was such a big problem, then I'm fairly certain that lots of folks would have noticed, and UL Labs or some other organization (IEEE?) would have come up with some standards and a certification policy.

So far, nobody has demonstrated ANY problems that were solved by the bill. When there were poisoned toys and milk coming over from China, people heard about it and stopped buying as much crap from China. And the Chinese government started regulating their own industries better to preserve the China brand name.

The market really does respond to actual dangerous products in the absence of federal government intervention.
9.14.2009 2:52pm
Abdul Abulbul Amir (mail):

It's not outrageous to say that people should have a way of knowing where a product came from, in case they have a problem with it.


That is completely reasonable for new production and new importation going forward. It is completely unreasonable for an item produced 50 years ago.


BTW, has anyone noticed if the woodeb swords and shields at Ren Fests are still being sold. Diddo childrens wooden shoes.
9.14.2009 3:18pm
hymie (mail):
As of a couple of weeks ago, yes, wooden swords and shields for children were still being sold at the Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY.
9.14.2009 3:37pm
SeaDrive:
We are living in an age of preoccupation with safety and the reduction of risk. I don't know what the driving factors are but quite possibly rise of high risk/high payoff liability litigation contributes to setting the tone, and the society is rich enough to be more concerned with keeping children safe rather than sending them to work in the mills and mines as was done just 100 years ago. This is not just a US affliction; this week there have been articles about taking pocket knives away from British Boy Scouts.

I'd like to think that it's a bubble, but as yet, I can't see what will pop it.
9.14.2009 3:59pm
BGates:
So no, pre-1985 childrens' books alone are not likely to cause serious lead poisoning, but they can be a contributing factor.

Continuing that train of thought further, illiterates will have less interest in books, so teaching children to read is a tertiary contributing factor to serious lead poisoning too.

Fortunately, the government schools are doing their part for that problem.
9.14.2009 4:06pm
BGates:
Steve, can you defend writing

it's a very tired mode of argument that tries to pretend that any kind of new regulation will put Mr. Jones, the struggling craft-store owner, out of business

after acknowledging that

Yes, at the margins, even the mildest regulation represents a death knell for some small business that was barely surviving under the prior regimen

?
9.14.2009 4:08pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
PatHMV:

If in fact lead poisoning in children's books, or zippers, or whatever was such a big problem, then I'm fairly certain that lots of folks would have noticed, and UL Labs or some other organization (IEEE?) would have come up with some standards and a certification policy.


Being a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE), I think I am qualified to say that lead in zippers and printing inks is far outside that organization's field of expertise and study.
9.14.2009 4:14pm
Bob White (mail):
einhrverfr:
I'm afraid I didn't pay enough attention to the book-related parts of the law to make intelligent distinctions-I ran across CPSIA for professional reasons, but books weren't part of my charge. On your "rational basis for a distinction" point, I will merely point out the death from lead poisoning mentioned in CPSIA discussions came from a small child who swallowed a bauble that came attached to his mother's shoes, and shoes sold to adult women are not considered products intended for children under 12.
9.14.2009 4:37pm
Bob White (mail):
And, einhverfr, I apologize for the typo on your name.
9.14.2009 4:39pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Thanks, einhverfr. I defer to your knowledge on the subject and am quite certain you are correct. I'm sure there is SOME national or international body which does or could undertake such a responsibility, if this were a real, as opposed to a political, problem. How about the ISO? I know they set a wide variety of standards, and lots of organizations want to be certified as meeting some of them. I don't know if they set standards for things like this.
9.14.2009 4:40pm
Sarah Natividad (mail) (www):
OK Steve, you like tracking labels? Then I hereby issue you the Tracking Label Challenge. All you have to do is figure out how you would label each of the following with a business name, location, and production date. Just say what method you'd use to put the information on-- engraving, glue, Sharpie marker, the sky's the limit as long as it's permanent-- and where you would put the information. Note: it can't just be on the packaging; it has to be on the item itself, just like it says in CPSIA! Unlike real businesses, though, you don't have to consider how much it'd cost to play this game!

Here's what you have to label:

1. a pair of 10k gold stud earrings for babies (no fair saying you wouldn't put them on your baby; loads of people do)
2. a marble (bagged marble sets only have to have the bag labeled, but individually sold marbles must be individually labeled)
3. a hair barrette
4. a geology sample of quartz to be sold to elementary schools (these are exempt from lead testing but NOT from labeling!)
5. a Lego (a set of Legos is like a set of marbles; if the piece is sold a-la-carte it has to be labeled)

This game is really fun, but if you want to play it for real, here's the catch: you have to get every answer right. Each wrong answer will cost you $100,000! Oh, and don't forget that CPSC allows you to not label stuff that's too small (though they don't tell you what "too small" means), or where the labeling would ruin the aesthetics (though they don't tell you what "ruined" means or who gets to decide about aesthetics). But wait, there's more! You have to get all this 100% correct by not only CPSC's standards, but the standards of 50 DIFFERENT attorneys general!

And if you can do all that, you win the fabulous prize of having your business survive to be criticized by the Steves of this world for wanting kiddies to be poisoned with lead while you roll on a pile of your filthy lucre!
9.14.2009 4:42pm
Fub:
SeaDrive wrote at 9.14.2009 3:59pm:
We are living in an age of preoccupation with safety and the reduction of risk. ...

I'd like to think that it's a bubble, but as yet, I can't see what will pop it.
A few federal prosecutions of Grandma and Grandpa for daring to let their grandchildren or other children possess and read books printed before 1985 would likely raise public awareness. Maybe that's why CPSC is backpedalling and spinning as fast as it can in its publicity about prosecuting resellers. But the spin can't quite cover up the outright lie that they don't plan such prosecutions.

According to this recent McClatchy report:
Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the agency, said it wouldn't be dispatching bureaucratic storm troopers into private homes to see whether people were selling recalled products from their garages, yards or churches.

"We're not looking to come across as being heavy-handed," he said. "We want to make sure that everybody knows what the rules of engagement are to help spur greater compliance, so that enforcement becomes less of an issue. But we're still going to enforce."

The agency is working with eBay, Wolfson said, to help the online sales giant install software filters that will flag auction items subject to manufacturers' recalls.

The commission's Internet surveillance unit is monitoring Craigslist and other "top auction and reselling sites" for recalled goods. If the agency discovers that a recalled product has been sold online, it will try to find and inform the buyer, Wolfson said.
So, they're not kicking down doors at Grandma's garage sale yet, but they're going to if Grandma doesn't comply.
9.14.2009 4:53pm
DennisN (mail):
einhverfr:

(For example I have a 1911 printing of the Grimms Brothers Fairy Tales collection and read it to my 5-year-old. Is that a book for under-12 or not?)


Well, it would not apply to you unless you wished to sell the book including selling it privately to me as a collector.

This is what the CPSC says about age determination:

A children's product is one designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger. Toys, clothes, furniture, books, jewelry, blankets, games, CDs/DVDs, strollers, and footwear may all be considered children's products.

In determining whether a consumer product is "intended primarily" for a child 12 years of age or younger, the following factors will be considered:

• A statement by the manufacturer about the intended use of the product, including a label on the product, if such statement is reasonable.
• Whether the product is represented in its packaging, display, promotion, or advertising as appropriate for use by children 12 years of age or younger.
• Whether the product is commonly recognized by consumers as being intended for use by a child 12 years of age or younger.
• The age Determination Guidelines [which I have not found] issued by Commission staff

If a product is intended for adults or for general use by consumers of all ages, then it is not intended primarily for children [but note that the CPSC has refused to exempt adult bicycles from the act. http://overlawyered.com/2009/05/cpsia-chronicles-may-15/] Products marketed and priced in a manner that would not make them appropriate for use by a child would also not be intended primarily for children. An example would be an expensive telescope -- because it is sold for general use by all ages, it is not a children's product even though it can be used by a child on occasion.

http://www.cpsc.gov/ABOUT/Cpsia/smbus/sbguide.pdf

Based on the "marketed and priced" provision of the last paragraph, I don't think your book would be covered. But again, the CPSC recently refused to exempt adult bicycles from the Act.

Neat older children's books that are not clearly collector's items are more problemmatic. As a store owner, how much risk do you want to take with something that is probably a slow seller, anyway? If it were my book store, they would either go into the storage shed hoping the Act is repealed, or in the back of the pickup bound for the dump.
9.14.2009 4:55pm
karrde (mail) (www):
PatHMV: I would guess that UL would get in on such a testing-and-certification scheme.

It is already their strong point (for a wide variety of materials and equipment sold for use in homes), and their trademark has a good brand identity.
9.14.2009 4:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DennisN:

• Whether the product is commonly recognized by consumers as being intended for use by a child 12 years of age or younger.


That still bans all antique toys, whether advertised for use by children under 12 or not.
9.14.2009 5:00pm
DennisN (mail):
einhverfr:

• Whether the product is commonly recognized by consumers as being intended for use by a child 12 years of age or younger.


That still bans all antique toys, whether advertised for use by children under 12 or not.


That, my friend, is the sort of argujment that puts lawyers' kids through college. :-) We could do a lot of arguing, and consume a lot of adult beverage, trying to see where the fuzzy grey line lies on that.

The poor shopkeeper would, of course foot the bill.

Or he'd toss the stuff in the trash.
9.14.2009 5:05pm
ShelbyC:

But this isn't a post from overlawyered.com, it's an op-ed in the WSJ. Most readers of the WSJ don't "keep up" with Walter Olson's website either (I know, what fools they are, right?). I suppose it's a coincidence that in this piece meant for wider consumption, Olson just happened to put the blame on the consumer groups as opposed to the major companies that actually wrote the law.


But he just said the consumer groups were one reason for the bill, didn't he? And it's one think to suggest that the emphasis on consumer groups as opposed to rent seeking toy companies is misplaced, it's quite another to call the guy a shill.
9.14.2009 5:26pm
mj_az:
This strikes me as just another example of statist obsession with absolutism. Toys should be as safe, information should be free, profits should be as high, and people should be as free as practical.

Rather than trying to answer every policy question with hysteria, why not try to get to the point where for the community marginal cost of improvement = marginal benefit. Derive Responsibly.
9.14.2009 6:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
mj_az:


Rather than trying to answer every policy question with hysteria, why not try to get to the point where for the community marginal cost of improvement = marginal benefit. Derive Responsibly.


You think the problem is with drunk deriving?

Actually I wouldn't be at all surprised....
9.14.2009 7:05pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Drunk deriving? Wouldn't that leave you at dangerous risk of running off on a tangent?
9.14.2009 7:20pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
PatHMV:

Drunk deriving? Wouldn't that leave you at dangerous risk of running off on a tangent?


Isn't that how this bill came about?

I suppose as long as cosinage isn't involved....
9.14.2009 7:33pm
Any Random Congressman (mail) (www):
Hey, when I got elected I was told there would be no math!!
9.14.2009 7:40pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I say we pass a law providing implied consent to search Congressional offices when there is probable cause to believe that drunk deriving is involved ;-)
9.14.2009 8:25pm
Kirk:

But he just said the consumer groups were one reason for the bill, didn't he?
Actually, that's not what he wrote, but rather "antibusiness groups claiming to speak for consumers". I know I certainly didn't commission any PIRG to lobby on my behalf as a consumer...
9.14.2009 10:57pm
Gullyborg (mail) (www):
So... does this mean no more youth hunter safety courses that involve lead core ammunition? I mean, a kid might chew on one of those!
9.15.2009 12:30am
Joe T. Guest:

Yes, and it's a very tired mode of argument that tries to pretend that any kind of new regulation will put Mr. Jones, the struggling craft-store owner, out of business, and why do Democrats hate Mr. Jones? No wonder we find it so hard to enact reasonable public policy when the discussion basically consists of people screaming "you hate small businesses" at people who scream back "you want little kids to get lead poisoning."


You know, I thought I was an ass for thinking of you as an ass, Steve, but now I know I'm not. You are in fact a ass. Nobody said that "any new kind of regulation" is putting stores out of business. They said it was this particular regulation. To say otherwise is to intentionally try to distract us from the lack of merit of the substance of your arguments.

I spent a good portion of my younger adult life scraping to put myself through school. My wife shopped for our family at thrift stores. My kid had second hand toys because we were about as poor as a working law student and his wife could be. When he outgrew them, we recycled them back, and they were resold to somebody else. So I'm not unfamiliar with the business model.

This regulation introduces a lot of uncertainty into the business of running stores like that, and stores will have one of two choices - go out of business, or stay in business and break the law.

Yeah, you liberals only care about the children. And the little guy. Like the poor little Goldman &Sachs children.

I'm guessing you're a lobbyist for Mattel or Fisher Price.
9.15.2009 9:26am
Toby:
SOme years back, Library systems for schools here in North Carolina began to be rated based upon the ratio of old books to new books. This rating was claimed to be "to encourage the purchase of new books". As no new funding was supplied, the easiest way for a library to "bring up its rating" was to throw out old books.

Once again, we have a regulation here who's primary effect is to throw out old books.

Is there something in particular that activists hate about old books?
9.15.2009 10:17am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Toby:

Is there something in particular that activists hate about old books?


I think there is a fundamental difference between those who are methodologically conservative (like myself) and those who are methodologically progressive regarding how old books are handled. Note that folks on either side can be either left- or right- wing, but activists on both sides tend to be methodologically progressive. However the labels of conservative vs progressive here roughly map to "conservative vs innovative" in the studies of the humanities and have very little to do with "conservative vs liberal" in American politics.

The fundamental question has to do with how we handle change, and how we value the status quo. Methodological conservatives value the status quo and want to see minor incremental changes, while methodological progressives see the status quo as a problem and want to see more drastic changes.

If you value the status quo and the past, as I do, you don't want to see old books being thrown out. You may want to cycle through a portion of one's collection but do so carefully and deliberately.

If on the other hand you value progress and innovation toward whatever goal, you do not want to see old books in your library. Everything should reflect current trends and current thinking. Like the past and the status quo, the old books in the library are what is holding up the progress of the book collection.
9.15.2009 10:56am
George Smith:
I hear that the next thing that wil be banned is The Dangerous Book for Boys.
9.15.2009 11:17am
Dan Weber (www):
what solutions might be found to insure that childrens' clothing and other products are safe.

This didn't hit me until last night, but you can't "insure" that anything is "safe." Once you buy into this line of thinking, you can't do anything. Prove that computer is "safe." Prove that bottle of water is "safe." Prove that toy is "safe." Prove that being a vegetarian is "safe." Prove that posting on Volokh Conspiracy is "safe."

Believe it or not, there are very rational ways to regulate environmental lead besides the CPSIA. For example:
1) all products newly imported or manufactured
2) that do not have lead as an essential component
3) that are to be used by children under the age of 5,
4) must have either
-> a) tested the end product to have less than X ppm of lead
-> b) gotten certification from all vendors that they did a)
9.15.2009 11:30am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dan Weber:

This didn't hit me until last night, but you can't "insure" that anything is "safe." Once you buy into this line of thinking, you can't do anything. Prove that computer is "safe." Prove that bottle of water is "safe." Prove that toy is "safe." Prove that being a vegetarian is "safe." Prove that posting on Volokh Conspiracy is "safe."


Actually, it is worse than that. For any sufficiently high safety standard, any product will fail. Not only can you not guarantee that any product is "safe" but for sufficiently high safety standards, you can guarantee any product is "unsafe."

One has to come to grips at some point that life involves risk and that one can't remove all risk from anything. Some level of risk has to be seen as acceptable.
9.15.2009 12:22pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
In fact, I can guarantee you that if you drink enough of that bottled water, you will die, just like this woman.
9.15.2009 12:24pm
yankee (mail):
The only argument more tiresome than "but it's for the children!" is "but it will be bad for small business!"

That said, this particular set of testing and labeling requirements appears to be excessive.
9.15.2009 12:41pm
anomdebus (mail):
einhverfr,
Stick to eminently reasonable comments like yours @10:56am and you are bound to be ignored. :)


(note: being ignored is not a proxy for being eminently reasonable)
9.15.2009 2:13pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Bob White,

the death from lead poisoning mentioned in CPSIA discussions came from a small child who swallowed a bauble that came attached to his mother's shoes, and shoes sold to adult women are not considered products intended for children under 12.

You've done the research and I haven't, but there's something wrong here.

I find it hard to believe that a "bauble" from a shoe, even if it were plated with lead or made of solid lead, would would cause fatal (if any) lead poisoning in a child, unless it was made of compressed lead dust (which could disintegrate and be absorbed into the body. It seems to me, that the cause of death was more likely choking or intestinal blockage caused by the ornament.
9.15.2009 9:05pm
subpatre (mail):
Brooks Lyman wrote: "I find it hard to believe that a "bauble" from a shoe, even if it were plated with lead or made of solid lead, would would cause fatal . . ."

Then don't believe it, but the CDC, the hospital and the attending doctors all believe the child died from lead poisoning.

The child's death —caused by swallowing a charm from his mother's bracelet— was used to ram through this insane legislation; an Act that has no connection to the item causing his death.

Brooks Lyman wrote: "You've done the research and I haven't, but there's something wrong here."

You could have stopped there . . . or before. The cause of death was lead poisoning. Now please move on to the issues with CPSIA; there's dozens of them, from failing to prevent more all-lead trinkets, to giving unaudited license only to proven violators.
9.16.2009 1:21am

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