Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lead Toys and the Regulators Who Need More Money to Stop Them

MSNBC has an infuriating article about how the Consumer Product Safety Commission has told Congress it needs more money to ensure that lead tainted toys don't make it into the country:

"Leaders of the agency responsible for protecting consumers from faulty products said Wednesday that Congress should increase their budget and power in the wake of huge recalls of lead-contaminated toys.


"One of the agency's commissioners said 'we are all to blame' for a system that allowed children to be exposed to lead-tainted toys. That includes 'those who stood by and quietly acquiesced while the commission was being reduced to a weakened regulator,' said Thomas H. Moore, in the first of two days of hearings before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.


"'Our small agency has been ignored by the Congress and the public for way too long,' said the acting chairman, Nancy A. Nord. 'Our laboratory desperately needs to be modernized.'


"Nord noted that the recalls, mainly of toys manufactured in China, have had the intended purpose of goading the entire toy industry into changing practices to prevent such violations in the future.

"It has also inspired the introduction of several bills to increase the authority and budget of the CPSC and better monitor imports from China."
So, in other words, the agency thinks that we should not leave such issues to market forces (even though it acknowledges that such forces are working to correct the problem) but rather that the agency should ensure safety - even though it supposedly doesn't have laboratory equipment sufficient to test for lead and apparently never thought "gee wiz, if we're the one's supposed to be doing this and we can't, maybe we should raise a red flag to someone else in the bureaucracy."

The problem is not that the agency doesn't have enough money or power. Rather the problem is that a) there is no reasonable way that a centralized agency could possible test every batch of every product imported into the country (not to mention those originating inside the country) for every known harmful substance; and b) not only is the agency ill conceived to begin with, it is apparently run and staffed by a bunch of completely incompetent bureaucrats whose solution to their agency failing to perform perhaps the most basic of all of its supposed functions is, of course, more money and more power.

Finally, I would like to point out that the entire article was apparently written by an author who can't think critically about anything. The entire thing is a puff piece about how the agency needs more money. The only salient point is that of the last sentence which states: "Several lawmakers said Mattel blocked committee staff members from visiting the company's plants in China and talking to the Hong Kong executives who oversee those facilities," which, if true, is a big deal. But, regardless of the importance of this point, the author doesn't see fit to pursue
the merits of the claim nor its implications.


Template Designed by Douglas Bowman - Updated to Beta by: Blogger Team
Modified for 3-Column Layout by Hoctro