Walter Olson has a really thorough roundup of the news and events surrounding the CPSIA, a really egregious example of legislation gone wild following the Chinese lead paint in toys incidents of last year. This is an interesting story on two levels, the first being how Congress’ response to real problems with oversight and legislation can be worse than the original problems they targeted, and secondly how social media is playing a role in elevating public awareness of these issues in a way that media simply won’t devote themselves to doing.
Much of the alarm over the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the federal law enacted last year in response to panics over Chinese toys with lead paint and the phthalates found in plastic, has focused on the effect it will have on toys and related kids’ products, driving many of them from the market because it is too costly for handcrafters and small-run manufacturers to pay for the testing of every lot. (One protest site is entitled National Bankruptcy Day, after Feb. 10, the day the law is set to go into effect.) But the law is much wider in application than that. It also applies to a sweeping array of children’s goods including clothing, bedding, Scouting patches, and countless other fabric and textile goods for kids’ use; paper goods, school supplies, homeschooling kits, as well as library books and audiobooks, board games, baseball cards, and the like; outdoor gear, bikes, backpacks, telescopes and sporting equipment; home furnishings when marketed for use in kids’ rooms; and much more.