from my ink-stained hands

I found this post to be a good rundown of why the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad law. As someone who has been madly in love with books in general and old books in particular since as long as I can remember, a law declaring that bookstores and libraries have to get rid of books from earlier than 1985 chills my blood. I guess I can imagine a library with no old books, but I really don’t want to. (The good news is that it appears a stay has been ordered on that specific issue.)

None of this is to say, of course, that we shouldn’t try to keep lead-tainted toys out of the mouths of three year olds, and I don’t think it necessarily follows that you couldn’t write smart, effective regulation that accomplishes that. The CPSIA, though, is most certainly not such regulation. Worse, it makes it that much more unlikely that we will have such regulation in the future. Every piece of stupid, ham-handed, counterproductive regulation makes it harder to pass effective and smart regulation, if for no other reason than that it erodes public trust in regulation as an institution. Regulate where prudent and necessary, but regulate intelligently, for goodness sakes.

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9 thoughts on “from my ink-stained hands

  1. Word. I shudder to think of what would have happened to my intellectual development if this had applied to my local library growing up…


  2. Holy crap. I knew it was bad but this sums it up. This is the sort of thing that will sink the Democrats. This is just fodder for the GOP. How unbelievably, unrepentantly stupid. My wife and I live and die by second hand.


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  4. Actually, the stay specifically excluded certain items and books published before 1985 are NOT covered by the stay. It is illegal to sell them or distribute them in commerce. Libraries have large just decided to ignore. Bookstores and thrift shops have a higher risk of liability and many of them have pulled those books from the shelves.
    CPSC Commissioner Moore tells Congress he is pleased to announce that his staff has found a “‘bright line’ to guide libraries as to what books we will deem not to pose a problem and which ones should be sequestered” pending further scientific evidence proving that the books are safe.

    It would seem that ‘bright line’ was pre 1985.

    Keep in mind this message from the CPSC:

    “Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers should also be aware that CPSC will:
    Not impose penalties against anyone for making, importing, distributing, or selling
    an ordinary children’s book printed after 1985”

    If they say they WON’T come after people for selling books printed after 1985, then by inference, they make no such promise for pre-1985 books.


  5. Yet again, I believe the entire issue comes back to the question of who is best fit to “parent” our children?

    Is it not possible to share old books (as I do) with our children and ensure they’re not sucking on the pages as we try to turn them? Is it not enough to simply inform parents that books printed prior to 1985 generally are known to have higher lead content in the inks used and, therefore, you are encouraged to use parental guidance? Personally, I refuse to replace “mother approved” with “big brother approved” and this law is so bad that it cuts even deeper than my own, personal love of old children’s books (saying a LOT). It cuts to the quick of our authority over our government – are we truly ready to rade in our good common sense for this absolute government-controlled NONsense?

    This is not the America my grandparents came over to enjoy and build – they’re rolling over in their graves, for sure!

    Thanks for the fantastic post.


  6. I realize that childrens’ books might be closer to the hearts of the readership here, but have you considered the impact of terminating all thrift store/second-hand childrens’ clothing? For a large chunk of people, the availability of such clothing is a tremendous relief to their budget.
    I imagine some way will be found around the childrens’ book issue, or the rules will simply not be enforced, as the enforcement would piss off large numbers of middle-class parents, who tend to be politically active. On the other hand, who really gives a toss about people who shop for their kids at Goodwill?
    The whole bill, written in response I believe to the Chinese toy recall last year, strikes me as a fine case of “we must be seen to be doing something” and “THINK OF THE CHILLLDRENNNN!” The sheer quantity of unintended consequences bespeaks of a rushed-through, ill-thought-out piece of legislation. I reckon only Ron Paul and a few cranky Republican senators dared vote against either because they are the only ones who read it, or they were the only ones cranky enough not to worry about looking like they didn’t care about PROTECTING OUR CHILLLDRENNNN!
    Tristan, if there weren’t PACs for PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN, I really don’t think Congress would bother with a bill like this.


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