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The Law of Unintended Consequences - Part MMCLXV
Posted by: McQ on Friday, January 09, 2009

Watch this video report closely. Note how the shop owner, who was all for "increased regulation", suddenly discovers that it's not so cool when it is a) stupid and b) negatively affects her business:

This is clearly a stupid and sloppily written law which was obviously passed in haste without being carefully read or debated in Congress and then signed into law by the President.

It was a "for goodness sake, do something for the children" law, which will now impose onerous cost through regulation on people and businesses it was never intended to touch - or so I would guess (but, in fact, you never know).

You can read about the law here in more detail. But it is a very fine example of the "crisis law" phenomenon in which bad law is written and passed to address a 'crisis' and ends up making the "crisis" worse.

Another example of that are the bailout bills we're seeing proliferate - but you knew that, didn't you?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

This is a perfect example of regulatory capture.

A bill supported by the big manufacturers who already meet the regulations (and are not financially impacted because of the economies of scale) to reduce or eliminate competition by forcing harsh regulations on smaller competitors.

Lobbyists write the bills, then explain exactly how to frame it and sell it, and of course their access to the lawmakers is bought and paid for by campaign donations.

I’ll bet the legislators who passed this had absolutely no idea, nor did they consider, the consequences.

Disgusting, and typical.

Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
She wanted is good that she suffers now.

It’s called a teachable moment.

Now, as you noted, apply that "do something, anything!" approach to the economy, and we’re in for a world of pain.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Wackyhermit, who comments here, has been covering this issue also.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Where do you get off, you sick little twist? Sexual? I’m not sexual with them. I’m not abusive with them, how dare you write that in your paper without knowing nothing about me, biting’s not sex, it’s biting! I’m not sick like that. Maybe I should come bite you, would you like that, scotty? I bet you would like that, I am right? You write about me like I’m sick. You’re the sick one, you know that? Is that why you like me, scotty? Is that why? I could come bite you; you tell me how sexual it is. You humiliate me like that? You mortify me like that in front of my father? My father’s father? Listen to me, smack daddy, crack daddy, little baby whack daddy, here’s what’s happening. You ain’t never going to find them anymore. You aint never gonna see them no more. I’m sending you something right now, You take a good look at this guy, because you ain’t ver going to see him no more.
Written By: Sophocles
URL: http://
If I thought I knew what Sophocles was talking about, I’d check myself into the Buffalo Laughing Academy.

Written By: Bithead
It is entertaining though.

Think of it as sort of like, channel surfing through Erb’s mind.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Got to wake up... Got to wake up... Got to wake up... Got to wake up... Got to wake up... Got to wake up... Help meeeeeeee

Written By: Bithead
I love how Tiffany keeps invoking the ’organic and natural’ mantra as if it will ward off harm. Hey, Tiff, I’ve got some lovely hand-carved oleander flutes here ...
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
I sell Children’s products made in China and these regulations always amuse me. They want you to conform to everything under the sun and show test results that you do so. Well, everyone in China did just that. They tested one sample and then ran production with illegal materials. Hey, but they have that certificate!

Mass production needs to be tested, preferably in the USA where they can’t figure out how to beat the system through bribery. I don’t know why the big toy companies did not randomly test their own products, but I will tell you that testing for lead is very, very cheap. Its like a US$ 30 test in China. Some companies even have their own test machines (including one company that had the test machine but still shipped lead paint...that machine was just to show the foreign buyers I guess.)

I reviewed the new law and IIRC, it just means you have to test your shipment....except the shipper gets to do the test and show a certificate. So, once again, disreputable factories could simply test the good stuff and ship the bad. Meanwhile, because of either laziness or intense competition, American companies now like to just dump all the regulatory nonsense on their vendors. Sure, you can send your legal letter and the 120 page law to your Chinese vendors, and they will sign it and send it back, but do they really even understand it?

Now, for the best part of this law.... H.R. 4040

Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Thanks for the plug, timactual!

Now once you guys get over your schadenfreude, please engage your brains and think about this law. Some people’s magical organic thinking notwithstanding, this stupid law is seriously going to cause thousands of bankruptcies here in the US. Harun mentioned that the test for lead costs $30 in China. This is true but the CPSIA law requires EVERY PART of EACH PRODUCT to be tested this way. So if you make jackets in 3 sizes and each jacket has a zipper and a snap, you have to test the fabric, the zipper, the snap, and the entire jacket— four tests— for EACH size. And you have to do it all over again for each batch too. And the testing is destructive— the item is destroyed in the process. A children’s telescope costs upwards of $24,000 to be tested. Oh, and the law applies retroactively to goods already in stores, so it’s a felony to sell untested merchandise that was manufactured before this law was even passed.

If you’d like to educate yourself on the issue, start here: National Bankruptcy Day

The deadline to have testing completed is Feb. 10, the CPSC has yet to rule on how we are supposed to structure our testing regimens, and there are only 14 accredited labs in the United States. Do the math! Businesses are already starting to close their doors. Thrift stores are affected. The American Library Association was told by the CPSC’s General Counsel that used books are dangerous unless they are tested (and remember that the test destroys the book in question).

So quit your gloating over this poor ignorant lady, and do something NOW!
Written By: Wacky Hermit
It is the way of those who look to some governmental authority or other to solve their problems for them, to not think the process all the way through. When one is used to the idea that government is the solution to all your problems, thought, particularly individual thought, is no longer a requirement. So what is that their surprised when it blows up in their faces as it always does.
Written By: Bithead
"Thanks for the plug, timactual!"

My pleasure. I enjoy visiting your place.

"used books are dangerous unless they are tested"

My G*d! Does this mean that used book stores will close??!! And I can’t buy those $1 books that the libraries are getting rid of??? Disaster! Heck, if they were really dangerous I would have been dead years ago. Even as I write I am surrounded by used books, hard and soft cover.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Not a problem, I have inlaws in both China and Europe, so my kids will still have cool toys.
Written By: John
URL: http://
If you’re going to call something "stupid" and "sloppily written" (and I happen to agree with you), please don’t use "effects" when you mean "affects."

Just sayin’.
Written By: bill
URL: http://
Good catch.

Written By: McQ
timactual, books are indeed in jeopardy. Amazon already gave notice that sellers are to show CPSIA compliance by Jan. 15. The CPSC has yet to tell us what kinds of testing are appropriate for books or even whether books need to be tested, but Amazon is already requiring test results. The only way to get any kind of test results without destroying the object is by XRF testing, but an XRF gun costs $30,000 new and can be rented for $400 a day, and it’s still not certain whether the CPSC will accept XRF testing anyway. So existing libraries are probably safe, but new libraries and additions to collections will be made exponentially more difficult as the used book market dries up.

Bithead, plenty of us didn’t ask for this and got it anyway. So please help us fight it!
Written By: Wacky Hermit
How much lead was in the paint anyway? Were the toys really dangerous or was it like the bug poison put on apples in the 70’s which was not so bad after all.
Written By: shunha7878
URL: http://
"the bug poison put on apples in the 70’s which was not so bad after all."

Do you mean Alar?
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I have checked on the compliance we are doing for this new regulation, and indeed its fairly expensive. Unless you are selling a large volume, it would be price prohibitive unless your vendors have already done the testing for you.

Beyond the costs, this regulation will not keep anyone safe from lead for the simple reason that it is like the old regulation in that you simply need to test one sample and then show the test certificate when you ship your goods.

In China, the unscrupulous vendors simply make a special sample using safe materials, have it tested and then use that certificate when shipping unsafe materials. (BTW, European regulations are the same too.)

Now, theoretically the government in the USA could test products randomly in stores and catch these bad guys, but you know what? At that point these factories have been paid for the product and simply go out of business. These are not huge factories that do painting, but small operations (by Chinese standards) that can open and close on a dime. They may even have patsies acting as the CEO just for these reasons.

The only way to insure that products pass these regulations would be to have random inspections of products BEFORE shipment is made or BEFORE payment is made. Just the threat of this is usually enough to make the vendors avoid trickery (though you can never tell who is brazen enough to risk it.)
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

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