Monday, January 5, 2009

Surprise! The Government Wants to Destroy More Businesses

Last year (late 2007-early 2008) there were a number of product recalls on toys made in China due to the presence of lead. Now, I'm not going to go into the health issues regarding items with lead and pthalates because let's face it, those are well documented.

No, what has me flipping out is the government's response which is of course via a consumer protection act.

What this thing does, is demand that every item (clothes, toys, etc) that is marketed to children 12 years old and younger must be tested for lead and pthalates. Additionally, this is such a widely inclusive law that it applies to thrift stores, donations to thrift stores, new sales, consignment shops and even yard sales.

So consider just what is going to happen here, because truthfully, this things are already happening:
  • Thrift Stores will no longer sell children's items, or at least won't for many months--a long enough time that they can, and will, go bankrupt
  • eBay, and other auction sites, will stop accepting auctions on children's items as the cost of verifying the legality of an item's sale status would be prohibitive
  • Individuals could be fined and/or arrested for holding a yard sale
  • Hand-made, and other small, mostly family-owned, children article manufacturers will go out of business
  • Charitable organizations will be forced to only accept new toys, as the law covers donations and giveaways
And that's just the things that pop into my head right away. Of those, I'm impacted greatly by at least two, as my church is the Salvation Army and they utilize a thrift store and do a lot of donation work, and there are a number of family friends of my parents who are in the business of creating hand-made objects, some of them aimed at children.

And all this because Clinton-era rules which relaxed trade restrictions with Communist China. Because, one thing we learned is that all the lead-tainted items came from China.

So, how do I think this law needs to be fixed? It's actually simple, and needs to involve these following parts:
  • Remove testing requirements on items that cannot actually be tainted with lead
  • Make it be based on manufacturing date after 2/10 rather than a sales date of 2/10
  • Make items wholly made in America exempt from the testing requirements
  • Make the testing rules more stringent on items coming from known sources of contaminants. I.e. stricter testing for Chinese manufactured items as opposed to say Mexican manufactured items, until the Mexican ones start showing up with lead in their more random tests
Of course this implies that the Congress would be interested in not running a number of small businesses out of business, or that they see value in thrift stores and consignment shops. Of course, we all know that Congress, especially a Democratically controlled Congress, has no true concern over small business or anyone that is not on welfare.

But hey, I'd love to be proved wrong.

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