Last August, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, a seemingly sensible reaction to the scare over lead paint in toys from China. The bill included provisions that imposed strict limits on lead in products intended for children and applied those restrictions retroactively. In this quarter's City Journal, Walter Olson exposes the unintended effects of this law:
"...goods manufactured before the law passed cannot be sold on the used market (even in garage sales or on eBay) if they don't conform. The law has hit thrift stores particularly hard, since many children's products have long included lead-containing (if harmless) components: zippers, snaps, and clasps on garments and backpacks; skateboards, bicycles, and countless other products containing metal alloy; rhinestones and beads in decorations; and so forth. Combine this measure with a new ban (also retroactive) on playthings and child-care articles that contain plastic-softening chemicals known as phthalates, and suddenly tens of millions of commonly encountered children's items have become unlawful to resell, presumably destined for landfills when their owners discard them"
Thrift stores, who barely scrape by as it is, were presented with the option of having their products undergo tests they couldn't possibly afford. The results throughout the country have been disastrous. Just look at this incredible state by state rundown Olson compiled detailing the impacts of this misguided law.
Perhaps the most egregious result is the possible banning of children's books from thrift stores, used book stores and even public libraries, "which daily expose children under 12 to pre-1985 editions of Anne of Green Gables, Beatrix Potter, Baden-Powell's scouting guides, and other deadly hazards."
"Not until 1985 did it become unlawful to use lead pigments in the inks, dyes, and paints used in children's books. Before then--and perhaps particularly in the great age of children's-book illustration that lasted through the early twentieth century--the use of such pigments was not uncommon, and testing can still detect lead residues in books today. This doesn't mean that the books pose any hazard to children. While lead poisoning from other sources, such as paint in old houses, remains a serious public health problem in some communities, no one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations--not surprisingly, since unlike poorly maintained wall paint, book pigments do not tend to flake off in large lead-laden chips for toddlers to put into their mouths."
Now the beautifully crafted books that generation after generation of children grew up reading are being thrown in the trash, thanks to knee-jerk legislation forced through by a fearful Congress.
So how does this relate to Global Warming?
There are two main fronts to the global warming debate: Whether or not the science is true, and, if it is, how to deal with it. The Green Agenda, led by Al Gore, wants you to believe that the first of these points is not up for debate, despite mounting scientific evidence and sentiment to the contrary.
We object to Gore's proclamations of settled science because we believe such claims are A. inaccurate and B. against the very nature of science, which should encourage further study, not dismiss it. However, the possibility remains, however unlikely, that the basic theory of global warming is correct, and that the earth is accelerating through a period of unnatural warming caused at least in part by man. This leads to the second part of the debate: What can we do about it?
This is where things get scary. Our government (and all governments, for that matter) has a tendency of taking bold, drastic regulatory actions where smaller, more thought out steps would be prudent. When they need a scalpel, they reach for the battle axe. This is precisely what happened when it came to CPSIA. Congress overreacted to some shoddily made Chinese toys, hopped aboard their white horses, and swooped in to save the day. And now regular American business owners are paying the price.
If Congress is allowed to react the same way to Global Warming, the results will be the same on a much larger scale.
Most Egregious Claim of the Week:
Alright, now they've got my attention.