Your kid’s toys tainted with lead? Thank the Bush Administration.

Seems like every day there’s another toy made in China being yanked off of store shelves due to lead contamination, it’d be comical if it weren’t such a serious problem, and it’s probably no surprise to learn that China is partly responsible for lobbying efforts to keep tighter regulations from making it into U.S. law. I suppose it also shouldn’t be a surprise to find out that the Bush Administration deserves part of the blame too:

Lead paint is toxic when ingested by children and can cause brain damage or death. It’s been mostly banned in the United States since the late 1970s, but is permitted in the coating of toys, providing it amounts to less than six hundred parts per million.

The Bush administration has hindered regulation on two fronts, consumer advocates say. It stalled efforts to press for greater inspections of imported children’s products, and it altered the focus of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), moving it from aggressive protection of consumers to a more manufacturer-friendly approach.

“The overall philosophy is regulations are bad and they are too large a cost for industry, and the market will take care of it,” said Rick Melberth, director of regulatory policy at OMBWatch, a government watchdog group formed in 1983. “That’s been the philosophy of the Bush administration.”

I’m sure that’ll be a great comfort to any parents who’ve had kids harmed by these toys. Screw safety, let the market take care of it. One small problem: China has a near-monopoly on producing American toys:

Today, more than 80 percent of all U.S. toys are now made in China and few of them get inspected.

“We’ve been complaining about this issue, warning it is going to happen, and it is disappointing that it has happened,” said Tom Neltner, a co-chairman of the Sierra Club’s national toxics committee.

You’re part of the Sierra Club. That pretty much means the Bush Administration isn’t even paying attention to what you’re saying just on principle. Experts? Phhhhhft! Who needs experts when the market will take care of it?

Not that China is helping things any:

China remains very much under the microscope. It’s fighting a CPSC proposal to bring the lead restrictions in children’s jewelry to the same levels as those imposed on toys and furniture — six hundred parts per million, which effectively amounts to a ban.

“We have done recall after recall since 2003. We would like to move towards a ban and make the marketplace safe,” said Scott Wolfson, a commission spokesman.

But in a March 12 filing, China was the only one of 48 interested parties to tell the panel that it opposed new restrictions on lead paint in children’s jewelry. Guo LiSheng, the deputy director of a Chinese global trade agency, warned against “unnecessary obstacles to trade” and advocated international rules that allow some lead content. He added that good product labeling was sufficient.

“We agree with the viewpoint of USA of protecting the children’s healthy and safety. And we consider that the method of stick warning mark on the children’s metal jewelry … may be more efficient than setting the limit of lead content,” LiSheng wrote from Beijing.

Because kids and their parents always read and pay attention to little warning stickers on jewelry. Does it say anything like: CAUTION! WEARING THIS JEWELRY COULD EXPOSE YOU TO TOXIC LEVELS OF LEAD THAT COULD LEAD TO BRAIN DAMAGE AND, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT EATING IT!

You might think that bit about eating it is unnecessary, but you’d be wrong:

In March 2006, a 4-year-old Minnesota boy died of lead poisoning after swallowing a metal charm that came with Reebok shoes. The charm was found to contain more than 90 percent lead.

Given what we know about the effects of lead when consumed there’s absolutely no reason why there should be any lead content in any children’s toys, ever. I have no problems with China making most of the toys we give our kids so long as they’re not putting in potentially toxic materials in doing so. Is it too much to ask, however, that our own government have the balls necessary to tell China to either make their shit safe or don’t bother bringing it to America?

16 thoughts on “Your kid’s toys tainted with lead? Thank the Bush Administration.

  1. Lighten up, Les.  The Administration is simply trying to preserve America, by ensuring that there are enough Republican voters in the future.

  2. The toys may be made in China, but I can lay a good guess which country the companies claim to be from- in the same what as The Simpsons is just drawn in Korea.  And guess who really likes US big business.

  3. I saw this discussed last Saturday on FOX news.  Some shouter they had was going on about how the market would prevent ineffective, unsafe drugs, foods, and nutritional supplements so we really didn’t need the FDA.  Because you know, people are never deceived by selection bias, advertising, or a million other things that would delay a fix until thousands of people had suffered.

    Isn’t it interesting that when it’s a military or terroristic threat, the only answer is raw government power.  But if it’s a safety, economic predation, or environmental threat, let the market take care of it.

  4. Very interesting indeed DOF, and so true for Republicans and Libertarians alike.

    See the problem with the, “Let the market take care of it” mentality is that WE DON’T LIVE IN A TRUE CAPITALIST SOCIETY.  So “letting the market take care of it” will not always be the best solution. 

    But even without my argument, as DOF says, is it really necessary to wait?  Even for one person to die before we step in?  Why not fix a problem as it appears?

  5. The recent stock market wobbles were dismissed by free marketeers as proof the market self corrected- so no mention of the EU and US central banks pumping millions in to steady it the, rather like ‘Black Monday’ in the 90’s.  The reason there was no crash like ‘29- Central Government bailing out the ‘efficient’ private business.

  6. Pressure for government intervention is a kind of market force in itself as far as I can see, humanity’s built-in auto-correct (I consider things like rebellion a part of this). On certain levels (not all) politics and economics are one of the same and certainly affecting each other, hence politics is a kind of market force, and individual views are part of politics

    How many need to die? However many would make it worth the money and effort for polititions to intervene, that would be the point when it starts threatening the chance of election

  7. Sorry Bahamat, wrong.  Pressure for goverment intervention is admission that capatilism made yet another cock up, and is relying on Keynsians to bail them out, on the old “what’s yours is mine, and whats mine is my own” principle.

    Big Business complains constantly about Gobernment intervention, right up to the point they want it.  Can’t remeber the exact quote from Catch-22 “His father was a farmer…who was against government handouts, except to farmers”

  8. LH- Think of the government as part of a larger system, then you can politically challenge the government within this larger system as the auto-correct, even a revolution against the government would be an auto-correct occuring because of the forces on the populace (which are part of this), it would not happen if it wasn’t connected, because they cause each other, and in order for us to be talking about it now it has to be automatic

    You can consider political forces along economic lines, after all on this level they are both forms of power that affect each other. Rebellion is a force, as are official government and opposition, that they compete is much like that economic forces compete, it doesn’t make the system wrong, it just changes it’s direction

  9. I think you need a little bit more liquor in the kool-aid before any of that will make any sense going down.

  10. No, because the government intervention is an artificial force used to impose external control on a market.  It is not in the interest of a market to have health and safety (in the case of this thread) externally imposed, as it imposes artificial expenditure.  What the advocates of Friedman argue is (as Les stated in the post) that ‘bad’ products will lose to the ‘good’- something that Thatcherism, Reagonomics and the unseemly scramble of the Democrats/New Labour to embrace these values still haven’t shown to be true.

    In the case of a market crash, the institutions would recognise their collective fragility, and provide an emergency fund, a percentage of income saved for a rainy day- classic Thatcherism.  But they don’t. Reasons may be shortsited greed and/or assumption Government will bail them out.  Some may argue it is this knowledge of the government aid that prevents them taking this step and so politicians should not intervene to ensure the market self regulates, but no government can ignore a recession, so will always hae to ‘blink first’.

  11. Lead Paint ? Name something that is not totally screwed up. Record Foreclosures, Bankrupt Filings, Emergency Rooms closing, The outsourcing of American Jobs. 90 Billion spent annually on Prisons so that they can have better health care, eat better, than many law abiding tax paying citizens.

    Venezuela resembled this type offset until some people got completely fed up with the Governments Bullshit. It’s on it’s way to being fixed. And if they can do it, So can we. But we are talking major overhaul. This is just crap that Americans set on their asses and watch as their homeland is sold off piece by piece. And the pockets of American workers are slowly being sucked dry by the mighty. I want my Country Back. When the people of this Country Speak LOUD AND CLEAR to the Government. They have an obligation to listen, not just figure the best interest of the leaders, lobbyist, and CEO’s.

  12. LH: It is not in the interest of a market to have health and safety (in the case of this thread) externally imposed, as it imposes artificial expenditure

    I’m expanding the term ‘market’ to include the political views of regular people, who do have an interest in health+safety. It’s not external interference when your model includes all forces (and gov intervention is within), it’s just competing pressures within the market. Your model restricts it to money so that politics lies outside, and because that model interacts with what you place outside it’s not self sustaining, and that is what your point is, but (extreme) if I were to consider the whole world one system, that would clearly be auto-correcting as a whole in order for humanity to reach the point it has. The trick is to include as much within the system as is possible on that level.

    p.s. I can use politics+economics in the same system because they are one of the same on certain levels, both representing power

  13. Yes, my model does put politics out side, because that is what Keynsian economics does. Your arguement that government should be included in the free market model is false because the whole point of the free market is that it sets itself without outside interference, which is what H&S;provides. Govermental imposed restrictions buck the free market, because as I stated before companies that have dangerous products would automatically lose in a Friedmanist market place, unless there was a stronger reason to buy.  As Les poineted out in the original post, the lies that big business tells interferes wih this process.  Strictly speaking more deaths=less sales, but that doesn’t happen due to PR. PR is a non market force (it skews the market by lies) so government skews it back by regulation.  This regulation IS NOT part of the market, as you suggest.  It is a force unaffected by market forces.  That is the point. H&S;(or whatever) is NOT affected by market forces.  Corrupt Politicians can be swayed within the market forces (ie bribes) but that does not make lead less lethal.  It merely coveres the truth.  The lethality of a product is not altered by market forces, though the public perception of lethalith can be affected by ‘spin’.

    Example ‘Doohdahs’ are responsible for ‘x’ deaths.  As Dohdahs are really popular the company is rich.  A % of these profits is used to bribe politicians from enacting safety legislation.  Politicians say that 0 deaths are caused by dohdahs.  The market can not self regulate as the truth is not fully understood.

    If the self regulation worked, then no one would buy red coloured beef from a supermarket, as properly hung beef is a light brown.  However red beef is sold on the belief by the public it is better, due to misinformation by the supermarkets.

  14. If it helps I’m talking about an issue beyond the left-right divide, i’m not intending to suggest that we should adopt any particular level of intervention (because my model is not a system that anyone has a choice of whether or not to be in, but one where all policies and all government operate within), therefore I’m not suggesting anything that can be chosen to be adopted or any change in the system, but pointing out the trend that mankind as a whole is largely auto-correcting.

    That is providing we don’t do anything too permanent that spirals out of control.

    And, without aliens or god there is nothing outside this (my) model (of the entirity of humanity), so the only correction could have come from within mankind/an equilibrium of nature

  15. Uhmmm…why not buy books for the kids? Some books have mind games on it…which kids will surely learn something about it … they learn at the same time enjoy their time with the books…

  16. That’s pretty clever. Making your comment spam look like a rant against toys all the while including a link to an online toy seller. Very sneaky, but I’ve removed the link.

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