Dangerous Toys, Strange Bedfellows

Hipster moms and conservative congressmen join forces against the regulatory state.

(Page 3 of 3)

Leibovitz and Secore feel betrayed by their government and suspicious of how the system works. If the law is fully enforced, perhaps two or three of the 100 toys they currently sell would be legal. “Anything is possible the way these things work. There are lobbyists and interest groups. There are riders that might have to do with someone’s brother’s business in Minnesota or something,” Secore says. “It’s pretty overwhelming to think that I might not be able to do what I do.”

Correction: Malcolm Smith Motorsports is located in Riverside, California, not Riverdale.

Katherine Mangu-Ward (kmw@reason.com) is an associate editor at reason.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Xeones||

    That is an awesome shirt.

  • Xeones||

    Now, having read the article:

    "It's pretty overwhelming to think that I might not be able to do what I do."

    Welcome to libertarianism. Here's your complimentary flask. No, you have to fill it yourself.

  • ||

    Can we still refer to Craft as a magazine? All the subscribers were switched over to Make since there are no new issues of Craft being published. Which sucks in that Make isn't very good.

  • T||

    Leibovitz and Secore feel betrayed by their government and suspicious of how the system works.

    And yet will continue to vote Democrat, I'm sure.

    Legate Damar,
    What don't you like about Make?

  • freeforall232||

    FTA - "Before the legislation, says Leibovitz, "I'd never really gotten involved politically. I've just tried to work in my own life." But a lot of what she thought she knew about the political process turned out to be wrong. She was discouraged to discover how little power citizens, and even individual lawmakers, have over legislation. Consumer safety groups, she says, ended up getting exactly what they wanted.

    "I've been supportive of some of these groups," she says. "I actually blogged about this safety issue in 2007, thinking we were just focusing on problem products. I didn't realize how massive the law would be and how many products it would cover."


    Small business owner makes safe products; the same small business owner supports government legislation to make the entire market make safe products; small business owner then realizes the legislation restricts their own products which were already safe; small business owner is then put out of business thus leaving the market open to large corporations which have the most influence over government and can absorb the costs associated with the new law.

    And the two party-socialist government rolls on...

  • ||

    T,

    Perhaps I used the wrong wording. "Isn't very good" implies a quality issue, which may or may not be the case. The big problem is that it isn't about crafting, which would be why I subscribed to the other one. That's like enjoying Brew Your Own, subscribing to Brew Your Own, then being told 2 issues into your subscription, "Sorry, Brew Your Own no longer exits, here's 10 issues of Cat Fancy."

  • ||

    "What!? This monster we created is eating the villagers? How could have this happened? We made sure that the reanimation process was certified organic and GMO-free."

  • Xeones||

    Cat Fancy's a pretty good magazine, Legate.

  • T||

    That's like enjoying Brew Your Own, subscribing to Brew Your Own, then being told 2 issues into your subscription, "Sorry, Brew Your Own no longer exits, here's 10 issues of Cat Fancy."

    Gotcha. Yeah, there's definitely a different focus to Make. I picked up the first issue of Craft when it came out, leafed through it and thought it was nothing I'm interested in. But I'm a charter subscriber to Make. I can see why that would make one a tad bit grumpy.

  • ||

    Not to worry, consumer safety advocates, within a year or two, all those troublemaking crafters will be out of business, and there will be no more opposition to this law.

    Just like all the other small businesses destroyed by regulation.

  • Jeff P||

    Now if anyone actually got confused by their subscription and ending up brewing their cat, I'm certain the government would get involved.

    Responsible subscriptions, dammit!

  • ScottyG PackFan||

    Hazel Meade,

    But regulation is good!! It would have saved the economy! ;)

    I'm shocked that the gov't does something that screws shit up. Go figure!

  • ||

    What now? SWAT team sweeps of parking lot flea markets?

  • ScottyG PackFan||

    Flea markets are the toy version of Gun shows...Is there an amendment protecting our rights to toys?

  • ||

    I work for a mid-sized company that does make products for kids (a small portion of our business). This is expensive for us, but since we sell more kids stuff than our direct competitors, it's worth it for us to comply. Not so much for some of them. So, in a really short-sighted way, it's a positive for me!

    One of our products includes a brass insert that is heat staked into a plastic housing. Then it's covered by a screw. The brass has too much lead in it. A kid would have to dismount the device, then exert >200 lbs of force to remove the insert then pop it into his mouth. Still qualifies as "accessible" and must be removed.

  • Bronwyn||

    Speaking of going out of business... Buy me out before my wee shop dies a slow, regulation-strangled death.

    Ugh.

  • ||

    It all started with the panic over Chinese toys in the summer of 2007. Against a backdrop of daily scare stories about kids gnawing on knick-knacks full of lead, Mattel recalled a staggering 19 million toys. The news made headlines for weeks.


    The White House Chief of Staff said

    You don't ever want a crisis to go to waste; it's an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.


    The Secretary of State said

    Never waste a good crisis ...



    Fuck a bunch of thinking and deliberation. We've got to do something.

    Who really bitched about this piece of crap legislation, even prior to its enactment? It wasn't GOPers or Dems. It wasn't conservatives or liberals. IIRC, it was those gadfly free market assholes called libertarians.





  • phalkor||

    so that no machines are employed in the making of the products

    I don't believe them. Do they chew through the wood? Do they eat the wood and then make toys by "all-natural" processes? Lies, a pack of filthy lies.

  • phalkor||

    seconded (thirded, fourthed?)

    That is an awesome shirt.

  • Jay S.||

    If many conservatives weren't so condemning of lawsuits against large companies, then the solution to the problem would be evident. If you put lead in kids' toys, parents can sue the !@#$ out of you. Simple.

    Instead, we get this quasi-regulatory structure where companies are mandated to spend their own money on testing. It's worse than both no regulation and government supplied regulation. At least if the government were footing the bill for the testing then every company would have to submit to the same rules and not pay for it. Instead, we have a sort of 'carbon tax' - I mean 'lead tax.'

    Also, liking wooden toys and organic food does not make one a left-wing hippie. There is such a thing as 'crunchy conservative.'

  • T||

    A kid would have to dismount the device, then exert >200 lbs of force to remove the insert then pop it into his mouth. Still qualifies as "accessible" and must be removed.

    I've had conversations like that about completely ludicrous chains of events that could lead to injury. They rarely end well.

  • ||

    A kid would have to dismount the device, then exert >200 lbs of force to remove the insert

    Sounds like removing the insert is just taking away the incentives for super-strong kids. I don't know about you, but a kid that can rend metal is a feature, not a bug.

  • ||

    If many conservatives weren't so condemning of lawsuits against large companies, then the solution to the problem would be evident. If you put lead in kids' toys, parents can sue the !@#$ out of you. Simple.



    Heck, even a process that lets all your materials be tested and certified without having to re-test every time you combine them in a new way, looking for evidence of spontaneous lead generation, would be nice.

    Who really bitched about this piece of crap legislation, even prior to its enactment? It wasn't GOPers or Dems. It wasn't conservatives or liberals. IIRC, it was those gadfly free market assholes called libertarians.



    In the Senate, it was Jim DeMint. He's definitely a libertarian conservative, but also a conservative as well. Still, certainly the best we could hope for from South Carolina, and one of the best in the country.

    Still, the votes of most of these people are going to be taken for granted, just like the often Democratic leaning voters who hate high fructose corn syrup but love Obama, one of the worse ethanol and HFCS enablers out there.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Now if anyone actually got confused by their subscription and ending up brewing their cat

    Boy, would their face be red.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    a kid that can rend metal is a feature, not a bug.

    Hey, SF, let me guess, you're that mad scientist who is always dismayed when his radioactive golem starts killing villagers. :D

  • Jozef||

    If the law prevents people from selling non-certified toys, can they at least barter them? Exchange them for, let's say, a few grams of gold, which they can later exchange for something else?

    Recently, Reason had an article on the barter economy; now this. It seems to me that the time is ripe for people to demand and to be able to use alternative currencies or pure barter.

  • wingnutx||

    Who really bitched about this piece of crap legislation, even prior to its enactment?

    Hugh Hewitt spent several weeks on this last yea, on his radio show. It was a very good series of shows.

    I think he had DeMint on.

  • ||

    Hey, SF, let me guess, you're that mad scientist who is always dismayed when his radioactive golem starts killing villagers. :D

    I'm not sure "dismayed" is the right word. I'd go with a mixture "proud" and "gloating."

    And "created in the heart of an exploding pseudo-star" is really more accurate than "radioactive."

  • ||

    I don't know about you, but a kid that can rend metal is a feature, not a bug.

    Let's see what you say when you lock the little rugrat in the car in the summer and he claws his way through your Astin Martin to escape the heat. I don't think you'll be so sanguine then.

  • ||

    One of the weird things here is that the standard Democratic Party line in Congress is that the law is fine, just that the CPSC should fail to enforce it against nice, cuddly Etsy users, and only uphold the letter of the law against big bad corporations. The problem is that the law doesn't contain any such exceptions, so this would just be the Executive Branch exercising discretion.

    Recommending a practice of draconian laws that will then only be enforced against people we don't like is, unfortunately, pretty par for the course for governments but still a very bad idea.

  • ||

    just that the CPSC should fail to enforce it against nice, cuddly Etsy users, and only uphold the letter of the law against big bad corporations. The problem is that the law doesn't contain any such exceptions, so this would just be the Executive Branch exercising discretion.

    In other words: Where's my campaign contribution?

    What? No money? Hmmm, lemme see what regulatory agency I can sic on your ass....

  • BakedPenguin||

    Now if anyone actually got confused by their subscription and ending up brewing their cat

    Boy, would their face be red.



    But not as red as the cat's. Or is that what you meant?

  • Paul||

    And yet will continue to vote Democrat, I'm sure.

    Probably. She undoubtedly wants Universal Healthcare(tm).

    Cue up article about how she never thought government healthcare would be like this.

  • hmm||

    Obligatory we're raising a fucking generation of pansies. Every generation says this, but the actual effect seems to be growing exponentially.

    My brother and I grew up shooting each other in the ass with BB guns, building giant structures out of hay bails (enough to crush and kill us), shooting guns, pissing off roosters, blowing shit up, riding dirt bikes, beating each other with sticks, playing in barn rafters, and so on. For all intensive purposes we turned out fine. Hell, my brother even managed to get elected to lead the LP party for a state.

    Anyone in business that says they want more government in their business deserves to go out of business. We need viable business models not business models that rely on a group of chattering monkeys in DC to survive or compete.

  • ||

    Obligatory we're raising a fucking generation of pansies. Every generation says this, but the actual effect seems to be growing exponentially.

    No generation will accept that they are pansies. Kids today will tell their grandkids about the hilarious recklessness of playing Wii without the wrist straps and the time their buddy used an iPod without the volume limiters on and lived to tell the tale.

  • bubba||

    I think the article briefly mention this but the resale shops are getting hammered by this. There's no exemption for selling stuff that predates the law.

  • realist||

    Well of course they're going to cook up the DIYfers too. Why would our government want China to have to compete in our country, and force them to make a better product.

    Why on earth would anyone want to have a enviroment safe toy, or a home spun one much less, when there are plenty of shinny plastic Hannana Montana dolls waiting to be placed in the microwave.

    The sooner we all learn that we've been duped by the government, the better I will be able to sleep.

    Nothing will be like "when it was".

  • Damnitall||

    No even if they had the cash to test them, I'm sure some parent would say their kid got splinters, and then all toys will be band.

    Then we can give them guns!

  • hmm||

    No generation will accept that they are pansies. Kids today will tell their grandkids about the hilarious recklessness of playing Wii without the wrist straps and the time their buddy used an iPod without the volume limiters on and lived to tell the tale.

    Hence the whole second sentence with the ever looming "but" at the end of it.

    My wife and I already agree. If by some chance we end up with kids (not the plan atm) we are moving to a farm. Chores will be done, calluses formed, chickens killed and eaten, gardens hoed, and education demanded along with a few other things. It's not a guarantee, but I refuse to raise a child that can't survive by their own means in as many situations as possible. Self reliance is the one thing that has changed over the years from generation to generation.

  • LarryA||

    "I actually blogged about this safety issue in 2007, thinking we were just focusing on problem products. I didn't realize how massive the law would be and how many products it would cover."

    To the government everything is a problem. Give the government the power to regulate folks you don't like, and soon enough that power will be used against you.

    Now, if only all of those little businesses had to have a license...

  • ||

    Give the government the power to regulate folks you don't like, and soon enough that power will be used against you.

    Ah, yes. RC'z Fifth Iron Law:

    5. Any power used for you today will be used against you tomorrow.

  • Emac||

    I'd laugh about this if it didn't happen in the country I lived in.

    Let's see, lefty kook gets into to bed with govt. to get a regulatory advantage against larger/richer/gaia hating/evil competitors. It doesnt quite work out as planned.

    Who said there's no justice in the world.

  • Ben||

    Many of the toys Gold sells are made from wood pulled out of a local forest by Amish men using horses, so that no machines are employed in the making of the products.



    Harnesses are machines, as are ropes, levers, axes and saws. Which in turn are typically made by other machines. Horses and people are machines, for that matter. What are these wood toys shaped with, good intentions? No machines, my aching arse.

    Will the idiocy of the touchy-feely crowd never end?

  • ||

    How many Republican members of the House voted against CPSIA? Exactly one. And that one was Ron Paul.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Harnesses are machines, as are ropes, levers, axes and saws.

    Well, technically, they're tools (except the lever), 'cause I think you have to combine at least two tools to make a machine (or something).

  • Kate the Great||

    "Self reliance is the one thing that has changed over the years from generation to generation."

    QFT

  • ||

    How many Republican members of the House voted against CPSIA? Exactly one. And that one was Ron Paul.



    And the Senate was DeMint, Coburn, and John Kyl who voted against it.

    I suppose some of the other Republicans get some sort of "smarter moron" awards for at least being willing to change the law now that they've actually read it and/or realized how stupid it is and/or the hysteria has passed.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "The new requirements are easy for big manufacturers to meet but are impossibly onerous for small domestic toymakers."

    As with almost every industrial regulation.

    "What it looks like is that our needs are largely being responded to by Republicans. Most of the people in the Homemade Toy Alliance are probably more aligned with the Democratic side. And people in the Homemade Toy Alliance kind of like the things that these consumer groups are touting, like safer products and natural things." But now she finds herself in this "weird alliance."

    Justice.

    "If this law had been applied to the food industry, every farmers market in the country would be forced to close while Kraft and Dole prospered."

    Coming soon?

  • Griffin3||

    It's here, in the form of the FMSA, HR-875. It's still in committee, although the hearing they have had addressed exactly zero of the citizen concerns. There are a lot of sites saying that it doesn't apply to home gardens, except for the minor detail that if you read the law, it does. Commerce clause, it's a bitch.

    And don't forget the NAIS; It's full of exceptions for the small farmer, as long as you are farming dogs, cats, or rabbit. Got a few untagged chickens in the back pen? $5000 fine.

    So, go down to the corner, out where the guy sells the honey out of the back of the pickup truck, you know, the good stuff he gets from his own hives. Enjoy it, 'cause from now on you will have to eat the same homogenized fructose-enhanced pseudo-honey they sell to the folks in the cities.

    Unless you want to help him put a RFID chip on each of his bees ...

  • ||

    Actually, this *is* a Republican pro-business piece of fuckery.

    But it doesn't have anything to do with lawsuits. No, it's more about tariffs. See, business hate hate doublehate flames-on-the-side-of-my-face *HATE* the concept of tariffs, or any sort of barrier to "trade" (read: making cheap shit in Chinese sweatshops). So they're going to do their damndest to make sure that any notion of "tariffs" is buried deeper than Jimmy Hoffa.

    But safety regulations, now...that's a different story. Because how do you argue *against* safety? I mean, what, you're pro-danger? You're anti-children? What kind of bastard *are* you, really, that you'd put Almighty Dollar above the health and safety of tomorrow's precious hope, the new bright young generation, the future tax base of America?

    So the safety regulation comes in, and it turns out everything has to be tested to a fare-thee-well, and that testing is expensive. In fact, it's made as expensive and difficult as possible, *and* *on* *purpose*. All you people bitching about how hard it is to meet the CPSIA requirements are missing the point. Making the requirements hard to meet is THE WHOLE IDEA.

    That's why you see stuff like "oh we won't enforce it on (someone local)". It's because this isn't a safety thing. This is a tariff. In practice, it's an import duty on goods manufactured overseas.

    Honestly, my advice to crafters and such would be to just do what you've been doing all along. Maybe you make some nod-and-wink comments about "not intended for use by kids under 14 years old", maybe you take all the pictures of babies off your website (they aren't baby blankets, they're "pet blankets" or "novelty miniature replica quilts"), maybe you just say "fuck it" and keep on selling.

    "Oh, but my distributor says--" ah-heh excuse me, crafter says what? The internet, you're soaking in it, why do you need a distributor exactly?

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