Ring of Power


Suppose there was a device that, when used during a dangerous procedure, significantly reduced the risk of a fatality. Suppose that same device also made a difficult procedure much easier. What would you think of it?

If you're a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, you might decide to outlaw it. Such is the case with baby bath seats, some 2 million of which are now in use.

The Consumer Federation of America is campaigning to ban the devices, saying they give parents a false sense of security. But the numbers don't back up that claim. Each year 50 or so kids drown in bathtubs. Usually less than 10 of those accidents involve the use of a bath seat. Significantly, in almost all of the reported deaths, the child was left unattended. Blaming the bath seats for this lapse in parental judgment seems more than a little misplaced.

But not for CPSC Chairman Ann Brown, who seems to think that making life difficult for parents will keep kids safe. "Imagine a parent holding a soapy, squiggling baby," Brown said. "A parent would never leave that baby alone for a second. But even the best parent can be seduced into bad behavior if they see a child sitting upright in a little seat."

That is one powerful piece of plastic, able to "seduce" even "the best parents" into a "bad" choice. If that is the operating standard for safety—that no labor-saving device that might be misused by morons should be available to the public—then we might as well go back to mud huts.