Nanny State

Your Yard Sale Is Illegal

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lead baby?

Thinking of having a yard sale this weekend? Before you do, be sure to consult CSPC Publication #254 [PDF].

This handy 28-pager from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reminds the American people that, thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (which I have blogged about here and here), the government is totally in charge of your yard sale:

This handbook will help sellers of used products identify types of potentially hazardous products that could harm children or others. CPSC's laws and regulations apply to anyone who sells or distributes consumer products. This includes thrift stores, consignment stores, charities, and individuals holding yard sales and flea markets.

Selling old kids books, anything with metal, paint, or plastic that a kid might use, old clothes or shoes with metal components that a kid might wear? You know, any of the stuff people routinely sell at yard sales? Technically, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars worth of fines. Obviously, it's unlikely the CPSA goons are going to bust up your yard sale. But putting out a detailed booklet that reserves the right to do so is hardly encouraging about where the implementation of this legislation is heading.

(Also, am I reading too much into the stock photos art here, or does it look like that baby already has a pretty serious case of whatever the folks at the CPSC are trying to prevent? Creepy.)

And read a big fat article on this by yours truly in the print issue of Reason that will be hitting newstands any minute now.

Via Walter Olson, who has been a rock star on this issue. Follow him on Twitter @walterolson for all the news.

NEXT: Internationalist House of Pancakes: I.F. Stone and the KGB

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  1. The CSPC: Always ready to err on the side of alarm.

  2. A lot of communities require permits for yardsales. And they WILL throw you in the slammer if you don’t buy a permit. This hasn’t led to safer communities (duh) or even additional revenues. It just means there are fewer, but larger, yardsales. And a lot less recycling of clothing and housewares.

  3. Selling old kids books, anything with metal, paint, or plastic that a kid might use, old clothes or shoes with metal components that a kid might wear?

    Can I give it away for free and merely ask for donations in return ?

  4. A lot of communities require permits for yardsales. And they WILL throw you in the slammer if you don’t buy a permit. This hasn’t led to safer communities (duh) or even additional revenues. It just means there are fewer, but larger, yardsales. And a lot less recycling of clothing and housewares.

    This shit makes me want to cry.
    WTF? WHY do you need a permit for a yard sale?
    Seriously.

    Can someone actually give me a reasonable justification for that?

    I don’t see ONE SINGLE “progressive” or “liberal” objecting to this crap.

    Why? because they don’t give a fuck about anyone who might “profit”.
    Oh, if it was a “non-profit” yard sale they’d bne all over that bullshit. But the minute you actually try to support yourself through voluntary economic exchange they don’t give a fuck about you. In fact, as soon as you make a profit, they are busy thinking of how they can fuck you up the ass, because now you are an evil capitalist businessman.

  5. I guess caveat emptor as a legal principle is not going to find a lot of supporters on team blue.

    This law is so fucking stupid, harming the poor by making resale of used items impractical/illegal.

    I’ll bet Mattell, the Gap and Borders are happy as pigs in shit over this. Remember folks, BOTH MAJOR PARTIES write laws to protect big business.

  6. I like that cover. In case you figured out who the legislation was for…

  7. Can someone actually give me a reasonable justification for that?

    I don’t consider these justifications reasonable, but the ones usually offered are that yard sales generate traffic and illegal parking, and some people run semi-permanent yard sales that are in effect commercial enterprises in a residential zone.

    To those things I say, “So what, so what, and so what?” but there you are.

  8. Big Charity is behind this, you know. The Salvation Army and Volunteers of America are using their newfound muscle to knock off competition and force people to donate stuff they used to be able to sell themselves.

    Damn them and their stinking compassion to eternal hell.

  9. A lot of communities require permits for yardsales. And they WILL throw you in the slammer if you don’t buy a permit.

    I’ve heard of such regulations, but haven’t heard of violators being sent to jail. I thought the usual punishment was (a) forcibly shutting down the yard sale in question, and possibly (b) getting fined.

    As long as the permits are free or very cheap, I don’t see a problem with this.

  10. There are two problems with yard sales:

    1. If you go to one and the seller is one of those idiots who can’t bear to part with their stupid shit so everything is priced at its value to them, and not to the buyer.

    2. If you are having one, and you’re selling things for 50 cents and you get people who try to haggle you down to 35 cents. KILL KILL KILL

  11. Try and collect you effin fines from me.

    Gold? Nope, I don’t have any gold.
    Silver? Nope, I don’t have any silver, only lead.

    You can’t pay with lead.

    Who said I intend to pay.

  12. I’m glad to see that my $5 guns in a bucket and $2 ammo in a box idea is not considered a bad idea by the CPSA. But the buy a gun and get a free Turner Diaries might be a bad idea.

    I guess I won’t include the free book next time.

  13. So when I use Amazon.com Marketplace to unload old books that I no longer need, I’m running afoul of the law?

  14. Yard sales are great places to get banned products.Check the garden shed and garage for Dursban and other banned chemicals.Lawn darts (Jarts)and other dangerous toys sometimes turn up.My father actually bought a bottle of whale oil at one sale.It’s used to oil clocks

  15. “But the buy a gun and get a free Turner Diaries might be a bad idea.”

    Shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing I read in the USA today that the primary suspect read that book and watched an old movie called Red Dawn. So, for the same reason Koran sales increased after 9/11, I decided to actually read the book and watch the movie. I borrowed it through interlibrary loan at my local library. Around the same time I bought a copy of Red Dawn. I had someone who was an obvious undercover agent come to me at work (I worked in a video store, he posed as a customer) and try to “talk about race” posing as a racist. For the record, I am no racist. I am not a Muslim either but after 9/11 I wanted to learn about the motivations of those who attacked us. After the Oklahoma City bombing I wanted to learn about those motivations also.

  16. This is why I go to flea markets to sell stuff. Drive up in your truck around 7 am, let the gate down, sell your stuff cheap to the regular dealers, and get the hell out.

  17. I probably got myself on two more lists with that comment.

  18. I don’t consider these justifications reasonable, but the ones usually offered are that yard sales generate traffic and illegal parking, and some people run semi-permanent yard sales that are in effect commercial enterprises in a residential zone.

    To those things I say, “So what, so what, and so what?” but there you are.

    I’m not arguing with you of course, but …

    Illegal parking? Enforcing one minor restriction is supposed to justify imposing a bigger one on anyone who lives near the parking restriction?

    Commercial activity in a residential zone? Zoning laws should not exist anyway.

    Traffic? Why is it your business to stop people from driving down the street?

    It’s ridiculous how many people think that any slight impact on their lives caused by the most trivial choices of other individuals justifies restricting those choices.

  19. No, that undercover visit was due to your purchase of “Return to Me”. No guy watches that unless he’s being forced by his girlfriend, he’s gay, he’s incredibly warped, or he’s gay.

  20. I probably got myself on two more lists with that comment.

    Yeah, thanks for reinforcing everyones absurd notion that libertarians are in some way related to neo-nazis.

    Thanks a lot.

  21. Hazel,

    Illegal parking on a narrow residential street is a pretty big externality. And you’d have to be having yard sales pretty frequently to make having to get a permit any more than an extremely minor restriction.

    Now if the jurisdiction is charging some exorbitant fee for the permit, that would be a problem. That’s not usually the case.

  22. From page 11, item #3:

    If any snaps, pom?poms, zipper pulls or buttons can be pulled off of a small child’s garment, it should not be sold. So give a strong tug to these pieces before you sell them. If something comes off that could choke a child under the age of 3, do not sell the garment.

    Immediately following, #4:

    check garments with drawstrings: for hood/neck drawstrings, remove drawstrings from the hood and neck of jackets and sweatshirts; for waist/bottom drawstrings, trim drawstrings so that no more than to 3 inches extends from the garment on either side.

    In trying to follow bureaucratic logic, if you pulled off all the loose, potentially dangerous pieces and modified the garment in #3, wouldn’t that make it safe to sell. But I get their reasoning. If anything is wrong with it to begin with, it’s poorly designed and should be thrown away.

    Yet #4 tells me to pull off all the loose, potentially dangerous pieces and modify the garment.

  23. Excellent. Someone actually attempts to defend yard sale permitting. Thanks.

    Illegal parking on a narrow residential street is a pretty big externality.

    I disagree with calling this an “externality”.
    They aren’t damaging your property in any way. Just making it slightly less easy to park close to your house.

    Plus you haven’t dealt with the problem that if enforcing the parking restrictions forces you to start permitting other activities,like yard sales, it ought to raise questions about the original parking restriction. Otherwise, you just have to acquiesce to a cascade effect – one regulation leads to more and more extreme restrictions just to enforce the original one.

  24. “Yeah, thanks for reinforcing everyones absurd notion that libertarians are in some way related to neo-nazis.”

    When the DHS came for the neo-NAZIs,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a neo-NAZI.
    Then they locked up the KKK,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a member of the KKK.
    Then they came for Michael Savage,
    I did not speak out;
    I never listened to his show.
    Then they came for tea party people,
    I did not speak out;
    I didn’t go to a tea party.
    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out for me.

  25. Wait, selling old books is illegal now? It makes sense that a ban on selling books in the US would be in the name of protecting us from toxins.

  26. Everyone here who wants to live in a society where you have to get a permit for every trivial activity you might want to engage in, raise their hand.

    Come on? Please? Nobody wants to live in Bureautopia?

    There must be at least one of you!

  27. The Founding Fathers would weep to hear a yard sale treated as a subject federal regulation under the Interstate Commerce Clause. Big, salty tears that Our Masters would bottle and break out only for Very Special Occasions.

  28. @Hazel Meade, Perhaps nobody renewed their hand-raising permits.

    As for the CPSC, they can go fuck themselves with a pair of dull plastic scissors. How is a yard sale a federal issue?

    Oh yeah, I forgot. Ever since those nine senile assholes decided that growing wheat on your own property for your own personal use could be regulated by the federal government under the Commerce Clause. Retards.

  29. WTF? WHY do you need a permit for a yard sale?

    In a nutshell, it’s because we’ve been leaving local government up to larval autocrats for far too long. The kind of people who get on city councils and state legislatures today are the ones who want to be the Congressional parasites of the future.

    Want to change it? Run for local office. Getting just one libertarian on a city council can expose a lot of this crap to the light of day. Getting more on the council, and you can actually roll back some of this nonsense.

    -jcr

  30. I’ve been trying to donate my vast novelty scrotal clamp collection to Goodwill for months.

  31. The LP has much larger hurdles than the neo-nazi association.

  32. hmm, beat me to it. I was going to suggest a neo-nazi connection might improve our image.

  33. hmm and bigbigslacker,

    So, what do you think would be worse than being called a NAZI or neo-NAZI?

  34. Jeff P.: A few years ago in one thrift store in San Francisco I saw an anal vibrator. No matter how thrifty you are, there are just some things you should always buy new.

  35. I wonder how likely it is to find such an item in a thrift store outside of the San Francisco Bay Area. Just asking . . . .

  36. PapayaSF: I prefer to make my own. You can buy these kits…

  37. On the plus side, if government starts enforcing the same regulations against garage sales that it enforces against business, ordinary people – that is to say, voters – may start to realize just how costly regulation really is, and may gain a new appreciation for the high cost of business regulation.

  38. This shit makes me want to cry.
    WTF? WHY do you need a permit for a yard sale?
    Seriously.

    Can someone actually give me a reasonable justification for that?

    Beauracratic thinking, an introduction, volume I:

    Yardsales, why the permits?
    ? Product sales might need to be monitored by local officials. Reasons: lead paint, Guns etc. A.K.A. the “Yardsale loophole”. NPR can get a year of reporting out of this.

    ? Parking issues. With all of the traffic that might disrupt normal neighborhood flow. Are you Zoned for that? Always a good place to start.

    ? Frequency of yard sales. When does a yard sale become a regular flea market? I mean, we let someone have a garage sale, next thing you know, it’s a regular saturday feature, and we can’t have that.

    ? Money. Governments love to sell “licenses” and provide no service in return. It’s like printing money. Well, actually, the government does print money, but that’s another story…

    ? Property, it’s not yours, you’re just living there. All questions about what the homeowner is doing to “his/her” property should start with, “do you have a permit for that?”. Standard field manual procedure.

  39. “I guess caveat emptor as a legal principle is not going to find a lot of supporters on team blue.”

    I’ve thought about this issue, and this kind of regulation of yard sales seems like overkill. But we don’t need to go caveat emptor. Why not just hold the original manufacturer of any dangerous product strictly liable to the ultimate purchaser regardless of how it got to the harmed purchaser? I guess there would be a problem with manufacturers that are long out of business/insolvent…

  40. Frequency of yard sales. When does a yard sale become a regular flea market? I mean, we let someone have a garage sale, next thing you know, it’s a regular saturday feature, and we can’t have that.

    Ah yes, the “slippery slope” argument FOR regulation.

    If we let people have yard sales, next thing you know, they’ll want to open a Wal-Mart. Best not to let them have yard sales in the first place.

    We can’t just let people freely exchange goods and services. That way leads to rampant capitalism and free trade, which is EVIL.

  41. Or, MNG, with manufacturers like myself and the eleventyjillion sellers of handmade kids’ items who can’t afford to pay the exorbitant testing fees and labelling requirements set out the CPSC and their piece of shit CPSIA.

    See my website there? The one with the overalls that have (*GASP*) snaps? The one with the wee widdle aprons for wee widdle babes? The one with the quilts?

    All that is going to be considered hazardous materials as of next February (or is it this August?).

    If I don’t sell all this stuff (and all the many more aprons and bibs hanging in my craft room closet), it’s just going to sit there as a perpetual reminder of how our government squashed my little dream of freedom.

    /bitter, party of one
    //yes, I will take a drink, thank you

    1. why dont you go out and get a real job like the rest of us and stop the illusion of every damn sahm in this country, that making cutsie overpriced crap(or selling overpriced crap, is gonna pay the bills. reality sucks.

  42. Also, I’ve been very anxiously awaiting this edition of reason magazine… it feels late to me. Maybe I just read the last one too quickly?

  43. “We can’t just let people freely exchange goods and services.”

    This man is made entirely of straw! There will need to be some regulation because there are wicked and shortsighted people who would sell poison as food, sugar pills as cancer meds, and the like.

  44. Wouldn’t such evil-doers actions be punishable as, say, murder? Fraud? Assault?

    Regulations don’t do jack-shit to make us safer.

    Peanut butter, anyone?

    (says the gal with the spinning head from dealing with the FDA)

  45. There must be regulation of used goods.I bought myself a second hand anal vibrator at the thrift store and used it for a week before I noticed it was cracked.

  46. That’s probably because your ass is calloused from overuse. Ease up a bit, and maybe next time you’ll notice sooner.

  47. http://www.oak-park.us/Village_Clerk/Garage_Sales.html

    You can only have 3 days of garage sale in a row and only two separate sales in a year where I live.

    I love the area but hate the brainlessness with which it is governed.

  48. Brownyn
    Yes, they would be liable for that. But it would be after the fact, after they killed someone.

    “Regulations don’t do jack-shit to make us safer.

    Peanut butter, anyone?”

    This is like saying that since we might know somebody who got his car broke into even though he locked it that locking your car is stupid. Regulations make us incredibly safer than we would be without them, but yes, they don’t make us 100% safe all the time.

  49. Just think, what would Bernie Madoff sell at his unregulated business?

    I mean, a guy like him would never sell tainted meat or sugar pills as cancer pills to old folks. Nope, the market would never allow that!

  50. At yard sales on my road, lines of drivers parking one behind the other along the one-lane street make the blind curves and hills even more hazardous. It’s hell to drive around these clowns’ cars. But I don’t see how a permit-requirement alleviates that problem.

  51. Yes, they would be liable for that. But it would be after the fact, after they killed someone.

    Shocking! You mean we would actually only punish people after they did something wrong?

    What a revolting development that would be! As MNG has ably argued, we need to punish people before they do anything wrong. That way everyone is safer. Except the people being punished, of course. But they don’t count.

    Just think, what would Bernie Madoff sell at his unregulated business?

    None of Bernie Madoff’s victims ever asked to see his books because they all assumed that someone who had been President of NASDAQ and who served on many regulatory advisory boards for decades couldn’t possibly be corrupt, no matter how unbelievable their returns were.

    Nobody ever stole on the scale of Madoff prior to the mass regulatory state. Not even Ponzi.

  52. “You mean we would actually only punish people after they did something wrong?”

    Now, now fluffy, you’re smart enough to see the problem with that statement. Both under regulation and tort/criminal law we’d punish the guy only after he did something wrong (the seller of tainted meat would be fined only after he put tainted meat out for sale), but in the latter system we would only punish the person after DAMAGES have been inflicted.

    So again, regulation, just like criminal and tort law, only punishes people who do the wrong action in question. The difference is that with the former we don’t have to wait until someone is harmed.

  53. “Nobody ever stole on the scale of Madoff prior to the mass regulatory state.”

    That’s lame: we did not have the kinds of wealth in folks hands we do now and the easier ways of effecting these kinds of deals, and not all of this is due to regulation for pete’s sake but the growth of wealth and the progress of technology and techniques…

  54. hmm and bigbigslacker,

    So, what do you think would be worse than being called a NAZI or neo-NAZI?

    Democrat

  55. So again, regulation, just like criminal and tort law, only punishes people who do the wrong action in question. The difference is that with the former we don’t have to wait until someone is harmed.

    Regulation punishes everyone who operates underneath it. The costs it adds punish all those who do business in whatever area is covered by it. As pointed out above, regulation does nothing to stop crooks from being crooks. It merely adds burdens to non-crooks.

    MNG, this is directly related to the idea, which you have also stated, that there will be a huge increase in drug use if those laws are ever repealed. You honestly believe some statute in a book serves as a deterrent to the vast majority of people who want to engage in behavior that is immoral (e.g., embezzling) or socially frowned upon (drug use). This is crap. Thieves are going to steal, and drug users are going to get high, for the simple fact that they believe they can get away with it.

    And when libertarians argue that these laws should be removed, they trot out the horror stories (‘my 13 year old got hooked on meth – *sob*’. ‘My granny lost her life savings’) despite the fact that this shit is already illegal and it didn’t stop anyone.

    The doctrine of preemptive regulation is as useful and effective as the doctrine of preemptive war.

  56. First they came for the backyard gardeners (Raich v. Gonzales) and I didn’t speak up because I didn’t garden in my back yard.

    Then they came for the yard and garage sale hosts (CPSIA), and I didn’t speak up because I never held a garage or yard sale.

    (New installments coming. Look for them!)

  57. Well, I’m glad you guys came in here to set MNG straight, although we all know it’s a lost cause.

    *shakes head*

    Regulations punish everyone, MNG. They place an unreasonable burden on everyone but the largest companies, who lobby and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure that government squashes every potential small competitor.

  58. Oops. Wasn’t done.

    CPSIA punishes me and others just like me, for the lead-laced sins of Mattel and some unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers.

  59. Now, now fluffy, you’re smart enough to see the problem with that statement. Both under regulation and tort/criminal law we’d punish the guy only after he did something wrong (the seller of tainted meat would be fined only after he put tainted meat out for sale), but in the latter system we would only punish the person after DAMAGES have been inflicted.

    This is absolutely, positively false.

    If my city has a requirement that I obtain a vendor’s license prior to selling sandwiches, and I sell sandwiches without obtaining that permit, I will be punished.

    And this will be the case even if all of my sandwiches are UTTERLY PERFECT and no one who eats them is harmed in the least.

    So unless you circularly define “doing something wrong” as “defying the will of the state as expressed in the regulation” then, no, they aren’t the same.

  60. Yea! It’s time for the Gov’t to get a piece of the Ebay pie

  61. Guess it’s back to tossing all the old stuff out the car window on my way to pick up my welfare check.

  62. Just to expand on my previous statement, it is the fact that regulation and licensing schemes punish both effective and ineffective producers equally that makes them unjust.

    If I practice medicine without a license, I am a criminal even if all my patients get well.

    If I practice law without a license, I am a criminal even if I win all my cases.

    If I sell sandwiches without a license, I am a criminal even if no one who eats my sandwiches gets sick. And somewhat more offensively, I am more of a criminal than the person who does have a license who serves food that gives people food poisoning.

  63. I dunno, but how did the federal gummint get jurisdiction over my yard sale?

  64. You have to ban the sale of old books with their old ideas. They may infect people with oldthink. Only purchase new books with newthink.

    Also – I didn’t know you could sell children at yard sales. I thought flea markets were the only place appropriate for child sales. Thanks CSPC, I’ll round up a few for next months sale.

  65. My little Tennessee burg allows one to have three yard sales a year without obtaining a permit or state sales tax declaration. Also, one must clean up all those yard sale signs placed all over town or be fined.

    Actually, they passed an ordinance to stop people from stapling those cardboard monstrosities to utility poles, but it had little affect. I suspect waterboarding of violators may next come into play.

    You can practice law without a license. I represented myself in court once. I might have had a fool for a client (as well as an attorney) but I won.

    There are people everywhere selling baked goods and other foods without a dab of product liability insurance. Most of them are lucky as hell that no one breaks a tooth or comes down with botulism.

  66. I do know why one city started the permit process a couple of decades, ago. It seems that there was one individual that ran a permanent yard sale. I.e. he was running a retail business in his front yard. (Consider, he was not collecting any taxes and not obeying any regulations, concerning safety or fire, not to mention insurance) Neighbors were not happy. The city finally passed an ordinance allowing two yard sales per year, a permit was required, AND the days of the sale could not exceed five days.

  67. In New Jersey, it’s really all about the taxes.

    We have a flea market down the road from us and every year or so, the revenuers from the NJ Division of Taxation show up and check all the dealers’ sales tax numbers, and hit them with a big fine if they don’t have one. They’ll even “insta-value” any good stuff they may have — such as paintings and jewelry — and bill them for the tax on those items before they even sell them.

  68. I guess if all this garage sale stuff is so dangerous, wouldn’t just the possession thereof be grounds for prosecuting the parents for child endangerment?

    Just so we’re all clear where this bureaucratic bullshit can lead to…

  69. Years from now as the State cares for us in our Generation Support Facility, we will reminisce with a tear in our eye to our care providers about being there at the beginning . . . when real equality watered by changiness and hopitude flowered in the Spring of ’09.

  70. I’ve thought that used book/toy sellers should just change the name of their merchandise to “antiques”.

    They could even post notices in their stores that wares were only for adults “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”.

  71. I’ve thought about this issue, and this kind of regulation of yard sales seems like overkill.

    MNG, seriously? You had to think about this to get to the point where it seems like overkill?

    Yes, they would be liable for that. But it would be after the fact, after they killed someone.

    Yes, someone who would sell poison to their neighbors is going to think twice because they need a permit for their yard sale. And the local busybodies are going to test everything at the yard sale for safety.

  72. Pretty soon, you’ll have to get a permit to fart.

  73. Massachusetts at one point was getting after yard sales for not collecting the 5% Massachusetts sales tax. Until cooler minds prevailed (not democratic).

  74. They aren’t damaging your property in any way. Just making it slightly less easy to park close to your house.

    I wasn’t talking about that. I’m talking about people parking in front of driveways, across sidewalks, in front of fire hydrants, etc. And on a narrow street it can be dangerous for larger vehicles to navigate if cars are parked on both sides. If your house burns down because the fire trucks get trapped on a narrow street where some asshole was selling off his doll collection, I’d call that an externality.

    In any case, I don’t see how requiring a cheap permit for yard sales is any more onerous a regulation than requiring drivers to put license plates on their vehicles, yet no one outside the loony fringe has a problem with that.

  75. Brought to you by the same mentality that prohibits the selling of childrens books made before 1984 because they *might* have some lead based ink in them… no, no cases of lead contamination or poisoning from those books, but the government deems them unfit for children.

    Plus the same mentality looking to regulate roadside stands selling home grown vegetables… and that would go for farmer’s markets too… unless you get a license, of course.

    No doubt in the very near future making your own breakfast or going at a stride that indicates running or race walking will be prohibited due to the windburn you will cause to the surrounding environment. You’ll need a special permit for the latter and be forced to weekly home inspections for the former.

    The last two are fictional.

    The first two are not.

  76. So, are kids just fucking stupid now, or what?

    Let’s see, when I was a little kid, I used to ride in the front seat of the car without a seatbelt. I wore clothes with drawstrings and managed not to strangle myself. I played with things made of lead. I set things on fire just for fun. I used hammers and axes without safety goggles and I could spend the day walking around town by myself.

    I think I’m OK. And I don’t recall a lot of my friends being maimed through similar activities.

    What the fuck happened?

  77. I wasn’t talking about that. I’m talking about people parking in front of driveways, across sidewalks, in front of fire hydrants, etc.
    Aren’t those things already violations of traffic laws? Can’t a policeman go write tickets for all of those violations, and put out a radio call on a frequency that the tow-truck operators listen on, so that they know they can come take away these blatant violators and make some coin?

    Why do we need another law when these things are already illegal?

  78. They’re coming for farmers markets as we comment.
    H.R. 875 “Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009” http://cryptogon.com/?p=7362

  79. Forget about sales – tried to donate a Toys to local children’s hospital thrift and they wouldn’t take them due to product safety tracking issues. We’re in the very best of hands!

  80. I am continually amazed at the mind set that says we need a regulation to control criminal behavior. Anti-2nd Amendment hat racks use this argument all the time. Wish I could scream in their ear – “WHO OBEYS LAWS/REGULATIONS?” AND, if they answer, “criminals,” I wish I could find a way to help them detox from the koolaide they drink. Ask yourself this, if there were no laws against murder, would you murder? If there were no laws against armed robbery, would you rob? If there were no laws against beating the poop out of total strangers, would you beat them up anyway? How about if you had “hate” in your heart because they were a different/race/religion than you? How about if they were, in your opinion, sexually deviant? Is it the laws that keep you from doing these things? Or is it your own code of behavior? True liberals believe that laws and regulations are the only things that stand between them and anarchy. Media/power/politician whores use this belief to retain/gain power, control and money.

  81. If the CPSC really wants to regulate yard-sales, I wonder if they have followed Col.Troutman’s logistical advice?

  82. Pretty soon, you’ll have to get a permit to fart.

    Becky, are you emitting greenhouse gases without a permit??

  83. I work in product design engineering in the apparel industry and disagree with most of this discussion. I could not be more opposed to the CPSIA law. In fact, my activism earned me the dubious distinction of being the only private citizen targeted for attack by IL representative Jan Schakowsky. You should read that, it’s pretty nasty.

    I make two assertions:
    1. The CPSC is not to blame. They must follow the law. The agency has said repeatedly (pdf) that the law is not tenable.

    2. With respect to yard sales… the tragedy is that many banned (and yes, dangerous) products are sold at yard sales. To whit, recalled and banned baby cribs. Similarly, disassembled used cribs are often missing hardware, rendering them unsafe. There have been several deaths attributed to unsafe cribs acquired in the resale market. This disproportionately affects lower income people who lack the means to buy new products and tend to be ill advised as to the mechanisms by which consumer products are regulated for safety.

    While I am adamantly opposed to this law, rationale for the necessity of this particular one exists however poorly implemented. We do need to do *something*; it is truly appalling and irresponsible that large firms like Gap are having to recall products the design of which was banned twelve years ago (drawcords in kid’s clothes, quite a few kids have strangled to death). Furthermore, it is inappropriate to couch the discussion in terms of legal vs illegal and whether one chooses to comply over threat of sanctions vs their internal moral compass, when creating a law has the desired effect of information dispersal via established mechanisms.

  84. Bring it on feds. My powder is dry, my arm is steady. Come mess with my yard sale.

    It was a silly little tax on luxury items that started the first revolution. It will be silly little regulations on trivial shit that starts the next.

  85. I work for a mid-size sporting goods company. Some small segment of our product is marketed to children. Since our business model revolves around small lots of multiple styles the testing cost has been enormous for us – especially in soft goods. However, we are large enough to be able to afford it. Too bad for our smaller competitors. Too bad for grandma and her hand-knit winter hats. Oh well, more business for us.

  86. Hazel Meade – you rock!

  87. WTF? WHY do you need a permit for a yard sale?
    Seriously.

    Can someone actually give me a reasonable justification for that?

    One question: does the permit require payment of some sort of fee?

  88. from Clo9thing Point #4 Drawstrings:

    From 1985 through July 2008, there were at least 27 reported deaths and 70 non?fatal incidents to children aged 15 years and younger related to drawstrings.

    Tragic if it happens to your kid. But is this REALLY a nationwide problem?

  89. Furthermore, it is inappropriate to couch the discussion in terms of legal vs illegal and whether one chooses to comply over threat of sanctions vs their internal moral compass, when creating a law has the desired effect of information dispersal via established mechanisms.

    What the heck does this mean?

    In any case, I don’t see how requiring a cheap permit for yard sales is any more onerous a regulation than requiring drivers to put license plates on their vehicles, yet no one outside the loony fringe has a problem with that.

    It’s not a question of whether it’s “onerous” or not. It’s a question of whether the state should possess the authority to create and enforce this type of regulation or not.

  90. Read Joel Salatin – “Everything I want to do is Illegal”

    GREAT BOOK!

  91. @Zeb…

    No shit, huh. I was wondering the same thing.

  92. Just put your stuff up on the local Freecycle.org group post and people who actually NEED your extra stuff can come and get it. And when you NEED something, you can post and ask for it from the group. No money changes hands, you get rid of your unwanted stuff as do other group members, and we all get along without lining the pockets of the local social program pushers. Oh, yeah, you don’t get fined for ‘freecycling’ an old children’s book to someone else 😉

  93. Hazel Meade | May 7, 2009, 4:58pm |

    I know I’m a day late and whatever, and I’m already happily married.

    BUT, Hazel Meade, I love you.

  94. Blacque Jacques Shellacque | May 8, 2009, 12:37pm | #

    One question: does the permit require payment of some sort of fee?

    Don’t care. It requires me to obtain the approval of the government for having a garage sale. I’d fart in their general direction, but I haven’t gotten a permit for that yet, either.

  95. Reason has no “free market” credibility as long as Gillespie is editor.

  96. Regarding the issue of permits for yard sales, I support that fully. My town has such rules in place, and the purpose of the permit law is to keep people from running a bazaar in their front yard every weekend. In the NJ town that I previously lived in there were people who were, shall we say, of a different and rich culture, and that culture did not have a problem with people running large, nearly full-time retail operations every weekend from the front of a townhouse.

    It’s a sad fact that someone will always game the system to such a ridiculous extreme that an annoying law, like the yard sale ordinance, has to be put into effect. It doesn’t have to come from a different culture (although it did in our case). It could simply be people who fully understand that it’s a rude thing to do in the community, but just don’t care.

  97. Being a collecter of old children’s books, I’ve pretty much ignored all this BS. I’ve sent letters to my senator but I have certainly not followed these rules.
    They should’ve known better than to let a country with less strict manufacturing regulations make our toys. If I had a kid, they’d just have handmade toys from somewhere like Etsy, books, and board games anyways. Obviously these books haven’t done that much damage or all our parents would be zombies.

  98. Is there anything that the folks at Reason can’t soil their diapers over?

    Oh, that’s right, they don’t seem to be bothered much by wiretapping, domestic spying or torture. But if Uncle Sam looks cross-eyed at their bong or their yard sale, they’ll piss themselves yellow and pull out their guns. (See above.)

  99. Makes me wonder how the human race ever survived. Actually, makes me wonder how we will survive by treating our kids like fragile porcelain, insulating from gaining real experience in how to survive. Several generations of kids were reared with draw strings on their clothes and window blinds and with crib slats that they could stick their heads through (if they were pointed enough). Used to have concrete on the play grounds too and kids were free to explore their neighborhoods and fall off of bikes and out of trees. Were rearing a whole generation of neurotics, afraid of everything. This, of course, is good – will make them far more incompetent and easier to control as adults – thank Lord Obama, the government will take care of them. I’m glad I’m old.

  100. If you outlaw yard sales, only outlaws will have yard sales.

  101. Thank God Bush is gone or else we would have government monitoring every aspect of your life.

  102. I’m sure that Obama does not know about this.

  103. The government is getting to large, and powerful. That is the only problem. The states no longer have any rights, because the Federal Government and the White House can do whatever they want.
    Sure spend 11 trillion dollars, it doesn’t matter! Fuck yall.

  104. Instead of bashing this document, and the work that went into to creating it, you should be distributing it to anyone you know who holds yard/garage sales. Is it really so unreasonable that we should know (and not sell to someone unsuspecting) a kid’s book or toy with lead paint on it? Conservatives and libertarians are always nitpicking, trying to find some way that the government is in your way, but you gave away the fact that this is a bullshit post with this sentence:

    Obviously, it’s unlikely the CPSA goons are going to bust up your yard sale

    Exactly. There is no threat to you or even an inconvenience from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or big gubmint in general. This is to help us, to help mothers and fathers take care of their children and ensure that we do not bring poison or death traps into our homes.

    You might argue that, wow, it could take a lot of effort to find out whether everything I sell in my yard sale is safe and “legal” per consumer safety standards. Except that the effing CPSC has just written you up a handy dandy guide and links to the website with recall lists to help you figure out anything you’re iffy about. Amazing how that works.

    So again, email this to people you know who have yard sales, and quit your complaining please? There are millions of parents out there who would have loved to have known that their child’s crib or what-not was unsafe before they bought it, and if it’s such a big bother for you to check before you sell one at least make sure other people know not to buy it from you.

  105. Exactly. There is no threat to you or even an inconvenience from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or big gubmint in general.

    If your defense of an unjust law or regulation is that it won’t be enforced, you are what is known as a stupid, worthless cunt.

  106. The government, or at least 90% of it, is nothing more than a racket.

  107. Why are you saying Madoff has done something wrong? The fedril gummint has been doing the same thing for 70 years- it’s called Social Security. I don’t see any senators being hauled off to jail.

  108. Did you (Katherine) actually read the handbook?

    Children needlessly die every year from badly designed, dangerous products. The handbook identifies those products with known risks and helps a potential vendor (or purchaser) know which products are NOT SAFE TO SELL. And it does so in a reasonable, non-aggressive, helpful way.

    If I were you, I’d be praising it as a well-written, useful publication that will
    help children stay alive!

    Sheesh.

  109. Oh, Archer1, if only it were so simple. Of course I don’t want to buy for my kids or sell to anyone else’s kids things that are laced with lead or phthalate-laden (cute terms from sites like US-PIRG who not only pushed Congress to pass the CPSIA to begin with but also INSISTED that it apply to kids up to age 12, not age 7 as was originally proposed).

    And yes, the CPSC has given exemptions to crafters like myself so that I can use dyed and undyed fabrics without having to pay to have them tested for lead and phthalates and hundreds of dollars per test (thus destroying each of my one-of-a-kind tie-dyed items) – but ONLY for ALL-FABRIC garments! That means no onesies – they have snaps. No bibs – they have velcro or snaps. Nothing with buttons. Even though any child’s garment I buy new for dyeing already has to be certified lead-free and phthalate-free (including velcro, snaps, and buttons), and even dye it with lead-free dyes, that’s not good enough. Not all-fabric, not legal to sell without testing (once the 1-year “stay” on enforcement is over on 2/10/10). Not at all harmful, just against the law, to the tune of a $100K fine!

    BTW, donations of untested items are also generally considered to be illegal under the CPSIA, and even though second-hand outlets (like Goodwill or Salvation Army) have been exempted from the testing requirement, they are NOT exempt from liability if anything they sell (or have FOR sale) turns out to be above the legal lead limit, even if it’s ONE button on ONE shirt for an 11-year-old.

    The same big toymakers who outsourced their manufacture to Chinese factories where the lead problems came from to begin with have huge batches and can afford to sacrifice an item to testing; they have huge legal departments and they have lobbyists who helped them “help” Congress make the law work for THEM – but not for the “little guys.”

    And before any more liberal-bashing goes on, count me on the side of liberals who HATE this law. I’ve written thank-you’s to the (mostly) Republicans who’ve tried to amend it and make it more workable for “normal” folks like me, and I’ve raised hell with my Democratic lawmakers for their inaction.

    Here’s hoping it doesn’t rain tomorrow so we can have our Community Yard Sale as scheduled. 🙂 I’m selling TOOOOOOYS!!!!!

  110. @Michael Fuller: The law goes FAR FAR beyond helping a vendor know what’s safe. The law REQUIRES “manufacturers” to pay for third-party testing, to the tune of HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS of dollars for EACH COMPONENT of an item intended for anyone 12 or under. That means the granny hand-knitting baby blankets for preemies in hospitals – as if the non-toxic yarn suddenly gained lead through the process of using knitting needles to turn it into a child’s item. I’m not talking about choking hazards here – heck, there are already laws in place for that that weren’t being followed; hence the recalls Kathleen referenced. There were already laws in place with clear lead limits that were being surpassed by AMERICA’S large toymakers who outsourced their manufacture. (Note: European toymakers, with higher standards than ours in the first place, are withdrawing from the US market in droves as they are also being expected to pay for US third-party testing.) Oh, and did you know that a significant percentage of the third-party labs certified to do this testing are in (drum roll…..) CHINA?!?!?

    We didn’t need NEW laws; we needed the old ones enforced in the first place.

    The CPSIA is a “well-written” document that helps the big guys stay in business and forces the cottage industries out of business; it makes mass-produced manageable while making handmade unaffordable. Have YOU read the original legislation yourself? All of it? Do you “get” the “unintended consquences?” ‘Cause there are scores of them.

    Sheesh indeed.

  111. Yardsales, stores, resale…IMAGINE WHAT THIS WILL DO TO THE AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM. If this law does not change, the already weak school budgets will BE FACED WITH A DEFICIT AS LARGE AS OUR NATIONAL DEFICIT.

    This sham of this law, forcing people to spend thousands of dollars to test does not make safe products any safer!!

    We need tested based on RISK ASSESSMENT ONLY

  112. They are really looking for guns and ammo and anything they can confiscate or tax.

  113. To the commenter who asked about selling books at Amazon- yeah, that’s illegal and you risk a huge fine if you are selling pre-1985 books intended for children to, you know, actually touch. Children 12 and under, because Congress thinks ten year olds eat their socks and suck on their books.

    That handbook Michael Fuller thinks is so reasonable? It specifies that when it comes to books, it is only ‘safe’ to sell books published after 1985. NO child has EVER been harmed by the lead content of a book. It’s not reasonable, it’s insane.

  114. “because Congress thinks ten year olds eat their socks and suck on their books.”

    Is this the reason it is hard to find Kinderball candy with toys in them in the United States?

  115. Seems like a waste of paper to me. Its up to the parents to watch out for this stuff. Yard sales are harmless and regulation is just plain dumb. I wonder how many people will consult this before putting their sale on.

  116. “Is this the reason it is hard to find Kinderball candy with toys in them in the United States?”

    Actually, I know of a couple smaller places that do sell the KinderEggs, but my hubby and I have joked for years about them being a choking hazard in the States b/c either American kids don’t “get” not to put tiny things in their mouth or American parents don’t watch them with tiny things, OR maybe European parents don’t care. (That was SARCASM! Please no flames!)

    I think we can probably strike #3 off the list, and replace both #1 AND #2 with “Americans are probably THE most likely to file a lawsuit rather than claim ANY personal responsibility and/or apply common sense if something hurts them or anyone they know.” 🙁 (There are cases where it’s warranted, to be sure, but not as many cases as actually go to court and result in awards!) Even the KinderEggs we’ve gotten IN Germany have the little warning labels inside with a picture of a baby and “0-3” under the picture inside a circle with a line across it. You’d think that’d be enough, but NOOOOOO…..

    Meanwhile, I have a shoebox full of KinderEgg toys here (some of which actually came from Germany!) and hopefully more to come. 🙂 (And I promise to watch any kids who play with them to keep the toys – and kids! – safe!)

  117. Give that your allowed to have a sale feel free to get the word out and let everybody know by advertising on the internet I think its more efficient than the paper. I found it the most helpful when I threw my Garage Sale

  118. Regarding the issue of permits for yard sales, I support that fully. My town has such rules in place, and the purpose of the permit law is to keep people from running a bazaar in their front yard every weekend. In the NJ town that I previously lived in there were people who were, shall we say, of a different and rich culture, and that culture did not have a problem with people running large, nearly full-time retail operations every weekend from the front of a townhouse.

    Excuse me, but, why is it any of your fucking business if someone runs a retail outlet from their townhouse?

  119. Children needlessly die every year from badly designed, dangerous products. The handbook identifies those products with known risks and helps a potential vendor (or purchaser) know which products are NOT SAFE TO SELL. And it does so in a reasonable, non-aggressive, helpful way.

    So why not just hand out the darn pamphlet, instead of making it illegal to hold yard sells, force crafters to obey onerous testing requirements, and then fine them hundreds of thousands of dollars if they don’t?

    I wouldn’t call that “non-aggressive”.

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to make anything 100% safe. Life just sucks that way. You people are making the entire country a rigid totalitarian police state in your absurd quest to eliminate risk from human society.

    You are making life a living hell for the vast majority of society with every teensy tinsy restriction, regulation, and freaking pamphlet intended to eliminate every teensy tinsy risk. It’s the hell of a thousand pinpricks.

    Nobody wants to live in a society where there is a rule and a permit for every single thing you mgiht possibly do that might possibly be risky or might possibly affect someone else negatively.

    Next thing you know, you’ll need a permit to plant trees in your front yard. Because heck, the trees will shade your neighbors lawn, and that would be an “externality”.

    Do we really want to sit huddled in our houses, afraid to do anything that will affect anyone else in some bizarre way? Or unable to leave the front door without a permit because anything you do could potentially impact someone else’s life in some trivial way, and hence be regulated?

  120. Typical Government BS – Bovine Scat… What is the next thing they will regulate?? How many times per day you can exhale..? Now that Carbon Dioxide is a “green house gas”… Pay a permit fee to get carbon credits for the number of farts your dog may produce in a year…?

    People you better wake up and get INVOLVED and TAKE YOUR COUNTRY BACK!!

  121. It is incredible the lengths they will go to regulate and claim that it is for our safety. Thanks for the help…

  122. I absolutely agree that newspapers are very difficult to use when locating a good garage sale. That is exactly why I started using a website that helps me find all the garage sales or yard sales I want. I even posted my sale and had a great response. I am sold on these guys!

  123. ask for donations in return ?

  124. Ludicrous. We’ve seen no local regulation of this whatsoever, though. Given that this is a local issue, I can’t see any interest from local law enforcement to jump in on the action.

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  128. Ludicrous. We’ve seen no local regulation of this whatsoever, though. Given that this is a local issue, I can’t see any interest from local law enforcement to jump in on the action.
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