“Students Aren’t Allowed To Touch Real Rocks”

Lenore Skenazy at Forbes: “How the Consumer Product Safety Commission drives parents — and everyone else — crazy.” Besides the CPSIA rock-poster story of the headline (earlier), the CPSC has scared parents about not-very-terrifying Graco high chairs and Little Tykes workbenches, to say nothing of those McDonald’s Shrek glasses with traces of cadmium.

Related: the Federalist Society presents a podcast on CPSIA with CPSC commissioners Nancy Nord and Robert Adler; rules for making kids’ products recall the IRS code in complexity; the new public database of alleged product-related injuries, a la NHTSA’s, draws critical attention from manufacturers and CPSC commissioner Anne Northup; and the commission tackles the dangers of clacker balls.


  • When I was in Elementary School the teacher used to let us put our finger in a jar of mercury. Nowadays they call the hazmat team when someone breaks the old fashion mercury thermometer.

  • I remember a time when the complexity of the IRS code was considered a problem by most people, with various solutions being floated to fix it (which never happened, of course). Today, its complexity seems to be considered an ideal that all other forms of regulation should try to copy.

    I am convinced now that this is all deliberate. That it’s happening because of a collusion between politically-connected big businessmen and government statists. Big businesses favor these complex regulatory schemes because they drive small competitors out of the market and prevent new ones from entering. They help turn an industry into a cartel dominated by a few large establishment players. Statists favor them because they understand that it is much easier to regulate and control an industry if it is made up of a few large companies than if it consists of hundreds or thousands of small ones. The bigger ones are easier targets. And it is easier to introduce massive regulatory changes in an industry with only a few large companies, as they have the financial resources to implement those changes, and because their sheer size makes quitting the industry nearly impossible.

    So I’m sorry to say that this is my forecast for the future of American business: a flood of new massive regulatory regimes, imposed largely by regulatory fiat, which force an ever increasing cartelization of every industry in the country, and the shrinking and disappearance of many types of small businesses.

  • For GregS,

    Almost all people, including our well educated President, believe that regulations are to protect workers and the public. That is not true. Regulations protect business and engineering protects workers and the public. Airplane manufacturers knew that their market would disappear if there planes crashed a lot. Airplanes are built to high standards. Airplane accidents are rare considering the thousand of flights a day, and those that do happen are almost always human error.

    Mine owners want safe mines to keep down labor costs if for no other reason. Inspectors give credence to the safety of the operations. It happens that the inspectors have been interfering with the wise policy of taking air and gases out of a mine as quickly as possible. That interference was, in my opinion, the reason for the recent disaster in West Virginia.

    The Plaintiff bar wanted to sue paint companies for lead poisoning. Such suits are great publicity and could be lucrative. They based there case on the dubious science of a egotistical doctor. The safety community picked up their fervor and have set standards that are insane. Big toy companies, with big pockets, not wanting to fight off the lead nuts give in to the insanity.

    My point is that it is corruption of our people, not of our companies, that results in the crazy regulations.