The New York Times editorial page continues to dismiss criticism of the testing burdens of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 on small manufacturers and retailers as “part of a standard antiregulation litany.” But on October 30, 2009 the paper itself ran a sadly belated but otherwise decently executed article by reporter Leslie Wayne from which a fair-minded reader would conclude that the small makers’ complaints about the law are only too well-grounded (“Burden of Safety Law Imperils Small Toymakers.”)
If one were to take a charitable view, one might commend the Times editorialists for at last deigning to concede that the law might usefully be “tweaked,” at least within a very narrow latitude. They finally acknowledge that there “might be a way to exempt products from testing if they very clearly do not pose a lead-related hazard,” without acknowledging that the great majority of products swept under the law’s coverage fall into exactly such a category. But they continue to insist that even older kids be denied access to products that could not pass CPSIA’s lead testing, including whole categories of products like kids’ bicycles and ballpoint pens whose designs still cannot dispense with the (entirely harmless) use of brass and suchlike alloys. Only the repeated staying or postponed enforcement of many of the law’s requirements has spared the country a long list of similar absurdities — while the legal absurdities that the CPSC has not stayed or postponed have already wiped out makers and vendors of harmless products from coast to coast.
Even under the best of circumstances, the Times’s editorialists would find it hard to live down their cruel, ideologically blinkered track record on the CPSIA issue. But couldn’t they at least pretend to be following the coverage in their own paper? More: Handmade Toy Alliance. And Rick Woldenberg offers a critique of the the Times’s new, and anything but improved, news-side reporting.