Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Health, safety, and book banning

No, this is not about censorship and freedom of speech. It is about hyper-legislation, or to be precise, panic legislation. There is a lot of it around these days. A threat is spotted, there is a cry for something to be done, and politicians respond by passing hasty and poorly thought out legislation.

Last year, in the wake of the panic over lead paint on toys from China, the United States Congress passed a bill (the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) which, among its other provisions, imposed tough new limits on lead in any products intended for use by children aged 12 or under, and made those limits retroactive.

The effect of this, according to Walter Olsen of City Journal, is that “children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense." The result may be that these books will simply have to be destroyed. (The thought of old books by that nice Mr. Bond going to landfill is truly distressing.)

The Act, by the way, passed the Senate by 89 votes to 3, and the House of Representatives by 424 votes to 1. The lone dissenter was Ron Paul.

Hat raised to Mr. Justin Taylor

1 comment:

Shawnee said...
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