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Amazon must remove toxic school supplies, kids’ jewelry from US marketplace (wa.gov)
313 points by tareqak 46 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 246 comments

"Amazon entered into a nationwide legally binding agreement to block the sale of children’s schools supplies and jewelry on Amazon.com without lab reports and other proof from the sellers that the products are not toxic."

IE Amazon can pass the buck completely to the sellers.

This will simultaneously make it expensive for those sellers actually trying to comply (lab testing is not cheap), and do nothing for those that were likely the problem in the first place (who will just fake lab results and do so at a lesser price)[1]

They should require amazon to randomly sample.

[1] In case you think this is not a real problem note that similar kinds of lab testing requirements destroyed, for example, children's toys except from large scale sellers who could afford the cost of compliance (see https://www.cpsc.gov/Business--Manufacturing/Business-Educat...). You will find basically no small manufacturers of childrens toys anymore. Different cause, but likely same effect.

I'm sure it made things safer in some sense, but yeah.

> They should require amazon to randomly sample.

If governments cared about safety they would do the sampling and fine companies a meaningful percent of profit. That would fix these problems once and for all.

Unfortunately we’ve elected governments that cut regulations which encourages the opposite behavior from companies.

>Unfortunately we’ve elected governments that cut regulation

It's really not that simple. The regulations here benefit Amazon. This is why Facebook is asking to be regulated. It's called regulatory capture. It's a product of corporatism or cronyism. Established corporations lobby for regulations that shut out small business and protect their profits.

While I care a lot about having a competitive marketplace, it's much more important to me that I and my family aren't poisoned. Are you saying that smaller companies can't compete with Amazon if everyone has to check that they're not poisoning us?

>Are you saying that smaller companies can't compete with Amazon if everyone has to check that they're not poisoning us?

Yes, because this adds cost to manufacturing. Imagine if you yourself wanted to make and sell children's jewelry. How difficult would it be for you to get a lab to test all of the stuff you make? Could you make any money after you subtract the cost of these kinds of lab tests?

A large company has economies of scale. Finding a lab is a much smaller portion of the cost for them compared to you.

Well, I think most of us make due with just buying ingredients that aren't poisonous when we cook (with the assurance in part coming from independent quality control of said ingredients).

But I'm sure I must have missed why this general principle couldn't be used for other things that we don't want to be toxic.

But the whole argument is that buying parts/ingredients that aren't poisonous isn't enough. You still have to spend a lot of resources on testing. I think that these kinds of regulations should scale with the size of the company/revenue/profit. Smaller companies shouldn't have as great of a burden, so as to encourage competition. (There should still be punishments for them failing though. Eg you're not required to test if you're small, but you can still be punished for selling poisonous products.)

Most regions have prescribed safety standards to meet, for instance the kitemark or the CE mark (http://www.safekids.co.uk/toysafetymarks.html)[http://www.sa... show an item meets the regulatory safety requirements - these aren't added by stores, they are obtained by the manufacturer so that its products can be sold in stores across Britain and Europe.

Saying that the onus should be on stores is crazy, unless you accept that a company should have exclusive rights to your product at which point it become a licensed product and would probably be branded as such.

Oh, I completely agree that the onus shouldn't really be on the store. I was talking about manufacturers that sell it themselves.

Problem is even if you only use safe parts, legally you have to get a lab to test your product. Using lead free everything isn't enough to LEGALLY prove your product is lead free.

Smaller companies in the US would typically know not to put poison in their products in the first place, negating the need for direct lab testing, and those small companies can purchase bulk supplies from sources large enough to do upstream testing.

> Smaller companies in the US would typically know not to put poison in their products in the first place...

The catch is when they buy materials (like paint) that are cheaper because they don't comply. Either because they are made for a market with different regulations, or they have been contaminated some how.

Manufacturers may need to get certifications from suppliers about the materials meeting the regulations, but these won't be the cheapest option.

This is still a problem that could be solved by having governments that actually acted in the interest of their constituents and not just their cronies.

Product safety regulations and other regulations are really not the same thing. Please don't mix them. There's no such thing as regulatory capture by mandating that you aren't allowed to poison people.

Safety regulations that mandate expensive testing can absolutely be a part of regulatory capture. In well thought out regulations the benefits outweigh the costs, but being beneficial doesn't prevent a regulation from entrenching the big players.

This supposed “insight” is on its way to become just another tired meme. If, somehow, Amazon profits from this settlement, why did they not just implement its terms before? Or for other categories? There is nothing stopping them from requiring whatever lab tests they want from any seller they want, after all.

Regulatory capture is a useful concept, but please don’t just parrot it for any case related to regulation. As seen here, it is now used most often as a cudgel against any sort of regulation, and that’s exactly what they wanted all along.

It's not enough for Amazon to voluntarily adopt these measures, incurring costs only on themselves, but rather for the entire category/industry to be forced to implement these measures, incurring costs on everyone in the market. Even if the measures today are Amazon specific, the likely inexorable path is for this to become standard across the industry, which will eventually benefit those for whom the fixed cost portion can be spread across the largest amount of sales.

So we should just ignore the long list of cases where it has happened, because This Time It Will Be Different?

No, use it when appropriate. Here, it isn’t, because:

- this settlement applies to Amazon only, not any competitor. That doesn’t fit the usual mechanism of using regulation to shackle competition

- regulatory capture also refers to a social mechanism, where regulators become friends with the industry because they spend so much time together etc. That doesn’t fit too well here, because a state attorney’s office is far more diversified than, say, the FAA.

- the points in my initial comment, which you just ignored

I apologize, I was talking specifically about this:

>This supposed “insight” is on its way to become just another tired meme.

On the other hand, people were explicitly talking about regulation, which I took to mean as a wider-reaching thing than just this agreement Amazon made. In this specific case, Amazon is basically acting like the government for the sellers.

> they would do the sampling and fine companies a meaningful percent of profit

There is a role for a non-profit here to test products, publicise the results and potentially even bring cases to court against Amazon as a funding strategy. Barring that, propose a bill for your state watchdog to your state legislator. Waiting around for governments to care about random issues isn’t how any system works.

Or perhaps a for-profit. Make a living independently finding and bringing cases against companies selling illegal products.

Without tangible personal damages, would you have standing to sue?

Standard class action model. You find a few people who do have standing to sue and get them to agree to be represented by you.

> There is a role for a non-profit here to test products, publicise the results

Does Consumers' Union still do stuff like this?

In Brazil there is a national institution (INMETRO) that certifies almost every mass-produced item, with mandatory and voluntary categories, on a budget of ~US$100m/year.

School supplies are in the mandatory group, for obvious reasons.

They have some criticism from the international community: they are responsible for the official metrology (setting the standards), they regulate the products, they test it for compliance, they do the accreditation for other labs...

A good part of the incoming is from these tests and accreditation.

So, a good amount of conflict of interest.

On the flip side, it would be nice for suppliers to know their products are not toxic in the first place, rather than to just catch it after the harm is done.

This will act as a deterrent to catch those knowingly selling toxic products. But if lab testing isn't in the reach of suppliers, then how can they know if it's toxic free?

That said, I think a safety net is valuable, whether Amazon or government. It would be nice to see innovation to bring the cost of testing down so it's accessible to everyone.

Why isn't this a case for civil damages? Find toys that are dangerous and file a class action suit against Amazon for selling them? This would circumvent the whole "Giant corp bought the regulators so they won't fine them for poisoning kids" thing.

yeah, and why did the Washington AG hold a press conference around this? he should have tried to hide it. seriously.

the AG barely held Amazon accountable at all. the fines are miniscule. my guess is that these same lead and cadmium tainted products will be sold through Amazon again in the future. lead paint in toys has been a problem for decades. this isn't enough to stop it. this problem calls for a far stronger remedy.

also: where are all the California Prop 65 lawsuits? where is Calfornia's AG on this issue? we have way more Amazon customers in California and fewer conflicts of interest since Amazon is headquartered in WA. this makes no sense.

It's quite simple to build a system that works. UK retailers are liable for legality, safety etc. You don't just dump another new piece of crap on the shelf. Larger retailers have a formal process of becoming a supplier to them that has your products tested, and random sampling of what's coming in until you have proved yourself enough to be rated trusted supplier. There's a lot more to it than "will it sell?".

Even wholesalers and cash and carry places will normally have systems to ensure what small sellers are getting are safe and legal.

Amazon is the big fat exception as they're busy being "platform" and try to duck their responsibilities with "not our problem".

Nett result is I trust anywhere on the high street, even poundshop and other bottom end chains, more on safety and counterfeits etc than Amazon.

I used to work for a very large materials testing company - that had labs throughout the UK doing "due diligence" testing on products in shops.

They have people that actually go to large retailers and buy articles and they are tested continually. I got a life from one of the buyers at one of the labs and she mentioned that you get funny looks if you have a shopping trolley filled with, for example, one example of each type of cream cake being sold in that store.

I dont buy anything on Amazon that I need to rely on being a real product for safety after I received a fraudulent pair of solar eclipse glasses.

For my child, we dont buy any toys at all on Amazon. I especially dont buy branded stuff because I don't know what is commingled.

Amazon may not be losing money here yet, but eventually they will. Everyone that works there should be ashamed.

How did you know the glasses were fake? Hopefully not the hard way...

Amazon emailed me the day before the eclipse even though I bought them months before.

I couldn't get a new pair of glasses in time.

Fwiw, Amazon emailed many people in error. I spoke to someone who lost around 400k when Amazon emailed all their customers that they were fake even though he had the testing documentation and had provided it to Amazon.

My guess is that they realized they didnt know who they sent what to so they decided to cover their liability first and foremost.

Had I spent money to travel to see the eclipse and was denied then opportunity, I would have been very upset.

"a company volunteered the information that they've detected my highly niche item was a fake. they should be ashamed that there were apparently no other suppliers who could get it to me!"

willing to bet they gave you a full refund as well

does that really recompense for the possibility of sustaining permanent damage to a product you purchased on a marketplace you believed to be safe? Is it really ok to sell fraudulent products that could harm the user as long as you give a full refund? fine, but the trust is destroyed. This seems like an effort to avert bad publicity, I don't think they would email a customer about a fraudulent product in any other case.

Agreed. I don't understand how Amazon gets away with so much shady shit. How are there not more legal problems for Amazon?

There have been some high profile incidents with other big companies with big legal budgets (Mercedes or Lexus? Apple? Nike?) but it all seems to go nowhere. It seems like it takes an army of lawyers to tackle one small incidence of shady behavior for one specific client. It never seems to rise up to the level of being handled as a pattern of behavior.

>They should require amazon to randomly sample.

Isn't that just the government passing the buck to Amazon then? The should have auditors from the FDA or NIST or whatever to do random tests at Amazon warehouses.

We should, given the scale and importance. Testing for heavy metals (lead, cadmium, etc) is easy with hand held XRF (xray fluorescence) [1].

[1] https://www.spectro.com/products/xrf-spectrometer/xsort-xrf-...

I think this is actually a reasonable option, i just tend more towards the side of "government is unlikely to be good at this" than others.

But for people who feel otherwise, and think it's necessary sure, no issue with it.

It’s hard to sympathise with Amazon, but it seems very wrong to put the burden on the point of sale vs the supplier, especially for smaller stores.

The burden of not putting dangerous products out in the market should lay on the manufacturer, through certifications or some form of safety requirements. In this case no doubt Amazon has to pay if they’ve acted as an importer, but you wouldn’t expect your supermarket to randomly sample all their product.

maybe the US regulations need an update to make school supplies a more strict category?

"you wouldn’t expect your supermarket to randomly sample all their product."

I believe they actually do for some types of products.

>This will simultaneously make it expensive for those sellers actually trying to comply (lab testing is not cheap)

If they have a legitimate and well managed supply chain, it's not actually that difficult. The onus should be on the paint (or other materials) manufacturer to certify their product, with third party verification, and the certification flows down the chain.

Of course compliant materials are more expensive and the certification isn't cost free, but otherwise shady outfits wouldn't flout the law. However there shouldn't be any need for a distributor to do lab testing themselves. They just need to be conscientious and organised.

"If they have a legitimate and well managed supply chain, it's not actually that difficult. "

I don't necessarily disagree, but this is also really hard in practice for a lot of small manufacturers.

I happen to know a bunch about the childrens toy one for various reasons, so i'll go with that one. About 30-50% of wood finish manufacturers certify the relevant things for their finishes, but the wood coatings market is not a huge one (They make their living off auto and oem coatings, etc), and so unless you are using thousands of gallons a year, you are using a local distributor.

What you can get there will be hit and miss. In fact, it may not be possible to get a certified finish at all in your area.

(These are not paints, which are widely available).

Personally, i've had to order finishes from across the country in some cases, and i live in northern california (not exactly a small area :P).

(This wasn't for childrens toys, but it was to meet a similar regulation)

In very large markets, you don't have this problem because the components themselves tend to be plentiful.

Additionally, you are often required to test the combined product, not just the components.

Whose to say that two otherwise safe materials used in manufacturing are safe when combined? Whose to say that this material which is safe when used as intended is also safe when subjected to elevated temperatures during a manufacturing operation? It doesn't seem like you can just accumulate stacks of paperwork to determine that an end product is sufficiently safe for use.

It obviously shouldn’t require some children getting toxic school supplies, people sustaining burns or worse from counterfeit 18650 lithium battery cells, or any other suffering to get testing and certification on certain products, but I don’t think it’s as bad as you imply by “passing the buck”. It’s the easy way out for Amazon, sure, but if they do it enough times they will get a reputation for spotty inventory.

I’ve already experienced this a few times with certain classes of products they wouldn’t ship to California due to stricter regulation on how much ozone they produce. That’s why I had to go to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy a HEPA air filter for my bedroom during the fires last year: https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/ozone.htm

When it’s one product it’s easy to point fingers at the regulation for the inconvenience, but shouldn’t I be glad my filter fits those tighter regulations? The diesel car maker scandal is proof regulations can be cheated, but it seems to me like more regulation would get us to a point where that would be quickly exposed.

Let Amazon pass the buck to sellers. Regulate more things, and eventually it will be in their economic interest to run their own tests. They got where they were by having everything, and they can fall if that reputation does.

> They should require amazon to randomly sample.

This doesn’t seem like the most sensible approach.

If my yogurt product is sold in grocery stores, isn’t it my responsibility to make sure my yogurt is produced properly and my responsibility to label it with the correct ingredients and nutrition facts? I wouldn’t expect it to be the grocery store owner’s responsibility to randomly sample my yogurt and check for its quality or ingredients.

Edit: Toned down inappropriately strong wording. Sorry for that. Didn’t mean to be a blowhard.

If you sell a product in your store imported from a chinese company with no presence in your country, that violates local laws and regulations, you are definitely liable when it turns out that product is poisoning children.

It’s sensible that stores should remove products that aren’t safe. That’s what Amazon has agreed to do in this case, on a nationwide level.

What doesn’t seem to make sense is requiring Amazon to do the actual safety testing. That would be akin to requiring baby stores to run safety tests on strollers, or requiring car dealerships to perform crash tests.

You don't need to perform the safety testing but you're responsible for the safety testing.

Let's assume that you have a physical store and you import and sell a toy and trust the manufacturer-provided documentation that claims that the toy is safe. The customer trusts you and relies on you to ensure that the toy is safe, the customer doesn't need to trust the manufacturer. If it turns out that the offshore manufacturer lied and faked the documentation, that's not the customer's fault or problem - you're fully liable and need to compensate the customer for selling a shoddy product that's apparently not fit for sale. Generally you have the right to recover that compensation from the manufacturer but if you can't do that (e.g. the manufacturer has since disappeared, or is insolvent) then that's not the customers problem, they bought the thing from you and it's your responsibility to uphold the warranties (at least in EU law) - so if you sell products from shoddy manufacturers then you assume full responsibility of them, which generally means that importers/distributors (or large retailers - a small store would delegate that task&risk to the wholesale importer/distributor, a major chain would do it themselves) audit their suppliers to ensure that they're not lying, faking safety documentation, etc.

The baby store doesn't need to run safety tests on strollers, but it does need to verify that the safety tests have been done and ensure that the strollers are actually safe. The store can (and usually will) rely on others to ensure the safety and testing, but if they choose to rely on unreliable partners, that's the fault of that store.

> That’s what Amazon has agreed to do in this case, on a nationwide level.

That's kind of the problem, isn't it? They've "agreed" to do it, as if not doing that was also an option but Amazon decided generously (and not to set precedent) to comply with the law.

Corporations are not sex offenders, they are very rational. If you fine them, their delinquency stops. If you don't, it won't.

Those are all totally reasonable things to ask if they're sourcing their baby strollers from some random factory located in a country where safety standards are not what is expected where you're selling them.

If the retailer saving money because the factory they sourced their product from is not testing adequately then obviously the retailer is shouldering that risk and becomes the responsible party. They don't necessarily need to do the testing in house, they could outsource it, but ultimately the cost of testing should be borne somewhere in the supply chain, before it reaches the consumer.

And honestly, this should be better for the retailer than sending them into the outside world untested and then having to do some big recall operation when, in this example, either a parent spots the flaw or the baby stroller collapses on their child.

The problem is that the manufacturer has an incentive to lie, and we don't have a good way to outright blacklist companies that aren't in the US that do that, so we need to have multiple levels of testing, ideally at least one from someone who doesn't have an incentive to lie.

Local representation is the crux of the issue here. Amazon is selling imported products straight from Chinese manufacturers. Without an American entity who has something to lose (or even go to jail) as a middle man there will never be safety. This obviously adds cost value chain, but ultimately a very real cost that needs to exist somewhere.

Your intuition about the grocery store's liability may have some deficiencies. A victim of food poisoning from negligence could absolutely bring suit against both the store and the yogurt maker.

Indeed in the Commonwealth, my (limited) understanding is that in those circumstances, liability had always been understood as being with the retailer, not the manufacturer, until the landmark decision of Donoghue v Stevenson in 1932 established the idea of a duty of care owed by the manufacturer even though there was no direct contract between manufacturer and end consumer.

Thank you for sharing this. I wasn’t aware that this concept that manufacturers have duty of care to consumers — which is ingrained in my intuition — is actually a legal construct that evolved less than a century ago. [1][2]

[1]: http://lawgovpol.com/case-study-donoghue-v-stevenson-1932/

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donoghue_v_Stevenson

Does this let the retailer get off the hook? If so that seems like a terrible idea in a world where the manufacturer is likely to be international.

No, it doesn’t let the retailer off the hook. It just means the manufacturer can be liable depending on the circumstances.

And yet if your Fage was contaminated with salmonella or lead you’d be first to sign on to the class action. On the other end would be anyone with a pulse between you and the manufacturer: the clerk, the grocery store, the distributor, the supplier and the manufacturer themselves. The fact is the end customer isn’t required to be their own certification lab. The onus falls on those who bring the products to market to ensure they don’t kill us. And yeah sometimes that means the grocery store, if they’re being willfully blind/negligent. I’m not saying they are, I have no context, though I don’t imagine Amazons attorneys told them to sign whatever was put in front of them.

By selling us a product the manufacturer and the grocery store warrant merchantability [1] and fitness for a particular purpose [2] ("implied warranty"). If you got a hot cup of lead instead of yogurt and the grocery story knew it was likely to happen and looked the other way, you’d be well within your rights to sue... everyone.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/2/2-314

[2] https://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/2/2-315

We've seen large cases recently of beef and greens contaminated with salmonella. E.g.


I don't know every lawsuit, but the blame in these cases seems to largely not land on the grocery stores, but the manufacturer.

That's true in the case where the grocery stores (and their reputations) are also the victims. I guarantee if they'd had some idea that they were selling contaminated greens, they'd be on the hook too. I'm guessing that this settlement indicates someone at Amazon knew or had the reasonable expectation of having known what was happening, and are now not-admitting-fault-but-simultaneously-fixing-it in true American judicial system fashion.

If Amazon is required to test, what about every small store that buys inventory? Are they required to test it all, too? Such a regulation would put them all out of business.

Regulations are all pragmatic in the end.

For example, you could say "companies that make x million" are required to randomly test and certify they did (and will be fined 200% of profit for false certification).

and then you have a small entity program where the government is doing the sampling or something.

It is surely impossible to have a one size fits all that scales from "person selling at farmers market" to "amazon"

Pragmatic? Well, we don't have mom-and-pop toymakers anymore due to regulation.

Should also add that Amazon is not really all that good at evaluating lab reports, nor could they be unless they changed what people evaluated the reports. They have a hard time telling the difference between a report doctored by someone with a fourth grade education and one from one of the most respected labs in the country.

There was horrible metals in some Canadian children's jewelry. As someone with a young child I do not care if it kills off small sellers if it prevents poisoning of my child.

Maybe there is an opportunity here for innovation or a startup to facilitate this testing?

Good. Amazon is just lazy when it comes to product quality. Any non-specialty product has a pretty high chance of being a fake and/or manufactured with sub-standard materials. It's shaken my confidence to the point where, even as a card-carrying Prime member, I'd rather shlep over to Target than order from Amazon.

Precisely. If I can't trust Amazon to detect a counterfeit Apple charger, then why would I trust them to test anything for something even more subtle?

Amazon isn't making this, they probably don't see samples of every good, and they definitely don't grind up the whole product and test it. It's paint and pigment that has lead/cadmium so only certain colours and portions of the products will have these qualities.

But this is exactly why my confidence is shaken -- if Amazon has trouble vetting products from one of the most tightly controlled supply chains (Apple) why should I trust them with anything else?

They don't test, but I'm not sure they care so much about the volume of fakes and vendors selling them.

Amazon sells illegitimate books with identical covers to a legit copy and keeps selling them after the authors contact Amazon .... like it's not even hard to detect those, but they don't.

Detecting individual merchants distributing fake book copies to potentially one of many stores in a multi national distribution network is simple?

The examples I'm thinking of were authors who published their own book and ordered the printing themselves. They weren't printing in bulk and then distributing them... it was direct only.

Amazon simply didn't care when fakes started showing up, missing pages, bad printing, but the covers were always identical.

Apple is a bad example, because they made a deal with them last year and kicked all the unauthorized sellers off.

I think it's a great example, because it shows what happens when the counterfeited product is made by a company with the legal army to do something about it, it gets handled by Amazon. For the other 99.9% of companies making a product in the world, they're simply fucked by Amazon turning a blind eye to the problem and they can't do anything about it.

Apple legal had nothing to do with it. It was purely a business decision.

Apple wanted to control unauthorized (even authentic) sellers, Amazon wanted to buy directly from Apple and carry more of their products, they negotiated and reached an agreement.

Amazon has rolled out Transparency, which is a way for any brand, regardless of size, to cheaply block the vast majority of counterfeits by putting a unique label on every product. Brands can also file complaints against counterfeiters which get acted on very quickly.

I am not a Amazon Seller, so this might be incorrect. I remember reading that to avail the unique label/id with the Transparency program, the Seller must use the Amazon provided unique label/id also for the units sold outside of Amazon. So in effect handing over your overall sales data to Amazon.

That is correct. The idea being that people should be able to sell authentic product even if purchased elsewhere.

That is a power play by Amazon. They could have implemented an open code generation algorithm where manufacturers could opt to generate their own codes signed by a public key, without sharing manufacturing quantities with Amazon, and accomplished the same thing, but chose not to.

I suppose a manufacturer with the current system could hide quantities by generating way more codes than they actually need and only using a small percentage of them.... even with that Amazon could detect which ones were scanned and how often, so the manufacturer would have to randomly scan the unused codes, and maybe rotate the IP addresses they use!

An open protocol not controlled by any one player would be much preferred.

Sure. In exchange for solving your entire counterfeit problem in one fell swoop, you give Amazon a bit of info. For anyone with significant issues with counterfeits, this is vastly cheaper and more effective than having to test order unauthorized sellers to see if the goods are authentic.

I’ve been buying from Target’s website lately. They’ve reduced shipping times a lot, and you don’t need to deal with shady third-party sellers or commingled counterfeits.

I decided to do the same after I received a counterfeit (or altered) item from Amazon for a skincare product. I had grown suspicious of Amazon reviews and their practice of co-mingling items, but it suddenly occurred to me that buying something with the intention of applying it to my skin, without truly trusting the source, was probably not the smartest thing to do. I decided to switch to either ordering from trusted sources (Sephora, Target, etc) or physically visiting the store. One advantage of forcing myself to go out to a physical store is I'm way less inclined to splurge on an item, unless I truly need it. It's shocking how easy Amazon made that possible.

This isn't just Amazon. CBC in Canada found lead and cadmium in major retailers in Canada. It's cheap chinese imports that are the problem overall.


Pet food also, containing melamine for whatever reason, responsible for a number of deaths 10 years ago.


I had forgotten about that. IIRC it was theorized melamine was used to fake protein tests.

That killed my brother’s English setter. Poor thing wasted away to nothing.

A while back as a joke a friend ordered us the first 20 search results on AliExpress for 'panda' which were less than $1 shipped.

Stuff trickled in from China, Estonia, and Myanmar over the following month or two. We've been keeping it all in a bucket -- magnets, erasers, stickers, a baffling little squishy rainbow caterpillar panda, and mostly very small plush animal toys. The winner of the batch was a surprisingly high-quality hand puppet.

We let our toddler play with a couple of these tiny toys because they seemed fun; we did make him wash his hands afterwards before eating, but still in retrospect I think that was a mistake. There are zero enforced regulatory requirements for that marketplace and those manufacturers at that price point, and we have no way of knowing what cheap but toxic paint or additives were used. We should probably just dump the panda bucket :(

The Estonian toy ought to comply with EU regulations (maybe only if it's also sold in the EU). These are fairly strict.

I can't find reports of Eastern European being non-conformant more often than Western European goods, but I haven't looked very much.

You can look for a CE mark: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CE_marking

Amazon is becoming more and more like AliExpress with respect to product accuracy and quality. As an example, I recently bought tomato seeds for my garden. I searched for rainbow tomatoes, and the bulk of the results were clearly photoshopped photos made to look like they'd grow tomatoes with colors that'd get lost in a ball pit.

It's easy to evaluate on things like that, but on stuff where corners can be cut I definitely worry.

A while back I bought habanero seeds on Amazon. They sprouted and did well, but they put out regular sweet peppers. I've bought catnip seeds that were fine. Anymore, I only buy seeds from the store though.

They should also be required to remove the "SoClean." A device designed to intentionally pump toxic ozone into medical breathing assistance devices.

Ozone has a limit but studies have shown even below the legal limit[0][1][2] can be considered harmful. The population that typically use devices like CPAPs may be more vulnerable than the general populous to ozone exposure (and this exposure is targeted due to the usage of the "SoClean").

Mark my words: This will be looked back on like asbestos, radon clocks, and giving kids x-ray toys.

[0] https://www.healtheffects.org/research/ongoing-research/effe...

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5755393/

[2] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060216231940.h...

The SoClean is only used when the CPAP is not in active use, i.e., it's a sanitizing device.

The amount of ozone you're going to be exposed to after the device is done (it only runs a cycle when you pack your mask into it) is minuscule and likely less harmful than the nasties that would grow in your machine, mask, and tubing (warm, dark places).

I'm aware of how it works. It is an ozone generator likely left next to the CPAP (even in their own product literature) that leaves ozone inside the CPAP tube and machine, while polluting the area/room with increased levels.

You're essentially taking people with breathing difficulties and increasing their exposure to a substance that is known at low levels to cause breathing problems. Additionally CPAP's filter systems have no way of removing O3 from the room's air.

When properly used the device is harmful.

The crux of it, I'd say, is that it ought to be regulated as a medical device, and the manufacturer ought to be required to prove it is safe. If it leaves any form of residue or serves a medical purpose in using it on a medical device, it ought to be regulated in the same way. (Comet can't be sold as an insulin needle cleaner, either.)

Not that medical devices aren't themselves the Wild West. Hip replacements? We used those without testing for decades. CPAP? Technically only available by prescription, but go on eBay and you can order what you like.

Our regulatory authorities in the U.S. are a real mess. And while I believe we can trust Americans not to poop where they sleep (i.e. knowingly sell lead contaminated products to their neighbors), it makes no difference if our addiction to cheap Asian imports means we get products from people who don't feel much distress if someone in a faraway country gets sick (and can't be arrested for making them sick, either, since there functionally no truly international law enforcement).

I’ve got a UV filter in my furnace that i believe produces ozone, should i be concerned in your opinion?

Probably no reason for concern. The bog-standard germicidal lights emit UV at 254 nm, but to generate ozone you'd need vacuum UV at 189 nm. You'd expect this to be filtered out, precisely because of the health hazard.

That said, I'd be concerned around photocopiers. If you can smell ozone it's definitely above occupational exposure threshold. In a previous workplace I kept telling our secretary just that, but she wouldn't listen.

There's two types of UV Air Filters, based on UV-A and UV-C. UV-A systems don't produce much ozone (but sometimes the bulbs are imperfect and produce a trace amount). Ozone is produced by ultraviolet light in the 160–240nm range, meaning UV-C.

If you have a UV-C based UV Filter I wouldn't call that ideal but at least you're still receiving less than a ozone generator or even an ioniser both of which would produce higher ozone levels.

You may still wish to crack a window occasionally and look at a HEPA filter next major upgrade cycle.

Are you sure it isn’t (also) electrostatic? Those definitely produce ozone, and should be avoided, apparently.

Yeah it's for sure a UV bulb, installed it myself. Honeywell product.

I worked for a long time as a chemical engineer making cadmium containing quantum dots. We had many discussions inside the company about complying with the EPA's TSCA regulations. https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-toxic-substance...

The reason why these regulations exist was because toys and consumer goods would be imported with red paint that contained cadmium.

Usually the importer is responsible for complying or at least reporting to the EPA under TSCA.

We wanted to order Evian or Fiji bottled water from Amazon but were put off by reviews mentioning oddly attached labels, misshapen bottles, wrong tint on bottle caps. So we just stuck with local supermarket water delivery. Fake water? Wondering if anyone has tried ordering these.

Why would you want water carried from halfway around the planet anyway? That's an awful waste of resources.

They should also let you filter by country of origin.

Spanish and Greek olive oils are sold as "Bottled in Italy". A country could game your supply chain desires.



The EU's own laws don't distinguish between EU countries, you need only label something as "made in the EU". But, they still can't lie – "from Italian olives" had to mean that.

You could buy olive oil from a producer in an area with protected origin status, similar to Champagne for wine. That's likely to cost more.


This will likely not be useful: now you can't buy iPhones, and many companies will perform "assembly" in the United States to get around these kinds of things.

If I'm buying clothes for the gym, I don't want to buy "ROWILUX" or "YAKER" or "YSENTO" brand. I've bought enough to know they're all junk. Just show me the stuff that people actually put effort into! If I'm looking for an iPhone, I'll search for iPhones. If I'm looking for tank tops, show me the ones that aren't going to disintegrate after a month.

Oh, that's nothing. Try doing a search for ARSUXEO (mostly cycling clothing)...

Those have ruined Amazon for me. Literally any search you do will yield pages of junk knockoff products with a name like that, all uppercase. It's ridiculous, really.

> If I'm buying clothes for the gym, I don't want to buy "ROWILUX" or "YAKER" or "YSENTO" brand. I've bought enough to know they're all junk. Just show me the stuff that people actually put effort into!

This is actually how I feel about self-published books. Amazon won't stop recommending them to me. I bought a couple, and the writing quality is truly atrocious. So now self-published just means I am guaranteed not to buy the book unless it gets a meaningful recommendation from someone trustworthy.

And I once bought the cheapest available toilet paper from Lucky. It was terrible, definitely not worth the minor savings.

On the other hand, I don't really think it's wrong for Amazon to be selling self-published books, or for Lucky to be selling ultra-cheap toilet paper.

Markets can’t work their market signal magic if information is concealed. If I don’t want to support an authoritarian regime, I shouldn’t have to.

I don't disagree, but why can't the market itself solve that instead of requiring government intervention? Just don't buy from people who don't disclose their supply chain (and perhaps rely on government to punish those who commit fraud by lying).

Because it’s cheaper to lie and accountability would require the government anyways. If forced arbitration and class action bans weren’t a thing then maybe private citizens could band together and sue but that method of accountability has been effectively killed.

Then you just get people lying about their supply chain. Markets require a certain amount of trust to function and that requires strong institutions to keep bad behaviour in check. Without that foundation you don’t really have a market, at least not for long.

I wouldn’t expect a market to stop this kind of behaviour but to simply put a price on it - “oh you want the non-toxic version? That’s an extra $20 please.”

> I wouldn’t expect a market to stop this kind of behaviour but to simply put a price on it - “oh you want the non-toxic version? That’s an extra $20 please.”

That isn't a market solution, it's a bad-faith caricature. Obviously, no vendor is going to offer you a choice between toxic and non-toxic, because doing so would mean admitting one of their products was toxic.

The market solution is branding; some vendors will build up reputations, and those good reputations will let them charge a higher price. This very minute you're commenting in a thread that's mostly about how Amazon's poor offerings are blackening its name.

But isn't that the same thing in effect? There will be two vendors, one of whom is trusted to provide non-toxic options, and one of whom is lesser known and $20 cheaper.

This happens today. A friend of mine is particularly sensitive to slightly-bad milk, so they buy a more expensive, known, organic brand of milk at the store instead of the store brand / local farmer's brand, because they have problems with store brand milk often enough.

It is similar, but I wouldn't call it the same. Some differences that I think are important:

- The shady no-name vendors are not trying to offer a toxic product.

- The shady no-name products usually don't cause problems. I wouldn't support outlawing store-brand milk because of your friend -- I drink store-brand milk all the time! As you yourself state, your friend is unusual.

I remember reading a teardown of a knock-off charger for Apple products which was (1) significantly cheaper; and (2) didn't include some safety measures that genuine Apple chargers do. The risk there was starting fires, not poisoning yourself, but to me the principle is identical.

The risk of starting fires is much higher with a knock-off charger, but everyone, vendor and customers, agrees that it's undesirable, and in practice it generally doesn't happen.

> The market solution is branding; some vendors will build up reputations, and those good reputations will let them charge a higher price.

And the scammer will simply use the brand without license and profit from the reputation of the original manufacturer. Nobody can do anything about because there's no government to enforce laws.

Trademark protection is a pretty different set of law than product standards is.

Sure, but I understood the idea was "we don't need governments and laws, the market can take care of all of that, people will choose wisely".

Why do you need the strong institution to be a government? Why can't Amazon itself be that strong institution out of emergent market demand that it start doing that?

(I guess another way of phrasing this is, Amazon is notoriously bad at removing poor-quality or counterfeit products from their storefront. How have they nonetheless become one of the most successful marketplaces? Is this a sign that the market doesn't actually care as much as we think they ought to? Or that they do care, but market mechanisms are ineffective at expressing this desire and so government regulation actually is needed?)

There's a really strong in-built faith people have that if you buy something, it's essentially non-harmful, and functions at least marginally for its intended purpose. This is actually part of US law (US Commercial Code Art. 2) (which is where we get that BSD license final clause from) - if this warranty isn't explicitly disclaimed, I think most people would assume the products they're receiving are genuine, of at least passable quality, and not actively toxic. Amazon isn't enforcing any of these on its sellers, thereby taking advantage of a huge amount of trust in the system - either the trust is going to be lost, at great detriment to goods markets as a whole, or someone needs to step in to enforce these statutes, since Amazon is unwilling to do it themselves.

Also, you wouldn’t have nutrition facts on labels without regulation. Some things the market just can’t solve.

What about supporting the poor people in the authoritarian regime?

By unwittingly purchasing cheap, poisonous crap?

Comfort won’t result in regime change. Isn’t that why we sanction?

Yes, by applying external pressure in our interests to get what we want from another population.

manufactured in china isn't the same as shipped from a chinese seller. i think it would be difficult to profitably use the assembly workaround for small cheap stuff that gets sold by junk peddlers a la this press release

Many of the items in the article look like they are licensed from major brands.

I’d guess they are counterfeit, so filtering by where the real item is manufactured doesn’t really help with things like toxic materials.

(I’m not arguing against such filters, just pointing out that they may not solve this problem.)

This whole situation is the result of countries like China that most of those products are made in lack a real justice system. Anyone who has ever tried to sue a Chinese company in a Chinese court knows it is impossible for a foreigner to win. Ever. No matter the evidence. If China had a just justice system as exists in many other countries developing and developed this problem wouldn't exist. Unfortunately in today's China you can still be sure you will keep your money you made conning people as long as those people are foreigners.

And people still protest at the sanctions the US government is imposing on China. If it gets garbage products off the market, I'm all for it.

As a retailer, Amazon has become incredibly lazy. Ironically, books is where this shows the most. In my area they now just ship them in padded envelopes, meaning at least 50% of the time the book arrives with dented corners, or a damaged cover.

As a Washing State resident, I am happy to see our state leading the charge in these kinds of efforts.

FFS now we have to worry about this too? I guess I'm naive but I trusted Amazon but it makes sense that they just sold whatever they wanted without testing.

They should have dedicated 10X the $700,000 and have been fined, my God I'm upset right now.

The scary thing is, Amazon is required only to collect a piece of paper from the seller and yank products when notified -- the really substantial burden of continuing enforcements is put back on the individual states:

"Moreover, if the Attorney General or Washington Department of Ecology advise Amazon of any children’s school supplies or jewelry that exceed safe levels, Amazon must remove the product from its online marketplace within two business days."

Nothing less than a program of frequent random sampling is going to keep the products clean. Times 50, plus international.

It would be useful to have items that are foreign imports clearly labeled on Amazon.

That would be most things. It would make (a little) more sense to tag "Made in USA" products.

That works too

They did this recently to non-UL certified power equipment, no surprise they’re expanding to other product categories.

As a Brit, I find the title of this really hard to parse. I was trying to work out if "toxic school supplies" was some sort of brand of jewelry or something.

Why don't American's use an "and" here:

> Amazon must remove toxic school supplies and kids’ jewelry from US marketplace

To me, that's much clearer.

> Why don't American's use an "and" here:

Doing so is still standard American English. However, headline writing in particular has a tradition of extreme brevity, and this style leaves out conjunctions and adjectives (including articles).

As another example of ambiguity, the article title here isn't explicitly clear that Amazon must remove these items from its marketplace. Read literally, "from US marketplace" could imply (somehow) the entire United States retail environment.

If Amazon doesn't get a handle on quality control, and product misrepresentation/swapping scams they will start to be perceived as Ebay/AliExpress/Wish.com where "anything goes".

I realize Ebay has controls to protect consumers, but the perception for everyday people is that it's risky, but you might find a deal.

I rarely use Ebay anymore, and in fact just purchased some sneakers there after probably 6+ years of not purchasing anything. I crossed my fingers, fully expected to be ripped off and lucked out, the product was exactly as advertised. I would not have purchased them if the discount wasn't so dramatic. This is all anecdotal based on my experience and the exp of my peer group.

I get that kids are especially vulnerable, but shouldn't we also try to not sell stuff which is non-obviously toxic for use by adults also? Why should any consumer have to be afraid that a backpack or book cover has a high amount of lead?

Again on the poor Amazon quality and co-mingling - is this a US only problem or is it also present in the EU? Note that we already have a CE marking requirement which is supposed to imply a certain level of safety.

It's pretty great to witness a policy or law that was applied correctly by a government to prevent further public damages, no matter how big the target corporation is.

Good, why is being online a pass for selling toxic products? I don't understand the standards we apply. If Target or Walmart sold lead laced school supplies people would flip, regardless of who actually made the product. It is on the distributor to guarantee the product quality and supply chain quality. I've always failed to understand why being online has made them untouchable.

Exactly this. Perhaps the reasoning is that Amazon functions more like a bazaar, offering other companies a storefront. But then I’d expect expression of identity of these storefronts as well.

The law finally catches up with online retailers.

What's the root cause precisely for where all this toxic material originates from? How does it get into a factory in the first place? Is it some kind of sabotage or is this stuff inherently in raw materials that require processing that is omitted? How does one find oneself with a bunch of lead in this day and age without seeking it out?

Lead and cadmium are used in paints - lead for white, cadmium for yellow. The west has discontinued them for toxicity reasons, but they're still prevalent in China.

Does that mean they’re deliberately added to paints? How does one produce paint with and without these chemicals?

They are added to pigments, that are then mixed into the paints. The company mixing the paints may or may not know those chemicals are in the pigments that they purchase from another supplier.

How exactly does this much lead get into these products? Are they on shared assembly lines with bullet manufacturing?!

China imports garbage and recycles it for raw materials. A lot of that garbage contains circuit boards, which use solder composed of 50% lead.

Or not. Amazon is just a platform, remember?

Only $700,000?

Just last week I was picking my son up from school when I noticed he had a can of Xylene in his bookbag. I asked him where he got it and he said Aamazon

The primary reason I'm aware of for a youth to have xylene is solvent abuse (glue sniffing, essentially).

It's illegal to sell it to someone under 18 in the UK.

Shouldn't there be criminal charges for this?

I wonder what they're using the lead and cadmium for? Also, "toxic" may be overexaggerating; "poisonous" or even "possibly harmful" might be more accurate, but even then, from what I understand you'd have to consume a lot of it for it to be a problem.

(I worked on electronics and soldered with real lead solder for many decades, starting when I was a kid, and think RoHS and the lead-ban has caused far more environmental problems.)

Edit: apparently controversial opinions are not welcome here either...? Or is it the "chemicals are scary" crowd again? :|

Also, "toxic" may be overexaggerating; "poisonous" or even "possibly harmful" might be more accurate, but even then, from what I understand you'd have to consume a lot of it for it to be a problem.

Toxic is definitely the correct term. Heavy metals like lead and cadmium don't get excreted by your body; they build up in the brain and kidneys until they kill you. For this reason there is no level of exposure that's considered safe. Even a very low level of exposure will kill you eventually.

Lead exposure in children causes permanent damage to the brain and nervous system.

The cadmium could easily be tied to pigments, though I suspect this is more likely from environmental contamination.

Some quick google searches find things like:

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/cad... https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=6&po=5 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.3184/095422910X126314...

So likely, they aren't using the Cadmium and Lead for anything directly with these products, it just happens to be around as a contaminant from other processes.

As I understand it, one use is in catalysts that speed up the drying of paint...


Not familiar with the reasons why the lead ban or rohs would be an issue for the environment, can you point me in the right direction? They seem like positive moves on the surface, but I’m sure they’re not as straightforward as I’d like.

One of the reasons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisker_(metallurgy)

Lead-free solder is also less resilient to thermal stress because it's not as ductile, and that lead to plenty of PCB failures around the time manufacturers switched over --- creating even more e-waste.

Fortunately, military/aerospace is still exempt from the ban.

Here's an interesting NASA presentation about lead-free vs. leaded solder:


Ah, so your argument is that the lead ban has led to PCB defects that might have increased e-waste. Let't think about e-waste for a bit. Let's say you have a PCB that you do not need anymore. This PCB is made of the following materials:

- mostly epoxy

- surface mount components: ceramics, plastics, glass, etc.

- metals such as tin, copper, steel, aluminum, gold

Generally, only the metal bits are worth recovering, everything else needs to be burned. (It's possible to burn epoxy and other plastics without producing harmful gases.)

Depending on the type of board, the metals may or may not be worth recovering. If it's just tin and steel and copper, there's no harm in just shredding and burning the whole thing. (After shredding, a small amount of metal may recovered by magnets and routed to the foundries.) If the burning is done correctly (and it definitely isn't if you do this on the streets somewhere), no harmful gases are produced, and materials like ceramics, glass and metals will be left in the ash/slag. (BTW, even if your incineration facility sucks somehow and harmful gases like dioxins are produced, most of these decompose from UV exposure.)

That slag will often be used to build roads, and e.g. this company says they're able to refine the slag a bit: https://www.adrecyclingmachines.com/applications/incineratio...

Now, what if there's lead or other heavy metals in that slag? You probably would want to avoid using that for road construction, and since metals form alloys, you'll also be able to recover a whole lot less reusable metal.

Lead has really, really bad effects on human health (not just cancer, but generic insanity). Most people seem to think that lead causes cancer, along with thousands of other compounds. But when they're told that lead causes insanity, they usually tend to listen a bit more carefully. If "insanity" doesn't mean much to you... Well, there have been studies correlating lead exposure with violent crimes. (* I haven't read these studies, but they can be found on Google)

The problems from lead-free solder are mostly solved, though avoiding them is non-trivial, and does require special expertise.

They're probably using the cadmium for red paint/dye.


Worth reading the safety section, which starts with this sentence:

Cadmium sulfide is not very toxic (LD50 above 5,000 mg/kg) when used as a pigment, although acute exposure to cadmium vapors from welding is harmful.

For comparison, sodium chloride (table salt) has an LD50 of 3,000mg/kg.

Using the LD50 for a carcinogen is inappropriate. LD50s are used as a measure of acute toxicity. The issue isn't that it's going to kill you from toxicity, it's that if you expose thousands of children to even low levels of it many more of them will get cancers than they otherwise would.


>from what I understand you'd have to consume a lot of it for it to be a problem.

Your understanding is wrong.

>> I wonder what they're using the lead and cadmium for

pigments (lead), soldering (lead) and light sensors (cadmium).

dgzl 45 days ago [flagged]

Whenever you say "government should do xyz", you're actually saying "the government should steal money from taxpayers to carelessly attempt to do xyz".

Please keep classic ideological talking points off HN. They're tedious to the limits of tedium.


Who the fuck else is going to do it? Clearly not the market or the products wouldn't be there right now. Every time you argue against governments regulating markets, you ignore the fact that regulations get written in blood.

Please don't take HN threads further into ideological warfare. It's the last thing we want here.

Long, tedious tit-for-tat ideological battles are right out.


Ah yes the mises, where government infringes on our right to drive drunk.


Please don't take HN threads further into ideological warfare. It's the last thing we want here.

Long, tedious tit-for-tat ideological battles are right out.



I got it from the headline which is literally “legalize drunk driving.”

No surprise these clowns hope to legalize lead in food too.

Read the actual article then. It's a criticism that the federal government doesn't have this right from the constitution.

It also explains that in the case of drunk driving what's criminalized isn't harm to people, but an increased potential to harm people. If you have principles that say that racial profiling is wrong because you shouldn't punish people that haven't harmed anybody, then this principle should also apply to drunk driving.

Note that I am against drunk driving, but it does cause an inconsistency in my principles.

Also, isn't it silly to dismiss mises articles because a person posted an article in 2006? Would you think it's fair if somebody dismissed all of your opinions going forward because of one opinion you held in 2006?

> It also explains that in the case of drunk driving what's criminalized isn't harm to people, but an increased potential to harm people. If you have principles that say that racial profiling is wrong because you shouldn't punish people that haven't harmed anybody, then this principle should also apply to drunk driving.

Racial profiling is wrong because being of a particular race does not by itself represent any greater risk of harm to anyone else. Not analogous to driving while impaired, IMO, so your principles are likely more intact than you might think.

Surely no one is arguing that you can walk down main street firing your gun into the air and as long as no one is struck by a bullet and no property is damaged, we're cool.

Getting some premise or early bit of reasoning wrong, or taking something for granted that really deserves some prior justification (assuming such exists), then building a whole castle atop that foundation of sand is basically mises.org's whole thing, FYI.


While race argument seems kind of neat, it's just correlation. Being black <-> crime.

With DUI, there's a clear causation. Alcohol in blood will make you lose coordination and slow your reflexes. More alcohol, the worse it gets. And reaction is individual. That will increase the probability the driver will harm someone.

So it's different.

Should government deal in probabilities? Depends whether you want it to do prevention or not. All prevention is basically dealing with probabilities.

> why not ticket the swerving or recklessness and leave the alcohol out of it? Why indeed.

Argument ad absudrum: Swerving may not lead to an accident either.

> With DUI, there's a clear causation. Alcohol in blood will make you lose coordination and slow your reflexes. More alcohol, the worse it gets. And reaction is individual. That will increase the probability the driver will harm someone.

The values they use to punish you is completely arbitrary (probably varies from state to state) and we do not take any other factors related to the individual into account which is important if we are not so keen on ruining other people's lives. Look for behaviors that show there are issues with coordination regardless of substances. We can do that. We already do it. We do not need to punish based on arbitrary values. You could fail the test and yet have perfect coordination. See my issue? It gets even more problematic when you consider alcoholics who are actually better off drinking vs. not drinking when it comes to coordination and reflexes. Anyway, the emphasis, in my opinion, should be on behaviors that indicate loss of coordination, reflex issues, etc. not some arbitrary value. It works well with prevention, too, so there is no need to give up on that.

> Argument ad absudrum: Swerving may not lead to an accident either.

I agree, but depending on the situation, it could easily indicate that there is an issue regardless of the substance used.

Anyway, thank you for the calm-headed response.

>Anyway, the emphasis, in my opinion, should be on behaviors that indicate loss of coordination, reflex issues, etc. not some arbitrary value.

Any such test is likely to be highly subjective and therefore open to bias and abuse. A breath alcohol content of 0.008% might be fairly arbitrary in terms of risk, but it's objectively measurable. A cop can claim that I was driving erratically just because he doesn't like the look of me, a jury can interpret dashcam footage unfavourably based on their prejudices, but a correctly calibrated breathalyzer doesn't lie. Drawing an a line in the sand between "sober" and "too drunk to drive safely" based on a biological marker of alcohol intake is almost certainly the fairest means of enforcement. There is of course the broader issue of who the police choose to stop and test, but there's no obvious technological solution to that risk of bias.

Minor point: the lowest per-se BAC level that I'm aware of is 0.08%, not 0.008%.

I guess it's easier and feels more scientific/less arbitrary to regulate on some numbers that come out of seemingly objective test.

Typical roadside walk the line test might not be all that objective, as it's judged by the eye of the officer, and some people may be better walking the line, while still having reduced reflexes and being a increased danger on the road.

Though, I'm not an expert and despite this feeling arbitrary, there may have been studies comparing effectiveness of various forms of testing on predicting the harm of DUI, or comapring breathalizer with the walk the line test, or touch your nose test or whatever.

I'm not for locking people up, but I also prefer safer roads. And what helps and what does not may not be all that obvious on the larger more aggregate level.

Road side tests are specifically designed so that the officer can write a report that makes it sound like you failed miserably even if you did perfectly and do so in a way that video/audio evidence does not directly contradict the written report. This is why every lawyer says to refuse the roadside test.

If the officer wants you to do a field sobriety test you tell them blood test or GTFO.

"government in a free society should not deal in probabilities. The law should deal in actions and actions alone, and only insofar as they damage person or property."

Drunk driving should be legal because sometimes you make it home safe. Lead in food should be legal because some people will eat it and not get sick. Putting others at risk isn't a crime, the government should not deal in probabilities. That job falls to "insurance companies to assess on a competitive and voluntary basis."

Cripes, what a totally fucked up worldview.


The behavior displayed that is being punished is consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel.

The absurdity of what you pose only works in scenarios where the food makers have not already been found to be poisoning you for the sake of profit.

If food makers (or the makers of school supplies in this case) didn't want to kill you, then why is there high levels of lead in the food, a substance which is known to be very toxic? The free market should've caused any lead products to be free market'd out of existence by now, given how much we know. Even more absurd is your claim of violence, considering you don't seem to consider people being exposed to dangerous levels of lead as being 'violent' in this scenario. Or is it just less violent then having to pay taxes?

You are making the assumption that there are high levels of lead in the food BECAUSE food makers want to kill you. How is this not absurd to you?

We do not have free market, we have a pretty tightly regulated market.

> Even more absurd is your claim of violence, considering you don't seem to consider people being exposed to dangerous levels of lead as being 'violent' in this scenario. Or is it just less violent then having to pay taxes?

Excuse me? They are two different instances of violence. What you are trying to do is solve violence by more violence. How did that ever work out?

It is funny how my claim of an instance of violence is absurd merely because of an assumption which is "you don't consider people being exposed to dangerous levels of lead as being violent". Governments stealing money at gunpoint is violent, regardless of the second part, which, again, was just an absurd assumption from you.

I am not sure what you are trying to achieve here.

Read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

A novel that triggered a major investigation, followed by food safety regulation, and testing in the USA within a year of its publication. It also halved US meat exports and created what became the FDA.

You want to take that away again? God help us.


No, online shopping for the most part is a fairly unregulated market. You can't seriously make the argument that a more free market would solve this problem, because lead poisoning is an open and shut case. There is no excuse for exposing people to lead like this.

At this point, excessive amounts of lead should be seen as malice and regulated out of existence. What other excuse would there be for such phony products to be sold, other than to make a quick profit at the expensive of other's health?

And no, they are not completely unrelated. This is a thread and topic about toxic school supplies having excessive amounts of lead. When people proposed regulations to fix this problem, you equated that to violence. You are directly connecting the two.


"Government stealing money from taxpayers" is what I equated to violence. Do you care to argue that it is not violent?

No it is not. You can renounce your US citizenship (or most other citizenships for that matter) hat was forced upon you after birth - instead you chose stay and whine.

Too bad you cannot renounce education, healthcare etc that were also forced upon you by the state.

>You can renounce your US citizenship (or most other citizenships for that matter) hat was forced upon you after birth

Not without paying taxes you can't. The US government charges you $2000 to renounce your citizenship and if your assets are worth more than $2 million they will give you a massive tax bill as though you had sold all those assets. Furthermore, you can only renounce citizenship if you accept the citizenship of another country, which kind of defeats the point you're making - you can't actually exit the system legally.


No requirement to have another citizenship to renounce.

Yeah, or I could move to Mars, I know.

I, for one, am happy to not fund the bombing of innocent people through the taxes I pay. I am not sure you could say the same. :)

And for the record:

> Renouncing U.S. citizenship doesn't free you from U.S. tax obligations and means that even after the renunciation, the IRS could still audit and assess taxes and penalties.

Exit tax and anything you owed - yes. But you no longer need to pay tax to US on your worldwide income (assuming you move out and not have US assets) like citizens do.

Even on Mars there would be society that will enforce its rules on you. See a pattern here?

Yes, I do. There is no escape from the arms of the Government, and society != government anyway.

It is well documented what kind of poisons got added to food in the 1800s before governments started to regulate things.

Well too be fair in the 1800s we really didn't know how poisonous a lot of those things were. Rich people ate off fancy dinnerware painted in lead.

I assume you are replying to "You are making the assumption that there are high levels of lead in the food BECAUSE food makers want to kill you." so I have to ask: is it because they want to kill customers or not?

They don't _want_ to do anything but maximize profits - regulating the level of lead in those products directly impacts the bottom line, hence the need for regulation.

The free market is awesome, but it can't effectively price externalities, especially those which have diffuse origins or targets.

OK, but this thread began with someone saying: "If food makers (or the makers of school supplies in this case) didn't want to kill you, then why is there high levels of lead in the food, a substance which is known to be very toxic?"

It is making the assumption that they are doing it to kill you against which I spoke.

Also bonus: https://mises.org/library/stateless-somalia-and-loving-it

Parody libertarians should remember that the "violence" of taxation prevents actual violence of the blood in the (unpaved) streets kind.

I will keep that in mind when I refuse to pay my taxes and have them throw me in a metal cage, or shoot me were I to resist. If this is not actual violence to you, I am not sure what is.

Maybe not resisting in this case would prevent another (but not all) "actual violence", too, completely ignoring the fact that it does not have to actually come to it in the first place.

I am never going to understand people who propose that violence is a necessary evil in all cases to prevent further violence. Maybe the US needs to do more of that effective bombing of countries. Think smart: no humans to stick around to be violent! We successfully prevented violence!

You want to be a citizen AND do not pay taxes? You cannot really get one without another. This is two way street.

Renounce citizenship and nobody would care about your taxes. If you do not want to then you as free willed entity chosen that being citizen paying taxes bring you more benefit than not being one.

> Renouncing U.S. citizenship doesn't free you from U.S. tax obligations and means that even after the renunciation, the IRS could still audit and assess taxes and penalties.

Nice try.

I'd rather have violence in the form of imprisonment due to tax avoidance than violence in the form of children being forced to work or starve due to being born into poverty.

I wonder which one of us is being melodramatic here.

Instead, we've seemingly gone the opposite extreme, and kids barely understand how to exist outside and amongst their peers, let alone do an hour of hard work.

Are you implying that if it were not for taxation, we would have children being forced to work or starve due to being born into poverty? How come?

Because there would be no safety net. There would be no guarantee of access to education. I'm not necessarily saying that "taxation" is the best way to provide these things, but the .. ideas .. proposed by the website you linked certainly aren't.

From what I read, it basically said things like: "government isn't doing a good job, therefore we should get rid of it" and calls for (direct quote) "government to get out of the way of the productive and ever-inventive energies of the public as expressed in voluntary market activity".

Maybe we should stop prosecuting people for murder, since it's obviously not stopping it from happening. Maybe we should just allow the market to play betting games over subprime mortgages as it sees fit. Maybe we should just allow banks to launder money for drug cartels and terrorists as long as they're making a profit off it. Am I getting close to the unregulated dream?

> Maybe we should just allow banks to launder money for drug cartels and terrorists as long as they're making a profit off it.

HSBC still does business in the US to this day after being prosecuted for exactly this, because they paid the speedbump fine.

Example of a country who’s people are dying on the streets because of a lack of taxation?

I don't know if you're aware of this, but child labour is something that exists today: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_labour#21st_century

Additionally, here's a list of currently 37 countries that rely on taxation from wealthier countries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavily_indebted_poor_countrie...

...how is that an answer to my question?

Yeah, somehow child labor = children are dying. It is ridiculous. Most of the time they are better off working, and not just to gain experience, but to bring money or food home and so on. Heck, when I was a kid, most kids I knew worked and was better off doing that. They were not dying, they are not dead. What gives then?

His link even mentions this:

> Contrary to popular belief, most child labourers are employed by their parents rather than in manufacturing or formal economy.

> Preventing children from participating in productive work would be more harmful to their welfare and that of their group in the long run

Child labor is not inherently wrong, and no one says the kids should have to work in harsh conditions just like the adults. Child labor != children dying.

It is not an answer to your question, he just has absolutely no clue what he is talking about. It is yet another instance of "think about the children" gone wrong. I mean, yeah dude, working at retail or assembling whatever is killing our children! Absurd.

Edit: I am against forced labor when it comes to both children AND adults.

> Yeah, somehow child labor = children are dying. It is ridiculous.

I don't think that's the comparison. It's more child labor = forced labor. It's not centrally about preventing death, it's more about preventing slavery. Children are particularly vulnerable to coercion, and if children are working in a factory, it's likely that they are doing so against their will.

His child labor link was in response to "country who’s people are dying on the streets", but it of course failed to mention how lack of taxation is the cause.

In fact, the article says:

> Other schemes included 'earn-and-learn' programs where children would work and thereby learn. Britain for example passed a law, the so-called Masters and Servants Act of 1899, followed by Tax and Pass Law, to encourage child labour in colonies particularly in Africa. These laws offered the native people the legal ownership to some of the native land in exchange for making labour of wife and children available to colonial government's needs such as in farms and as picannins.

> Beyond laws, new taxes were imposed on colonies. One of these taxes was the Head Tax in the British and French colonial empires. The tax was imposed on everyone older than 8 years, in some colonies. To pay these taxes and cover living expenses, children in colonial households had to work.

Seems like it actually did the opposite of what he claimed?

> These laws offered the native people the legal ownership to some of the native land in exchange for making labour of wife and children available to colonial government's needs ...

So one country conquered another, and said they can have land they already had back if agree to forced labor according "to colonial government's needs". Doesn't seem much different than enslaving a population directly.

I find it interesting that people who blindly support social economics almost always immediately revert to some moral argument. Good to know it only took 2 posts for you to revert to "oh the hugh manity, you obviously like dead children"

The original question was about a country where raising taxes would improve the situation. Name me a country that solved child labour and improved the economy by raising taxes?

If you could accomplish that point without comparing me and my family members to the Nazi party, extra points.

> Good to know it only took 2 posts for you to revert to "oh the hugh manity, you obviously like dead children"

That was not me. :P

You don't live a free life if someone else owns your money.

Someone else ALWAYS controls your money for the simple reason that 'money' has no intrinsic value, it is a proxy for a debt owed to you by your society. Your ability to ever redeem it for anything of real value leaves you beholden to a structure far more elaborate and beyond your control than just a few government regulations.

You also don't live a free life when the rigors of market logic dictate your personal safety. Most reasonable people understand that the are both benefits and costs to regulation and the tricky bit is striking the right balance.

Let's not descend into "I've just read The Fountainhead and I think it solves all societal problems" rhetorical territory, eh?

Considering how haphazardly people demand regulation, I'm not sure reasonable people do understand the costs of regulation. Every time regulatory capture happens people are somehow really surprised and the excuse is always "we just wanted to help".

There are undoubtedly regulations that are vital, but there are many that cause silly situations that can have bad consequences. Also, it's not like regulation is guaranteed to even solve the problem in the first place.

> There are undoubtedly regulations that are vital, but there are many that cause silly situations that can have bad consequences.

Mandating basic standards to ensure that products sold to children are non toxic seem vital enough. Whether this is the best way of managing that, is a different matter.

it does in europe and china

Government owns all money already. They create it, they destroy it, they own it. You can hold it for a while, but it's still government money.

I'm not making some philosophical point; I'm genuinely contending that money belongs to the government. There's nuance and discussion, but as broad statements go, I contend that "Money belongs to the government" is more accurate than "People own their money".

You get what you pay for.

The more accurate phrase is "you never get more than you pay for". It's perfectly possible to burn a bunch of money and get squat for it.

As opposed to... careful Amazon? Careful maker of these toxic kid supplies?!

I don’t get this whole idea that government necessarily means poor quality. In using it to take away money, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s plenty that the gov already does well that we trust and depend on. If we had a bigger collective empathic view for others, a stronger notion of the value of civil service, and a closed wage gap between public and private, we could expect and get more from public institutions.

well technically then it shouldn’t be assumed one way or the other, so your comment also shouldnt imply one way or the other ... right ?

the reality most humans “scientifically” should assume is that “governments” or “public institutions” aren’t people ...

and that means something ...

Taxation isn’t theft, and trying to reframe it as such is intellectually dishonest. Theft is the unlawful taking of property, and taxation is almost tautologically lawful.

You can argue for lower taxes, or even against all taxes, although the latter will probably just get you ignored in polite company. But don’t try to tap society’s consensus against actual crimes for your libertarian crusade.

So, if the government decides that all people with certain inborn characteristics should be killed, we shouldn't call it murder/genocide?

Human language isn't math. Two things can be described with the same words and still very much not be equivalent.

"Muggers use the treat of violence to take money, government threatens violence if you don't pay taxes, ergo, taxation is the same as mugging and you may now assign to taxation all the dislike you have for mugging" is a terrible argument. Some form of bad syllogism, specifically, I'd say. If you really want to advance these positions, get better at it—then let me know when you have, because I've not ever seen them advocated particularly well and that'd surely be interesting.

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