Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

So, essentially, Save The Children?

Besides the fact, this regulation seems almost pointless. If you can still sell these small round magnets, just not as novelty and toy items, then they will still get into the hands of consumers. As the article mentioned, even with severe restrictions on where they were placed in stores and even with them being absent in physical stores at all sales still held steady, clearly signifying a demand for this product.

At best this ruling is ineffectual and will end up in a cat and mouse game between manufacturers and the CPSC which could potentially end up in heavily overreaching legislation. At worst it's a dangerous precedent set to control the kind of things we give to our children.

I don't need the mayor of New York telling me how much to drink, and I don't need the government telling me what to buy.

Food for thought: The CPSC seems to be fine with the warning labels on cigarettes.




I think the government is actually performing a useful service here.

We all know that people have a hard time identifying and reasoning about high-cost, low-probability risks. The government, because it's aggregating numbers over practically all the hospitals in the country, can identify these oddball cases -- these cases are hard for individuals to discern.

So, they found one -- a service in itself. But, what to do? I don't want to have to keep track of all these oddball risks (un-obvious, and with no significant upside). So, as in the case of various bassinet, bicycle, handrail, and staircase design errors, they are made off limits.

Easier for everyone. Next problem.


There's a difference between identifying risks and forcing people to act risk averse.

I'm all for the government continuing to act as a consumer's advocate, as they should be. However I do not feel comfortable when the government makes these decisions for me.


They haven't made any decision for you. Even after the rule goes into effect, you'll still be allowed to buy & sell magnets of the exact same size, strength, and finish as the Buckyballs.

The CPSC ruling is only devastating to Buckyballs because they are primarily marketed and sold as toys, and when they stop being able to do that, far fewer people will buy them.


I was more talking in generalities in that specific comment, though the government has certainly effected my decision when buying similar magnets, which is arguably just as offensive.

I still fail to see your logic that this legislation will prevent these magnets from being sold to people who want them as a novelty. When taken completely out of physical stores sales held steady. The market has clearly communicated a demand, and they will buy them whether they are marketed as novelty toys are not.

If the CPSC's main goal is to prevent Buckyballs from coming into contact with toddlers this band aid legislation seems like a laughable effort.


The CPSC doesn't care if you buy magnets! They only care about how they're marketed! The CPSC is not trying to keep magnets away from you. They are not trying to abolish any kind of magnet. This isn't the war on drugs. They care exclusively about one specific packaging.

And, if you're a complete freaking moron and buy magnets and stuff them into the mouths of your children, well, not to sound too callous, but the CPSC isn't going to care so much about those magnets.

They'll probably care more about the quantity of lead paint you must have somehow ingested to make such a dumb decision.


The CPSC wants to ban marketing of such products as toys or puzzles. We all (or, I'll concede, perhaps only most of us) agree that this is so, and no more!

The issue is that I think that said ban will affect the structure of the market for such products, which (if I am correct in thinking this) will affect me by raising the cost of said products and reducing the quality of said products and related accessories/packaging.

Given that I regard the CPSC's process of making decision based on the existing statistics as misinformed, it seems entirely reasonable to me to regard this as a problem. Where exactly am I going wrong here?


I don't think there's anything wrong with this reasoning at all! It seems well-informed and carefully reasoned. I disagree with it, but so what?


> I disagree with it . . .

Because . . . ?

> . . . but so what?

Well, I obviously care somewhat about your opinion. Otherwise I wouldn't have posted all this stuff. And you obviously care somewhat about the existence of this marketing campaign (that being essentially what this piece of news is). Otherwise you wouldn't have posted all this stuff.


How do you feel about building codes? Plumbing and electrical codes?

Do you agree the issue is deciding where the government chooses to intervene with a "shall not" directive, or do you reject such directives entirely?


"Save The Children" is indeed the charter of the CPSC's regulation of toys.

As for "ineffectual": you can't have it both ways; either the ruling is devastating to companies like Zucker's (his claim), or it does little to keep the toys out of the hands of children.


You mistake the point of my comment.

This ruling may be devastating on companies like Zucker's, however that is what happens when your business relies upon a product that is then regulated away by the government. Zucker should have known the risks when he got into the industry, and at least should have known the risks when doing business within the United States.

I see this ruling more as an attack on what I can purchase as a consumer. Why is the government telling me what I cannot buy, or even what I cannot give to my children? If you really want to get into it, I'd be more than happy to tell you why I think the CPSC itself is a threatening institution to my civil liberties, but that seems rather out of scope. What makes this ruling more egregious than any other that comes to mind is that it seems to have been made selectively and without good reason. Warning labels were not sufficient, yet the warning label on a box of cigarrettes is just gravy? If you work out the percentages, regardless of the potential to do harm, not that much comparative harm was really done.

So why was this done? It doesn't take the harmful objects out of the market, so why set this precedent? It makes me wonder what they could do to, say, maybe a politically charged children's book?


This comparison between magnets and cigarettes just doesn't make any sense to me. Nobody in the world thinks it's really a good idea to give cigarettes to little children. But there are plenty of parents who wouldn't bat an eyelash if their own child ingested a magnet. That's the problem.

The regulation proposed on magnets is effectively identical in principle to the regulation against lawn darts back in 1988. Any idiot can look at a lawn dart --- a large, bottom-heavy weighted metal dart meant for throwing --- and intuit that the pointy end needs to be kept away from kids heads. And yet kids were routinely showing up in the emergency room with darts in embedded in their skulls. In fact, they still were in 1997!

These kinds of determinations are literally the whole reason we have a CPSC. The CPSC is only suddenly a threat to our civil liberties because they pushed back on a nerd toy. I'm sure the manufacturers of lawn darts were plenty pissed too, but we didn't have the message boards back then to hear about it.

Nobody, including the CPSC, is saying that rare earth magents are intrinsically evil, or that you shouldn't be allowed to have them. And so you'll be able to keep buying them even after this rule is put in place. The CPSC is simply saying that tiny magnets make a bad toy, just like weighted darts did.

And note that it isn't the evil, capricious CPSC that's behind this; the movement to suppress this particular bad toy was spearheaded by the American Pediatric Association.


TIL lawn darts are banned in the United States. You poor safety-paranoid, helicopter-parenting sods...


The comparison makes sense when you see that while cigarrettes have caused millions of deaths and continue to cause cancer worldwide we consider a simple warning sufficient, yet when encountered with 500 emergency visits a larger warning label isn't sufficient? I don't see how it's the company's fault if there's a big label and yet the parents still "don't bat an eye" when their child swallows a magnet. I'm simply trying to point out the dichotomy and the uneven enforcement of regulation that is supposedly there to protect us.

Furthermore, as I stated in my previous comment, I believe the mere existence of the CPSC is a threat against my civil liberties. Thus, I also believe the ban against lawn darts was incorrect. The only reason you're probably hearing about it now is because we are now only having the opportunity to discuss it, not because they pushed back on a "nerd toy"[1].

I understand what the CPSC is trying to do, and I'm not decrying the goal of trying to protect children. I'm also not trying to tie some conspiracy together here, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This seems like needless, overarching legislation that opens the door for abuse, and when couched in the "Save The Children" argument it sends off a lot of warning bells in my head that I don't think deserve to be ignored.

[1] Really? "Nerd toy"? You do realize your audience here... correct?


The CPSC doesn't ban cigarettes for the same reason it doesn't ban firearms: they aren't marketed as toys. Like I've said: the CPSC actually isn't "banning" small round shiny rare earth magnets, either; it's only banning their marketing as toys.


> It makes me wonder what they could do to, say, maybe a politically charged children's book?

Seriously? You undermine your own argument with that comment.

If the CPSC is doing its job well it will react towards gadgets that are within its domain and statistically shown to be dangerous. Regardless of how you feel about this agency's actual mission, that is a good design to keep them from eventually trying to keep you from reading Mein Kampf or Lady Chatterley's Lover or something. (if you're in the United States you also benefit from the first amendment...)

> It doesn't take the harmful objects out of the market, so why set this precedent?

This also strikes me as a really myopic thing to say. Do you really think that eliminating an item from the toy store shelves and relegating it to scientific supply shops is not going to effectively remove it from kids grasp? The obvious counterexample is the chemistry sets of yesteryear.

(it's worse than that: those shops won't finish the magnets in the user-friendly way that these guys did. that was their innovation.)

> What makes this ruling more egregious than any other that comes to mind is that it seems to have been made selectively and without good reason.

Again, very disingenuous. Kids were getting hurt, it's not like the CPSC was making that up. "Good reason" is obviously subjective but the important thing is that it wasn't arbitrary: accidents involving children requiring abdominal surgery are something approximately 100% of us can agree shouldn't happen, regardless of the cause.


Your argument seems to be "if the CPSC does their job, they won't not do their job" which I'd generally agree with, however I'm quite worried that the CPSC does not do their job, as error-prone humans run the agency.

You also seem to misunderstand the argument here. If you had read the article, you would know that even when taken out of physical stores the CPSC continued to push for a banning of the Buckyballs. So clearly this legislation isn't about eliminating it from toy stores, as that already happened and wasn't sufficient for the CPSC.

I'm very much not trying to be disingenuous, I realize children were harmed. However, if that is the simple criteria we are using to determine businesses to legislate away then the selective enforcement is even more worrying.


The CPSC didn't simply continue to push for a ban on products like Buckyballs because they were on tilt against a specific company. They pushed for a ban because even after the products were removed from toy store shelves, reports from physicians continued to increase. The CPSC is a data-driven operation; read the proposed rule, which I linked upthread, for their methodology.


> Your argument seems to be "if the CPSC does their job, they won't not do their job" which I'd generally agree with, however I'm quite worried that the CPSC does not do their job, as error-prone humans run the agency.

It's plausible that they might become overzealous, sloppy, subject to some unforeseen corruption, etc. Your previous assertion that they might begin censoring speech strikes me as rather over the top.


Here's a list of things you're already not allowed to buy as a consumer:

1. Things painted with lead-based paint 2. Dangerous bacteria 3. Heavily radioactive materials 4. Chips of wood carved and painted to look like hazelnuts 5. Laetril, a completely ineffective pharmaceutical sold as a miracle cure for cancer.

If being unable to buy buckyballs is the cost of having a government agency preventing fraudulent or outright harmful products like the above out of my unwitting hands, or the hands of people who would cause a lot of damage around them, then I'm okay with that. I don't expect the government to be perfect, so I don't consider a failure to be perfect to be a fatal flaw.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: