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"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.




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