September 03, 2008

Lead is Bad

Toys that contain lead or phthalates can be harmful to children. So, the U.S. recently signed into law legislation that prohibits both, the strictest ban in the world.

This has been universally heralded as a positive. Kids are safer. Parents don't have to worry. No consumer wanted lead in the toys.

I still question why legislation was needed. Why couldn't a lead-free toymaker advertise "Lead-Free" on their box, spurring consumer awareness, and therefore, market competition.

Is the real problem lack of legislation or consumer education?

I know what you're thinking. What's the big deal? Lead was bad, and now it's gone. Same result.

You're right. But, with this logic, it makes no sense for a lot of other things to be legal, either. And maybe we'll still want the choice for some of them.


Marc said...

Ah, but this is an economic problem.

If we left this to the free market, "leaded" toys and other products would not be completely pushed out of public contact. Rather, they would be made so inexpensive that they would still attract people at the lowest economic strata to purchase them.

So really this is protecting people who are compelled by their fiscal situation to purchase the least expensive products on the market, without regard to long-term health consideration.

It's the affluent majority giving up their "right to choose" (and it wasn't really a choice) for the sake of the impoverished minority who would haven't had the choice (but in the other direction).

Jeff said...

Marc's right.

Eric Olsen said...

Plus, if lead had been banned a while ago, Mr. Boddy might still be alive today. Dang Colonel Mustard.

great thoughts gents.

i'm wondering if following this line of logic would ban cigarettes, too?

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