On February 10th, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) went into effect, impacting thrift stores throughout the nation, as this February news report from an Omaha TV station highlights. CPSIA was originally passed to reduce and ideally eliminate lead paint in toys, but it’s had sweeping repercussions. Used clothes have been removed from shelves for fear of lead in zippers, and even motorbike sales have been curtailed — apparently the writers of CPSIA were worried that teenagers would eat their bikes’ handlebars, or something. And sales of these various products have plummeted, during a time when the nation needs all the help it can get re-strengthening its economy.
But perhaps the most worrisome aspect of CPSIA is that it’s led to books being banned. Lead in printers’ inks wasn’t outlawed until 1985; so books published in 1984 or earlier have had to be removed from used book sellers’ shelves, and even some libraries. And don’t think booksellers haven’t noticed the ominous sound of that cut-off date:
The latest edition of our Silicon Graffiti videoblog explores the impact of CPSIA, featuring a snippet of my PJM Political interview with Walter Olson of Overlawyered.com, as he discusses his recent City Journal article, titled “The New Book Banning.” It contrasts the Brave New World nanny state feel of CPSIA with earlier warnings that our history and culture might eventually start to shrink, such as George Orwell’s 1984, and naturally enough, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
Fortunately, at least for now, Big Brother is still allowing us to remain on the air — this is our 28th edition of Silicon Graffiti; click here and start scrolling for the previous segments.