Thoughts on Law

Thoughts on Law

by Country Thinker | November 14th, 2011Window Blind Cords

Thoughts on Law

The tar­get of a new pro­posed ban.

One of the func­tions of law is to define bound­aries for per­mis­si­ble con­duct. Con­sumer safety reg­u­la­tions pro­vide man­u­fac­tur­ers with min­i­mum stan­dards for per­mis­si­ble con­sumer products.

But how do we decide where to set the bound­aries for con­sumer safety reg­u­la­tions? Most of the time we apply a cost-??benefit analy­sis to any pro­posed reg­u­la­tion. But, it appears that the Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion (CPSC) is using the absurd pre­cau­tion­ary prin­ci­ple (PP) to guide its decision-??making. With the PP no risk is too small or unlikely to jus­tify action, and no cost is too high to elim­i­nate the risk.

I’ve writ­ten about the “PP” before, but the CPSC is giv­ing a real-??time exam­ple of the absurd results of using the PP to craft laws or reg­u­la­tions. The Wall Street Jour­nal reported here that the CPSC is con­sid­er­ing a new reg­u­la­tion that would ban the use of cords to raise and lower win­dow blinds.

Win­dow blind cords lead to an aver­age of 12 infant or tod­dler deaths each year, accord­ing to the WSJ, and 80% of blinds use cords. The new reg­u­la­tion would require the retool­ing of the win­dow treat­ment indus­try and would do noth­ing to make the mil­lions of blinds with cords already in exis­tence “safer.”

I have a 4-??year-??old son who is des­tined to be an only child, so I am very sen­si­tive to the fact that a tragedy could take him in the blink of an eye. But we can­not elim­i­nate every con­ceiv­able risk in life, and it is my job to train my son how to nego­ti­ate the haz­ards of day-??to-??day human exis­tence, as well as to take rea­son­able pre­cau­tions as a father to keep him safe. In my opin­ion, the pro­posed reg­u­la­tion does not come close to pass­ing any rea­son­able cost-??benefit analysis. Read More

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