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