The Consumer Product Safety Commission, like most nanny-state bureaucrats, are bad at math. They are good at knee jerk emotional reactions though.
Statistically speaking, Buckyballs, the magnetic desk toy sold by Maxfield & Oberton, is no more dangerous any number of household products intended for adult use. Yet the CPSC is seeking to ban the product outright even though it is blanketed with warnings that it may be dangerous for children.
The small spherical rare-earth magnets, if swallowed, can cause serious damage to intestinal tract and stomach. However in the hands of people smart enough not to eat them or give them to children, they are perfectly safe.
CPSC filed a lawsuit last week declaring Buckyballs too risky for sale, citing several cases where children who swallowed the tiny magnets required surgery to have them removed. In its complaint, CPSC said warning labels didn’t work because the hundreds of tiny magnets can’t be labeled and the boxes are thrown away.
Representative Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA) injected a little perspective and sanity into the debate.
“While I’m very concerned about the dangers posed by these magnets, where do you draw the line?” Mack said in a statement. “There are countless products intended for adults only that can harm our kids if they fall in the wrong hands. You can’t ban everything.”
Or can you?
Maxfield & Oberton are not going down without a fight though. They’ve even written an open letter to President Obama in a full page Washington Post ad which also appears on the company’s blog.
Over the past two years, the CPSC didn’t dispute that our products had the proper warnings or safety program in place and even acknowledged that our products are safe for adults and should not be given to children. In fact, they have commended us for our warnings, safety program, and educational website: www.magnetsafety.com. But suddenly, the CPSC says that warnings aren’t good enough anymore and they simply want us to go out of business, thereby eliminating the jobs of our employees, sales reps and some retailers.
The same agency that relies on reasonable warnings for many other products in the marketplace now believes the American public can’t be relied upon to heed the warnings on our products.
The CPSC can’t have it both ways.
The problem here is they can have it both ways. They’re the government. They can have it as many ways as they want to. Common sense does not live in Washington, DC.