Congress is always looking out for us:
The Senate yesterday approved the most far-reaching changes to the nation’s product safety system in a generation, responding to recalls of millions of lead-laced toys that rattled consumers last year.
Lawmakers still have to resolve key differences between the Senate bill and a similar measure that passed the House in December. While the Senate version is considered by consumer advocates to be tougher, both contain provisions that would require retailers and manufacturers to be more vigilant about product safety.
The biggest change is likely to be a better-staffed Consumer Product Safety Commission, with more enforcement power. Both bills would boost funding for the agency, which had a budget of $63 million in fiscal 2007 and just less than 400 employees, fewer than half the number it had in 1980. The Senate bill, which passed by a vote of 79 to 13, would increase the budget to $106 million by 2011. The House’s version would increase it to $100 million.
This strikes me as more of the same in Washington. Government sets the rules. The rules fail. The government blames the failure on the market and insufficient government size. It’s self-fulfilling and people fall for it. Beyond that, I don’t have much to say on the specifics.
Rather, I want to focus on how we get to these situations. Consider the Washington Post’s headline of the article discussing this legislation:
Senate Votes For Safer Products
I know headlines need a hook in a small space. That doesn’t matter. This is pathetic. This is how government programs begin and perpetuate and grow. Who could possibly argue against this bill to those who will make up their mind on this superficial information? I might as well argue for the routine kicking of puppies.
When discussing policy solutions, we need to identify the narrow problem(s) we wish to address because the law of unintended consequences loves broad solutions. Instead of the title offered, the Post should’ve used something like this:
Senate Votes for Further Product Safety Regulation
That’s still unacceptably imperfect. I’m not a professional. But at least it’s closer to the truth than the simpleton’s solution the Post offered.
¹ I’m assuming the words are chosen poorly. That’s an assumption. I leave wide-open the possibility that such words are chosen deliberately for their propensity to encourage bigger government. Hence the propaganda tag on this entry.