Dangerous books

The other day Glenn Reynolds linked a Reason piece about new federal rules for anyone running a yard or garage sales:

Selling old kids books, anything with metal, paint, or plastic that a kid might use, old clothes or shoes with metal components that a kid might wear? You know, any of the stuff people routinely sell at yard sales? Technically, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars worth of fines.
While that was horrifying enough to read, the link to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's list makes it clear that the regulatory sweep is even broader:
CPSC's laws and regulations apply to anyone who sells or distributes consumer products. This includes thrift stores, consignment stores, charities, and individuals holding yard sales and flea markets.
So I'm not off the hook just because I don't hold yard sales. Presumably this would cover anything I might sell on Ebay or CraigsList.

And here in Ann Arbor (and also in Berkeley), it is customary for people to often put old stuff they don't want out in the strip between the sidewalk and the street -- the unwritten rule being that anything put there is free to take. Would that be, um, distribution?

It's all too easy for most people to dismiss these rules as not applying to them; a friend who buys and sells used stuff for a living seemed to think it was only directed at childrens' toys, clothes, and bedding.

What really got my attention was to read that the rules apply to books!

That's right. Some busybody bureaucrats apparently discovered that the ink which was used to print books before 1985 is bad for children to eat! Therefore, "you can be slapped with a $100,000 fine for selling your kids' old books at a yard sale."

According to a recent WaPo article, the banned books include such classics as "Little House on the Prairie.":

Rachel Merrill, mother of three, was holding innocuous-seeming contraband in her hand at an Arlington Goodwill store earlier this month: a 1971 edition of "Little House on the Prairie." This copy of the children's classic had just become illegal to resell because of concerns that some old books contain lead in their ink.
Needless to say, the "implementation" phase has librarians and bookstores rattled:
Implementation of the new law has libraries and secondhand bookstores reeling. Although they could pay to have each old book tested, the cost ($300 to $600 a book, according to the American Library Association) makes that impractical.

The [Consumer Product Safety Commission] has advised libraries not to circulate old books while the agency reviews the situation....

"We're talking about tens of millions of books," said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the Washington office of the American Library Association...

More here.

"Consumer," you say? I think the idea that we all must be regulated to prevent moronic parents from allowing their children to eat books is a grotesque perversion of the word "consumer."

Never mind that there is not one documented case of a child ever having developed lead poisoning from a book.

The books must be destroyed!

BTW, I can't help noticing that Little House on the Prairie is a libertarian classic.

What is to become of our dangerous old, lead-filled books? Who gets to decide which classics will be considered legal, and which have to be burned?

(I guess they don't call them "safety Nazis" for nothing.)

posted by Eric on 05.12.09 at 10:00 AM


Surely our hearts would go out to anyone who may have had an unfortunate tragedy in their lives, but the combination of grieving and "newly activist" parent is a volatile combination when you add a legislator to this mix.

Penny   ·  May 12, 2009 6:30 PM

So at first I stumbled onto these survivalist bulletin boards and it seemed that they were all a bunch of nuts. I saw this story mentioned there over a year ago, and I thought they were crazy. But then it got passed, and the MSM picked it up, and now here it is. It's the same for several other stories that they were quick to pick up on. So FYI, go read Timebomb2000 and TOL

Helpful Guy   ·  May 12, 2009 9:38 PM

The disgusting thing is that they have just empowered every nosy neighbor and ambulance chaser to force you to pay thru the nose to defend yourself against complaints.

SDN   ·  May 12, 2009 10:04 PM

This is such nonsense. As a professional printer, I can tell you the amount of lead in books printed before it was banned in printing ink is usually tiny.
Lead white was added to achieve opaqueness. It would only be used in illustrations or pictures, usually old books with "plate"
illustrations. Four color process inks did not as a rule contain lead, so even post card type reproductions would not contain it.

Now if you want to discuss ink pigments, that's another story.
There's cyanide, chrome, cancer causing nitrobenzene, and a host of other toxic and dangerous chemicals. There are the ink additives like cobalt dryer. And don't forget the very toxic chemicals used in paper making itself.
Why, it's all just a witches brew.

Ban it all, for god's sake, if it will just save one child from being force fed this capitalist created time bomb of death.

Frank   ·  May 13, 2009 12:21 AM

Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill) remains unrepentant for her leading role in this travesty, preferring to attack anyone who complains.

pst314   ·  May 13, 2009 8:44 AM

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