Mom has been asking me for months to dive into the omnipresent announcements of defective Chinese goods winding up in stores - dangerous toys, flammable things... all of that. I've resisted because I didn't really have a way into the story that made sense to me (I'm not thrilled about these reports, but I'm not exactly surprised, either)... until now.
As litbrit mentions, yesterday brought a defensive head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission in front of a Senate committee to explain, well, why, you know, people aren't safe. Nancy Nord, the Acting Head of the CPSC, reported that the Commission lacks the resources to test toys, has outdated facilities and has generally been starved of the funds needed to do its work.
Litbrit, rightly, is appalled, as am I. But I also wondered... who is Nancy Nord?
Well, Nancy Nord is the Acting Head of the CPSC because the head of the CPSC resigned rather abruptly summer a year ago and Bush has done nothing to replace him (the CPSC has a three person directorate; with the party of the President essentially controlling the majority) since March, when he tried to appoint the former head of The National Association of Manufacturers (you know, people who might not like the CPSC) in his place. And why did the last guy resign, you ask? Oh, you know... to go work for a law firm that advises clients on how to... you know, avoid having to deal with the CPSC.
Yes, it would seem that Consumer Product Safety is yet another area like... oh, I don't know, let's say FEMA... where the Bush Administration has allowed benign neglect to substitute for policy. Bush has appointed,er, cronies, to this commission (see #9 of the last link), good Republican doo-bees, and now here's Nancy Nord to tell us, gosh, the CPSC is underfunded. Now there's a surprise.
When people complain about the mainstream media, I generally don't give it much weight - MSM bashing is all too common these days, if you ask me, and way too broad. But if there's something the press does terribly lately, it's having the institutional memory to give the backstory on, say the CPSC and why, say, it would be a toothless tiger with a lovely figurehead GOP hack as its head who could before a committee and say she just realized they lack lab equipment.
Which is why I don't think China's the problem, I suddenly realized - when you manufacture goods as cheaply as possible, people will try to cut corners in every possible way, consumer safety be damned. Our protection against such bad business practices was creating the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And guess what Bush has managed to do in 6 years? Make it worthless. Blame China? I'm thinking no.