Friday, September 7, 2007

You want what?

And in the category of "confuse the crap out of the conservative legislators" we have this little gem. Yes, the toy industry is asking to be regulated. How can they be friendly to industry and impose regulation? Does not compute! Toy makers, you just turned some people's world upside down.

And with that snarky post I wish you a happy Friday eve.


Kevin said...

I saw this article today as well. My take, this is a PR and legal move by the toy industry. Funny how companies want the government out of their business (literally and figuratively) until there are lawsuits and bad PR. Then they want to be able to hide behind a legal standard so that the next time lead is found in a toy they can say:

"Our toys meet the strictest US federal quality and testing regulations."

Not a bad political move on behalf of the toy industry. Playing to the thought that most Americans still have some degree of faith in "government standards."

Brian said...

Maybe it is a PR move - I don't know. The industry has obviously done a sorry job in regards to safety.

But the government has so failed to enforce quality standards that it is notable that an offending industry would speak out about the lack of oversight. The Bush administration has gutted the Consumer Product Safety Commission at a time when just about everything we buy is made elsewhere.

Consider this, from a NYT editorial:
Meanwhile, budget and staff cuts are weakening the agency’s ability to detect wrongdoing, even as the nation is hit by wave after wave of recalls of Chinese imports. In the last two years, the commission’s budget has been cut by 10 percent. Its staff, which reached nearly 1,000 people in the ’70s, is now down to 420 workers, 12.5 percent fewer than in 2002. Eric Lipton of The Times reported that there is only one employee to test suspected defective toys from across the nation.

You will see flagging faith in government standards if they are failed to be enforced.

Lane said...

And yet, even with these failures, the toy industry is still much more closely regulated than the gun industry. I still like this page after all these years; it's still true, especially after the expiration of the ban on assault weapons.

Brian said...

Assault weapons versus teddy bears. Not really a fair fight is it? :)

Interesting stat on the second link you provide that a majority of Americans (at the time I suppose) were in favor of regulating handguns. I wonder if this is still the case or has the support for this declined along with the decline in the national crime rate?

Brian said...

Sorry that stat was on the teddy bear link...

Kevin said...

Working for a distribution company that feeds both commercial and aerospace/government entities I have learned two things to be true related to product safety and quality assurance & control:

- Safety standards and regulations are driven by the customer/consumer.
- Quality Control is successful only when regulated by the company.

So those who are calling for the industry to better regulate toys I think have the right arrow pointed at the wrong target.

Government agencies overseeing safety and quality is an illusion. OHSA doesn't keep my business from unsafe practices. What keeps safety in check is knowing the cost of lost time/lost workers on the production floor due to safety breaches.

What will make these toy companies stand up and take notice of their safety practices? Simple. Lost revenues due to product recalls and empty shelves followed by millions of dollars spent to shore up failing quality programs.

Brian said...

Kev, we may have to agree to disagree on this one. But I really don't think it's an "either/or" proposition as you frame it. It seems to me it is "both/and."

Companies have to take responsibility for their product and practices, and many of them will because as you say it costs them money if they don't. You see the big toy companies saying they will raise prices in January to pay for increased testing. This is a great step. (But as you know there are always bad actors out there who can't see beyond next quarter's earnings and will take shortcuts.)

You also see the same companies asking for more government oversight, because they know it keeps them honest. Regulations are no good unless they are enforced.

Consumers need to have a degree of confidence in the products they buy. That confidence will not come for me until and unless both pieces are in place. It seems we are going in the right direction.