The Mischiefs of Faction

Taking a page from Farenheit 541 – yes, I know, awful pun – the February 10th implementation of the Consumer Priduct Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) has resulted in untold numbers of pre-1985 children’s books being relegated to the garbage bin.  As explained in the City Journal, the fact that there has not been reported “a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations,” has had no impact on these new regulations.  As thrift stores are forced to throw out large portions of their stock and small online vendors go out of business, this provision of CPSIA is all but guaranteed to have a negative effect on our economy and the range of reading material available to American children.

Moreover, large toy corportations’ patterns of lobbying suggest that putting smaller competitors out of business with this law was exactly what they were hoping for.  An article in the DC Examiner explains that Mattel et al. strongly supported CPSIA, because, as a large company, they can easily comply with it.  In other words, this is little more than an exemplification of democracy in action.  As Madison explains in Federalist 10:

A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

True, we do not yet have a pure democracy, but the case may easily be made that CPSIA is the result of a powerful faction (large toy corporations) happily using the government to achieve their own interests (removing the competition) and sacrificing the weaker party (small toy vendors).

Published in

Post a comment