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When I am completely bored, I like to peruse the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  In case you were not aware, here is their mission:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction

I love that term “unreasonable.” Let’s examine a couple. In one of their headline recalls, we see that these pose unreasonable risks of injury or death:

Yes, those are tea light candles. The CPSC warns us that, “The candles have a clear, plastic cup that can melt or ignite, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers.” And just how serious a hazard is this melting plastic?

Pacific Trade has received one report of the plastic cup melting while in use. No injuries or property damage have been reported.

Well, maybe this would have caused immense harm had the recall not happened. Seriously, candles in plastic cups? The hazard is obvious. Someone please explain to me why all candles are not simply recalled? I would be a zillion dollars (that’s a real number, I saw it on TV) that the hazards from merely burning an open flame far outstrip this one.  But the part that gets me a little hot and bothered is the remedy:

Consumers should immediately stop using the candles and return them to the store where purchased for a store merchandise card equal to the purchase price.

I don’t know legally how these remedies are supposed to work, but it sounds a lot to me like the CPSC is telling retailers and the producers exactly how they ought to handle the recall. Would stores not have the discretion to offer a suitable candle replacement instead of general store merchandise? Would they not have the discretion to simply give out cash? And is there any risk that purchasers of candles ought to take on themselves?

Here is an even better one.

The CPSC is ordering the recall of certain “beaded curtains.” You know, the kind you see when you visit a palm reader. Or the kind that hangs in the Indian restaurant that my family and I like to go to every once in a while (it hangs in the entrance to their bathroom area).  Here is the reported hazard: “The beaded curtains are prone to entanglement. When an adult or child plays with or runs through the beaded curtains, the risks of entanglement and strangulation are posed.” And let’s see how much damage these things have caused: “The firm has received two reports of consumers becoming entangled in the curtains. No injuries have been reported.”

Give me a break.  I can just imagine some bureaucrat combing through product catalogs and watching “news of the weird” just waiting to find the slightest reason to assert his authority to recall products. They remind me of New York State Troopers, who do little to protect public safety and lots to raid the wallets and psyche of the citizens of New York. Someone please tell me how a trooper, hiding his cruiser behind a bridge support at the bottom of a major hill on the NYS Thruway, on a bright, sunny, day in the Spring, when 5 cars per minute may be passing him on the road, is promoting public safety by nailing someone for hitting 75 mph on that road?  We’ll address the state troopers in much more detail in a  a future post. In tomorrow’s post, we will take another look at the CPSC and the public reaction to the risks we regularly endure.

3 Responses to “Oooohhhh Sssssccccaaaarrrrryyyyy”

  1. Sherlock says:

    The drive from Rochester to CT is gut renching. I’m always on the lookout for the state troopers as I maintain a speed of just under 75 mph. On average there are between 7-10 troopers that I pass (either trying to nab you or already having pulled someone over). I’ver personally been pulled over twice on my trips. Both times I got out of a speeding ticket (I guess I’m very charming?). One of the times, however, the cop didn’t even have a radar gun on me. He just guessed my speed. After four years of making the drive back and forth, I’ve only seen two legitimate cases of reckless driving. Not to worry though, the troopers got em’. WIN!

  2. Sherlock says:

    To qualify: I got out of speeding tickets on both occasions but I still was ticketed on lesser charges. Thank you, ever so gracious trooper!

  3. chuck martel says:

    Just imagine what the Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering after this gruesome event: http://mankatofreepress.com/local/x433426813/Gary-Wersal-of-rural-Madelia-killed-in-lawn-tractor-accident

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