Unintended Consequences

On a warm spring day nearly 11 years, a dear friend went to pick up her 18-month son from the daycare provider only to discover he had died in what was thought to be a freak crib accident.  He was put in a portable crib for his afternoon nap and when he awoke he pulled himself up on the side of the crib that was meant to fold.  It had worked loose just enough so that it collapsed under his weight and Danny was thrown forward catching his neck in the collapsing rail.

My friend and her husband later learned that Danny wasn’t the first to die this way and this information started them on a journey that continues to this day.  They started a non-profit foundation, Kids in Danger, to warn other parents of faulty children’s products, etc.

I mention this because a portion of the Consumer Product Safety Information Act (CPSIA) of 2008 is named for Danny.  My friend has been a steadfast advocate for safer children’s products as a result of Danny’s death, and the scare caused by the importing of toys from China tainted with lead paint was the impetus for moving legislation in favor of the consumer.

By now you’ve probably read several articles in the paper or seen spots on the TV news warning that all children’s clothing and toys will have to be tested for lead before they can be sold.  Some thrift and consignment shops are plannning on closing shop in response to this law and consumers, who are already feeling strapped by the faltering economy, are uncertain how they will clothe their children.

Why isn’t government able to write a bill that isn’t onerous?  And what’s worse – allowing resale shops to sell clothing that might injure, sicken, or even kill your child (think of jackets with strings in the hoods) or putting these same shops out of business, hurting not only the business owner but other consumers as well?

My heart aches for my friend and her family and I’ve donated thousands of dollars to her organization.  But I struggle with the idea that we put a price on the value of a human life.  This isn’t a popular sentiment, but I don’t think you can spend millions of dollars in an effort to protect one human life.  But I don’t know what the cutoff is – when is it no longer feasible?

This recent news item reminded me of an environmental class I took as an undergraduate.  We were debating the merits of outlawing clear cutting in order to save the Spotted Owl.  The argument against doing so was that the majority of people living in those areas rely on logging as a means for supporting their families.  The professor of this class broke my 4.0 gpa because I argued that this only made sense if the government or some other entity replaced the lost jobs with other, equally lucrative, employment.  I consider myself an environmentalist, but I’m also enough of a realist to understand you can’t save one Spotted Owl if you are going to starve an entire community in doing so.

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One Response to “Unintended Consequences”

  1. […] Director of her nonprofit foundation, Kids in Danger, had concerns about my previous post, titled Unintended Consequences.  This is the response the ED wrote to my post and I’ve asked permission to reprint it here: […]

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