I’ve posted several times about the horrible piece of legislation known as the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, which has been devastating to many small manufacturers–especially makers of children’s clothing, toys, science kits, etc–and homecrafters. (It has also had a malign impact on the children’s book industry and on libraries.) In today’s WSJ, Virginia Postrel has a good article on this legislation and its effects.
Postrel observes that the recently-enacted Food Safety Modernization Act does a better job than did the CPSIA of exempting small operators from burdensome and unnecessary record-keeping requirements, and attributes this to the fact that the agricultural industry is far better organized from a lobbying standpoint than are the small manufacturers who are impacted by the CPSIA. (Also, the kind of well-connected people for whom grocery shopping is a religious experience are more likely to have concerns about protecting small farmers than about protecting small manufacturers and homecrafters.)
Many CongressCreatures have reacted to pleas on behalf of those impacted by CPSIA with their signature arrogance–a particularly horrible example, involving Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, here. The sad reality is, as government becomes more and more intrusive into all aspects of the economy, unless you are large enough and/or well-organized-enough to protect yourself politically you will be destroyed. As I said in this post about the fate of the steamboat Delta Queen:
With ever-more-pervasive government domination of all spheres of life, and the crushing of the spirit of independence among many Americans, I fear that we’ve entered an era in which nothing will be permitted to exist unless it serves the needs/desires of powerful interest groups.
I expect that the CPSIA has provided a painful and expensive education to those homecrafters and small manufacturers who were politically liberal and have tended to assume that government action is automatically benign.