Walter Olson at Overlawyered notes that today is CPSIA Blogging Day, and he also points us to a new column in Forbes by Paul Rubin, former chief economist at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Rubin explains that CPSIA would flunk any imaginable cost-benefit test:
[The] CPSC pays little if any attention to cost-benefit analysis. When I worked there, I attempted to institute a formal process for such analysis, but I was blocked by a congressional prohibition. Since then, there has been no effort to resurrect such a program. There is, however, a staff of economists who could easily undertake such analysis, but they are not tasked with doing so.
A mentality focused on engineering and health sciences, one that is concerned with the question of whether some product could be harmful, drives the agency. Less attention is paid to evidence about whether or not a product has actually been harmful, and even less to whether or not it pays to correct the harm.
Although I have not done an analysis, I cannot believe that the slight risk of lead from used sweaters or toys would justify shutting down at least two industries–handmade children’s products and thrift shops for children’s goods. Society will also lose the value of the used goods that could be sold.
As in so many regulatory matters, the fixed costs of complying with rules are comparatively larger for small manufacturers, and thus benefit the larger operations able to bear the costs.
More from Overlawyered here.
UPDATE (5:30 p.m.): More blogging day posts from Overlawyered…
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