Apparently believing his legacy was not adequately tarnished, President Bush last August signed the law known as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).  This multi-headed monster has as one of its warm, fuzzy goals:  the protection of innocent children from the lurking menace of lead and lead-based products.  This train has been running since 1985, when Congress first made it illegal to use lead pigments in the inks, dyes, and paints used in children’s books.  The recent change strengthened these provisions, added requirements even on distributors and retailers to test each and every children’s product offered for sale, and, most eggregiously – applied the law not simply to currently-manufactured products, but to all children’s books.  The results have been predictable.  In a declaration just prior to the February 10 effective date, the Consumer Product Safety Commission advised used booksellers to “discard” books printed prior to 1985 or risk fines reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Stop for a moment and ponder this:  the United States government is, ahem, “advising,” that private citizens offering books for sale discard our nation’s storehouse of children’s literature.

And now here’s the punch line.  The number of documented cases of children being sickened by lead from a book, whether pre- or post-1985, is exactly….zero.

Check out Walter Olson’s excellent compilation of this lunacy.

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