“Please,” cry such toy-selling giants as Mattel and Disney – “Oh, please, please, please regulate us!”

“Please,” cry such toy-selling giants as Mattel and Disney – “Oh, please, please, please regulate us!”

You know these are strange times when corporations are begging for government regulations. What has prompted this is the ongoing revelation that millions of the toys on American shelves are made-in-China – in fact, about 80 percent of them – and that these toys come with such nasties as lead paint that can poison our children.

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Well, gosh, aren’t toys regulated to assure their safety? Not if they come from China. Indeed, China’s lack of rules is a big reason the toy giants have gone there – manufacturing shortcuts save them money. They also know that U.S. import inspections are a joke. Infact, Bush has slashed the safety inspection budget, and the agency in charge has only one full-time toy tester. One! For millions of toys!

Obviously, consumers don’t want to buy tainted toys for their tykes – and this has panicked the industry. So, to reassure parents, toy sellers are calling for at least the appearance of government inspections. And, oh, how consumer-minded the corporations have suddenly become! The head of Toys “R” Us, for example, now claims that safety is number one for him: “I have to be able to put my head on the pillow and say, ‘I’ve done everything I can.’” One wonders where he put his head before all the publicity about the unsafe toys he’s been selling.

Don’t mistake the industry’s newly-found concern about toy safety for any real willingness to accept effective regulation. Rather than inspections by a public agency, for instance, the toy giants want to use private laboratories to check a certain percentage of the toys they import. And, of course, none of them are considering having their toys made in our country.

To help push for serious protection from dangerous toys, visit Consumers Union’s website:

“Toy Makers Seek Standards For U.S. Safety,” The New York Times, September 6, 2007

“Disney to Do Its Own Tests of Character Toys for Lead Paint, “ The New York Times, September 10, 2007

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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