Comment on – Trade Pacts Have Paved Way For Toxic Toys

This opinion piece (“op-ed”) by Jesse Jackson in the Chicago Sun-Times is very direct (you know what he is unhappy about) and makes some very powerful arguments. No matter your politics, no matter your ideological compass, no matter your position on unionized labor, no matter your views on free trade and globalization — you have to sit up and take notice when millions and then tens of millions of toys are recalled because of the risk posed to our babies, toddlers and young children.


Grover Norquist, advocate and activist for the conservative right, said it best: “Starve the beast…” meaning on your ideological basis, cut off funding for government agencies that meddle with business or other vested interests. And here we see examples of starving the beast as a clear strategy by the present administration, and also past administrations; if the leadership disagrees with the direction of or results of government oversight and intervention, don’t fund the agency to hire overseers and inspectors. And where is the oversight of the legislative branch in all this? Not clearly in sight, is it.


One guy named Bob is inspecting all toys for the Consumer Product Safety Commission? Is this a joke…if not, and it’s factural, is this a tragedy-in-the-making? At what price do we sell out our children’s health and safety…and futures? (Think of lead-related brain damage.)


This is all about accountability — all along the supply chain line, from the purchase order (issued from the US firm) to the distant supplier in Asia; from the Asian factories and over the high seas to the West Coast toy warehouses; from those warehouses into retail stores where parents make their choices. Who is at fault for lead toys being on American retail shelves? Well, perhaps now that we have had our awareness raised, and parents / grandparents and other gift-buyers become more aware of retail dangers, we will see positive changes coming about and safer toy suppliers will emerge. Don’t wait for government to do it — that may be where some folks part company with op-ed author Jackson…maybe there really are limits to what the federal government can do. So we look again to the supply chain and the responsibilities and accountabilities of those involved…from the purchasing office, etc. And finally, the market will speak — parents and others will let the marke!


t know what they will or will not tolerate even if they want to keep the cost of toys down (thank you, globalization and distant sourcing).


Your views on the toy safety issue? On government’s role in all this? On retailing industry accountabilities? On global trade and the consequences? On Jesse Jackson’s op-ed?


Hank Boerner


Editor – AC