I just finished reading a very scary set of articles about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s bullying of Craig Zucker over his toy sensation Buckyballs. It’s a classic example of playground mayhem, except in this case the schoolyard bully CPSC has the support of the teachers, principal, and school board…i.e. the Feds, Congress, Senate, and the President.
Here’s the skinny on the issue. For a more in-depth background, just Google any of the people involved.
Craig Zucker is the guy behind those little magnetic steel balls you used to see everywhere. You know, you could play with them by arranging them into shapes, building shapes out of them, etc. Shortly after Buckyballs hit peak sales several kids around the US swallowed them despite warning labels and the seemingly obvious fact that the little balls weren’t food products. If you’re wondering at what point personal responsibility and parental supervision come into play, so am I? Because of this, Zucker worked with the CPSC to completely change his marketing out of toy stores and to more adult places like Brookstone and also upped the recommended age on the warning labels.
Turns out several magnetic toys that kids swallowed weren’t even Buckyballs. Even so, the CPSC, fresh off the PR nightmare of allowing millions and millions of contaminated Chinese toys onto store shelves and into your home so that your kids could suck lead off of them, decided that Buckyballs and Zucker needed to be taught a lesson. This was where they needed to make their stand, demand a larger budget, and prove that the agency was still viable. After all, following the recent debacle, they didn’t have the Buckyballs to go after China.
The CPSC decided that Buckyballs, now sold as an adult product, couldn’t be trusted in the hands of Americans and that entrepreneurs who dared challenge them needed to pay. They said his warning label wasn’t good enough, even though they approved it in 2010. They said this adult product needed a warning label on every little steel ball. They said the shiny product was too attractive to children.
Because the government, with its near infinite resources and numerous attorneys make the rules of the game and change them at will, Zucker had no choice but to sell off all remaining inventory, let all his employees go, and close the doors. Should be the end of it, right?
The CPSC still needs a bad guy, so they named Craig Zucker as public enemy numero uno launched a suit against him personally. It’s kind of like walking onto the playground, running afoul of the bully, getting beat up, and losing your lunch money. Then, when you get up again, the playground bully comes back and proceeds to beat you up again and again and again. All the while he’s yelling, “I’ll never be done with you.” Oh yeah, the teachers are standing there cheering him on. Why aren’t the other kids coming to your defense? It’s because they’re scared. The playground bully with “CPSC” tattooed on one arm and “Suck It Free Market” on the other has told the other kids that if they come to your defense that he’ll target them and their products as well.
Where does this end? Think about a home improvement store. I could walk into my local Lowe’s and buy a bag of screws. So could my 9-year-old son. There’s no warning label on the bag. No one asks my son if he’s old enough to buy them. There’s no warning label on each individual screw. Guess what, they’re shiny and attractive to little kids. What if a kids swallows a handful of screws? Can you say perforated bowel? Can your kid spell colostomy?
GeekMom has a great post HERE on what the CPSC needs to ban next.
But if instead of screws you bought Buckyballs, the CPSC wants you to think Craig Zucker is hiding in their closet waiting to kill them. At what point do we need to get rid of the bully, end irrational regulatory interference, and restore the notion of personal responsibility?
Check out the Buckyballs website HERE and look what they could do to you.
PS…I found this article a week after I wrote this blog and wanted to add it. Magzip better watch out, or the CPSC might gun them down too.