Recently all the focus and blame has gone to China for shipping toys and other products unsafe for our children and us. However, we seem to forget that the responsibility to protect our children and ourselves ultimately lies with us. We cannot, and should not, rely on foreign companies and governments to have our safety as their top concern. In that regard, why would they be any different from any other corporation concerned about their bottom line? Their first priority is to make money; safety is only a secondary or tertiary concern at best. We have already seen manufacturer commitment towards producing safe products, as well as intelligent consumer buying decisions; have not been adequate enough measures in insure the safety of the products we use on a daily basis.
This is an example of where government intervention in the consumer market is required to protect the safety of the public and why we established the Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, they’re currently decimated by inadequate funding and staffed with corporate interest cronies who don’t have a strong enough interest in carrying out their responsibilities. How can we ask an agency who works under blameless conditions to take national responsibility for safety if we’ve already exempted them from responsibility? How can we ask an agency, who we’ve already deemed insignificant, to rise up and suddenly take responsibility for protecting the welfare of the country?
We cannot expect China, or any other nation, to safeguard our health if we’re unwilling to perform the same duties ourselves. Instead of looking for an external cause to blame, perhaps we need to consider adequately staffing and funding the agency we established with the intention they would be responsible for our children’s safety. The Consumer Product Safety Commission cannot fund their own operations. Our government, who we fund with our tax dollars, needs to get over their bi-partisan juggling of the issue and put our money to work where we need it. Until this country has a strong leader who is willing to concentrate on resolving domestic issues like product safety as vehemently as our current president tackles foreign policy issues, they’re not going to get the money they need to protect our children.
Shifting the blame to China, and other nations we import goods from, may make the government look better, but it does nothing to solve the underlying problem. Or, maybe the next time I question the safety of the toothpaste I am squeezing I should forget dealing with the manufacturer and just call the Chinese Embassy?