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More safety problems from China (Mattel)

  On August 1 of 2007, the American toy-maker, Mattel, initiated a massive recall of a million toys; 83 products were recalled including HotWheels cars and Barbie dolls.  All were made in China and all were colored with lead-based paint.  Identification of unsafe toys can be made through web-sites at the New York Times, Mattell, Inc., and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (  Nancy A. Nord of the CPSC admonished that the lead paint is "accessible" and the toys "should be taken away from children". 

      This problem was identified by a European retailer of Mattel toys in July.  A Mattel executive noted that the safety problem was encountered with a Chinese supplier who "has worked with us for 15 years" and "understand[s] our program".  Mattel makes about half the toys it sells and out-sources the remainer to China.  Lead paint exposure and consumption causes brain damage and children are particularly vulnerable.  Elsewhere in our weblog, we have addressed prior concerns over Chinese manufacturing safety and the weaknesses in regulation and inspection of Chinese products including food.  We have noted that Michigan residents have no recourse against retailers who sell defective Chinese products and that the Chinese government does not allow legal actions against Chinese manufacturers.  Crippled Americans must be satisfied with Chinese "justice", consisting of executions and retribution, rather than American justice which has always put an emphasis on prevention, risk-sharing insurance and compensation.

        By the way, on July 26, Beijing unveiled new efforts to improve its image with regard to product safety and apparetly retained Ogilvy Public Relations, an international crisis management (public relations) firm.  Henk Bekedam, the World Health Organization's top man in China noted that there are no quick fixes for the underlying problem:  China's corner-cutting on safety to facilitate growth in the economy.  The government recently acknowledged that 20 percent of consumer goods and 14 percent of truck tires manufactured in China failed safety inspection, according to the July 29 New York Times.  According to an associate professor at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, the primary problem is the lack of an independent judiciary which makes law enforcement impossible and regulations meaningless.  There is no impartial enforcement of the law.  Sadly, it seems that our country is headed in the same direction, as the Chamber of Commerce grasps ever-firmer control over the machinery of our judiciary.

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