Alex Massie

Are You Smarter than the US Congress? Almost Certainly.

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As any fool knows, the principle benefit of the United States Congress is to make other legislatures seem positively benificent by comparison with the gallery of clowns on Capitol Hill. Compared with these people, even Westminster seems as though it must be populated by latterday Solons. Verily, we live in a Periclean age compared to our poor cousins across the Atlantic.

Consider this piece of jaw-dropping idiocy:

It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

Will no-one think of the children?

I realise that this is a risky thing to suggest, but it's possible that not even Westmister (or Holyrood?) could pass a law quite so daft as this.

[Via Megan McArdle]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleSociety