Deadly Toys

Deadly Toys from China
The very notion that the toys our children play with could contain a deadly toxin is more akin to something out of a sci-fi thriller or horror movie. We could also be forgiven for thinking that it might be some spine-chilling Homeland Security threat alert, warning us of the latest terrorist plot. However, as we have learned over the past two weeks, giant toy maker; MATTEL, is the one responsible for selling parents toys containing lead that could poison their children.

Of course MATTEL didn’t intend for toys to turn deadly – they were merely trying to make as large a corporate profit as possible. They can not be blamed for concentrating on making the corporation profitable – that is the mission of every “for profit” organization”. They are most certainly responsible however for the way they went about their mission.

Like other U.S. retailers, MATTEL discovered that they could extract an even greater profit and boost their bottom line by outsourcing the labor and production of their toys to a manufacturer in China. Unfortunately, the manufacturing process included the use of lead-based paint which has been banned here for nearly 30 years.

Having returned from a business trip to China a few months ago, I witnessed first hand how rapidly China is expanding in its attempt to not only catch up to the West, but many think, overpass it. To say they “cut corners” is a gross understatement. The air in many parts of China ,most especially in Beijing, is nearly as toxic as the toys they are sending to America. It is so bad in fact, that the government is forcing factories to relocate outside of Beijing in an effort to clean the air sufficiently for the tourists and athletes to be able to breathe properly during next year’s Olympic games.

More than likely, there was no sinister intent behind the use of lead paint by this Chinese manufacturer. They probably stood to gain a larger profit themselves by using something that has little value anywhere else in the world. One wonders if the fact that they were exporting the toys to little American children had any significance though. I seriously doubt that many Chinese families are buying expensive (at least by their standards where more than 200 million people live on less than $2.00 per day) foreign “made” toys. Just about every where one turns, street vendors in Chinese cities are selling “pirated” Rolex watches, Armani sunglasses, Gucci handbags, etc. This goes on in broad daylight in full view of the Police.

What is surprising, I would even say astonishing, is that a giant corporation like MATTEL would not have conducted adequate due diligence to ensure that the toys that they had made for pennies on the dollar in some Chinese “sweat shop” complied with our safety laws. As an investigator, I will concede that I may be that much more aware or astute than the average person but knowing what we know about China, is it too much to expect that the people entrusted to provide toys for our Nation’s children would be more professional in their approach to safeguard us from a potential disaster like this?

Maybe it is time for a “buy USA” campaign. Maybe we should be helping our own economy instead of assisting others to become superpowers. Maybe we should be asking ourselves if it is really necessary that 80% of the toys that come into this country arrive here from China. Maybe we should be also asking the Government here to increase the oversight of foreign produced goods entering the U.S. To simplify matters we could even focus on China at the moment since they appear to be perpetual offenders. It seems unfair that the retailers and the shady manufacturers should be profiting while the lives of every day consumers should be put at risk.

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