Tag Archives: children

Regulation of the Day 146: Airplane Child Seats

If you and your small child are flying away on a vacation, most airlines will let the child fly for free. If the child sits in your lap, you don’t have to pay for a second seat. But the National Transportation Safety Board doesn’t think that is safe.  Severe turbulence and rough landings kill a lap-child or two every decade.

That’s why NTSB wants to require all children to sit separately, comfortably ensconced in the child safety seats they use when riding in a car.

The NTSB’s intentions are laudable. They’re trying to make people safer. But intentions are not results. And this rule’s results would be exactly opposite its intentions. It would kill far more people than it would save.

That’s because making parents pay for an extra ticket raises the cost of flying. Many families will choose to drive instead. And remember, driving is much more dangerous than flying. According to CEI’s Sam Kazman, studies show that the extra driving in lieu of flying would kill about 50 people per decade, plus thousands more injuries.

Throwing away 50 lives to save one or two lives is a bad deal. It is literally death by regulation. That’s also why the FAA has repeatedly refused NTSB’s periodic demands to make parents pay more to fly. May they stand firm again.

See also today’s press release from Sam Kazman.

Regulation of the Day 117: Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are delicious. Especially if you don’t think too hard about what they’re made of. Kids love them. So do adults. With baseball’s spring training already underway, consumption of the national pastime’s unofficial food is set to skyrocket in the coming months.

All is not sunshine, happiness, and home runs, though. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention thinks that hot dogs are dangerous, calling them a “high-risk food.” They are a choking hazard for children.

“We know what shape, sizes and consistencies pose the greatest risk for choking in children and whenever possible food manufacturers should design foods to avoid those characteristics, or redesign existing foods when possible, to change those characteristics to reduce the choking risk,” said Dr. Gary Smith… “Any food that has a cylindrical or round shape poses a risk,” he pointed out.

Dr. Smith also wants mandatory warning label regulations for all hot dog packaging. But nobody seems to be asking: Just how big is the risk here?

According to WebMD, 66 to 77 children under 10 die every year from choking on food in the U.S. That’s out of more than 42,000,000 children under 10, according to my calculations from U.S. Census data.

That means your child’s odds of choking to death on food are about 1 in 545,000. And that’s assuming 77 deaths, the high end of the range. Little Timmy is literally more likely to be struck by lightning (1 in 500,000) than choke to death on a hot dog.

That’s the level of threat we’re dealing with. Treat it that way.

Our children face far greater threats than mere hot dogs. Instead of advocating hot dog safety regulations of dubious benefit, the AAP should rethink its priorities. They should focus on where they can do the most good, instead of where they can do the most nothing.

Regulation of the Day 72: Brass Toys, Killer of Children


Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. These days, it often also contains up to 2% lead to make it more workable. That means it runs afoul of federal standards for lead in children’s toys.

Fortunately, it turns out that children handling toy cars or other toys with brass parts does not raise their lead concentrations to anywhere near harmful levels. No harm, no foul, right?

Doesn’t matter, say regulators. No exceptions.

Toymakers presumably choose brass because it is cheap, durable, and better than alternative materials. Now they will have to turn to those second-best materials despite no evidence of harm.

There is also one benefit being overlooked. Copper alloys such as brass have natural antibacterial properties, a definite plus when children are involved.

So the next time you see little Johnny crying because he’s sick and his toy car’s axle is broken, you’ll know who to blame.

Regulation of the Day 66: Trick or Treating

Trick or Treating

“Supervisors in Dunkard Township say they are taking the steps for safety reasons,” reads a recent news article describing a new regulation. Regulators often cite safety to explain their latest doings. But it might be a bit of a stretch for justifying what Dunkard Township is doing: banning trick-or-treating.

That’s right. Regulators have banned a staple of childhood. Trick-or-treating is dangerous. Far too dangerous for children. Yet some parents were going to let their kids go anyway. Officials were left with no choice.

The government will hold a four-hour Halloween party to make up for it.

Regulation of the Day 58: Banning Children from Playgrounds

A new regulation in Kensington, Maryland bans children over five years old from using a local playground between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Officials are upset that children from a nearby private school were using the public playground during recess.

(Hat tip: Drudge)

What Makes Someone Right or Wrong?

The Editor, New York Times
229 West 43rd St.
New York, NY 10036

To the Editor:

Much as I enjoy conservative-bashing, I was disappointed in Paul Krugman’s October 5 column, “Conservatives Are Such Jokers.” He almost reflexively assumes that people who disagree with him have checkered motives. He comes off as reluctant to argue policies on their merits, in this case the SCHIP children’s health insurance program.

Why so quick to question his opponents’ motives? SCHIP opponents have put forward arguments that are either right or wrong. Motives have nothing to do with whether those arguments are right or wrong.

SCHIP opponents don’t like the program because they don’t think it will improve childrens’ health outcomes. The disagreement is a question of means, not ends. Does anyone actually favor having sicker children?

While Mr. Krugman clearly favors expanding the SCHIP program, he doesn’t really say why. I invite him to make his case – on the merits.

Ryan Young
Arlington, VA