Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A seat for the landfill

Recently Elli has gotten big enough that our child car seat has become unnecessary since we need to move to a simple booster seat instead.  I figured that since the seat was still in perfectly fine condition that I would hand it off to somebody else to use; it wasn't cheap and there is nothing wrong with it.  Sthenno has a child of roughly the age that would make such a transfer make sense so I offered it to him.  He was happy to get it particularly since free is a very good price.

A couple days later he emailed me to tell me that the seat exchange would have to be cancelled.  It turns out that selling or giving car seats to other people when those seats were built before the most recent set of rules is illegal.  Yes, that's right, not 'not recommended' nor 'potentially less functional' but actually illegal.  Moreover any injuries done to someone in an illegally acquired seat are not covered by insurance companies.  While I love to hate on insurance companies most of the time I can't imagine they are at fault here; obviously they shouldn't be covering illegal car seats.  The problem is that perfectly functional seats are illegal and that my seat in particular is going straight into the trash instead of being used.

This sort of thing makes me insane.  Car seats are a substantial chunk of stuff and represent real money spent.  Whether your argument is that we shouldn't waste people's money or huck perfectly functional objects in the landfill there are good reasons to dislike this situation.  What I wonder is if these rulings were pushed through under pressure from the car seat companies.  Much like the recording industry and the SOPA fiasco in the US the car seat companies stand to increase profits substantially if they can get the government to step in and control the market for them; in this case to destroy any secondary market.  The more often they can change the rules the better because every time they do there is a bunch more of their product in the dump and a lot more people who have to purchase again to obey the law.  Even if the rules don't change at all people are generally going to be really worried about accidentally running afoul of these laws and insurance penalties and are going to buy new seats so as to avoid any chance of disaster.

The safety crusaders are here to bubble wrap the entire world, regardless of cost.  Note that last word.  I don't object to being safe, but rather to the idea that incurring any cost is acceptable for any amount of safety.  That attitude is far too prevalent these days, particularly in government.  We should spend money for safety, but we should spend it in the most effective places since our resources are limited.

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