Ignorance on parade in today’s Herald

By | June 1, 2010

In a letter to the editor in today’s Boston Herald, Harry Shuris of Winchester mocked the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission for forcing a recall of a novelty chair decorated with lead paint.  His letter ended as follows:

Message to the USCPSC: Pencils contain “excessive amounts of lead.” I would venture to say that at any given time there are more kids chewing on pencils than on basketball-shaped chairs.

Everybody who knows what’s wrong with this picture, raise your hands.

Here’s the letter I sent to the Herald in response:

Lead poisoning is a serious problem for children in our country. Any household items with exposed lead paint increase the risk of poisoning, not necessarily because kids chew on them (although they do), but also because the paint flakes off, and the flakes are eaten by babies or even inhaled into the lungs.
Recalling such items is not useless make-work as Harry Shuris suggests (“Agency’s ‘busy’ work”, June 1), but rather is critical to consumer safety.
I’m sure Mr. Shuris thought he was being particularly clever when he asked why the Consumer Products Safety Commission hasn’t recalled lead pencils as well. That would be a reasonable question to ask were it not for the fact that lead pencils don’t actually contain any lead.
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5 thoughts on “Ignorance on parade in today’s Herald

  1. Rob

    Harry, the fact that pencils do not contain lead is a fact that I learned in first grade — they contain graphite.

  2. Quantum Mechanic

    Cite as to “most effective”, please.

    1. jik Post author

      Cite as to “most effective”, please.

      My own personal judgment.

  3. Harry Shuris

    If the pencils do not contain”lead” I stand corrected but my comment vis a vis government agencies wishing to be perceived as “doing stuff” still stands.
    Mr Kamens’ condescending comments do not add to the discussion but these and other statements in the print and other media help reinforce one’s belief that he considers himself to be the smartest person in the room.

    1. jik Post author

      Your point about “government agencies wishing to be perceived as ‘doing stuff'” is irrelevant, at least with respect to the issue about which you wrote to the Herald. The CPSC happens to be one of the most important, and the most effective, agencies in our government. I have no respect whatsoever for the point of view that government agencies are somehow broken by definition merely because they are government agencies.

      I don’t know whether I”m “the smartest person in the room,” but I do seem to be smarter than you.


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