Responsibility lies with manufacturers
I have to take exception to Nina Ying Sun's solution to restoring confidence in the American consumer amid the Mattel fallout.
In her Sept. 17 (Page 6) Viewpoint, ``U.S. must safeguard its own consumers,'' she suggests that rather than divvy up the blame among responsible parties like Mattel, we should instead blame the U.S. government for failing to inspect and catch the defective products. Then she calls for a focus ``on reinforcing or even revamping the U.S. system for safety testing and inspection,'' meaning legislation and regulation.
This really rubs me the wrong way.
Mattel can't outsource manufacturing to a company in China or anywhere else in the world and then expect us as taxpayers to be responsible for their quality control (or lack of quality control). Mattel is responsible for its vendors, whether they are located in Beijing or Bayonne, N.J.
Can American manufacturers get free quality control paid for by the U.S. taxpayers, too, or do they have to ship their manufacturing jobs overseas first?
Nina is right that we need better gatekeepers, and that ``efforts to minimize error should never be lax,'' but woefully wrong in placing that responsibility in the hands of the government. The Consumer Product Safety Commission was not set up to compensate for poor business practices, and the burden to overcome them should not be placed on U.S. taxpayers.
I also find the sudden interest in inspecting up to 100 percent of incoming cargo containers for hazardous plastic toys sadly amusing when the government has shown such little interest in inspecting the very same cargo containers for nuclear weapons.
Editorial hits mark on Mattel recalls
I am writing to commend Nina Ying Sun on her Viewpoint (``Who really profits from brand China?'' Aug. 20, Page 6).
I am a longtime toy and premium manufacturer - using factories in China for the most part. In the recent hullabaloo surrounding Mattel's recall, Nina's article is the first I have read that asked the question: What was Mattel doing before for safety and quality control?
Lead paint should have never made it onto the toys. End of story.
The recall just meant people were asleep at the wheel. Balancing safety procedures has been an ongoing discussion for many U.S. companies. While cost issues should never be a factor in determining what safety procedures are followed, the reality is that the costs are considered as part of the equation. If you have a totally safe product that no one buys, you don't have a product.
For all of us in toy manufacturing, I think the Mattel issue works to our favor. The recent events raise the bar for what U.S. consumers will require in good manufacturing practices, especially, but not only, in products for children.
I would love to hear more from Nina on this issue. Bravo.
J.M. Wechter & Associates Inc.
Marstons Mills, Mass.