This morning, Fox News had a story on the ongoing saga of Craig Zucker, founder of the company selling the Buckyballs magnetic adult desk toy, who is refusing the CPSC’s demand that he personally conduct a recall of that product. The CPSC is alleging that the product is defective because children have been injured by swallowing the small powerful magnets even though the product is designed and marketed for adults and has warnings all over the box about the dangers of ingesting magnets. Since the agency put the company out of business, it is now suing Mr. Zucker individually to make him recall the product.
The reason this particular story caught my eye, however, is the sentiment stated in the story and attributed to the CPSC spokesman that the agency was trying “to keep a dangerous product from children, not to punish enemies. “ That the agency thinks of those who challenge it as enemies is troubling, to say the least.
The agency is not used to being challenged and Mr. Zucker’s tactic of using humor to point to the weaknesses of the government’s case is unexpected. Yet to brand as an enemy someone who does not capitulate and who forces the government to prove its case, even after that same government has forced him out of business, goes way beyond appropriate behavior. If the sentiment is as stated in the story, then this is a frightening development.