Rich Tucker

Returning to the subject of lead, it’s worth noting that the metal isn’t confined to our toys. “The sparkle of Christmas lights may be toxic. There’s lead on the wiring that millions of Americans string up in their home and medical experts warn that lead can be dangerous, especially to children,” reporter Greg Hunter warned recently on CNN.

A few weeks earlier, anchor Kiran Chetry had announced, “There is concern that the tree itself might be toxic or the lights or the wreath that you hang on your door.” Chetry went on to interview a woman from Florida who’d purchased a Christmas wreath that contained lead.

“I would like to see these warning labels on products outside of California. I, as a consumer, want to know,” customer Ana Elm, the woman who bought the leaden wreath, told Chetry. But that statement goes over like, well, a lead balloon.

There’s already a government warning for all these “dangerous” products. Chetry noted there was a warning “on the back of this box.” Meanwhile, “I couldn’t find a box out there without this warning that said ‘contains lead, wash your hands after use.’” Hunter reported in his story about Christmas lights. The problem is there are already too many government-mandated warning on products. That’s why so few of us bother to read the labels anyway.

And when it comes to assigning blame, we need to point the finger at ourselves. As reporter Hunter admitted, it’s not the Chinese who’re designing these products. “American companies are writing the specs,” he noted. So even if the product had been made in Iowa, it would have contained lead.

Too many people want the federal government to protect us from Chinese imports, when in reality our market is big enough to protect itself. Still, if lawmakers do succeed in cracking down on trade with China, they’ll be ensuring that we’ll have fewer toys for Americans to buy, and they’ll cost more.

That includes plenty of adult toys, such as inexpensive HDTVs, iPods and computers. Free trade has allowed Americans to buy these devices for prices so low they’d have been inconceivable just a couple of years ago.

So enjoy your new high-tech gadgets this Christmas. They may become far more expensive in the New Year.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for