OK, its not IP or directly a tech issue, but this is also my blog. So please bear with me for a moment.
Readers have heard about my son Noah, and I won’t post another picture here. But, like I hope most parents, my worldview has changed (I think for the better) by the blessing that Noah has brought my wife and me. So, with all of the concern of any parent, I write to briefly comment on the lead-in-toys issue, and specifically the apparent behavior of Nancy Nord, acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
NPR had a disturbing interview with Nord on Friday’s All Things Considered. As NPR points out, Nord “and her predecessor went on nearly 30 trips since 2002 that were paid for by the industries the agency oversees,” including an event called Toy Fair.
NPR pressed Nord on how she could allow the toy industry to pay for her trips to Toy Fair given the clear appearance of a conflict of interest. Her response (after some bluster): because Congress and the Federal government allow it by regulation.
Obviously, if this assertion is accurate the law should be changed. How this would not be an “appearance of impropriety” or “conflict of interest” is beyond me. But there is a larger issue here that boils down to the following question to Nord (and one that I wish were asked in response): so what? The existence of a law or regulation that allows for questionable behavior can be easily overriden by individual fiat, i.e., the law allows it, but I won’t do it because [fill in the numerous reasons why this is a bad idea].
But we don’t seem to breed leaders that way, if we ever did. Instead, Nord falls back on the classic “the law allows it so don’t look at me” defense.
So here’s a response from one concerned (and yes, a bit angry) parent to the chair of an agency that has, rather clearly, utterly failed in one of its core missions: Yes, the law allows it, Chairwoman Nord, and the law is wrong. Please try to use independent judgment, that very judgment that your position requires. Since its too late for you to use your independent judgment to effectively protect our nation’s children from lead in toys (a seemingly basic charge), how about exercising some independent judgment now and doing us all a favor: resign. Let’s try to get someone in there who can look beyond bad regulations and, in that way, display some real leadership abilities.