Regulations on Tide Pods? Why New Laws Won’t Fix Everything

February 28, 2018

by Terry Schilling


This article is part of a series focusing on Lens of Liberty, a project of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.

In her Liberty Minute entitled “Forgive Us Our Trespasses,” Helen Krieble discusses the essential link between personal responsibility and limited government:

In homes across the country, door knobs are a standard three feet from the floor, but a friend of mine was told she had to replace the door knobs on her whole house with ones four feet from the ground because she had an indoor swimming pool and a toddler might enter her house and drown. Since the pool, which could not be seen from the street, was called “an attractive nuisance,” she would be liable if such a thing happened.

This is sheer nonsense. If we look through the lens of liberty, it’s obvious that if a child is wandering alone on someone else’s property, it’s the responsibility of the parents, not the homeowner. Americans believe in limited government because we believe in self-government. That requires personal responsibility for yourself and your family, not government rules on other people’s doorknobs.

Krieble’s emphasis on taking personal responsibility, rather than relying on the government to act as a sort of “nanny state,” is something many people today would do well to hear. It’s especially pertinent to the way some people have been reacting to the Tide Pod Challenge.

This latest dangerous internet challenge involves ingesting laundry detergent, filming yourself doing it, uploading the video to social media, and daring your friends to follow suit. It sounds too stupid to be true, but remember, these are probably some of the same people who gagged themselves with spoonfuls of cinnamon back when that was the viral internet food challenge a few years ago.

As if eating laundry detergent isn’t ridiculous enough, some responses to the challenge have been even more absurd. In New York, for example, two state lawmakers are trying to punish laundry detergent manufacturers for the foolish actions of a few people looking for internet fame. In typical Democrat fashion, State Sen. Brad Holyman and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas are convinced that the solution to the Tide Pod Challenge is to pass yet another law. Throwing personal responsibility out the window, they are punishing the manufacturers for these daredevils’ lack of basic common sense.

The proposed legislation, introduced earlier this month, would require detergent packets to be “a uniform color that is not attractive to children” and to be wrapped individually in opaque packaging that contains warnings against eating the pods. Breitbart reports that, according to Holyman and Simotas, the pods’ bright colors and appealing smell and texture “can tempt children or adults with dementia into thinking the packets are edible.”

But these aren’t young children or adults with dementia who are participating in the Tide Pod Challenge. These are fully cognizant teenagers and young adults who think fifteen minutes of internet fame is worth risking their lives for. They are capable of reading the containers’ labels warning of poisoning if ingested; adding additional labels to each individual pod will not deter them, nor will making them a “uniform color.”

Some people just choose to do foolish things. Imposing burdensome regulations on manufacturers will do nothing to change that.

It’s time we listen to Krieble’s wise advice and start focusing on personal responsibility rather than burdening others with excessive government rules and regulations.

Photo credit: Michael Paul via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.

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