November 9, 2005

Have the AGs Been Eating Paint Chips?

posted by Will Wilson @ 3:52 pm

While AG Watch revelled (and then recovered) following the Harriet Miers withdrawal, Walter Olson and the Wall Street Journal kept tabs on the Attorneys General. Of course-curses!-Eliot Spitzer has broken our pact and Rhode Island AG Patrick Lynch has surreptitiously attacked the ex post facto principle.

Mr. Olson has sharply criticized General Spitzer’s overzealous answer to the question, “What Can Brown Do For You?” Mr. Olson addresses the legal implications of the UPS-Spitzer agreement to block cigarette deliveries: why is Spitzer regulating business in all 50 states? and what happens when he decides to shut down UPS shipments of other items he deems “destructive?” Or more likely, something else he would like to tax?

On top of these arguments, AG Watch would like to add a question related to the immediate commerce concerns: How do we get ahold of FedEx? (When every smoker moves their business to FedEx, UPS may reconsider the bed it shares with Spitzer.)

If smokers should shun UPS, everyone should shun Rhode Island. To recap the WSJ article [subscription; “Paint by Lawyer,” November 7, 2005], when it was perfectly legal to use lead in paint, paint contained lead-though many companies voluntarily lowered the lead content long before lead became illegal. To sue the paint companies now makes as much sense as suing the Consumer Product Safety Commission for failing to regulate lead before 1978. More importantly, as the Journal notes, “A better way to protect [children at risk of lead poisoning] would be to pursue landlords who don’t maintain their properties, rather than hooking up with contingency-fee lawyers to loot the paint industry for products that it believed to be safe when they were sold 30 years ago.”

The RI AG suit has the whiff of “recovered memories.” Sure, some long-past harms may have force, but most, such as this one, are simply ways to rob “deep pockets” by inventing harms that weren’t understood as harms when they occurred.

Hmm…come to think of it, 20 years ago, AG Watch was deprived of internet access by its parents (Mr. and Mrs. Watch) and wasn’t even offered DSL by the local cable provider. To think of the lost opportunity to AG Watch…oh, the horror! The aggregate pleasure of all those unsmoked cigarettes…oh, the indecency! Now, give us $30 so we can order a little carton o’ somethin’ somethin’ via FedEx!