Feds to Decide What Can be Sold at Your Garage Sale


By: Warner Todd Huston

With the first days of Summer a long standing American tradition emerges anew from yards and garages all across the country. Once again this season we will see the venerable American garage sale bloom everywhere. Homeowners will be seen busily setting up folding tables or bringing picnic tables from back yards to load them up with used clothes, toys, collectibles, and items of all sorts. Couples will once again cruise the neighborhood looking to those bargains. It’s as American as Baseball, and the rest.

But a new player has been introduced to the venerable garage sale scheme and this one isn’t looking for a deal. It is a new player that isn’t looking to ask you “how much” but is looking to tell you what you’ll be allowed to sell. It’s the federal government and it’s iron boot heel come a’calling at your local garage sale.

That’s right, folks, the federal government is here to warn you that you will no longer be allowed to sell certain things at your garage or yard sales or even on auction sites like ebay. If you are a scofflaw, Big Brother is here to stomp you. The nanny state is here to “protect” you. And you better watch out or there’s no telling what just might happen to you if you don’t bow down to the all powerful state.

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse

“Ignorance of the law is not an excuse,” or so we are warned in a new handbook from the federal government. In it we are dutifully informed that, “on August 14, 2008, the President signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) into law.” It warns us that this new act will have “dramatic changes for the marketplace,” and that there are “strict laws” for selling certain products. (Find the downloadable handbook at cpsc.gov/)

You may wonder what this has to do with your garage sale? Well, a look at the section titled “the basics” will tell you that this act doesn’t just affect Wal-Mart or Sears. Ominously, this law applies to everyone that wants to sell anything.

CPSC’s laws and regulations apply to anyone who sells or distributes consumer products. This includes thrift stores, consignment stores, charities, and individuals holding yard sale and flea markets.

This will also affect auction sites like ebay.

So, what does this do to sellers and collectors of antiques? One would guess that ebay and other on-line auction services will eventually see the federal government come down on them like a load of bricks. If vigorously enforced, this act will have a devastating effect on certain collectible markets like old toys, books, comic books and vintage clothing collectors.

Naturally, these government thugs claim that they have no plans to monitor garage and yard sales… at least not now they don’t. But they are ready and willing to go after re-sale shops like GoodWill and auction sites like ebay.

Whatever the case, this is just one more example of the nanny state involving itself in every aspect of our lives and regulating freedom and liberty out of existence. The government is out of control and this is another horrid example of it.

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