Friday, May 8, 2009

What Keeps Us Safe? (Mark Thornton)

Mark Thornton celebrates the work of 115 year old private company Underwriters Laboratories, whose very existence debunks the common notion that only government can prevent "greedy" companies from selling us unsafe products:

ULLook at the back of your computer monitor, the bottom of your table lamp, or the label on your hair dryer. Chances are you will see the symbol "UL" with a circle around it. It stands for Underwriters Laboratories, a firm headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois, and an unsung hero of the market economy.

Most people don't realize that dozens of products in their homes — toasters, fire extinguishers, space heaters, televisions, etc. — have been tested by the Underwriters Lab for safety. The Lab also tests items like bulletproof vests, electric blankets, commercial ice-cream machines, and chicken de-beakers, among thousands of other products.

But the Lab isn't an arm of the government. It is privately owned, financed, and operated. No one is compelled by force of law to use its services. It thrives — and makes our lives safer — by the power of its excellent reputation. For that reason, its ideologically driven enemies on the Left despise it.

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