The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says some fitness ball enthusiasts are getting more bang for their buck than they bargained for. Exploding fitness balls have been cited in 47 injury reports fielded by the CPSC.


“An over-inflated fitness ball can unexpectedly burst while in use, causing the user to fall on the floor,” the CPSC said in announcing the recall of approximately 3 million of them.


The fitness balls, you probably guessed, were made in China, the manufacturing power house that also brought us allegedly toxic drywall; millions of lead-tainted toys and other goods; and melamine in toothpaste and pet food. Several million baby cribs have also been recalled in recent years, just part of a long list of consumer products deemed unsafe by U.S. health and safety regulators.


Adding insult to injury, Chinese manufacturers, aided by bargain hungry U.S. consumers, have left bare wide swathes of our once mighty domestic manufacturing base. The ever-shrinking U.S. residential furniture industry is just one poster child of this trend.


My Mind Begins to Ramble


I allow my mind to wander and think, “What if all of those hundreds of defective Chinese products silently lying around our homes and workplaces are synchronized to ‘activate’ at a specific date and time? Crazy, no doubt, but I have seen less plausible premises in Hollywood blockbusters.


As legend has it, the people of Troy foolishly welcomed the Trojan Horse bestowed to them by their Greek enemies into their strongly fortified city. The decision proved fatal as a small cadre of Greek soldiers emerged from within the horse in the middle of the night and opened Troy’s gates leading to its downfall.


Like the citizens of Troy, have we found out too late that we have gotten more than we bargained for in favoring cheap and often defective products from China at the expense of U.S. manufacturers and manufacturing jobs? Would our recent economic past and current outlook be any different if greater effort had been made to ensure the safety of these products before they were put on retailers’ shelves?


We’ll never know for sure, but at the very least, more oversight of Chinese products as they entered the U.S. sales pipeline, would have been a playing field leveler that was sadly missing.

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