Sunday, October 11, 2009

CPSIA Update

I wish I could say that my silence the last few months indicated that things had gotten better with CPSIA, but unfortunately that is not the case.

With August 10, 2009 came another CPSIA deadline that seems more determined to put businesses out of business than to protect children. Now the manufacturers of all children's products (intended primarily for children 12 and under) must label their products with tracking labels that meet the standards of the CPSIA -- labels that provide information on where the item was made, when it was made, and how it has been determined to meet the new CPSC lead and phthalate requirements. At least that is my understanding of the tracking label requirements...I was one of many who decided to stop manufacturing children's products, rather than try to jump through the new legislative hoops. (If we had figured out this August requirement, the February 2010 testing requirement would have caused us to stop manufacturing in less than 6 months.)

For our shop, that has meant the end of manufacturing several new items: baby slings, an Alphabet Fun book, and Lapbook Kits. It has been a bittersweet end to several items that had posed no risk to children, but have now been impossible to manufacture at the scale we did, according to the requirements of the CPSIA. We have already ceased the manufacturing of all of these items, and hope to have our current stock sold off completely before the February 2010 deadline makes even the existing items illegal.

Additionally, the CPSC has announced a "Resale Roundup" that seems determined to strike fear into the hearts and minds of resellers of children's products. Since the vast majority of our store's sales are actually used items -- most of which are intended for children, we have been following the resell requirements of this toxic law as closely as those for manufacturers. With the fact that the law was retroactive, much of what was on our shelves in February 2009 had to be removed, and many items that have been brought in since then have not made it to our shelves. It is tragic to see the number of books and other educational items that can no longer be bought and sold safely -- even though, again, none of them were ever shown to be dangerous...But they are now illegal.

Many of us, in and out of business, wait anxiously for Common Sense to return to Congress, the CPSC, and the manufacturing and selling of children's products.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Article: >New Safety Agency Chief Pledges Greater Openness

Today this article appeared online at Consumer Affairs:

New Safety Agency Chief Pledges Greater Openness

It didn't take long in reading this article to boil my blood! In fact, it gets right in there with its subtitle: But industry lobbyists lie in wait for Inez Tenenbaum. It is already painfully obvious where this one is heading, so let me give the perspective of one of those who "lies in wait":

Mr. Hood actually deals with the recent issues with the Chinese Drywall before he attacks those of us who have been taking on the CPSIA. But right in the intro to that section, he claims: "Among the issues facing Tenenbaum are Chinese drywall and pressure from industries and retailers hoping to win exemptions from the Children's Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), passed last year in response to a wave of recalls of toys and children's products containing dangerous levels of lead."

Assumption number one here is that this "wave of recalls" is of dangerous products containing "dangerous levels of lead". And one can't help but hear the disgust in his voice as he says that we are giving Ms. Tenenbaum "pressure from industries and retailers hoping to win exemptions..." Oh, shame on us, the child-endangering retailers and industries who would pressure her for exemptions so that we can continue to make and sell our unsafe products.

But wait, he hasn't really fully attacked yet. Wait until the section on Children's Books where he accuses us even more directly: "In what is perhaps a more bizarre situation, small retailers, thrift shops and charities are claiming they should be exempt from the CPSIA's restrictions, which are meant to protect children from mental retardation that can result from exposure to lead..."

So let me see if I have this straight. As a reseller, who is trying to get an exemption from the ridiculous restrictions of the CPSIA, I am willing to risk causing mental retardation to my smallest customers, because I am putting my profit margin above their safety. What utter hogwash!

But then he goes all out: "The protestors don't argue that lead is not harmful or that children are not at risk, they simply contend it is too much trouble for them to comply with the law." Excuse me! Where does Mr. Hood get his "facts"? We do argue that children are not at risk from the used books that we sell, or from the many other wonderful educational products that we can no longer sell. It is not that it is "too much trouble"! It is the simple fact that children are NOT safer because of the requirements of this law.

And for the final zing to booksellers and librarians who are arguing for the exemption of their very safe products (otherwise known as books), he adds: "And why is that, one might ask? After all, numerous children's books have been recalled because they contain dangerous levels of lead-based paint, objects that can come loose and cause choking in infants and other hazards. For example..."

No, Mr. Hood, "numerous" children's books have not been recalled, not when you consider the numbers of books in circulation. And the examples that he uses are not "ordinary books" at all -- every one of them is outside the realm of "ordinary books" and yet he is arguing that our perfectly safe product, children's books (as well as many other safe products made with ink and paper) need to be submitted to the same tests and restrictions of other products that have at least some track record of risk. (Though none of them have caused the types of problems that could be guessed from the hysteria about the "need" for the CPSIA!

It is a shame that Mr. Hood has provided no avenue for comments, or method for being reached...One can only hope that his next article dealing with the Consumer Product Safety "Improvement" Act is better researched and better written than this one.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Toy Story -- Another Annoying Author Weighs in on CPSIA

This article appeared online last winter in the Washington Monthly:
Toy Story: Does the reform of a small agency herald the return of competent government oversight?

When I started reading the article, I was actually thrown off as to the author's real position, when he started: "In late July, when the presidential race was a dead heat and the country’s banks were not yet nationalized, Congress—opposed by just four Republicans—quietly voted for the return of big government." When I hear "return of big government", I think negative thoughts, so I mistakenly thought at this point that the author was against the passage of the CPSIA.

He cleared up my misunderstanding quickly. Well, maybe not so quickly. First he went through the history of the CPSC for several paragraphs. And then his true position on the law finally came out, or maybe he didn't mean these section the way it comes across to me, someone who has been fighting the CPSIA for many months now.

I sent the following letter to the Washington Monthly today in response to it:

I probably found out about the CPSIA law last winter about the same time this article was written, but I just now encountered it. I hope it is not too late to comment on it.

I was curious as to whether or not Mr Blake has done any additional research on the effects that this law is having on companies -- this law that he so eloquently praised several months ago?

I hope that his comments were made in honest ignorance to what this law is really doing: "The biggest issue, however, has always been whether the president and Congress even want the CPSC to succeed. With the passage of this summer’s legislation, it seems they finally do. The new law offers a realistic approach to oversight, mandating third-party lab testing for all children’s products—a reasonable alternative to keeping tabs on the vast network of foreign supply chains or simply handing responsibility over to the companies themselves."

I hope Mr. Blake is just not familiar with what these "realistic approaches to oversight" really mean...Is he not aware of what all this third-party lab testing "for all children's products" really involves? I hope that is the case!

For one thing, he talks of "the vast network of foreign supply chains" as if that is the only group being affected by the CPSIA...No, this law also affects domestic companies...And it doesn't just affect the bigger companies...It affects ALL companies manufacturing products for children 12 and under...including those who are producing one-of-a-kind handmade and homemade items. I would love to know how Mr. Blake thinks that these testing requirements are a "realistic approach to oversight".

If he would like to do some more research on this article, he could start with the CPSC's own website. A second website he might want to check out is:

Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Consumer Union and the CPSIA

The Consumer Union blog is weighing in on CPSIA again:
CPSC fines nine companies $530,000 for lead violations

My response to their article:
"Yes, considering the penalties that are authorized under the current CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety "Improvement" Act), these penalties are "paltry". And the crime doesn't have to be a "flagrant" violation...I can receive a $100,000 fine for having a book on my store shelves that contains too much lead - I don't even have to actually sell it, and no child has to even have the potential to be hurt by it! (Since no child has EVER gotten lead poisoning from eating a book!)

I am a mother, and I don't want to see children put at risk...But the CPSIA law does so much more than restrict products that could put children at risk...It has already made perfectly safe products illegal, and will make even more products illegal when the next two deadlines kick in.

Shame on the Consumer Union for helping Congress pass such an overreaching, outrageous law!"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Protect Children from Congress

From Downsize DC:
"Congress has entangled the entire U.S. economy in a web of back-breaking regulation because of an isolated problem with lead contamination in Chinese products. The "Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act" could make criminals out of thrift store managers, librarians, and craft hobbyists. It will bankrupt many small businesses and grant increased market share to big firms, some of whom were responsible for the contaminated Chinese products. This new law will harm the economy, hurt low-income families, and increase the cost of raising a child. The risk of lead poisoning is already almost non-existent in the American economy. We don't need this dangerous new law. Please join me in asking Congress to repeal the "Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act."

I added my personal comments to the letter I sent through Downsize DC:
"CPSIA is hurting children, not helping them. It is not based on scientific evidence, nor common sense. Much damage has already been done by CPSIA, and the damage will continue to worsen if it is not repaired before the next major deadlines.

The presence of lead is not dangerous to children, the ingestion of lead is! And yet lead is being banned in countless places that children do not chew! And tests for it are being required in countless places that do not contain lead.

For the sake of children, please fix this law!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Lead-footed Safety Issues"

Carter Wood's article in The Washington Times is much better put.

You can tell right from the start that Carter understands the law better than Congress does: "It's a safe bet that no member of Congress has ever given a speech proudly endorsing a bill to close mom-and-pop businesses, hurt low-income shoppers, cause libraries to discard children's books and ban products ranging from dirt bikes to ballpoint pens."

It's a well written article, summarizing many of the issues with CPSIA and ending with a comment about the work ahead for the new chairperson of the CPSC, Ms. Tenenbaum. "Her tasks ahead include not just regulation and enforcement, but persuasion. She must convince Congress of what is already painfully clear to businesses large and small: It's time to fix the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act."

Now, if we can just get Congress to listen...

July 2009 Good Housekeeping Comments on CPSIA

Wow, has it really been 3 weeks since I blogged about CPSIA?!? Hard to imagine. Well unfortunately, there is still no good news to report in this department and coverage of it remains spotty at best.

Good Housekeeping's recent edition has a short reference to it this month in the "On Your Side" feature. Unfortunately, it is not particularly accurate. The entire column can be read on Etsy. It starts out with these unfortunate words: ""Good news: Congress has passed the CPSIA, which started going into effect this year..."

My response to the Good Housekeeping editor was:

"I'm afraid I have to disagree with Stacy's response to the concerns about safe products for children. This is NOT good news. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was not needed -- at least not in the form that Congress voted for it last summer. Unsafe products were already being recalled at a very acceptable rate, it did not take this law to do that. Additionally, CPSIA has many unintended consequences, including the very unacceptable loss of many children's products that were perfectly safe -- but that cannot meet the outrageous new requirements of this toxic law. Additionally, some products, like bicycles and ATV's will become less safe for children as a result of this overarching law, not more safe!

There is much misinformation circulating about CPSIA, please do not add to it.

Thank you.
Catherine Jaime
Mother of 12

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Video: Menendez on CPSC Amendment

Senator Menendez is speaking to the Senate about an amendment to the Consumer Product Safety bill. He is proud of the work they have done that will now prohibit members of the CPSC from taking trips paid for by agencies they regulate ("toxic travel" as he later calls it!) In fact he goes to great lengths in this 5 1/2 minute speech last June to tie the problems we were supposedly having with all these toxic toys being recalled to the unethical behavior of members of the CPSC traveling on the dimes of business big wigs.

In fact, Senator Menendez brags about the fact that Congress has recently outlawed travel paid for by lobbyists, and obviously the CPSC should be held to that high standard as well. (I found it highly ironic that the Congress has only recently met this standard themselves, but they are "shocked" and "appalled" that the CPSC isn't already meeting this standard?!?

Senator Menendez of course has to point out the outstanding (as in high) "number of items that were recalled last year because they were deemed unsafe for American Consumers to use -- after they were placed in our stores, bought by our families and used by our children...And the most common victims of these regulatory failures were children..." And he went on to ominously announce that "this year is shaping up to be just as tragic...Isn't somebody supposed to be watching out to make sure doesn't happen?"..."But the CPSC is busy doing other things..."

As a mother of many children for many, many years, I found his comments to be insulting and demeaning, both to myself as a parent and to those in the CPSC who are being asked to do an impossible job. Do we require every toy to be sold in this country to be stamped with the approval of our government agencies to be able to determine its appropriateness for our children? Absolutely not! As a parent, I can handle that job just fine. I do not want my options in toys (let alone clothes, books, etc.) to be limited to the very small number of items that can make their way through whatever legislative tunnel the Congress can dream up!

The problems we are facing here are not due to toxic toys or toxic travel but to toxic legislators! I would like to see our Congressmen reread their pocket Constitutions, and go back to passing laws on the very limited number of things they are supposed to be legislating!

Video: Harry Reid on Product Safety, Dem Primary and more

This 2 minute interview w/ Harry Reid on CapNews.Net in March 2008 actually only contains a minute or so at the beginning about CPSIA before he goes into other political topics.

Senator Reid is asked "What are some of the key aspects of the Consumer Product Safety legislation passed by the Senate yesterday?"

He responds with typical fear mongering: "First of all it covers a wide range of important products and products generally. Now we focused on toys because it was so terrible what happened right before Christmas."

Mr. Reid then goes on to badmouth the Bush administration for shrinking the CPSC (wasn't that a bipartisan effort that had been going on before Bush too?) He mocked the single tester for toys at the CPSC's ability to test the millions of toys that are imported.

We've changed that now: We've increased the budget for CPSC by some 50%, we've put penalties, and now its possible to get these things off the market quickly. We have third party reviews of these products..."

If this was all I knew about CPSIA, I would think it dealt with dangerous toys imported from overseas...And I would be so, so wrong!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Video: This Week in Washington

This short and sweet video was done by the Heritage Foundation in March 2008. It is just over 2 minutes long, and the first 1 1/2 minutes are actually about the surge in Iraq and the Budget Defect and Bush Tax Cuts.

It is not until the 1:30 point that CPSIA comes up. Right away you see the difference between the attitude of this speaker, Brian Darling, and Lou Dobbs in the other video -- here the sign says "Expanding Bureaucracy will not Increase Consumer Safety"...which pretty much summarizes the next 40 seconds.

Brian mentions that the Senate is debating a bill in Congress that will expand the CPSC and empower state Attorney Generals to sue companies. He also talks of the ability under this law to imprison business owners for unknowing violations of the CPSC rules.

He ends strong with "Conservatives do not want to criminalize capitalism, further empower trial lawyers, and double the size of yet another federal entity." The only question that was left in my mind after this brief video was: If only 3 senators voted against this bill, what does that say about the number of Conservatives in the Senate in 2008???

Video: Dobbs Rants About Product Safety Chief's Comments

This video is aptly named, it is 1 1/2 minutes of Lou Dobbs ranting against Nancy Nord in February 2008. (Difference between what he is doing here and what Congress did in some of the previous videos, he is talking about her, they were talking to her...)

Sign behind Dobbs says "Who's Protecting You?"

Dobbs starts right in on her, asking, "Nord, is she as imbecilic as she appears to be, as absolutely insensitive to American consumers, as lacking the judgment to run a federal agency designed and created to protect the American consumer...This woman is beyond belief." (No, I'm sorry, as I was watching this video, I couldn't help thinking that Dobbs was beyond belief!)

Then Christine Romans (don't know who she is, sorry) pointed out that Nord is saying that "all the recalls show that the system is working..."

That's as far as she gets before Dobbs cuts her off and says, "That its working?" "How many did her agency initiate?" And then he goes off on her not being willing to answer that question, as if somehow that proves his point of how incompetent she is.

Then he brings up trade, "How can she say it isn't a trade issue...Toys that aren't being inspected...

Romans interjects, "Trade Policy and Safety are 2 separate issues" (presumably quoting Nord's position on it.

And then Dobbs starts again, "We're overwhelmed with imports, how can it be anything but a trade issue as well?" And then he starts insulting her intelligence. Funny, it was his I kept wondering about during the video.

I'm not sure what Nancy Nord did to bring on Dobb's ire, but I can't help watching this and thinking that this is way, way out of line!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Video: Stop Toxic Toy Import Campaign

This 20-minute video is from January 2008.

This video is about 1 of 100 events held across the U.S. on January 16, 2008 on the "National Day of Action on Toxic Trade". It was organized by the United Steelworkers, who were protesting the import of "toxic toys". (But as I watched the video, I felt like I had finally found the money trail for CPSIA -- this Union group was using the "toxic toys" as an excuse; what they were really fighting was what they were calling "toxic trade". The irony is that because of the CPSIA that they fought so hard for, more jobs will be lost here!)

Signs displayed included "Get the Lead Out -- Stop Toxic Imports" and "Protect our Kids -- Save American Jobs"

There were numerous speakers out for this event on this cold January day. The first was from the Portland Jobs with Justice. She lost no time in talking about the need to "fight for workers' rights" and the "effects on our families' health and safety... but also on jobs". She made it very clear that her real complaint was with increased globalization.

The next speaker was from Sweat Free NW Campaign. She spoke of the "devastating impact of trade policies" reflected in 6 million toys recalled...and "declining working conditions". She pointed out that "cheap goods should not come at the expense of our communities".

Next was the gentleman from the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. He complained that 30 or 40 years ago 90% of toys sold in U.S. were made here, versus 90% imported today. He also stated that Congress needs to fund the CPSC and the FDA. And he pointed out that "cheap products have big costs".

The speaker from Oregon Public Interest Research Group was adamant that "we need to ban lead completely in children's products". (Of course he offered no evidence for his claims, it just seemed to fit right in with everything else being said there that day.) He was followed by a speaker from Working America in Oregon.

The final speaker, from the Oregon AFL-CIO, blamed President Bush for much, and then claimed that 6 million toy recalls allow us to look into the souls of the multinational corporations who clearly only care about profit. He ended by leading a chant of "America first, not corporations".

All in all, an interesting 20 minute look at why we are not getting anywhere with Congress on fixing the real problem here -- this toxic law!

Video: Rep. Schakowsky On Protecting Children

I'm expecting more of the same with this CPSIA video. Let's see if I'm right...

Another hard to hear video. Congresswoman Scharowsky renews the attack on the CPSC, and especially Acting Chairwoman Nord, who she complains is "content with the status quo". (If there was some true evidence of the status quo having been a problem, these complaints may have been worth listening to, but Congress has done a lot of attacking of Nord and the CPSC, and shown very little to substantiate their claims.)

Ms. Scharowsky also complains about the large number of dangerous toys tested by the Chicago Tribune -- so many that tested so far about the "reasonable limits" that Congress was going to impose with CPSIA. Problem is, those were toys that had already been in the market for many years -- and yet there was no evidence that they had hurt anyone! Where was/is the support for her claim that these toys are so harmful? It doesn't exist.

Video: Rep. DeGette On Protecting Children

Oh boy, we get to hear Representative DeGette again. Video available, like the others, at and on you tube.

This is a very badly recorded section, the audio and video don't match up. But through the distortion, there is really just more of the same. Congresswoman DeGette complains of the rising number of product recalls of late, and applauds the move in the CPSIA bill to "almost double the funding for the CPSC". She is also excited at the idea that they will be "requiring independent, third-party testing" under CPSIA and she congratulates Congress on this "crucial step in making sure kids are safe from dangerous products."

One has to wonder, watching these types of "shows" repeatedly, whether these Congressmen actually believed their own rhetoric, or whether they were just confident that they could pull a fast one on wary consumers.

So much is made here, and in so many other speeches, of the unsafe products on the market, and Congress' responsibility to save us from those products. But aren't the increasing number of recalls an indication that the laws that existed prior to CPSIA were doing their jobs -- as well as the CPSC itself, who also take a constant hit of criticism from Congress.

This video falls in the category of "don't bother with" in my humble opinion. (Of course, I would have said the same about this bill, before it became a law, but I didn't get a chance!)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Video: Rep. Rush on Protecting Children

Ok, let's see what fun tonight's CPSIA videos bring us!

This video could actually serve as an introduction to someone who had missed much of what got us to this point with Congress.

Representative Rush applauds the 4 members of Congress that brought us H.R.4040: Dingell, Barton, Stearns, and Rush. He proudly points out that this bill dramatically rewrites the Consumer Product Safety Act (a gross understatement to say the least) and the Hazardous Substance Act (considering what has suddenly become declared as hazardous substances, I would say so.)

He mentions that the bill "finally restores the CPSC to its rightful place of prominence and gives it the necessary tools to grapple with the global marketplace and to protect American consumers, particularly our children." But everything we've seen and heard from the CPSC since at least January of 2009 seems to say otherwise. The CPSIA has not restored CPSC to that place, and given it the necessary tools. CPSIA has put Congress in the place of the CPSC, and taken away tools from it.

Mr. Rush then goes on to mention the 8 months of work that had gotten them to this point (I think the House as a whole was about to vote on it for the 1st time). We might all wish that they would put as much energy into fixing the mess they've made as they did into making the mess in the first place!

He then brags that the CPSIA gives us the "strictest lead standards in the world...requiring certification and testing". If the lack of those standards, and those certification and testing requirements had made our children unsafe, that would be something to brag about indeed. But almost 4 months into a major portion of this law's requirements, and it safe to say that children are less safe as a result of it, not more safe. And Congress' rhetoric aside, children were not getting killed or seriously injured because of all the toxic toys that it would take Congress to protect them from!

Mr. Rush ends by saying he "cannot emphasize enough the bipartisan nature of this bill". There we would have to agree with him, to a point. Getting the bill passed was indeed bi-partisan, since almost no one from either party understood the problems this bill would cause when they voted on it last year. But now, almost a year later, the problems have surfaced, Congress has been notified (100s of 1000s of times in fact), and the problem is no longer truly bi-partisan. Almost without exception, the only Congressmen and Senators writing and supporting amendments to this law are Republican. The Democrats, almost without fail, are refusing to fix this toxic law!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Video: Thomson West Product Safety Survey/Intervie w

Let's see what fun the next video brings us.

This is actually my favorite video so far. It is effectively a monologue/interview with Thomson West, a former Executive Director of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. He is articulate and knowledgeable, and he answers a very important series of questions:

1. Are people more worried about product safety? "Yes"
2. What is the real state of product safety today? It is "better than it's been for quite a few years." There are "more standards...regulators...awareness..ability to share more information about products."
3.How well equipped is the CPSC to monitor product safety? "All Congress/all Presidents (regardless of parties) have allowed the agency to shrink to less than half of what it was when I was there."...this with a drastic increase in the number of people in this country and... products...
4.What advice would you give to consumers about product safety? "Make sure products are appropriate for child - don't disregard age warnings...and read the labels."

That was it. Short and sweet and to the point. No hype, no scare message. And this from a man who's job was product safety!

Video: DeGette investigates product safety

Next video

Starts right in with Congresswoman DeGette asking about food safety. This video is just over 6 minutes long. First 5 minutes were about food. It also started acting up during last minute or so, so not sure what was said, but my guess would be more food than CPSIA. Not one I would recommend bothering with if your interest is just the timeline of CPSIA.

Video: DeGette works to strengthen product safety

Next video in series at whatistheCPSIA website and on you tube.

This video deals with both unsafe food problems and unsafe toys. Much is made of the "flood of hazardous products" and the "safety of imports" and "how the government regulates imports". As a mother, I understand those concerns, especially after the rash of recalls of the toys from China. But how did Congress go from these legitimate concerns to the massively toxic bill that became CPSIA? That's where I get confused! The video goes on to talk about needing "more overseas inspectors" and discusses forcing "companies to have products certified". But again, at that point, we're still dealing specifically with imported toys.

The video title mentions Congresswoman DeGette. She doesn't appear until 2 minutes into the 2 1/2 minute video, but at that point the sound cut out, at least when I was watching it. So I have no idea what "words of wisdom" she added here. If anyone else could actually hear what she said, please let me know.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Video: Hearing on Consumer Safety Legislation: DeGette's Questions

This "exciting" video shows Representative DeGette hammering Nancy Nord. (You can also go straight to the video here on you tube.) I ponder again how she stuck it out in this job as long as she did! Nancy, we applaud you!

DeGette starts right in on Nord, I want to ask you about the " issue...appearance of impropriety?"

Then she changed her attention to the real issues at hand, also want to, "Ask you about these recalls...recalls are going up..." Would you agree that it's "because of increasing imports from abroad?"

Nord: No, the overall recalls have been inching up for years.
Nord: "Yes...lead paint violations were for Chinese made products." But then Nord wisely pointed out that the toys that caused all the ruckus broke existing laws. (Someone please remind me what positive things were accomplished with this new and "wonderful" CPSIA?)

Video: Hearing on Consumer Safety Legislation: Schakowsky's Opening

This video can be found at whatisthecpsia's video channel or on you tube. It is the most depressing one I've watched so far tonight.

It is from the early days of the drafting of CPSIA (Nov 2007), and is an Opening Statement in a Hearing on the legislation by Representative Schawosky.

Ms. Schawosky is very proud of the work they had done on the legislation at this point, pointing out that "...millions and millions of products that have been recalled and found dangerous to our children in the face of their death and injury....these products that have been hurting our poisoning and cribs killing their babies...Americans should be able to trust government to protect them..."

It was a rather disturbing display of exaggeration and finger-pointing...Based on this speech, one would have thought that hundreds of children had been poisoned by the recent rash of toxic toys...and that corporations had little to no concern for the safety of our children. And that the law was only going to be designed to protect small children from these dangerous toys and cribs.

I wonder how we got from this point to a law that deals with ALL children's products, up through the age of 12? Including products like books and clothes and bikes that had never caused the types of problems she was referring to?

I am a mother. I love my children. Frankly I trust myself to protect them much better than the government or big corporations!

Video: NAM's Timmons Discusses CPSC legislation with Bloomberg TV

2nd video at Or you can go right to this particular one here at you tube.

Bloomberg, Money and Politics with representatives from the National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Pirg, representing consumer "interests".

Question asked was does the CPSC Legislation (CPSIA) give the CPSC too much power?
Consumer person says, no, and consumer groups are encouraged. He also says we need to strengthen the CPSC so they can go after "Corporate wrong doers" He also complains that there is too cozy a relationship between the CPSC and multi-national corporations..."It's a real mess and wrong doers are not held responsible."

The Manufacturer says that the Civil penalties go too far, and that "51 cops on the beat" (State Attorney General offices plus CPSC) is not a good idea -- especially since State AG's can be politically motivated. He agreed that the CPSC needed more resources and that Congress and the Executive Branch needed to work cooperatively.

I'm disturbed by the generalizations that the Pirg guy makes, especially grouping all of us effected by this law into the same boat with the multi-national corporations who actually caused the problems, and to so quickly label us as "wrong doers"...Anyone want to guess which gentlemen this Mom agreed with?

Video: Senate Hearing on Product Safety

Well, I've started watching the videos that have been posted on's website. Can also go right to this one on you tube here.

The first one was depressing, to say the least. Watching Senator McCaskill rip into Nancy Nord, the acting Chairperson of the CPSC (at that time) was outrageous! The Senator tells her, "You have got the parents of America that are outraged that they are buying products from manufacturers like Mattel...part of our cultural land of toys in America, and they are scared and this article has exposed..."

Wait a minute, Ms. McCaskill, I don't know of any parents who were running scared over the "toy scare", and as a leader in the homeschool community, I know LOTS of parents! And none of us would have been blaming Ms. Nord or the CPSC for the toy troubles. We would have been blaming Mattel.

The only positive part of that first video was watching Senator Nelson, another Democrat, come to the defense of Nord, and explaining that her hands were tied by the White House.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Original CPSIA

Every time I need to double check which of our representatives voted for this toxic law, I have to hunt for it again. So, once and for all, or again, as the case may be, I'm putting the link to it here in my blog:

GovTrack is the place to find the bill itself, its toxic timeline, and the list of the representatives and senators who voted for it (Oh, and the 4 that voted against it -- Kudos to Representative Ron Paul of Texas, Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Jon Kyle of Arizona, and Thomas Coburn of Oklahoma for voting against it!!!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Check out "What Is the CPSIA" Website

For more information to specific questions you might have about CPSIA, be sure to check out a new website: What is the CPSIA? Explaining the Facts and Dispelling the Myths about the CPSIA

There are questions and answers for many of the issues surrounding CPSIA. If you have any specific questions about this law, that you don't see answered there, let me know here, or leave a comment there. We are trying to make the website as comprehensive as possible.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lawmakers Call For Clear Toy Safety Standards

After having sat through all 17 videos of the briefing of the Effects of CPSIA on Small Businesses conducted this week by the Committee on Small Business:
Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, I was very disappointed to read the Chairman's Press Release on the briefing. Did Mr. Jason Altmire actually sit through that entire briefing and still write up such a release?

The briefing was see the numbers spelled out, and the damage detailed that this law is doing, unchecked by Congress. And then to have Mr. Altmire blame the CPSC instead of Congress. All I can say is, what audacity!

Stop blaming Nord, and the CPSC. This is Congress' mess, and Congress needs to get the lead out and fix this toxic law before even more damage is done.

Briefings #14 - 17

Briefing #14
These next videos showed questions and answers for various witnesses that had appeared earlier. I was impressed with the answers, I was not impressed with the questions themselves. They made me wonder if the committee had fallen asleep during the earlier testimonies...

Ms. Lang was asked about the small batches that she produces. What type of savings/relief would there be if she could rely on the tests conducted by her component suppliers instead of having to test the end product? She pointed out that not having to test for lead would be very helpful, but she also wisely noted that most fabric would not be tested for phthalates, since it isn't generally intended specifically for teething products -- so would also require an exemption to that requirement.

Back to Ms. Shreiber, and her personalized items -- everything would have to be tested under the current law -- couldn't even quantify the formidable costs under current restrictions. CPSIA, as stands, will result in her closing her business.

In regards to older items, being resold, question was asked: "Any economically feasible way for resellers to determine which products could be legally sold?" Her response, "Economically, I believe there is not." The cost of one testing gun, not including labor, is around $20,000.

And the last question was particularly troubling: "Overly burdensome regulations can put small businesses on an uneven playing field...Small businesses don't have the compliance resources..." Can you address that? (What had they been doing so far?)

Briefing #15
Has the stay of enforcement on testing helped or not?
Yes and no. It has helped those with lead free products that don't have to test for now. But for those who have lead issues, or in the case of resellers, the stay has not helped at all.

"If nothing changes in the law, when the stay is over, you may have to shut down your business?" "No, I WILL have to shut down if the law is not changed."

Briefing #16
This questioner seemed to me to be asking questions that shouldn't have needed to be asked, let alone answered:
"If one of problems CPSIA tried to resolve was lead in toys from overseas manufacturing, does it make sense to you that most of the testing labs are overseas?"

"The FDA has guidelines to exempt certain food items, would something similar help for CPSIA?"

And I really loved this question: "Has the Commission provided sufficient guidance?" (We want you to blame them for your problems, not us here in Congress who wrote the law...)

Briefing #17
The Chairman promises, "This is just the first step...And we're going to work to try to come up with a solution to this problem....Members of the committee have 5 days to submit written statements."

Briefing Video #13

David McCubbin of McCubbin Hosiery came before the Committee to discuss the impact of the CPSIA requirements on his and similar businesses.

He spoke of the CPSIA as well intentioned, but that it "has had massive consequences". He went on to explain that the "legislation's broad scope has impacted thousands of products for which the measured concerns are not material."

He went on to explain that no reliable tests even existed for textiles, and that these tests have caused "considerable expense" and "strained relations with customers and suppliers".

Mr. McCubbin continued, pointing out that these lead content limits have..."been laid upon the apparel industry in such blanket fashion without regard to any historical evidence or suggested likelihood that harmful amounts of lead are found in the products. In short, we are asked to search at considerable expense for something that does not exist nor has been alleged to exist."

The tests alone will cost his company in excess of 1/2 million dollars in the first 12 months, and that's before the undue burdens that will be caused by the GCC and tracking label requirements.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How CPSIA Affects Small Businesses Video 12

Ok, back to watching the videos of the briefing. The more I watch, the more troubled I am at the stubbornness of those who have the power to fix this disaster and sit back and do nothing.

I was shook up by the previous videos where the women with home businesses discussed their losses under this law, and by the video with the woman from the Resellers Franchises. But for some reason, this next video upset me even more. Maybe I'm just hitting saturation point on being able to deal with the foolishness of those who still support this disastrous legislation:

Video #12 -- Mr. Vittone, Vice President of SwimWays, a small, family owned company employing about 70 employees, and offering over 100 different products. Mr. Vittone discussed the double whammy his company got in 2008 from the economy and the CPSIA, which together created "a perfect economic storm for us."

He focused on the phthalate ban, and its effect on his company, since it is giving them the most difficulty. For their company at least, the timing of the phthalate ban was the single biggest disaster of the CPSIA. Similar bans in other locations have given businesses 13 - 15 months to comply, giving them an opportunity to go through their existing inventory. CPSIA gave them less than 5 months -- during an off season of a very seasonal business. And then, with the General Counsel Opinion applying the phthalate ban to only new merchandise, they had some breathing room -- until a New York Judge overruled the CPSC, giving their business, and the businesses they supply less than 4 days to find and withdraw implicated inventory. Needless to say, this law has already been costly beyond belief to this company and many others -- and children are no safer because of it!

More for CPSC and against Nord

Nancy Nord is the acting head of the CPSC, and as the videos from the briefing yesterday showed, she is doing as good a job there as anyone possibly could with the hand she has been dealt by Congress. She is not the enemy, and she is not week.

But so many out there in media land seem to miss no opportunity to criticize her and the work she is doing. Now that Obama has picked his choice for her replacement, many are at it again. Yesterday's Sun Sentinel is another example: "Obama's pick for product safety chief holds promise, but has big task ahead"

The article starts by lauding Obama's pick, Tenenbaum, which is fine; we're all entitled to our opinion. But it doesn't stop there. It goes on to criticize how the CPSC has fallen down on the job. It does give some of the blame to Congress, but only in regards to the financial issues it has had: "who decimated its budget and staff in an era of advanced globalization."

But then the author goes on to blame Nancy Nord for the current problems at the CPSC: "But much of the blame falls on an uninspired, meek leadership that refused to require more from manufacturers and fight for consumer interests."

I beg to disagree. Nancy Nord is fighting hard for consumer interests, as she tries to help us keep the countless small businesses going that Congress has jeopardized with the CPSIA. Congress has tied her hands with the legislation they passed last summer, and then blamed her for the mess that has ensued. This author can no more make that Nord's fault than Congress can!

But I think the most telling and truthful portion of the article is at the end: "Tenenbaum would have...a golden opportunity, too, to create a sea change in the culture and effectiveness of a critical agency that has the potential to reach into every American's home through the products it regulates."

If that doesn't inspire us to keep on Congress to get CPSIA fixed, and sooner rather than later, I guess not much will!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How CPSIA Effects Small Businesses 7 - 11

I watched the next 5 videos of the Briefing:

Briefing #7: Mr. Thompson says to Nord: You have “a commonsense attitude with this, which is refreshing in this town.” However the problems I am hearing from small biz are the testing of components with no lead and labeling requirements.

Nord: “Permanent tracking labels required by law to go on all children’s products in August, “to extent practicable”. We want to be focusing on products that are dangerous and have history of recalls – not others—but can’t distinguish under law.

#8: Just an announcement that they were adjourning the meeting until 11:30, and thanking Nancy Nord for coming.

#9 Miss Shriver, Lucy’s Pockets (children’s clothing and other children’s products): “As CPSIA now stands, I as well as thousands of crafters, seamstresses, artists and others that market safe handmade items for kids will be put out of business….We are looking to you to make legislative changes that will allow us that have been making safe products to continue to do so.”

Miss Shriver went on to give several example of testing costs she has investigated: $900 - $1275 to test one $20 bib set; $300 to test a $5 bow; and $675 to test a $9 head band…And because items are one of a kind, cannot do batch testing.

If the testing requirements do not put businesses like her out of business, the labeling requirements will. “We use safe materials and make safe products…We are asking for Common Sense in the Law! We’re safe – we want to be legal.”

And Miss Shriver’s final comment is “CPSIA is going to absolutely kill the Handmade Industry and the ramifications are beyond definition.”

Video #10, Mr. Thompson introduces one of his constituents, Mrs. Susie Lang, of Starbright Baby Teething Giraffes. “As the mother of a 2-year-old, I admire Congress efforts to draft a law that protects children from excessive amounts of lead in toys.” Mrs. Lang went on to explain that the major problems with the law for her business include the unit testing requirements and the labeling requirements, and “the fallacy of assuming that everything is toxic until proven safe.” She went on to share what the testing costs would be for her, and exclaimed, “I don’t know how it can be done by any crafter or small business.”

Video #11 The Director of Once Upon a Child Stores, representing over 500 franchises, and over 5,000 employees – who are scrambling to figure out how to comply. “The ill executed implementation of this legislation has brought fear into the industry…The handbook is too general to determine what is safe to sell…only way to be sure would be to test each product…We need to know specifically what items are deemed unsafe for our children.”

How CPSIA Impacts Small Businesses 1 - 6

My goal today is to watch the entire series of videos from the "How CPSIA Impacts Small Businesses" briefing today in D.C. Our hope needs to be that those on the Committee participating were actually listening, and that this gets through to them.

I started earlier today by twittering about the videos, but decided I was getting long winded, so needed to move thoughts to blog. But will try to keep them short and sweet like twitter. These are actually the tweets I posted on the first 6 you tube videos. Then will post new thoughts on more of videos.

1st You Tube, Good beginning by Mr. Altmire “...well intended but...”

Under CPSIA "Small businesses are required to conduct costly testing and use pricey tracking labels" Utility of requirements well intended

"CPSC has admitted that cost of CPSIA requirements might be crippling to small businesses" Should be enough said there!

More #CPSIA losses: "Small saddled with countless items that they can't sell..." Need to protect our kids in way that works

Hard to hear 2nd video: 1st witness at #CPSIA Brief, Nord: Retroactive ban on lead+ has been BIG problem for retailers, resllers, and more!

Nord: Some of problems on horizon, August 14 when lower lead limits hit -- hurting especially books and bikes; & Permanent Tracking Labels.

Nord discussing some of what CPSC has done to educate folks about CPSIA, including website, guides, etc. They've been working handicapped.

3rd CPSIA video, can't read name of speaker..."Unintended Consequences" of this law...My ?: So why are they taking so long to fix it?!?

She discussing recalled toys from 2007, "prompted Congress to pass a CPSIA Act in 2008...most of lead in came from overseas..."

She's got it wrong or I have it wrong, she's talking about CPSIA affecting products for children under 12 -- I thought it was 12 and under?

"Costs of testing is going to be upwards of tens of thousands of $...Not good news for small biz..." Not good news? How about impossible?

4th CPSIA video: Chairman, asking Nord..."Your opinion, this impact on small biz, Is this an unintended consequence of law, or intent?" "No"

But my question is, does it matter whether Nord thinks this was intent of Congress? Congress made this mess - whether they intended or not

Chairman tells Nord that Congress believes law gives CPSC authority to exclude products that do clearly do not pose lead ingestion risks...

Nord, "I wish the law gave us flexibility...flexibility is needed...but law is written in very deliberate way to not give CPSC flexibility"

Chairman to Nord, "Is CPSIA placing small biz at a disadvantage to larger competitors? Is CPSC doing anything to level the playing field?"My question: How can Nord level the playing field for small biz in regards to CPSIA? CPSC has no ability to do risk assessment!

CPSIA brief videos #5 Nord explains CPSC doesn't have sufficient authority to exempt producers of textiles from testing.

Nord asked how stay of enforcement on testing requirements helped retailers/wholesalers. She explained not optimal answer, but all they had!

Nord explains that while authors of law claim CPSC has authority to rectify concerns of small biz under #CPSIA, NO examples are given for it

The more I watch of #CPSIA briefings, the more I believe Nord is on our side, and an unrecognized hero in fight against CPSIA craziness!

Video #6: Mr. Ellsworth points out it wasn't intended consequence of Congress to hamstring small & large biz w/ #CPSIA. So why delay to fix?

Mr. Ellsworth asks Nord to look at House Bill 1465 and see if it answers some of her #CPSIA concerns. But notes it still hasn't had hearing!

Nord asked what problems she's hearing from small biz: #1 = perverse effect of retroactive effect of #CPSIA on existing inventory. AGREE!

Nord points out another issue w/ #CPSIA: Gives no flexibility to CPSC to deal w/ real world situations and problems. Congress says it does.

Nord points out outlawed items that have never been linked to lead poisoning: "These things are preposterous!" And we would agree with her!

Resellers have no way of knowing whether their products contain lead or phthalates...items that don't necessarily pose a risk, but can't sell

Nord points out Resellers provide such a value to society, but retroactive part of law doesn't deal just w/manufacturing, deals with selling.

Friday, May 8, 2009

CPSC Handbook for Resallers

A big deal has been made about the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)'s new Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers. Apparently they came out with it recently, though I never got the email alert from the CPSC about it that I should have. I found out about it on Twitter!

I read the original handbook in February -- when they gave it to us just before the law into effect. This one isn't that different from the original one. It goes into a bit more detail about some of the "problematic" items that might come into a consignment shop or thrift store -- such as Cribs, Play Yards, Baby Walkers, Toy Chests...

But I don't sell any of those things. I sell books, and games, and other educational materials. So what new news did the CPSC have for me or others like me?

Well, before we get to that, the Introduction to the handbook should be of interest to all of us in the business of selling Children's Products: "The implementation of the CPSIA will have dramatic changes for the marketplace." Can we all say, "understatement"!?! (That sounds better than "Duh!") The problem is that all these changes are not making children safer -- which was the claimed purpose of the CPSIA in the first place.

And then they go on to give the lofty purpose of this new handbook, "to help you identify the types of products that are affected and to understand how to comply with the law, so you can keep unsafe products out of the hands of consumers." If they were really giving us any new information on CPSIA, 3 months after it's gone into effect, I would actually be unhappy. But not to fear. They have no real information for us here.

They merely state what we have been dealing with for the past 3 months: "Right now, resellers need to be able to determine what was manufactured in the past that may no longer be compliant." Exactly! While we applaud the 1 year delay in implementing the testing requirements for new items, CPSIA immediately put resellers in a bad spot. Products that were legal when they were made, legal when they were sold the first time, and legal when they were consigned before February 10, became problematic for resellers over night.

The authors of the handbook are trying to help, we'll give them credit for that. But for this reseller at least, they don't accomplish their lofty goal very well. On page 3 they tell us that resellers "cannot knowingly sell products that do not meet the requirements of the law." Implication would be that if we don't know it has lead, or phthalates, or a recall, when we sell it, we're okay. But wait, there's more. "Ignorance of the law is not an excuse." Doesn't that second statement override the first?

On page 4 they try to console us again, "If you should happen to sell or offer for sale a product in violation of the CPSIA or other law, CPSC's response will vary depending upon the circumstances...The Commission's response would also take into account the fact that you may be a small business. CPSC's goal is to help you to avoid future violations and protect your customers, not to put you out of business."

Why doesn't that comfort me? First, it's too subjective and too vague. The law says I can receive up to $100,000 fine and 5 years in jail -- for a first offense, and even as a small business. So what is the CPSC promising me? Only a $10,000 fine? Or a $50,000 fine? Or only 1 year in jail? Those may sound better to the CPSC, but any of those WOULD put us out of business, and seriously jeopardize our family.

And in case the CPSC has forgetten, because we certainly can't, the CPSC is only one of our concerns. Maybe they would only slap our hands for the first offense -- but what about the State Attorney Generals' Offices, who also have jurisdiction now? They are not bound to what the CPSC is promising. And what about civil suits? We can still be sued for violating this law, intentionally or not...No, I'm just not feeling comforted by their promising words.

And on page 6, they go back to the choices we have as Resellers under this new law, as we consider each and every used product that comes through our doors: We can test, we can not accept, we can use our best judgment about the product, or we can contact the manufacturer. (Oh, and be sure to check the recall list for each of them, while we're at it.)

I only have a couple of questions for the members of Congress and the CPSC that think these are reasonable requests: Have any of you ever been in a Thrift Store or a Consignment Store? Have any of you ever worked in one, or owned one? Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought.

First of all, let's start with the most ludicrous of the above choices: "Use your best judgment based on your knowledge of the product" I'm not even sure what to make of that statement! Will my best judgment stand up in court? I'm not a chemist...How can I possibly look at a product and be able to judge whether it has lead or phthalates? I've asked for a list of things that might be safe, and they can't provide it, so how could I possibly know? Are CDs safe? Are video tapes? Are the educational games or puzzles that just came in? I would have absolutely no way of knowing on any of those. If it's so easy, why don't they tell us?

And then there's the choice to contact the Manufacturers of these products...How much money do they think we make off each of these products, that they think we would have time to contact the Manufacturers for each and every problematic item?

And since we also can't afford testing anything that we deal with in our Consignment store, that only leaves one bad choice: Don't accept the product. So for the last 4 months, we have had to turn away countless books, toys, games, puzzles, manipulatives, and more. Not because they were unsafe, or even necessarily illegal. But we couldn't prove that they were lead free and phthalate free, so it was a risk to carry them. A risk that we couldn't afford to take. We lose, and our customers lose. And no one is better off.

With those choices, it's no wonder so many Consignment Shops that dealt primarily with Children's products have already closed their doors. Is that helping children? Or poor families? Or families on tight budgets? I don't think so...Was this one of the goals of this poorly written law, or just "an unintended consequence"?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Senate Amendment 374

This amendment would be a Godsend to the Resellers of Children's Products who are being severely hurt by the retroactive aspect of CPSIA.

Senator DeMint was one of the few in Congress to vote against the initial CPSIA bill, and was one of the first to offer an amendment to fix it: S. 374: "A bill to amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide regulatory relief to small and family-owned businesses."

This amendment is designed to help Resellers, who are being hurt especially hard by the law right now. (Manufacturers' pain will increase as the August 2009 and February 2010 deadlines get closer.)

DeMint's amendment would allow secondhand sellers (consignment shops, thrift shops, etc.) to sell items that do not meet the new CPSIA standards. (Those items have already been sold at least once -- generally legally!)

It would also bump back the upcoming deadlines at least 6 months, giving manufacturers more time to figure out how to become CPSIA compliant, and require the CPSC to issue final rules, regulations and guidelines 30 days BEFORE the CPSIA can be enforced.

One of the biggest concerns with the CPSIA right now is the penalties that companies and individuals have to be concerned about, even with an inadvertent violation. DeMint's amendment would relieve much of that concern -- by waiving any civil penalty for a first, inadvertent violation.

Kudos to the Co-Sponsors, joining DeMint on this bill: Cosponsors [as of 2009-04-18]Sen. James Inhofe [R-OK], Sen. Michael Crapo [R-ID], Sen. Samuel Brownback [R-KS], Sen. Thomas Coburn [R-OK], Sen. Roger Wicker [R-MS], Sen. David Vitter [R-LA], and Sen. Saxby Chambliss [R-GA].

Now if we can just get it out of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and onto the Senate floor for discussion and a vote...

More Amendments to the CPSIA

Congress seems to be able to find time to spend trillions of dollars to "stimulate the economy" but they can't seem to find time to fix the mess they've made with CPSIA; fixing it just might be one of the best stimulus ideas they could come up with right about now.

It isn't for lack of trying on the part of those who are fighting the law: There are currently at least 9 amendments to CPSIA that have been sponsored. None of them are perfect, or fix all of the problems.(Since it would require repealing the law, and starting over, to accomplish that.)

I'm planning to keep an eye on what Congress is doing (or not doing)in regards to CPSIA. The Senate amendments include 374, 389, and 609. The House amendments include 968, 1027, 1046, 1465, 1692, and 1815.

More info on each of those to follow...

Friday, May 1, 2009

I briefly read the Congressional Research Service's Report on CPSIA Implementation a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't slowed down long enough to really read it and report on it. And then tonight, when I wanted to look at it again, I couldn't find it again...But Walter Olson's Overlawyerd website to the rescue. There was the link, waiting for me.

Overall, the report seems fairly neutral and accurate. The author, Bruce Mulock, gives a quick overview of the law, the history of the CPSC, and the highlights of what’s been going on since last fall in the CPSIA fight – with Congress, the CPSC, and affected Companies.

In the fourth paragraph of the Introduction he sums up the problem from our side: "Confusion is rampant among manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers, and consumers about new lead limits for consumer products intended for children 12 and under. Turmoil is particularly acute among small businesses. Despite agency efforts to provide clarification, consignment shops, thrift stores, and various charitable organizations still fear incurring stiff fines for inadvertently violating the CPSIA, and retailers across the county are contemplating disposing of valuable inventory that may well pose no health risks." That about sums it up right there -- and should it really take any more than that to show the authors of this mess that they have work to do? Apparently Common Sense and Reasonableness are uncommon traits in D.C.

On page 7 of the Report he starts the section "CPSIA Implementation Plagued by Concerns and Confusion". Concerns and Confusion….Yes, CPSIA has certainly fostered no shortage of those. And then on page 8 he mentions the contradictory nature of some of what the CPSC did in January with regards to CPSIA, "On January 8, 2009, the agency issued a Guidance Intended for Resellers of Children’s Products, Thrift and Consignment Stores. This document emphasized that the Commission’s enforcement priorities focused on manufacturers, not on retail establishments which were selling or reselling consumer products…Nevertheless, the Guidance also went on to say: ‘However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.’”

So, while it was a nice gesture for the CPSC to say that its enforcement priorities were going to be the manufacturers, they went on to put those of us in the resell business in a very difficult position, making sure we understood that we could face civil and criminal penalties…And making it clear that we would not have to have knowledge of excessive lead content to be found guilty…A month before the law was going into effect, none of this was very comforting to most of us who would be affected by it!

And then on page 9 Mulock says, “Despite weeks of back and forth between Members of Congress and the CPSC, it is still far from clear whether the problem is with the CPSIA itself or with the manner in which the CPSC is administering it.” For those of us being harmed by the law, it really doesn’t matter! But this student of the matter says Congress made the mess, and Congress needs to stop blaming others and clean up their mess!
And in case this fact was lost on any of us, Mulock points out that the stays issued by the CPSC are all well and good, but: “The CPSC lost some of its ability to use discretion in its enforcement of the CPSIA, by virtue of the act’s having empowered state attorneys general to enforce the CPSIA. What that means with regard to the agency’s January 30, 2009 decision to stay certain testing and certification requirements is for now the chief example. The CPSC is powerless to command state attorney general to join in the stay. If a state attorney general decided to ignore the stay—and bring an action against a retailer for violating the CPSIA—the CPSC could not prevent such an outcome.” So again, the stay, like the clarification, is a nice idea, but what did it REALLY accomplish? The Attorney Generals are not bound by the stay.

Which brings us back to the position so many of us have been at for months: Good intentions do not make good laws. Children are not safer because of CPSIA. Congress must admit that they’ve blown it – and fix this law!!!

Burke and Washington Comment on Govt/CPSIA

Good #CPSIA quotes:
"People crushed by laws, have no hope but to evade power. If the laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to the law; and those who have most to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous." -- Edmund Burke

If Congress doesn't hurry up and fix CPSIA, that's going to happen more and more -- intentionally by some and inadvertently by others. Considering the CPSC's reluctance to enforce this bad law, and to follow it, in some cases -- this is becoming a nightmare for those of us who believe in "the Rule of Law".

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." -- George Washington

Washington said it so well over 200 years ago. CPSIA is clearly an example of government's irresponsible action. There is no reason in it, and no eloquence. It is fire, and it is force.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Winnie the Pooh and CPSIA

I was reading a cute blog about Winnie the Pooh and blogging, and was struck by a conversation between Rabbit and Pooh:

“I don’t see much sense in that,” said Rabbit. “No,” said Pooh humbly, “There isn’t. But there was going to be when I began it. It’s just that something happened to it along the way.”

As happens so many times these days, I was reminded of CPSIA when I read that. In this particular conversation, Rabbit reminds me of the citizens and companies of this country who are looking at the CPSIA law and wondering where the sense or logic in it can be hiding.

And of course, Pooh reminds me of Congress (my apologies to Pooh). Of course, they can't be quite as forthright as Pooh and actually admit that something happened along the way with a concept that may have initially made sense. (Protecting children from lead -- good idea. CPSIA -- very bad implementation of that concept.)

I don't remember the rest of this particular Pooh story, but like all Pooh stories, it would have had to be a happy ending. Those of us that are fighting the ill-conceived CPSIA can only hope that we will yet come to a happy ending to this saga!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Amendments to CPSIA

I still believe that CPSIA is so bad that it should be repealed entirely, and then rewritten, dealing with ONLY the limited products it should have dealt with. Not a very long list of those: I would suggest the new law apply to toys for children 3 and under, and jewelry intended for children 5 and up. I think that about does it.

But, in the meantime, it appears that even getting this law amended will be a minor miracle. There are at least a couple of amendments languishing in committees right now. While they would still leave major problems with the law, they would fix at least some of the issues.

Senate bill 608 has a great sounding name: "Common Sense in Consumer Product Safety Act of 2009" It is "A bill to amend the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 to exclude secondary sales, repair services, and certain vehicles from the ban on lead in children's products, and for other purposes." Govtrack currently lists Senator Tester as the sponsor, and 2 co-sponsors.

On the House side, there's H.R. 1587: "To amend the lead prohibition provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008..." It would give an exemption to the ATV folks, but that's about it. "To amend the lead prohibition provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 to provide an exemption for certain off-highway vehicles, and for other purposes." It is sponsored by Representative Rehberg, and currently has 38 co-sponsors listed.

At some point, surely this craziness will come to an end...Preferably before the next stage gets here in August...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Random Quotes and Their CPSIA "Connection"

I was reading quotes someone had collected for a homeschooling project, and I found numerous ones that could be tied to CPSIA.

"Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true." Playwrite William Inge Unfortunately many crafters will lose the ability to make something beautiful with an unfixed CPSIA!

"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it."
Author John Ruskin Again, so true of those who make wonderful, one-of-a-kind items for children, that Congress has outlawed in their "infinite wisdom".

"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." President Theodore Roosevelt Much of what has suddenly become outlawed falls in this category as well.

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." Author Mark Twain And with CPSIA, there will be a lot less good books to read!

And my two favorites:

"It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem." Author G.K. Chesterton In this case, Congress and CPSIA is the problem (not the CPSC who are just trying to do their job.) And they refuse to admit that, so they refuse to apply the proper solutions (amendments would be a good start -- though I still vote for repealing the entire law!).

"Cowardice asks - Is it safe? Expediency asks - Is it politic? Vanity asks - Is it popular? But conscience asks - Is it right?" Civil Rights Worker Martin Luther King, Jr. I think MLK's statement sums it up the best! Congress can't get past the "safe" and the political to do what's right!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Protecting the American Consumers" YouTube

This video from August 2008 is nothing more than a celebration of the short-sightedness of Congress with CPSIA.

The first speaker is Majority Leader Harry Reid who speaks proudly of the "priority of restoring credibility and accountability to Washington" (Oh there, we go, the publicity angle of CPSIA.) He talks of their ability to "celebrate CPSIA" (As opposed to the Consumers and Companies who are primarily cursing CPSIA now.)

Then Nancy Pelosi comes up to talk of the "Year of the Recalls", and proudly brags of "removing those products and more importantly preventing those products from getting to those shelves in the first place". (Never mind that 99.9% of the products they are removing are perfectly safe!)

Then the mother from Oregon comes up to thank Congress, and explain that CPSIA makes "Parents like me breathe easier." (I'm glad she's breathing easier -- this parent is not! Nor are most of the parents I know.)

And Reid comes back to tell us that "Our government can work for people." (Can anyone say Amen? No, I didn't think so.)

And let's not forget Representative DeLaury who practically screams at us, "We need to remain vigilant. We need to ensure that our families and our children are protected from harmful products." (And safe ones too...Never mind that that's parents' jobs!)

And Reid comes back to remind us that this law "applies to all consumer products" and is "good legislation". (I'm glad he thinks so, most of us would disagree.)

Nancy Pelosi CPSIA YouTube

I finally had a chance to watch one of the YouTube CPSIA videos. I started with one showing Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking to Congress, last July, just before the bill was signed into law.

I realize that I go into this already biased, having now fought CPSIA for more than 3 months (my hat is off to those who have been in the fight for even longer than that!).

Nancy wants to make sure that we realize that they are "A Congress for America's Children" (I lost track of how many times she said that.) I wonder how many of America's children would not agree with that assessment right about now? She also made sure to point out that "This bill is long overdue" (Why exactly is it long overdue? She didn't really answer that question, we just have to believe that it is.)

The bill has the "support of Community Groups that care about children". (So, let's see, by inference, those of us who are fighting CPSIA do not care about children...Sorry, Nancy, I have to strongly disagree with you on that!)

" something for America's children." (Why? Because it sounds good? Because it makes good publicity? Yes, I am beginning to agree with the other bloggers who make that point! This is not about 'doing good'...It is about 'sounding good'.)

"We have to depend on the Government to protect our children." (I had to rewind to make sure I heard that part correctly...No, I'm sorry, Nancy, I don't think that's the role of government. In fact, looking through my pocket Constitution I can't find that in the job description of government anywhere. Please let parents do their jobs, and go back to doing yours...The first Article of the Constitution, Section 8, has a really nice explanation of what that is, in case you've forgotten.)

Nancy sounds very distressed when she gets to her point about 45 million toys that were recalled the year before -- before they had written CPSIA we might add. Twice she asks, "What is a parent to do?" And of course, she has the answer -- more legislation!

"Dangerous toys should be an oxymoron." (I do agree with that, Nancy. But how many children were injured or killed from those 45 million "dangerous toys" that were recalled? None that I've been able to determine...And unfortunately, CPSIA deals with so much more than those "dangerous toys"...since it was written to include ALL Children's Products! Let's go back to assessing actual risk -- and write a law that deals with those things that actually pose dangers to our children -- instead of removing perfectly safe items from their lives!)

Youtube Videos about CPSIA

Someone has put together a playlist of CPSIA related you tube videos. I look forward to (sort of) getting to watch some of them.

Friday, April 10, 2009

From the Mainstream Media we get Headlines such as:

Popular Purses May Carry Dangerous Levels Of Lead

It comes complete with this disturbing quote from the Center for Environmental Health Director "If a child is exposed to lead it can permanently effect development of the brain. Lead exposure in adults is attached to increased risk of heart attack, stroke and memory problems."

If we were talking about chew toys, I would be concerned, but I don’t know any little girls old enough to play with a purse that are chewing on them.

* * * *

Though some get it, especially at the local levels:

Stores caught in wake of new lead law

This article author certainly sees the impact of CPSIA on Resellers, and those who shop at those stores:

“But now, the items that once made up a quarter of revenue at Top Drawer Resale Clothier in Traverse City are tucked out of view, held back by a thin rope and a handwritten sign. ‘Sorry, these items are not for sale.’…

Since the law took effect, some area thrift stores like Top Drawer stopped taking any children's items. Others have developed more stringent practices, in some cases reducing the amount of items taken to the floor.”

* * * *

And this op-ed piece dealing with numerous “troublesome chemicals”:

Good intentions gone astray

I especially like her ending, which applies to CPSIA as well as the other “chemical safety bills” she mentions:

“It's fine to be out in front - when necessary. And it is absolutely right to provide consumers, especially children, with strict protections - but not when that claim of protection is without basis and contradicts the risk-based, scientific study that is the traditional foundation for law and safety standards in the United States. So as the House Consumer Protection Committee considers ‘the chemical bills,’ its members should amend the proposals to give sound science priority over emotion, and to recognize that existing federal laws have already set the consumer protection standard for the nation - including Oregon.” Amen! Let’s hear it for science over emotion! And for “risk-based scientific study”.

More Attention Being Paid in Blogs to CPSIA than by Congress

More and more of us get the feeling that "Congress is fiddling, while our industries are burning."

Congress continues to refuse to fix the CPSIA mess they created....Mainstream media still pretty much ignores the issue...But bloggers will get the word out there, one blog entry at a time.

Only Congress could ruin the kids motorcycle business and endanger children at the same time: Hugh points out: "90% of the youth fatalities and injuries on motorcycles occur when kids ride adult vehicles." Which is going to happen more and more because of CPSIA.

Of course, not all the blogs out there understand how bad CPSIA is, especially if they are connected to Consumer Union or U.S. PIRG. Here's another one that makes us out to be the bad guys. (For some reason, those blogs always seem to be short facts...but maybe that's just me.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

H.R. 1692 "To Amend the CPSIA to Exempt Ordinary Books..."

It is still amazing to me that Congress passed CPSIA in the first place. But it is even more amazing that they refuse to fix the mess they have created. Since it doesn't appear that we will get them to repeal the entire law any time soon, it looks like the best we can hope for is small fixes -- in some cases, very small fixes.

Such is the case with H.R. 1692...It will not make major improvements, but it will help some. Congressman Fortenberry's amendment admits that Congress did not intend CPSIA to apply to ordinary books (defined as those printed using conventional methods and intended to be read, not played with). It also points out that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that books pose minimal risk.

As has been the pattern with this law, this amendment does not answer all the questions it will bring up. My first question is, which books does it apply to? Those that are printed from this point forward? Those that were printed after 1985? Or all books?

As a reseller, an educator, and a mother, those are very important questions.

It is really a shame that we have to applaud efforts such as HR1692 in our push to get this law fixed. But, for now, at least, it seems the best we are going to be able to do....Please, Congress, pass this amendment, and any others that will do ANYTHING to fix this disaster!

I finally had a chance to get addresses together to mail my old picture books to.

I'm starting with the CPSC, a couple of key Congressmen and most of the Senators who voted against DeMint's amendment. These should go in the mail tomorrow:

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814

Congressman Waxman
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
235 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Senator Daniel Akaka
141 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Max Baucus
511 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Evan Bayh
131 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Michael Bennet
702 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Jeff Bingaman
703 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Sherrod Brown
713 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Roland Burris
523 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Maria Cantwell
511 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Benjamin Cardin
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Thomas Carper
513 Hart Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Robert Casey

383 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Susan Collins
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Kent Conrad
530 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator John Cornyn
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Christopher Dodd
448 Russell Building
Washington D.C., 20510

Senator Byron Dorgan
322 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Richard Durbin
309 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Russell Feingold
506 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Dianne Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
1478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Judd Gregg
201 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Tom Harkin
731 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Daniel Inouyye
722 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Mike Johanns
404 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Tim Johnson
136 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Edward Kaufman
G11 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510

Senator John Kerry
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Herb Kohl
330 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Mary Landrieu
328 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Frank Lautenberg
Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Joseph Lieberman
706 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Harry Reid
522 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator John D Rockefeller, IV
531 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510