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!"