CPSIA chronicles, February 19
- Apparently I’m not the only one to lose patience with the New York Times, at least when they publish an editorial as bad as yesterday’s. My critique was not only (as mentioned) reprinted almost immediately at Forbes.com, but drew an extraordinary reaction elsewhere, including (not exhaustive): Virginia Postrel, Christopher Fountain, Patrick @ Popehat (strong language — now you’re sure to click), Carter Wood/ShopFloor, Mike Cernovich, Katherine Mangu-Ward/Reason “Hit and Run” (says I go “completely ballistic (in a good way!)”), Jonathan Adler @ Volokh Conspiracy, Memeorandum, Above the Law, Tim Sandefur, Mark Thompson/Donklephant (extensively “fisking” the Times editorial; related, Deputy Headmistress), Alison Morris/Publisher’s Weekly Shelftalker blog (law reminds her of Cory Doctorow novel Little Brother), Jacob Grier, Amy Alkon/Advice Goddess, Joe Weisenthal/ClusterStock, Valerie Jacobsen/Bookroom Blog. And: Deputy Headmistress at Common Room, Faith in Truth, Amy Ridenour/National Center and NewsBusters, Charles Kuffler/Off the Kuff. I’m particularly grateful to Robert Ambrogi at Legal Blog Watch for his wider look at how blogs and other newer media have helped correct the shortcomings of some venerable old-media institutions on this story.
- It’s often noted that the most visible economic interests on the children’s-products scene, namely the two big import-oriented toymakers, the makers of mass-market children’s apparel, disposable diapers, and the like, and the big retailers like Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us, 1) mounted no effective resistance to CPSIA’s passage, 2) have experienced lobbyists in Washington who took an interest in the bill’s progress, and 3) can more or less live with the new rules as part of a business plan that includes mass factory runs and mass merchandising over which the high costs of testing and compliance can be spread, an advantage not shared by smaller producers and retailers. From this it is often concluded that the large companies purposely devised the law’s provisions so as to destroy smaller competitors. I doubt we’ll ever get a definitive answer to that question one way or the other unless Washington insiders step forward with firsthand accounts (hint), but I’d be wary of adopting the “Mattel and Hasbro are secretly chuckling all the way to the bank” meme without better evidence than has surfaced to date, for reasons outlined by David Foster, Kathleen Fasanella, and Deputy Headmistress. The last-named points quite reasonably to the long paper trail in which the Ralph-Nader-founded Public Citizen, a longstanding anti-business pressure group with close ties to the plaintiff’s bar, and its Nader-founded close ally PIRG, boast of having led the campaign for a maximally stringent CPSIA. Related points here (Eric Husman) and here and here (Deputy Headmistress). More: Mark Thompson has some highly pertinent things to add in the comments section.
- We’ve already visited the question whether one big organization that has vociferously defended CPSIA, the Natural Resources Defense Council, took care to obtain the needed manufacturer certifications before offering its own promotional baby “onesie”. Now Patrick at Popehat asks the same question about a second such group, Greenpeace.
- My favorite line from the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan was one about how when institutions fight each other for long enough they come to resemble each other. When I went over to Amy Alkon’s comments section and saw yet another “but Snopes said there’s nothing to this fuss about CPSIA” comment, it hit me: Snopes is now in the business of perpetuating urban legends.
- Unless you’re a New York Times editorialist, in which case you might not notice it under your own nose, it’s easy to find good coverage of the appalling debacle CPSIA has brought for youth powersports — motorbikes, mini-ATVs and the like. There’s USA Today, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Marketing Daily, for instance, as well as the discussion on Rush Limbaugh.
- Kopfschmerz means headache, and describes the sensation felt by German exporters of toys and children’s products.
- While we’re at it, I never did round up the numerous reactions to my post of a week ago on CPSIA and vintage books. A sampling includes The Anchoress, Todd Seavey (also reminded of Ray Bradbury), Open Your Ears and Eyes, Blackadder’s Lair, John Holbo/Crooked Timber, 5 Kids and a Dog, Mark Bennett’s noteworthy posts at Defending People reprised at Blawg Review #199, Carter Wood at NAM ShopFloor and again, David Foster at Chicago Boyz, Der Schweizer Narr (from Switzerland, in German), International House of Bacon (CPSIA “the single worst piece of regulation in my lifetime”), children’s author Vivian Zabel/Brain Cells and Bubble Wrap, She’s Right, Joey and Aleethea, Dewey’s Treehouse, Sherry/Semicolon Blog, and Classic Housewife.
- I’ve started a new tag, CPSIA and resale, for easy retrieval of posts in that category. There are already tags for the law generally and for its effects on books and minibikes — at some point I’ll get around to adding tags for the law’s effects on needle/apparel trades, toys, and libraries, too, and maybe others.