CPSIA chronicles, February 26

by Walter Olson on February 26, 2009

processionofthenursery

  • UPDATE 5:45 p.m. Eastern: Well, that was quick. A source reports that Congressional staffers hastily announced that they’re canceling the hearing next week and that the idea is “not likely to ever be brought back”. Someone must have realized that letting people from around the country get in front of a microphone and talk about the effects of this law would not exactly do wonders for the image of Henry Waxman, Public Citizen, PIRG, or Consumer Federation of America. More: Rick Woldenberg confirms cancellation/disinvitation.
  • A prime objective for critics of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in recent weeks has been to obtain a hearing on Capitol Hill that might focus lawmaker and press attention on the law’s many unexpected and harmful effects. Now it looks as if that might be happening. Rick Woldenberg:

    I have been invited to testify before the Subcommittee on Regulations and Healthcare of the House Committee on Small Business next Thursday. The purpose of this hearing is to explore Small Business issues related to the CPSIA. The Subcommittee is still looking for small businesses to testify. … If you are motivated to testify, you may want to reach out to the Subcommittee staff to volunteer, or if you have a Congressman on the Subcommittee, contact their Washington office urgently. …

  • Relatedly, Whimsical Walney, whose time seems to have been in part freed up for blogging by the CPSIA-induced shutdown of her Bay-Area-based children’s line, offers some advice here and here on how to talk with lawmakers about the act.
  • If you still haven’t taken a look at it, Daniel Kalder’s excellent BooksBlog entry in The Guardian (U.K.) on CPSIA and older books, which quotes from my City Journal article, is here. It’s drawn attention around the world, including places like France, Italy, and Romania.
  • oldtalesreading

  • Speaking of books, America’s libraries appear to have dodged catastrophe for now with the help of the American Library Association’s (understandable under the circs) last-minute embrace of the position that unless someone announces otherwise, it’s going to assume the law doesn’t apply to library stacks or circulation (earlier; commentary on the shift, Deputy Headmistress and Rick Woldenberg). Thus: Cincinnati Enquirer (“We’re hopeful saner heads will prevail and they’ll exempt us,” says Emily Sheketoff of the ALA), Middletown (Ohio) Journal, Brown County, Ohio, News-Democrat.


    So it seems to be mostly the librarians who are the most literal-minded and obedient about following guidance from high government authorities, or who are most legally risk-averse, or something, who are taking drastic steps like tarping over their pre-1985 stacks or planning to discard the volumes entirely or excluding older kids’ books from their used-book sales (in which case they’ll wind up….where?). Esther at Reading Loft/Design Loft has been picturing how libraries will look if they can’t make an exemption stick. And I didn’t notice it when it ran last month, but Annoyed Librarian had a funny rant at Library Journal about the law. Perish the thought, of course, that any library might ever want to acquire a pre-1985 book for kids’ use.
  • Popular conservative talk host Hugh Hewitt has continued his coverage of the law. Per one transcript, he discussed it with star columnist Mark Steyn who knew about the youth motorsports debacle:

    In my little corner of New Hampshire, every 12-year old boy loves taking an ATV, loves riding it around up in the hills. And the idea that the lead in it is going to cause that kid to keel over, is preposterous. This is government by insanity…

    On the other hand, Mark Riffey passes along word that popular talker Glenn Beck doesn’t plan to cover the issue because “there’s no public outcry” (a paraphrase second-hand of what might be a staffer’s view, or his, it’s not clear). What? Does he restrict his reading diet to the New York Times?

  • Wacky Hermit at Organic Baby Farm is angry: “When you have to consult a lawyer before you hold a church benefit sale, you are not in America.” (some rude language).
  • In the first-linked item above, Woldenberg also reports on an announcement by the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s chief of enforcement, Gib Mullan, that the commission intends to shift its enforcement methods in a more punitive direction, handing out many more penalties than previously in order to achieve more deterrent effects on businesses of all sizes. This is well in line with the clear guidance the commission has been given by Henry Waxman and colleagues in Congress. Next Thursday, if those planning the hearing do their jobs right, many in Congress might for the first time hear some voices that no one thought to consult when the law hurtled toward passage last summer. [REPEATING THE UPDATE: Hearing reportedly canceled.]

Public domain images: Grandma’s Graphics, Mabel Betsy Hill and Elson’s Basic Readers.

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CPSIA chronicles, February 27
02.27.09 at 11:50 am
Unachievable Urbanism « Plumb Lines
03.30.09 at 9:55 pm

{ 9 comments }

1 Wacky Hermit 02.26.09 at 3:24 pm

Thanks for l inking! Sorry about the rudeness. I fetch the niceness out of the cellar of my mind when required; but rudeness, it seems, is always on tap. Sometimes I forget and let the tap drip for a while.

2 Walter Olson 02.26.09 at 3:59 pm

Received this from a normally well-connected Washington source:

“On the House subcommittee hearing, trouble is, the committee’s only jurisdiction is the Small Business Administration – which is to say, there will be no legislation to result from any hearing there.

“I bet someone on Waxman’s staff said, ‘They keep sending letters and calling. Let’s get Nydia Velasquez to hold a hearing so we can say Congress listened.’

“The D.C. media rarely cover the committee, which is considered a backwater, so if there is going to be a useful effect with the press, someone’s going to have to do some work on producing it.

“Energy and Commerce is the committee that counts, and Waxman’s not interested in doing anything (or so we hear).”

3 Tristan Benz 02.26.09 at 4:01 pm

My French is a disaster – haven’t spoken in 20 years!! But I left a comment on that French article – thanks for this post -I’ll come back and go visit the Italian one and sabotage my own grandparents language next :-). If you find one in Spanish, I’m ALL OVER IT!!! Keep this list coming – fabulous!

4 John 02.26.09 at 4:26 pm

“So it seems to be mostly the librarians who are the most literal-minded …”

I’ve been wondering about this. The KCBA article linked above touches on it, but there doesn’t seem to be any other coverage elsewhere. Doesn’t the library argument apply to basically every single thing found in a school or daycare center as well? Aren’t those lunch trays, made of recycled plastic, just full of phthalates waiting to leach into Little Johnny’s pizza? Or what about the lead solder in Jenny’s desk, does she really have a prayer?

Why are the libraries the only ones concerned with testing?

5 Evil HR Lady 02.26.09 at 4:30 pm

One thing that I haven’t really seen covered is what happens to the stuff that thrift stores can no longer “safely” sell, other than it ends up in landfills. But, there’s something else as well. In the past, I’ve taken all my old baby toys and clothes to the local thrift store. Our favorite thrift store has all children’s clothes for $0.50 each, so people with little income can still nicely outfit their children.

Now, I don’t have a place to take my used clothing/toys/baby gear. So, I (who am firmly upper middle class) give my clothing away to my firmly upper middle class friends. In the past, people who couldn’t afford to pay retail would benefit. Now, people who can afford to pay retail benefit. And those who couldn’t, still can’t.

It really bugs me.

6 BG 02.26.09 at 5:51 pm

Evil HR Lady,

Our City Mission is still taking clothing for their programs and that includes children.

Our local Salvation Army is taking children’s items. I bought some nice stuff just yesterday. I get the girls nice dresses there–they only wear them a few times and we pass them back–and the Boy Scout some clothing he can destroy on campouts w/o breaking the family budget. When I mentioned to the cashier how glad I was they still had children’s items she scoffed and said, “We need our children’s items.”

At the Cub Scout Blue and Gold celebration on the same day at the local Episcopal church the Cubmaster gave away a used shirt to a new Cub Scout and there was a sign that the church’s 2nd hand shop would no longer take items for children ages 12 and under. They always had some nice quality toys for kids there–wood blocks and the like. It really bugs me that the church has caved in on this. You are right, those who should be advocating for the less affluent are abandoning them over very real fears of fines, etc. How can we help our neighbors if BB is going to sock us with big fines?

Please keep looking for a place to donate your items.

7 Valerie Jacobsen 02.26.09 at 5:59 pm

Rick Woldenberg has bad news up. The invitation is canceled.

8 April E. Coggins 02.26.09 at 11:49 pm

Maybe we need to have childrens tea party. I have a lot of inventory that I might as well dump in the bay, river, at the feet of Congress.
I am not a politico, but wouldn’t children protesting the new law have more impact? My ten year old grandson is ready to march on Washington because his favorite sport/pastime is now banned. Surely there are other children that are personally impacted.

9 Happymom4 02.27.09 at 12:42 am

My 2 oldest who are old book lovers are furious at what has been done to them and their younger sibs. They love old books–and if lead is affecting them, it must be making them smarter and wiser . . . . Ds aceses his exams, and tests out in the near-brilliant category on an official IQ test . . . . and other kids AND adults are always claiming that our kids “use lots of big words that we don’t have a clue what they mean”. Hmmm. That lead must be really beneficial.

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