CPSIA chronicles, March 3

by Walter Olson on March 3, 2009

  • There’s new blogging on the fate of pre-1985 children’s books from book restorer and conservator Javamom, Jane Badger (iBookNet, U.K.), Dillon Hillas, Wellspring Creations, and Small-Leaved Shamrock. Sorry no books todayDeputy Headmistress continues to blog the book angle intensively, as does Valerie Jacobsen (read this post in particular). Note also the comment from Nancy Welliver on her February 11 post: “We are a used curriculum and book seller. We have removed 3,500 books from our website. … until recently publishers did not put printing dates in books, only copyright dates. So a book that is copyrighted 1976 may have been printed in 1988 and therefore legal to sell, So how do we know which are printed before and which after 1985? So we have removed all books for children with copyright date 1985 and before.” There’s also a page at cpsia-central (the Ning group) on books and libraries.
  • The law is also having a major impact on sellers of new children’s books, given that the only newer books presumed safe for legal purposes without testing are completely plain books with no embellishments or non-paper features. Don’t miss the letter at Wellspring Creations from “Jackie”, who identifies herself as the manager of the children’s book section at a Half Price Books store, part of a large chain that sells publisher’s remainders and overstocks as well as used books:

    I have experienced the severity of this issue first-hand. … Initially, it didn’t seem like this would have much of an impact on the kids section, but as I went through my section pulling everything that was potentially harmful, I soon realized that this was going to decimate my section. My display tables were over halfway empty, and there were half-empty or completely empty shelves all throughout the section. … The kids cooking shelf went from being packed full to only having half a dozen books left, all because most of the cookbooks were spiral-bound with metal. …

    The day that I had to get rid of all those books was one of the roughest days I’ve ever had at work. The kids section is my pride and joy, my baby, and I had to not only watch it get torn apart- I had to do it myself. It was heartbreaking.

    The happy ending, if you want to call it that, is that eventually many or most of the new books are likely to return to the shelves after the chain puts them through testing — though it’s more likely to take such a step for a mass-selling branded item piled high on display tables than for a specialty cookbook expected to sell only in the dozens of copies. Go read the whole thing.

  • Community Homestead is a center for developmentally disabled adults in rural Wisconsin that has sold residents’ handcraft toys. Its CPSIA story is here.
  • Dust-ups in comments sections are not my thing, but some people enjoy them, and they keep breaking out on the occasions when someone still attempts an aggressive defense of this bad law. Thus when the Chicago Daily Herald printed a letter from Alexandra Lozanoff of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) yesterday rhapsodizing about the law, numerous commenters jumped in to express rather sharp disagreement. A state legislator in Orangeburg, South Carolina put her name to a piece in the local paper attacking Sen. Jim DeMint for sponsoring CPSIA reform, provoking dozens of comments, most taking issue. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which is invested in defending CPSIA in part because of the law’s phthalates ban, ran an ill-informed piece pretentiously titled “The Artisan Toymaker’s CPSIA Exemption Guide” and was promptly spanked by knowledgeable commenters, a fate that also befell the left-leaning crew at Moms Rising. The lengthy comments section on John Holbo’s thoughtful followup post at Crooked Timber presented the spectacle of one agitated and flailing defender of the law pretty much surrounded by people trying to talk sense into him. Someone adopting the monicker “Civil Justice” wandered into the Etsy forums to push Lawsuit Lobby views and was not met with pleasure by the assembled crafters, an episode which may be related to the one already told about how the misnamed Center for Justice and Democracy, a group with views antipodal to our own, suggested that we all were insensitive to children’s health and then refused to let any letters from critics through moderation, claiming to feel threatened by the letters’ tone (examples of the sorts of letter CJD found too intimidating in tone to run: Mark Riffey, Olivia @ BabyCandyStore). Some other previously linked comments discussions: The Pump Handle (profoundly misguided contributor corrected by Deputy Headmistress, Kathleen Fasanella, etc.), Consumer Reports, Greco Woodcrafting (Public Citizen’s David Arkush vs. the world), and, of course, Justinian Lane.
  • G-O-O-D-B-Y-E B-O-O-K-S

  • Even a casual acquaintance with CPSIA blogging is enough to show that homeschooling parents have taken an extraordinary role in leading the resistance to the law. Bloggers like CalifMom have predicted that the law will have numerous harmful impacts on homeschoolers, and homeschool curriculum suppliers such as Hands and Hearts History Discovery Kits and Hope Chest Legacy have already closed down because of the impracticability of compliance. So it’s unfortunate that the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) seems to have so little clue what’s going on.

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An Explosion of Litigation | OpenMarket.org
03.14.09 at 10:44 am

{ 9 comments }

1 califmom 03.03.09 at 4:45 am

An excellent update on this serious over-correction on the part of our legislators. I fear the impacts will be even greater than we can fathom. It is a holocaust of literature.

2 Mark Riffey 03.03.09 at 10:30 am

I count myself as proud that they were too scared to print a simple response.

Fear is such an amusing emotion, especially when it comes from something that calls itself a media outlet or an advocacy group. After all, blogs are *so* threatening. Maybe its the lead:)

3 Vivian Zabel 03.03.09 at 10:40 am
4 Nancy Swan 03.03.09 at 2:54 pm

Great article Walter Olson. This is a must read for all educators and parents – not to alarm them about the potential hazard of books, but about the real danger of too much power in the hands of those with sinister motives. Behind every law and lawmaker is someone who will benefit. Who will benefit from the seizing and possible destruction of these children’s books? Definitely (1) contractor who will test these books, ( 2) publishers who will reprint these books, and (3) lets not forget lawmakers who will or have received payment from these fortunate contractors.

I wonder if it will next be unlawful for a child to touch the computer, which also could contain “harmful” products?

Too bad our lawmakers don’t seem to care about unsafe schools. Lawmakers removed from the Stimulus Bill, the provision giving EPA oversight over the environmental quality of schools.

5 Tristan Benz 03.03.09 at 3:22 pm

Yet again, a very useful and informative post.

I see now I’m not alone in not making it through the “moderator” on various articles – last one was at the Examiner (and I actually thanked them for their feature, as it made some kind of dent toward revealing the TRUTH)…ah, sad. My personal policy on comments is that I will only fail to publish if a) they fail to use &$#@% in place of really bad language and b) if I feel their comment would only embarrass them to a degree they don’t deserve (I had one on a feature I wrote about being opposed to the class action lawsuit where my respect for the author inspired me to simply respond offline – there are nice ways to promote dialogue). Currently, one project I’m working on is a post of all my commentaries at various places so that the ones who failed to print will be exposed. Censorship of opposing views is disgraceful – I may be direct and have a clear POV – but my comments are not packed with foul language, etc.

On a ‘humorous’ note, I think I’m going to start a line of bumper stickers – first one, “Has anybody seen the AMERICA my grandparents helped to build lately?” Or, how about, “My Child’s Carseat [insert word here] has been BIG BROTHER APPROVED!”

And on a serious note, thanks for the link to the disabled concern – I emailed ARC and suggest we all ought to find more groups that promote this “special interest” in our community. When you start taking money from those that have enough challenges in getting jobs, etc., it’s downright shameful!

In a few days, I hope to reveal a project that I think will be of value to WE the PEOPLE who seek to be GOOD AMERICANS by learning the truth about CPSIA and asking questions. Thanks again for this coverage – your will to stay with the cause that promises to take longer than not is to be commended.

Kind Regards,
Tristan Benz
Maiden America

6 Mark Biggar 03.03.09 at 5:02 pm

Of course children shouldn’t be allowed to touch computers. They not only contains enough lead that a child will probably drop dead if he approaches within 5 feet of it, but he also might be exposed to some un-good thoughts.

7 Lora 03.03.09 at 6:49 pm

What, hard to get an opposing view printed when it goes against the government?
So we do need that unFairness Doctrine after all.

Publius

8 Sara B. 03.03.09 at 10:02 pm

I found this article linked in a BabyCenter email I received today: http://www.babycenter.com/204_huge-decline-in-u-s-children-with-high-lead-levels_10310173.bc

Talk about incredibly ironic! So WHY do we need this law if the lead levels went down all on their own by concentrating on the things that REALLY give them lead poisoning?

9 MF 03.04.09 at 3:59 pm

Good point, Sara B. I saw a similar headline on the front page of my local newspaper (Riverside [CA] Press-Enterprise, actually a moderate-conservative paper). What a coincidence that this announcement comes out now? Do you think it might just be an attempt to quiet some of the screaming about CPSIA? Nah, no one would ever do anything that calculated… Of course the study is a few months old, but of course it needed to be brought back in front of the public to help obfuscate the discussion.

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