“The law that stole Christmas”

by Walter Olson on November 6, 2010

KiteWoodcutA nonprofit in suburban Chicago each year encourages its woodworker members “to craft and donate wooden Christmas toys to less fortunate children.” After donating upwards of 700 toys a year in the past, it will have to discontinue the program in future since it can’t afford the third-party testing required under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, sponsored by area members of Congress Bobby Rush and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). “Woodworking hobby magazines have pegged prices for third-party testing as high as $30,000 for 80 items.” Testing is particularly impractical for items made from donated/recycled wood, since each donated wood source needs to be put through separate testing. Another triumph for CPSIA! [Jenette Sturges, Sun-Times/Beacon-News]

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from John Bate’s 1635 book, The Mysteryes of Nature and Art, Wikimedia Commons.

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1 gitarcarver 11.06.10 at 10:08 am

Similar concerns are being raised in carving clubs that donate hand carved Christmas tree ornaments to hospitals and then are sold or auctioned off.

There is the issue as to whether the ornaments would be considered a “toy” or something “attractive to a child under 12,” but carvers and clubs are scared of the exposure.

The irony, of course, is that people made the ornaments and toys to help others. It was a case of using ones talents, hobby and passion to help other people. Obviously, people helping people using their talents and skills is “wrong” and must be stopped by any and all means necessary.

2 Elaine 11.06.10 at 6:32 pm

I haven’t lived in the States for more than a decade but still keep in touch with family and friends. I couldn’t believe this stupid law when I first read about it on this site. I’ve heard from some relatives that buying winter clothes for children is a bit more expensive and difficult this year and they think it will get worse. Is this true all over or just in parts?

3 John 11.07.10 at 2:54 am

These craftsmen should send congressmen on 3-week long factfinding trips to Tahiti to study the effect of heavy metals on Bora Bora.

Then, the craftsmen will mysteriously find legislation favorable to their cause being passed through congress.

4 DensityDuck 11.08.10 at 2:32 pm

I’m pretty sure that if you showed this article to those members of Congress who voted in favor of the CPSIA, every single one of them would say that this was a stupid outcome that not only wasn’t intended, but shouldn’t even be happening. They wouldn’t understand what you meant if you pointed out that they did in fact pass this law, and that this is in fact a direct result of this law.

On the other hand, stupid crap like this isn’t anything new. Our local church had to shut down its Feed-The-Hungry operation (where a bunch of retired housewives cooked simple meals and froze them to give to the local soup kitchen.) The reason is that the church kitchen wasn’t certified as a commercial food-preparation facility, as one of the lawyers in the congregation helpfully pointed out to the lady in charge of the program.

5 Another guy named Dan 11.08.10 at 6:35 pm

Real nitpick – The plot is closer to the special “Here comes Santa Claus” than the Grinch. Burgermeister Meisterburger outlaws toys and cancels Christmas after slipping on a wheeled toy, injuring his foot. It is only after Santa presents him with a toy from his childhood that he remembers what Christmas can mean to the children.

Grinches steal Christmas, Meisterburgers keep it from happening.
(yes, I watched way too much TV growing up during the ’70s)

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