Alas, it’s just another a temporary one: the Consumer Product Safety Commission has once again stayed implementation of CPSIA’s impractical testing rules, this time till December 31. [Commissioner Nancy Nord, more, earlier here, here, etc.]
More/related: Virginia Postrel considers why small foodmakers and farmers were able to get a better legislative deal from Big Government than makers of small children’s items [WSJ] The Handmade Toy Alliance hopes President Obama’s announced change of course on regulation will help. Rick Woldenberg notes that if you’re a small producer and the CPSC itself doesn’t get you, retailers like Costco will as they turn the screws to ensure CPSIA-compliant supply chains. And CPSC Commissioner Anne Northup points out that the federal regulatory agency is interpreting the overlap between “general” and “child-related” safety standards in a maximally burdensome way.
Already postponed in their effect more than once, the testing rules required by the 2008 law are still impractical enough to threaten widespread business disruptions and closures. While the Consumer Product Safety Commission has come to agree that the law does not require endlessly reduplicative testing of the same components, “the hoped-for market for ‘CPSIA tested and certified’ components has not yet developed.” CPSC needs to extend the deadline while awaiting a more workable regulatory fix or better yet Congressional reconsideration. Carter Wood explains.
More: on the brighter side, the newly constituted House Energy and Commerce committee was quick out of the gate with a public meeting on CPSIA reform [Rick Woldenberg, statement, reminder of unhelpful role of "consumer" groups] And Wacky Hermit offers a CPSIA Primer.
PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Elise Bake, Der Ball Der Tiere (“The Animals’ Ball”, German, 1891), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has repeatedly delayed the implementation of the testing and certification rules required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the economics of which is likely to capsize many smaller producers. Now time may be running out for further extensions after the Feb. 10 deadline. [Rick Woldenberg, AmendTheCPSIA.com] Comments from affected parties are here.
A 3-2 vote at the Consumer Product Safety Commission last week ensures that the federal government will put its imprimatur behind allegations about supposed hazards in consumer products — whether true or not. I explain in a new post at Cato at Liberty.
P.S. Kelly Young comments: “I wonder if they’d be willing to maintain a public database of complaints against federal employees?” More: Coyote (comparing relative sophistication of Amazon, TripAdvisor consumer ratings systems with primitive nature of CPSC’s); letter from Rep. Joe Barton, PDF; Washington Post; ACSH.
A 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.
Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason “Hit and Run” provides two snapshots of the continuing damage being done by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, including the rage-and-despair reaction of Rick Woldenberg (AmendTheCPSIA.com), who says that the new regulations “will jack up Learning Resources’ annual compliance costs to $15 million, FAR in excess of our profits. We have no Plan B — so we are trying to get a new government.” And a commenter points to the “Criticism” and (very partial) “List of Companies Whose Closure Is Linked To CPSIA” sections of the Wikipedia entry.
Related: “Not available because of the CPSIA“: wood-and-beeswax Selecta Spielzeug Rhonda dollhouse dining room, formerly imported from Germany. Why pay a whopping testing bill to clear an innocuous product that’s at best going to sell modestly on this side of the Atlantic? [EuroToyShop.com]
The Wall Street Journal had a report Tuesday on newly mobilized sentiment among businesspeople intent on challenging the rapid ongoing expansion of federal governance and regulation. It profiles Rick Woldenberg, well known to readers of this site as a tireless agitator against the insanities of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. Woldenberg had been an Obama voter and basically apathetic about politics until the CPSIA debacle unfolded, putting at risk his medium-sized educational products company and many other makers and sellers of basically harmless products for kids. The indifference of the federal establishment to the resulting distress in the business community — and in particular the deaf ear turned by such lawmakers as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) — propelled Woldenberg into legislative activism (AmendTheCPSIA.com) and then politics, where he has backed Joel Pollak in an unusually strong challenge to Rep. Schakowsky in her Chicago-area district.
On CPSIA’s tendency to ban rocks used for study in Earth Science classes, see our earlier post. More: ShopFloor.
PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Elise Bake, Der Ball Der Tiere (“The Animals’ Ball”, German, 1891), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.
The website of the Golden Cockerel import firm includes a rather elaborate warning as to why its matryoshka are not meant for the under-12 set, at least not since the enactment of the calamitous Jan-Schakowsky-backed law:
the law requires each batch of toys be tested by a 3rd party laboratory to be sure they are “toy safe.” Such tests can cost well over $1000 per nesting doll set! And sometimes, as with our museum quality one-of-a-kind dolls, a “batch” consists entirely of one doll, or only a few, making it totally unfeasible to test.
CPSIA: reserving treasured toys for strictly adult use since 2008.
More: The CPSC has just sided with purported consumer groups and against pleas from the business community in adopting a broad definition of what constitute “children’s products” under the disastrous Barbara-Boxer-backed law: for example, ordinary paper clips must go through costly separate CPSIA testing when meant for kids’ use as part of a science kit with magnets and similar items [NY Times, AP/WaPo ("Kids' science kits may take hit from safety ruling"), Commissioners Anne Northup and Nancy Nord]
Rick Woldenberg reacts to a peculiarly inutile suggestion, in a Baltimore Sun interview, from CPSC chair Inez Tenenbaum (“We think if we had a small-business ombudsman who was out there regularly educating small businesses, we could help them prevent problems in terms of compliance.”):
…The necessary implication is that we small businesses are just too stupid to understand their complicated rules – I guess she thinks only Mattel can read the English language. Of course, the pending testing frequency rule (which I believe will be implemented in the coming weeks, get ready for it) will cause our company to spend $15 million per annum on testing. This sum far exceeds our profits. Perhaps the ombudsman will help us terminate our people to pay for testing, or provide a shoulder to cry on.
Lenore Skenazy at Forbes: “How the Consumer Product Safety Commission drives parents — and everyone else — crazy.” Besides the CPSIA rock-poster story of the headline (earlier), the CPSC has scared parents about not-very-terrifying Graco high chairs and Little Tykes workbenches, to say nothing of those McDonald’s Shrek glasses with traces of cadmium.
Related: the Federalist Society presents a podcast on CPSIA with CPSC commissioners Nancy Nord and Robert Adler; rules for making kids’ products recall the IRS code in complexity; the new public database of alleged product-related injuries, a la NHTSA’s, draws critical attention from manufacturers and CPSC commissioner Anne Northup; and the commission tackles the dangers of clacker balls.
You might be bitter too:
I called the lab, got the quote and did the math. CPSIA-mandated testing costs for my little product line was over $27,000 for just over $30,000 worth of product. I cannot express the horrible feeling I had when I realized that I had made a mistake that was going to cost my family all of our money. …
I blame every one of the Energy and Commerce legislative staffers.
– Jolie Fay, crafter, SkippingHippos.com, guest post, AmendTheCPSIA.com
PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Ethel Everett, illustrator, Nursery Rhymes (1900), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.
And testing and testing and testing: “This item has been tested I don’t know how many times. Many times in many forms. Every test was a pass. This latest $4,000 test told us NOTHING we didn’t already know.” [Rick Woldenberg] Plus: “It’s raining paper… again,” and who is CPSC going to get to test the test testing testers?
The newspaper profiles Randy Hertzler of Lancaster, Pa., whose small family-owned business imports European-made specialty toys and is reeling under the costs of the 2008 enactment. [via CPSC Commissioner Anne Northup]
Dallas entrepreneur Phebe Phillips tells in this speech (PDF) why she had to get out of her successful plush animal business:
Then in 2008 and 2009 the U.S. economy tanked … retail dwindled and a new toy regulation was enacted in response to the poor quality and mass quantity oversights by some really big toy companies. This new law raises the testing price for each product and in some cases, doubles or triples the costs. For some small companies, it can cost one year of total revenue just to meet the requirements of this law. The law is for any product marketed to a child age twelve and under and for any product made anywhere…even here. It has frozen many small and midsize companies leaving the companies that caused the problems in the first place as some of the only companies that can afford to stay in business. Financially, it caused me to temporarily halt my business…I changed!
Via Amend the CPSIA, which had this report on Phillips in December; earlier on CPSIA and stuffed animals here and here.
Consumer Product Safety Commission member Anne Northup has also been blogging about some of the law’s ongoing damaging effects on sellers of dolls, kids’ furniture and apparel imports.
PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Honor C. Appleton, The Bad Mrs. Ginger (Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1902), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.
Reader Chaim Gordon, a Georgetown 2L and former clerk with the Institute for Justice, cc’d us on an excerpted email to call our attention to
… a potential rule by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or legislation by congress (S. 3400, H.R. 5386), see, e.g. (PDF), banning “the sale, manufacture, distribution, and use in public facilities of drop-side cribs.” As a parent, I feel violated (not really, because I own two such cribs already), and as a multiple-drop-side-crib-owner, I feel robbed.
I have been following this story for over a year now, and it seems to me that this rule/legislation is likely to implemented (I think that a rule is more likely than a bill). Originally, I thought that this ban was an effort by the crib manufacturers to reduce potential liability without losing market share by way of voluntary action. I now think that something more sinister is at work here. I now think that the manufacturers want to increase demand for their product by taking a large portion of the used-crib market/family-gift competition out of the picture. (Drop-side cribs used to comprise around 50% of the new crib market, and now, because of CPSC warnings and voluntary measures, that percentage has dropped to around 20%.) This of course comes at the expense of the innocent parents who may have been counting on selling their used cribs or giving their used cribs to family members (and at the expense of parents who will have to pay more for a used/new crib). Personally, I have never heard of a regulation that limited the rights of consumers to resell (or give away) their legitimately purchased, but now considered deficient, product (consider used cars without airbags).
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