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February 18, 2009

CPSIA: Competitive Products from Smaller Institutions Annihilation Act?

Do you really want to help children?  Do you want to make a genuine difference in their lives?

Then take their clothes, grab their toys and burn their books.

And then throw their parents out of work.

Only by taking these actions will you be able to ensure that we are protecting the most vulnerable among us from what could be described as an epidemic of lead poisoning (were there actually an epidemic of lead poisoning).

How bad is it?

Just take a look at this chart we prepared using the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

EBLL Chart

What you are seeing is no joke.  (If only it were.) The percentage of children testing positive for elevated levels of lead in their blood has been literally plummeting for years. 

Were we supposed to just stand by and not put in place draconian new regulations with far reaching consequences while our children were being exposed to ever decreasing levels of lead?

That is why Congress felt compelled to pass The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that requires any product that contains lead, from toys to books to clothing to off-highway vehicles, intended for use by children under twelve, be prohibited from sale.

And in so doing, also banned the sale of youth motorcycles and ATVs rendering worthless tens of millions of dollars in inventory and threatening the livelihood of thousands across the country.

At least we’re not in the midst of an economic crisis.

The problem is, certain off-highway vehicle parts naturally have some lead content.  The obvious danger is the possibility that a six-year-old might accidentally swallow a motorcycle fender. Never mind extensive damage to the gastro-intestinal system, think of the low-levels of lead exposure! You want that on your conscience?

The law is primarily hitting smaller outfits across the country, from libraries and small bookstores that are removing children’s books from their shelves, to smaller toy manufacturers to native-American craft producers to small retailers that can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars in tests to ensure they don’t run afoul of the law.

Advocates for the new law point out that, sure, there have been some implementation problems, but it’s all being sorted out with “simple, commonsense rules” pointing to this clarification from the Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding “resellers of children’s products, thrift and consignment stores:”

“The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.”

So you see, the law doesn’t actually require that you subject your products to prohibitively expensive and time-consuming tests that might put you out of business, only that if you don’t, you could go to jail.

Talk about simple!

And it’s not like every single item is a problem, only things like jewelry, any toys with paint, “flimsy” toys, dolls, and stuffed toys with eyes or noses, you know, really just a handful of. Items. Plus everything else that could have lead content.  But again, that’s only if you don’t want to go to jail.

So, really, it’s voluntary on your part.

And while it’s true that lower-income children who depend on thrift and second-hand stores might be hit hardest, at least we’ve ensured that they will be lead-free.  Naked, bored, and ignorant, yes, but also lead-free!

And besides, much of the whining is coming from smaller makers of children’s toys.  You don’t hear that coming from the true champions of free enterprise and consumer safety, the gigantic multinational toy companies, each of which is perfectly willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how many of their smaller competitors are thrown out of business.

In the interest of full disclosure, we should point out that people who have suffered prolonged exposure to lead during their childhood hold a special place here at Planet Moron as they are the principle source of our readership and like small proprietors everywhere, this law will hit us hard.

But that’s okay, because you know who it’s for?  (Everyone together now.)

It’s for the children.


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February 18, 2009 at 10:25 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Comedy gold is right, J. That was hi-larious!

Good thing it's just a big joke. Um, wait a minute ...

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw | Feb 20, 2009 12:49:56 PM

HIPAA is another wonderful Act of our Congress ripe for your unique form of blog.

HIPAA: a "solution" for a problem with no evidence of existence much less degree; a healthcare "solution" that obstructs medical communication therefore increases errors; a "solution" that costs over a billion dollars but generates lots of new administrative, oversight and regulatory jobs, so it can't be all bad.

PLEASE satirize it!

Posted by: Deane Waldman | Feb 19, 2009 12:20:11 AM

Thanks, guys! I think I'll be revisiting this topic again. Without even clicking on Fenris' link, I've got three jokes lined up already.

As I mentioned to Wacky Hermit earlier: Comedy. Gold.

And as much as I'd hate to lose such a rich vein of material, this law really does have to die. It's like a Platonic pure form of a federal mandate made real in the physical world: Expensive, destructive, counterproductive, and utterly failing at its intended purpose. Amazing.

Posted by: Planet Moron | Feb 18, 2009 6:54:18 PM

I love your name for CPSIA!

Posted by: Sheila | Feb 18, 2009 6:12:03 PM

The Consumer Product Safety Administration also made sure to define what they meant when they were referring to books.

“The term “ordinary book” in this context means one that is published on cardboard or paper printed by conventional methods and intended to be read. It excludes children’s books that have plastic, metal or electronic parts.”

So those copies of Clifford the Big Red Dog that have staple bindings, DEADLY TO CHILDREN. We must save children from the menace of staples!

You can see a long analysis of exactly what CPSIA does to books and pictures of books that are considered dangerous here:

Posted by: Fenris | Feb 18, 2009 5:25:44 PM

Thanks! I tweeted a link to this post. The CPSIA fighters on Twitter will get a kick out of it!

Posted by: Wacky Hermit | Feb 18, 2009 5:15:55 PM

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