Monday, January 26, 2009

CPSIA - Who is Defying Whom?

As we march resolutely forward against an immovable Congress, I ask "who is defying whom?" I have been writing Congress about this bill since July. We know that my original letters went unread by the principals - they EACH admitted that fact to me freely in November, and nary ONE of my many subsequent emails on the CPSIA have been answered. Those of us who oppose this law hold views which are unwelcome in certain quarters of Congress. We stand in opposition to the self-righteous consumer "advocates" who promote a rigid and unthinking "take no chances" approach to safety and who openly state that the bill cannot be reopened, as though they are now the Moms of the nation ("no more cookies for you, Young Man!"). The more we are disdained, the more I feel ostracized and excluded from a critical national debate and function. So I ask - are we defying them, or are they defying us?

I used to think this was our government. I used to think government officials collected paychecks which we paid with our tax dollars, that they work on our behalf. Yet, when their handiwork is criticized, they tell us to go away. They act as though they are an entity unto themselves, rather than an organ of OUR government. Rachel Weintraub, senior counsel for the Consumer Federation of America and a leading adviser to the bill's authors, instructs in a recent article that ‘[t]he answer is not to reopen the bill.” I see. They know what's best for us; by opposing their law, we are defying them.

But . . .

a. Sales are down sharply at a wide range of companies selling children's products. I have heard from many of you about disorder in your markets. I know from my customers that fear, distrust and uncertainty is running rampant. The government (and Rachel Weintraub) is telling us we can't trust anyone - so we don't.

b. Companies are now starting to informally remove product from the market - not because they are certain that these products create a health hazard or because they know they violate law. In fact, that's not possible since the law is not settled - there are no implementing rules or testing standards for "total lead". Actually, "total lead" is not well-defined at all. So why are these pseudo-recalls occurring and why should we care? They are occurring because companies are running scared and feel they can reduce prospective costs by "taking no chances" now. Why should we care? This activity not only wastes vast amounts of money and resources, but also scares the willies out of the market. It suggests that we ACTUALLY HAVE SOMETHING TO FEAR. Is Rachel Weintraub right? Heavens no, not even close, but these recalls make her look "right". This is catastrophic on many levels.

c. Many companies are jumping to the 300 ppm total lead standard now, in anticipation of the August standard. This is virtually required by the September 12 retroactivity opinion of Cheryl Falvey, and totally eliminates the Congressionally-granted sell-off time between February 10 and August 9. This further confuses and alarms the marketplace. Should everyone be scared? It looks like it. Thanks, Congress!

d. The Waxman and Rush House Committees have refused to call hearings on the CPSIA. Their proposed hearings in December were suddenly cancelled and no further hearings have been scheduled, despite the calls of Reps. Barton and Radanovich, the ranking Republican members of those committees. One reason to not have hearings is to keep me, and to keep you, off the record. If there are hearings, they will be taped and put up on the web for all to see. Snippets can go up on YouTube. That might be . . . embarrassing for some people associated with the law. People who testify can put written testimony in the public record without their having any ability to review it or change it. Remember that little thing called Freedom of Speech? The written testimony, which the committee must post online, will be an invitation for a suddenly interested Media to ask questions. No one wants that! The only way to keep the mischief makers out of the record is to have no record at all.

No, we are not defying them - they are defying us, and in so doing, are defaulting on their responsibilities as Congressional committees. If their policy is so strong and so protective of our interests as members of our community, why not respond to the critics? Why not hold hearings? Is the right way to respond to rational criticism to say that the bill will never be reopened, and we should all clasp hands and blame the CPSC instead? I think not.

Write your Congressman and DEMAND that they reach out IN WRITING to Reps. Waxman and Rush, and Senators Pryor and Rockefeller, with cc's to Reps. Barton, Radanovich and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, to request urgent hearings on the serious issues raised about the CPSIA and further, to implement an immediate stay of enforcement of the law for at least six months after final implementing rules are promulgated by the CPSC. By hitting the "pause button", Congress will allow for an orderly process to consider the issues on the bill and to define the appropriate corrective action after due public debate. They need to hear from you - on the record.



Pam McKinnis said...

If only we had some strong financial backing we could start running our own radio ads about this injustice. A few 10's of thousands of dollars and a good 30 second radio ad to start playing in major cities around the country just may get some attention. Emails won't do it. If there are ideas on how to raise or get donations for this idea it may get some attention.

Connie said...

Pam, I agree. They've proven that no amount of phone calls and emails will put even a chink in their armour. They are adept at making people believe they are concerned and have created a mirage of possible actions for the gullible. Since the media won't put the proper perspective on this by themselves, the only thing left is to buy that media attention. Organizing all the disparate interests in this is like herding wild horses. Surely a concerned individual or group is in a financial situation where they can get the ball rolling and others can then join in. Anyone there?

trinlayk said...

I think my respect for the politician who comes forward and says "Opps, we put this through without remembering that small and micro business exists. Let's get together and fix this so it's reasonable for all parties." My estimation for that politician would go up 200%

Right now, they all pretty much look like Nixon to me.

Aaron said...

Your voice is one of the most intelligent and passionate in this CPSIA battle. Don't let the frustrations mar your leadership. We depend on your wisdom and the rational way you discuss this.

What else can we do right now?
Do we need to become lobbyists, as suggested above?


Roman said...

Let's all agree NOT to hire anymore Democrats. (Not that the other side is perfect, but let's take a look at who's in charge right now and who sponsored this CPSIA crap!)