Another interesting day at the office! I was interviewed by the Denver Post about the CPSIA (focused on the many serious problems being caused by this hastily drafted law) and heard about the many new viral contacts being made by the energetic and effective members of this informal coalition. It is gratifying to know that we are being heard. The media keeps calling - this is certainly a good thing. I also know our presence is being felt in high places. This is not the same as saying that we have seen cracks in the defense yet, but since today was swearing-in day in Congress, the next few days will reveal much. The staffing of the Rush Subcommittee has yet to be formalized, and then there is the possibility of hearings sometime this month.
Having read today's outpouring of comments and reactions to my Blog, I welled up with anger over this terrible law and fired off yet another letter to the Rush Subcommittee. They are used to hearing from me by now - but this time, I shared your public blogs. They need to see the scale of the disaster they have wrought.
I hope you are all crafting calls, emails and faxes for your representatives in Congress. The amazing AAFA has generated over 7500 emails through their website (other trade associations could learn from them). I know you want "talking points" for your messages. Here are a couple for today:
a. The CPSIA is harmful because the reach of its lead rules is too great. The notorious recalls of 2007 related to lead-in-paint (already illegal) and lead jewelry for kids. These are the only instances of lead in children's products for which there is a documented link to ACTUAL injuries. In other words, the concept of "total lead" has never been linked to real, documented injuries (injuries that have names, addresses and descriptions attached). By overreaching the real risks, huge problems occurred for everyone concerned with being compliant with law. Under the CPSIA, everything is suspect, even though common sense and common experience informs us that the risk is virtually nonexistent with the above limited exceptions. Had the law been tailored to address lead instances that actually present a known risk of injury, MANY industries and businesses would have been spared coverage by this law. The cost of compliance would have come down significantly as well.
b. The CPSIA also overreaches in the definition of children's products. By sweeping in ALL products intended for children up to age 12, the law draws in far too many products with making any rational relationship to known, actual risks. It is well-documented by the CPSC that children over three don't put toys in their mouths - so why extend the age range all the way to 12 years old? When discussing this issue with legislators over the past year, the rational presented to support this term is that 12 year olds "often have a two-year-old sibling who may get into their [toys]". This is patently absurd on several levels. First of all, the risk of unsupervised toddlers is controlled by PARENTS, not manufacturers. There shouldn't be an obligation that all children's product be designed to permit absentee parenting. Second, there is little or no data to suggest that this theoretical risk of injury actually results in injury. Yes, little kids can hurt themselves by getting into Big Brother's stuff - but do they? No. Third, the notion that little kids will likely get into the older kids' stuff - but not the parents' stuff (unregulated) or other household items (what about Fido's toys - which look just like Junior's?) is simply contemptible. Two-year-olds are not known to prefer chewing on the shoes of pre-teens over Daddy's slippers, and if anything would be attracted to dog toys which are always found on the floor in easy reach. Think about it - did Congress endorse gruesome injury from those other items, but thumbed its nose at injury from a sibling's possessions? Come on - their exclusion of those other items from the lead standards is a tacit acknowledgement of the arbritrary placement of the line.
You will be interested to note that of all the public interest groups lobbying for this law on the web, I could find ZERO that illustrated their materials on lead with images of any child over three. Many little kids were pictured with rubber duckies in their mouths. Notably, none of the kids sucking on rubber duckies were 12 years old . . . . I would advance that if lead safety were really an issue for 12 year olds, then why aren't these activists displaying these terrible dangers in their own brochures? I think the answer is obvious.
c. Finally, the Falvey opinion that the total lead and lead-in-paint rules apply retroactively need to be reversed for the good of the nation. You know that - you are blogging about it every day. Why is it okay for Congress to take this step? Would reversal of the Falvey opinion unleash a "flood of dangerous toys" in a "giant lawn sale" on an unsuspecting public? Of course not, and the reason is clear - there is simply no indication that the existing inventory is dangerous. Remember, if it were, the CPSC already has the power to recall it. The public interest advocates are swarming over the entire children's product industry waving XRF guns. If there is such a major public health crisis underfoot - where's the data? Nowhere to be found.
I think that's enough for today!