Thursday, April 2, 2009

CPSIA- The Rally and the Democrats

The April 1 Fly-In, Rally and Congressional Briefing took place yesterday morning in Washington, D.C. in front of a Standing Room-only crowd. We had attendees who drove through the night to be there, and others that flew in from all over the country. In addition, we had many, many participants who joined us electronically, watching the streaming video or listening to the streaming audio online (http://www.amendthecpsia.com/) and "tweeting" and chatting all throughout the event. We know we had online participants from at least 43 States (Minnesota took the prize, in case you were curious), as well as Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, United Kingdom and Uruguay. This was a truly worldwide event involving an estimated 2,000 people (or more).

The speakers at the Rally included 16 small businesses or individuals (including an eloquent six year old dirt bike racer), one large business and three industry organizations (one was a last minute fill-in for a small business speaker who had to cancel for health reasons), three scientists, plus two Senators and six Representatives. Despite our efforts to entice their participation, we were disappointed to not have even one Democrat legislator as speaker. Notably, Mr. Waxman scheduled a last-minute committee meeting directly opposite our Rally, so presumably he was not favorably inclined to let his fellow Democrats visit HVC201 to be with us. His loss. . . .

Our impressive line-up of legislators engaged the attendees with news flashes like Rep. Joe Barton's announcement of the introduction of HR 1815 Consumer Product Safety Solutions Act of 2009 with 17 co-sponsors, and the revelation by Rep. Cliff Stearns that U.S. government scientists had admitted that the phthalates ban was an over-reaction and was unnecessary, as well as "Inside the Beltway" insights into the pending legislative process. Industry speakers made clear that the widespread and devastating gratuitous harm caused by the CPSIA criscrosses industry, regional and channel of trade lines, and the toxicologists were able to clarify that there is no public health "crisis" to solve or being solved by the CPSIA. Our individual speakers helped make clear that the law is making day-to-day life a lot less fun for many people, too - reducing our quality of life here in America. All together, our speakers made a compelling, reasonable, rational case against the misguided and misconceived CPSIA.

Bringing this convincing message to the Hill is only part of our challenge. Getting some legislative action is the goal. We have legitimized our stance, and proven that the ill effects are real and are not the imagination of easily dismissed "Mommy Bloggers" or "angry young men". Nonetheless, it remains our challenge to convince Democrats to act. Tragically, for reasons that are hard to comprehend, this has become a partisan mess, and the Democrats will not bend on the law, despite our efforts to expose the "unintended consequences" of this evil law. Despite Mr. Barton's entreaty that we can trust the Democrats to do the right thing for our country, the Dems remain resolutely, defiantly deaf to our pleas. Clearly then, our challenge post-Rally is to raise the din to higher and higher levels.

It is frustrating that our job is not done, but the reality is that it just isn't done. I believe that it is getting closer to the time when we must resort to more intensive political activism. If we cannot gain the cooperation of the Democrats, if they stick to their "Just Say No" policy while our businesses melt, our capital is depleted and our jobs are destroyed, our cherished family leisure activities are curtailed, our schools are deprived of needed supplies and teaching materials and our libraries become book prisons, we will have no choice but to identify better representatives and actively work on their behalf to send them to Washington to fix this mess.

The nonsense idea promoted by the Waxman/Rush/Rockefeller/Pryor axis is that the current CPSIA dilemma is somehow Nancy Nord's fault, and if she were replaced as Chairman of the CPSC, all would be well. This contention is hard to fathom in light of the last 23 decisions made by the two current Commissioners, all by a vote of 2-0. Yes, they have voted together 23 times in a row. Would a third vote change those outcomes or make the law any more coherent or flexible? The logic of this argument is baffling to many people - and the Democrats provide no details to back up their puzzling assertion. Perhaps the legislative leaders are looking for a Chairman that is willing to break the law . . . . The demands for a new Chairman are usually paired with a savaging of Nancy Nord for her "role" in this process. She apparently has had enough of the personal attacks, and sent a letter to President Obama dated April 1 (presumably not as an April Fool's joke) asking that he promptly appoint a new CPSC Chairman. In her letter, she helpfully documents the nasty mess the lucky candidate will inherit. No doubt that will be a handy recruitment tool for Mr. Obama. Not to worry though - Mssrs. Waxman, Rush, Rockefeller and Pryor have it all figured out, this next person will work miracles and we will all be delighted with the solutions they magically conjure up. Uh-huh.

The Democrats have a choice - fix the mess they created, or we will find somebody else to do it for them. As the old saying goes, Change the Man, or Change the Man. Henry Waxman, do you hear us?

Rick

5 comments:

Tristan Benz - Maiden America - www.maidenus.com said...

Rick,

I watched the Rally - well done.

As you know, I've maintained definite ideas as to what it's going to take. I'm disappointed at the outcome but, sadly, I'm not at all surprised.

Not to be a thorn in the side - but, again, this is SO much bigger than CPSIA. At the root of this problem is the failure of our "public servants" to listen to WE the PEOPLE. No amount of blogging, chatter, etc. across the web will solve this (though the web can and should be FAR better used - it's NOT about technology, it's a communication tool - I think people generally don't get that).

No protest or march is enough, either. With all due respect, I know you folks are used to working things your way...but it's time to break through those comfort zones, seizing upon a big idea - a BOLD an meaningful action.

I've opened a discussion on Ning, proposing a NATIONAL REFERENDUM. I don't believe it's anything our nation has ever done (I could be wrong...) but I know it's been done around the world.

Basically, if we're not happy with the direction our "representatives" are taking OUR country - our businesses and the families they impact across this nation - we need to take this BOLD, formal, legal action. It is not a right / left action - it is a WE the PEOPLE action. WE, I believe, are still capable of coming together, even if our "representatives" consistenly prove their own failed ability in this endeavor. What WE have in common - let that be the glue.

A Referendum is a BIG idea and I certainly don't have the resources to get it going - but I believe it is big enough to have a real, palpable impact.

If WE don't like what's being done "on our behalf," we have every right to call for a nationwide vote. WE put these politicians into office and WE can put them out, on our terms and timing, if necessary!

Unless and until this IS the U.S.S.A., WE the PEOPLE still have the power to shape our destiny - OUR children's future in this great land.

Finally, I'll just share that my real concern, in analysing conversations across the web right now - in adding up all the other pieces of ugly legislation taking shape - is that there is not a very large window for cool heads to prevail; to take positive, pre-emptive action and avoid things escalating into, well...violence.

Yes, I've said it. Don't want to but have no choice (must have been an oracle in some previous life?!) - but my gut is so rarely wrong. And my gut is telling me that, if we fail NOW, at this critical time in our nation's history, to think big and focus in solidarity; to take risks beyond any comfort zone we know; to problem-solve with nothing but the ROOT of the problem in mind - then, people are going to leap from now simmering anger and frustration to the boil-over of ugly fight. It's basic, animal instinct. When folks wielding power over our businesses and very lives fail to listen - and, as more suffer by the day - eventually, something's gonna give.

So - I do believe, it's time to act now and ask permission later.

Again - great job. Sorry it didn't achieve the immediate result we all wanted. But it's bigger than CPSIA; than all of our businesses combined; than any and all ego needs we've yet ecountered along the way... It's ALL the egos in congress, rolled into one. Slay that evil dragon and we're onto something - which reminds me - as I pointed out in other commentary, it's not the sharp tip that makes a sword lethal...it's the power of the thrust, behind it.

The sword with enough power to solve the REAL problem here must be one with the thrust of an entire nation taking action, in solidarity. A NATIONAL REFERENDUM.

Leslee said...

I would like to provide a counterpoint to Tristan's comment. My husband and I attended the rally in DC as concerned consumers. As Rick mentioned, two US Senators and six US Representatives spoke at the rally. They spoke in support of our efforts and shared what their own efforts have been in getting some legislation going to amend the CPSIA. So even if many of our "public servents" are turning a blind eye and deaf ear to our concerns, many others ARE definitely listening, and I appreciated them appearing and speaking at the rally. As an Independant voter, I have definitely taken note that most of the congressmen and congresswomen who are willing to listen to citizens on this issue are Republicans.

Mars Feeney said...

The attacks on Nancy Nord are a red herring pure and simple - deliberately promulgated to buy time in hopes that we will eventually just go away. The CPSIA backers know full well that the law does not allow any exemptions for products that contain any lead whatsoever - no matter how unlikely it is that it will ever find its way into a child. This is the way they wrote the law because this is the way they want it.

It appears that these people actually believe that pre-1985 books are truly dangerous to our children, that a little lead in a valve stem poses a significant threat to children, that a 10 year old will actually absorb significant quantities of lead by using an ATV, and so on.

I think they really believe this and they will not let evidence get in the way of their beliefs. These are the true believers and the rest of the Democrats in Congress, with only a few exceptions, are allowing themselves to be played like mindless partisan pawns.

Furthermore, the way the CPSIA is written suggests that these true believers, while they would not admit it even to themselves, believe that business is essentially evil, that industry is essentially evil. They enjoy the benefits of this industry 24/7/365. But they act as if those who provide those benefits to them are evil.

The CPSIA is wrong in so many ways but the number one reason I am against it is that it hurts children - the very people it is supposed to protect. We pay the salaries Congress. We do not pay them to hurt our children - no matter how well intended. As a Democrat I find the current inaction by Congressional Democrats intolerable.

1000 kudos to Rick for the brilliantly executed rally! It was an extremely important step in the right direction!

The Happy Tomato said...

I watched the rally with my 3 and 5year-olds, who were feverish and periodically vomiting--Hey! they looked pretty much like their mother (the dreaded small business owner and pesky Mommy blogger, to boot) has felt these past months!

Having observed me rant, pant and incant over the effects of this horrible law so long, I'm sick to report another UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE: my own children have expressed concern & confusion over the perfectly safe clothing I make--"Wait, Mommy, something is dangerous about my Happy Tomato shirt?..Should I take it off??!!"
Hearing this word "danger" so often, attached to things without real risk?--that is doing NOTHING to help me help MY CHILDREN navigate the real world.

While they're distracted by the unseen-not-to-mention-unreal risks in their handmade t-shirts, the traffic is whizzing by and the pedophiles are sniffing around our public library.

"The Cult of Fear" was something I was waiting on introducing until at least age 7, but maybe I'm naive.

A couple of months ago,battle and scoff-weary, I seriously debated pulling in the shingle it's infeasible for me to test, but this trickle-down confusion I see in my kids about what constitutes safety IS UNTENABLE.

Thank you Rick, and to everyone who made it matter PUBLICLY, for continuing to put together the lexus and the nexus on this problem.

The rally, RALLIED. Didn't give me back sleep or smooth my wrinkles or fix the broken dishwasher (um, and now my kids want dirtbikes)--but the rally gave me another shot of oomph to fight. Better than caffeine, really. And it really gave my children a chance to participate WITH me, and see what all of this has meant, ask questions, and see "WHY."

As far as Mr. Waxman and others go, we MOMMIES have a saying too:

"YOU CAN'T CHANGE THE LITTLE MAN, BUT YOU CAN CHANGE THE LITTLE MAN'S PANTS."

So, having gotten back my Mommy Mojo I say, if that is how it will be?--Squirm all you like. I am patient and I control your bedtime.
Those pants are getting changed.

elysabeth said...

I've been saying all along on every comment pretty much - these folks were put in office by the voters and they can be taken out just as quickly. I think a national referendum is about the only thing that will really get their attention. Mr. Waxman wants a new chair to take his side, well guess what, Mr. Waxman, it's not Ms. Nord who needs replacing; it's you. I say we start eliminating the representatives who are so gung-ho opposing hearing and doing anything for their constiuents and make sure they know who they should be listening to. Let's take them all down, save the few that have been opposing everything since the beginning (DeMint and a few others) and let's mow them over like nothing every seen before. But of course since we really aren't reaching the masses of folks that we need to yet, finding anyone to replace all those representatives who will be working for the people will be a very huge task.

Rick, I think you are doing an awesome job and I wonder why the blind eye/deaf ear thing keeps going on when there have been several admissions that CPSIa is wrong on all accounts - by the folks who originally voted for it. (With only 3 senators voting against and the rest for, and by the recent DeMint amendment vote, now 38 against (voted for the amendment) and 53 for (voted against the amendment) - what gives? A year ago you were set against any type of change - just blanket every market regardless if they anything to do with actually manufacturing the product or not, they are guilty by association, and keep on mowing down the little people - to now changing your mind?

Waxman, seems you are about to be out on your ear. Good luck and if a national referendum goes, I'll be right there pulling the "big boys" down with the rest of them. We need more DeMints representing us. E :)

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