Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CPSIA - Tristan Benz Has An Important Question

Tristan Benz replied to my video blog with a video of her own.

In her video, Tristan makes a few simple points: (a) she's confused and feels that the CPSC has not made clear how she is supposed to run her business while they attempt to figure out how to implement the new law, (b) she's exhausted by having to read endless lengthy documents, seemingly a new one every day, and (c) she asks when the nightmare for Small Business will end. She says she is at the point of just giving up. The one thing she doesn't mention is that her hair barrettes are perfectly safe, as any idiot could tell you (or the CPSC). Nonetheless, the CPSIA is dominating her business life.

My response, in reverse order:

1. I am a natural optimist but this situation is testing my basic sense of the order of the universe. Until I see a real sign of commitment by Congress to address real issues in a sensible way, I cannot say I believe change will come. These days, I am from the "Show Me" State.

Don't hold your breath waiting for a stay or any other sign of recognition of the many problems by the CPSC. I am told they "can't" move in this direction because the leadership is "new" and must kowtow to Congress and pay homage to the law for now. That's a copout, of course.

There are rumors of a House hearing in early September. I have heard these rumors before, and will believe it when I can see it happening on C-SPAN. I have heard rumors of an amendment bill being drafted in the Senate - put it in the same category (believe it when you see it and have read it). I have heard that a number of Democrats are "quite concerned" but their public statements inspire ZERO confidence in me. [Senator Klobuchar, will you PLEASE stop referring to the little boy who swallowed a lead bangle?! We get it. . . .] Likewise the CPSC says they want to have "open dialogue" but their policy releases suggest that they are nodding off while we "dialogue". It's not just Congress that's deaf (compare the Tracking Labels Guidance to my testimony on May 12 or to my comment letter, for instance).

When somebody in the government SHOWS ME their commitment, I will become a believer. Right now, I am simply trying to be a survivor.

2. You are completely justified to be exhausted. I have heard this complaint from many other law-abiding company managers, who continue to believe they must immediately read and attempt to master each 50+ page entry in the deluge of documents from the CPSC. This is yet another sign of either the CPSC's utter insensitivity to the practicality of its prescriptions or its total obliviousness to the fate of businesses under the new regulatory regime. I personally think the deluge continues out of regulatory momentum and a sense of task, rather than any clear vision as to how to properly or fairly administer the implementation. I wish the CPSC could walk in our shoes for a few days. They live on another planet.

It's worth noting that our businesses do not exist in the a vacuum. Much of our day is spent trying to talk customers off a ledge on this awful law. None of this activity contributes to running a healthy and successful business. It's simply a drain of time, money and lots of energy, all of which could be much more effectively deployed in other aspects of our business. It goes without saying that NONE of this contributes to safety either, just bureaucracy. The inundation from customers over the CPSIA is completely draining, too.

3. I can practically prove that there is no way to run a business under the current evolving regulatory regime. I have been blogging, testifying, writing, "dialoguing", pleading, emailing, screaming, etc. for months and months to no avail. The CPSC's implementation documents, as they spew forth, seem to be drafted in the dark. Their studied indifference to the many impracticalities and problems means that we are left utterly without means. There is no happy answer to your question, and don't hold your breath for that "one pager" from the CPSC. They want you to figure it all out, and don't worry, if they think you are goofing up, they will whack you with a penalty, a recall and perhaps worse.

Tristan's video is a cry of pain. Hey, open dialoguers, if you want anyone to actually believe you care what the business community thinks and is experiencing, it is probably time to SHOW that you are listening.


Pamela M. Kramer said...

I feel your pain! The latest document specifies that screen printed materials will have to be tested because an msds will not be accepted. How about the ink industry adjust those sheets to show an excess of a certain level? Seems like it would be easier for them to do that and then those msds would be acceptable or could be.

David Jones said...

Tristan and Rick,
You are both right on target. This exhausting and unnecessary journey seems to have no satisfying waypoints or endpoint. For us the most vexing aspect is Congress' unwillingness to fix even one small part of the major problems they created. The second most vexing aspect is the CPSC's unwillingness to exercise even a tiny bit of common sense. Adding cost without any measurable improvement in safety is senseless. Our founding fathers would be ashamed. As citizens and business owners striving to do right while staying in business, we need to continue to be vocal about the issues and if still lacking satisfaction, use our votes in 2010 and 2012 to send a message to these politicians who are not representing their consituents well on this account and many others.

Tristan Benz said...

Thanks for posting and replying!

I have to laugh because I'm all out of tears - seriously, CPSIA is aging me rapidly...

So, I think more of us need to be video blogging and sending links to all of the "servants" that dished this up to us - let them see the faces of those they "serve" so well. Could it be that they don't care because they don't have any empathy for small biz owners like us that they are persecuting without any real benefit to anyone but...trial lawyers and politicians? I can't EVEN figure it out anymore. I give up!

Okay - so, this is sort of related but, really, topic... I caught a news clip the other day, where they were saying baby boomers are now doing what is normally associated with college students - but to a lesser degree - a form of "binge drinking." I was in a public place when I saw this clip and, without thinking, I found myself hollering back at the t.v. screen, "with so many people unemployed and our Constitution in the SHREDDER - with all the insanity of RUSHED legislation - they NEED TO DRINK, are you kidding?!!"

Personally, I'm thinking of buying stock in those lunch-sized paper bags. I find breathing into them to be a comfort...

Thanks Rick. Hope to see more videos. And you MUST put the funny stuff on tape - you are FUNNY!

Tristan Benz
Maiden America