Sunday, September 13, 2009

CPSIA - More "Kudos" for CPSC's Resale Roundup Program

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a nice article on the noxious Resale Roundup entitled "Garage Sales Could Land You In Jail". Apparently, I am not the only one who sees something dark in this PR blitz-driven program designed to root out recalled items from resellers in stores and online. As pointed out by one of my commenters, the real issue for regulators in the resale of recalled items is not the onesies and twosies at resale stores or - it is the inventory liquidators who might be pedalling large volumes of these items. Of course, if there are items of special concern, like a particular recalled crib, then the CPSC should invest in educating (not terrifying) the resale outlets to keep them off the market. The presumption that members of the business community cannot be trusted to work with a well-intentioned agency with realistic goals is a sad reflection of the current anti-business atmosphere that the Pelosi-Waxman-Obamites are fomenting.

However, the Resale Roundup is exactly the kind of grandstanding likely to become a favorite trick of the "new" CPSC. After all, promoting their "vigorous" enforcement of the CPSIA to a rabid media and equally rabid Democratic majority leadership seems to be a major objective of the agency nowadays. The supposed "crisis of confidence" of the American public is the stuff of their press releases, not reality.

It's ironic, then, that the CPSC seems to be annoyed by my observation that rocks and fossils need to be tested for lead and sharp points under the new law. You'd think they would be proud of this as it is required as part of a vigorous enforcement of their nifty new law. Yes, if I sell rocks to schools or as part of an educational toy, these natural materials are subject to the same excessive safety rules as injection-molded toys or painted wooden trains. So we must pay a lot of money to test rocks for "safety", and in fact, have actually had to redesign products when a test report came back with an idiotic "fail" for sharp points. [These test reports are doubly infuriating because natural materials vary piece to piece. Testing a sample is no indication of the compliance of rest of the units - you would have to test each one to know for sure that they all comply. But the law wants us to get the little piece of paper, so we buy the little piece of paper.] Find me some mica or fool's gold without sharp points, please. Nah, let's just learn as much as possible from smooth stones good for skipping.

With all this in mind, I suggest that the CPSC take the opportunity to start a new program called Residential Rock Roundup. Why draw the safety "line" at rocks that are sold to schools or as educational toys? Frankly, most rocks are found not in boxes on store shelves but on the ground. I know that's shocking, but it's true! Surely those plentiful rocks present a much greater risk of childhood lead poisoning or sharp points than our boxed sets. As Rachel Weintraub of CFA has instructed us, it is "absurd" to suppose that we can be sure about anything without testing. And, of course, you can't be too safe, either.

I think the CPSC should send its newly-expanded cadre of field inspectors out into the neighborhoods to gather up and test every rock they can find. Some rocks may also fit into a choke tube and if suitable for children under three, would need to be impounded to keep kids safe from choking hazards. Only an expert like a CPSC field inspector would know which rocks present this kind of deadly risk. No doubt this kind of outreach will impress everyone and demonstrate the CPSC's commitment to keep kids safe, so so safe. Now that I have learned that rocks and fossils may cause lead poisoning (the victims are presumably the same kids chowing down on rhinestones, tasty!) or might cause lacerations from their sharp points, I do not know how the CPSC can tolerate rocks littering the United States that have not been tested. Perhaps the CPSC should also "sequester" some national parks deemed too "rocky" and therefore a danger to children. I also hope the agency will call for all Americans to voluntarily send their rocks in for testing - just to be safe.

If you can think of some other programs that the CPSC should start - to keep us all safe - feel free to leave a comment!


sassypackrat said...

Wow I didn't know rocks were so dangerous. I'll never leave the house again.

Rick Woldenberg, Chairman - Learning Resources Inc. said...

That's probably the sensible thing to do. Hide under the bed - the rocks won't be able to get you there.

Fabulous Pants said...

I guess that we will have to declare the nation a superfund site to clean up all the dangerous rocks.