Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CPSIA - Randy Swart Takes My Spot in PSL!

Never tiring of a good thing, the Product Safety Letter today published an Op-Ed by Randy Swart entitled "CPSC's Guidance Is Not as Confusing as It May Seem". Mr. Swart is the founder of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. In this article, Mr. Swart replies to Rob Wilson's Op-Ed in PSL on Resale Shops and Inez Tenenbaum in a way not exactly reminiscent of my rejected Op-Ed on the same subject. Recognizing the PSL's reputation for "neutrality" and "accuracy and clarity", I am trying to figure out why Mr. Swart got the nod over me. Could it be that Mr. Swart's views might be more pleasing to the regulators that feed the PSL its life-sustaining information? Golly, that's a head scratcher. . . .
Mr. Swart: "CPSC's Guidance Is Not as Confusing as It May Seem"
RW: "Tenenbaum Silence on CPSIA Speaks Volumes"
Mr. Swart: "As all readers of Product Safety Letter know, CPSC is struggling to maintain any level of enforcement at all, and will not be going after yard salers!"
RW: "Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the agency, said it wouldn't be dispatching bureaucratic storm troopers into private homes to see whether people were selling recalled products from their garages, yards or churches. ‘We’re not looking to come across as being heavy-handed,' he said. 'We want to make sure that everybody knows what the rules of engagement are to help spur greater compliance, so that enforcement becomes less of an issue. But we're still going to enforce.'"
Mr. Swart: "In fact, [the CPSC] would have no more idea than the parent which old toys contained phthalates or had lead in the paint, and would have to test to establish that. Finding recalled product would be looking for needles in haystacks. It just will not happen."
RW: "After all, didn’t NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer secretly inspect resale shops in 2003 and then release names and addresses to the media? Interestingly, Spitzer was joined by some of the same consumer advocates who are behind the CPSIA. The CPSC has the same power to embarrass."
Mr. Swart: "It is not fair to blame the Commission or Congress for not grandfathering the dangerous toys in our market. We need to get them out of circulation [Ed. Note: Who, the Commission or Congress?], and that fact is independent from the enforcement of the CPSIA legislation. It will impose a hardship on some retailers, but that pales in comparison to the alternative--to tolerate the continuation of poisoning our children for years to come until those toys are worn out."
RW: “'The [West Michigan] Salvation Army does not have thousands of dollars to spend on lead-testing equipment, so anything that looks suspicious — plastic toys, painted toys, toys with magnets or small parts, toys made in China — is pitched, said Robert Pierce, director of operations for the Salvation Army stores. Only about 20 percent of donations to the Salvation Army — compared to about one-third before the law — make it onto the store floor.' The CPSC’s tough talk on enforcement is having a chilling effect on the business community – and that cost must be weighed when regulators get 'tough'”.
Mr. Swart: "In fact, any threat of CPSC retribution is probably less real than the possibility of being sued by the buyer if someone is injured by a recalled product. That should give the yard saler pause if nothing else does. Many people trash some items that they would have sold or Freecycled because of that risk." [And this guy thinks he is helping make a case for the CPSC and the new law???]
RW: "The agency previously played a critical role in setting safety priorities, assessing risks and interpreting the law. . . . The Chairman can show she is a leader by providing an honest assessment to Congress of the problems with CPSIA and mapping out the necessary changes. Ironically, none of this is about safety – it’s about a law that just doesn’t work."
Okay, I can't figure it out! Can you?
A couple final thoughts (can't resist): Mr. Swart says "The chemical detoxification of America is just beginning, and this is one of the early skirmishes in a long war." Please remember this blather. This is the mantra of the "everything-is-bad-for-you" crowd. If you want to see this mania in action, watch this video (and if you have the time and energy, the three other segments). This outlook is extremely dangerous but with Mr. Waxman as champion, threatens to infect federal regulation of many markets besides toys. This is the so-called "Precautionary Principle" and is the basis of the proposed amendment of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Second, in response to Mr. Swart's comment "It will impose a hardship on some retailers, but that pales in comparison to the alternative--to tolerate the continuation of poisoning our children for years to come until those toys are worn out", I want to reprint the words of a staffer from the office of Illinois' own Senator Dick Durbin:
April 16, 2009: "I think you are right that the CPSIA imposes costs on businesses, and because of economies of scale it’s the smaller businesses that will feel these costs more acutely. This is part of a larger calculation that it’s worth the costs to shift from the old system of post-market correction (once a dangerous product is out in the market and leads to sick kids, recalls, lawsuits, etc.) to a new system of pre-market testing and certification (instead of just assuming products are safe and paying the price for false assumptions). . . ." [Emphasis added]
I can hardly express my joy at being a Congressionally-selected victim for the greater good of our country! Their "larger calculation" sounds so sophisticated. I will go out with a smile on my face.
The barf bags are over on the shelf on the left.

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