Sunday, April 4, 2010

CPSIA - It's Raining Paper . . . .

I have previously made the point (again and again) that the paperwork involved in complying or even understanding the CPSIA has escalated to absurd and previously unimaginable levels. When I recently posted my latest video blog, I noted that MY count of the pages of rules implementing the CPSIA was over 1800. [The CPSC has not promulgated a list of these documents and some of them may not even be publicly available, so that's just my count - no one knows the true number.]

Since then, the paper shower has continued unabated. Here are a few new shovel fulls from your CPSC:

Definition of "Children's Products": 52 pages

Standard Operating Procedure for Determination of Phthalates: 8 pages

Proposed Rule: Conditions and Requirements for Testing Component Parts of Consumer Products: 69 pages

Draft Notice of Proposed Rule -Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database: 172 pages

Proposed Rule: Testing and Labeling Pertaining to Product Certification: 160 pages

Staff Briefing Package CPSIA Certification & Testing, April 1, 2010: 110 pages

Total pages: 571

In addition, public meetings of the Commission on Wednesday morning and all day on Thursday this week will feature major topics of great importance to those companies affected by the CPSIA. These will be Must Watch hearings. Hope you aren't too busy running your business to stop what you are doing and tune in all day.

There cannot be any rational expectation by the CPSC that businesses interested in the development of CPSIA implementation rules could POSSIBLY keep up with this torrent of paper and hearings. The impracticality of participating in this process means that it is a railroad job, plain and simple. It is intentional, too - overwhelming the regulated community is one way to silence the critics.

Despite the absence of any credible evidence that such a massive expansion in safety rules is justified by injury statistics or any form of safety data from marketplace, the CPSC is in the process of gleefully converting the safety rules governing children's products into something approaching the Internal Revenue Code in complexity. The compliance burden on businesses will be overwhelming - or simply impossible in a practical sense. As important as Ms. Tenenbaum's instant death rules are, running our operating businesses will take priority for most people.

With this inundation of complexity, the point of capitulation is upon us. Add to this the known risk of mega penalties. Remember, this CPSC has warned businesses not to dare resist it. The consequences of resistance can be interpolated from the Daiso penalty - $2.05 million for recalls of 698 pieces in five recalls of 19 products over two years without a single reported injury. [Imagine what Mattel or RC2 would pay today under this enforcement scheme. I wonder if my calculator has enough digits for that number . . . .] Ms. Tenenbaum has demonstrated that she will have no reluctance to sic the U.S. Attorney on us for our transgressions without regard to actual market impact, striving to impose "a very high hurdle to jump over to ever get back in the import business again".

This approach to regulation is an irresponsible act by our government and very damaging to the market. It's naive and shortsighted, but in the "Father Knows Best" world wrought by Mr. Obama, it's useless to attempt to reason with the regulators. The promised "dialogue" with the regulated community has been exposed as a sham. It's hard not to conclude that businesses have now been deemed evil by nature. Otherwise, how do you explain the paper blizzard? Sadly, none of this holds any prospect of making kids safer.

I hate the feeling of shouting in a vacuum. I am not sure what will trigger a revolt against this insanity. Does another work assignment of 600 pages anger you . . . yet? The mountain is at about 2500 pages to read now, and there's more to come. What outrages will have to take place before you resist?

This may be too urgent to wait for November. Think about how you will deal with penalties for complying with rules you have never read, cannot possibly read and may not even understand. This regulator has already acted to put a minor player out of business. Are you next?

It's time to act with a sense of urgency. Your customers, your employees, your stakeholders are counting on you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am angry. I am doing all that I can think of doing to draw attention to the detrimental CPSIA. I hope there are many readers of your blog that are doing as I am. What more can we do? Letter writing is time consuming and seems fruitless and yet I don't know what else to do. I anxiously await the opportunity to cast my vote in November for real change knowing that it is already too late for my business. But beyond my own personal business interests, this issue is much much larger. My anger and frustration will live long past the closing of my business next year although I suppose I will have more time to fight it when I am no longer sidetracked by spending time running that business.

Rick, you remain a true inspiration to those supporting rational thought.