Sunday, July 25, 2010

GUEST BLOG - Bill Chiasson: To the Media, CPSIA problems are spelled B-O-R-I-N-G

You all probably heard the philosophical question, “if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?” You can ask a similar question in regards to the impact the CPSIA has had on small and medium-sized businesses - “if another U.S. worker loses his or her job due to the unintended consequences of the CPSIA, will anyone hear about it?” The answer is - only if you are reading this blog site. That’s because the media prefers only sensational headlines. The headline, “200 more workers lose their job due to the economic impact of the CPSIA” just doesn't have the same panache as a prime time news show teaser like “Toxic Toys – No child is safe - tonight on ___________ news!!”

Sadly, most television viewers don’t know what C-P-S-I-A stands for. Chances are they will press the fast forward button on their Tivo remote faster than you can say CPSC in order to skip to the latest news update on the “Octamom” story.

I have come to the conclusion that the major reason this law will not be fixed to tolerable levels is because the general public takes what they hear from consumer advocates, government officials, and the media as gospel. There has been no public debate; no investigative report; no public outcry to get to the truth. Think about last Christmas season when the popular toy, Zhu Zhu Pet, was MISTAKENLY reported on every evening news program and in every major newspaper to contain unsafe levels of antimony in violation of the CPSIA. This report was released BEFORE the CPSC actually reviewed the case brought forth by the overzealous consumer advocate group, GoodGuide. Within about 24 hours after the story was released, the CPSC declared that the Zhu Zhu Pet was not in violation of any federal laws and was, in effect, safe. Do you think all the news outlets retracted their story? Did anyone offer an apology to the maker of the Zhu Zhu Pet? Do the Cleveland Cavaliers have a prayer to win a championship next year?

How can misinformation regarding lead in children’s product continue to spread and be consumed by the public while the truth is buried and ignored? How can painfully obvious common sense be trumped by outlandish, unfounded claims by the non-scientific community? Consider the audience.

According to a new survey released by the legal information website, two-thirds of 1,000 American adults polled could not name a single current Supreme Court justice, and just one percent were able to name all nine sitting justices. I must admit, I am one of the 99% of Americans who could not name all nine without the help of Wikipedia. Now, here’s a stunner. From the 1,000 people polled, which justice was named most often? If you guessed Clarence Thomas, congratulations! If you are over the age of 40, there is a good reason you remember Clarence Thomas. The media made sure you wouldn’t forget about his confirmation hearings that took place 20 years ago. If you are under the age of forty, Google it.

The same thing is happening with the media coverage of the CPSIA. The facts are overlooked and only news-worthy sound bites are publicized.

The point I am trying to make is that as responsible, informed, voting Americans, we should not exercise blind faith as if our Congress always has our best interests in mind and the media is reporting the absolute truth. We owe it to ourselves to be informed citizens by doing our own research and reading a variety of media sources so that we may elect government officials into office who use common sense (and scientific facts) to make informed legislative decisions.

We must get Congress and the CPSIA to realize the damage the CPSIA is causing and fix it once and for all.

Please, do your research, GET THE FACTS, and spread the word!

Guest Blog by Bill Chiasson, Executive Vice President, COO of ETA/Cuisenaire, a division of A. Daigger & Company. ETA/Cuisneair has over 8,000 manipulative-based educational and supplemental materials for PreKindergarten and grades K-12 that enrich teaching and engage students in math, reading/language arts, and science.

Posted by the Staff of the Alliance for Children's Product Safety

1 comment:

halojones-fan said...

The other issue is that arguing against extensions to the CPSIA puts you in the apparent position of arguing against safety standards. Most people are conditioned to think "moresafe plusgood", and you have to get past that mental block before you can make any progress.

And the other issue is that most consumers buy stuff from Wal-Mart, where everything's made by Mattel, and Mattel isn't going anywhere anytime soon. If all small manufacturers were regulated into oblivion, it would not affect a significant part of the toy-buying public; and the large majority of those were were affected could find a substitute. A lower-quality, less-satisfying, made-offshore substitute, but a substitute nonetheless.