Thursday, August 26, 2010

CPSIA - Apparently, NONE of Us Knows What We're Talking About

742 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are 69 days left until Election Day.

The CPSC just issued its Final Interpretative Rule on the meaning of "Children's Products". For those of you with a pile of reading materials on your desk from the CPSC, this delectable morsel weighs in at 63 pages. Add it to the heap.

Good news, however - you don't need to waste too much time reading it. The time you spent commenting on the prior draft, now THAT was the waste of time. I burned a few hours on that exercise myself - what-a-fool, I will never learn. The REASON you need not waste time reading the final rule is that virtually all comments you (and anyone else) gave were disregarded or discounted. The changes to the rule were minimal or meaningless and there was no reconsideration of the manifold flaws in the "draft" interpretative rule. If you don't believe me, have fun deconstructing the 63 pages of drivel against all the comments noted and unremarked upon.

So what is the story we should tell ourselves about this little incident? Here's a few choices for you:
  1. Commenting on these rules is a waste of time because the CPSC is tired of the game - they want to get this done, and that means dealing with comments is not in the plan anymore. [Connect the dots with the pending expiration of the testing stay, and you may get a sense of the urgency.]
  2. The solicitation of comments is compelled by law but there is no obligation for the agency to accept any of our comments. Since they know best, they no longer care what we think and have decided not to even pretend anymore. It's a sham process.
  3. We're all incompetents, which is perhaps why we need to have a CPSC so desperately.

I bet it's no. 3 - we're all idiots and our comments reflect it. It's hard to face up to one's shortcomings . . . but I appreciate the gentleness of the message from the CPSC. Rather than embarrass us by announcing that we business people know nothing, they just politely ignore our ravings.

And think - now that we've established that they know everything and we know nothing, processing of recalls and other financially-impactful events with the agency will be much easier. They are right, by definition, and we are wrong, by definition. Simple! We'll save a lot on legal fees, too, because there won't be any point in arguing. No, I'm not talking about the PGA. . . .

I love government of the people, by the people, for the people - especially if those people are unchecked regulators!


Wacky Hermit said...

I almost sent in my bit about the Hello Kitty X-Small women's t-shirt, but I had higher priorities. When I read through the document and saw that no one had commented on the issue I would have brought up, I was a bit disappointed in myself, because I could have at least had the pleasure of watching CPSC try to weasel-reason their way out of it. Oh well, it's not like it would have made any difference anyway. That's why commenting on it was down so low on my priority list.

Anonymous said...

this isn't you? found it on

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

Passed along to me by someone with a lot of CPSC experience:

"Your comment is spot on. The Commission staff has fallen into the trap of rationalizing their way around comments to arrive at response that simply justifies the original proposed provisions rather than considering comments objectively. Even worse, the rationalizations are often internally inconsistent without any explanation e.g. paper clips in school science kits are children’s products but musical instruments specifically rented for use in schools are not. It’s bad lawyering, and even worse public policy."