Thursday, August 12, 2010

CPSIA - Tea Party Comments

I received a provocative comment on my recent blogpost on the Tea Party and quote from it here:

"I've come on here less and less because the blog is starting to seem less a good source of information and more like a long, angry political rant. If that's what you want, more power to you. You've certainly earned the right to rant. You have the freedom to write what you want and I have the freedom not to read it. If you're posting this because you care, well yes, I do think you're alienating quite a few people, myself included."

This is a fair comment and probably accurate. The blog is angrier and more focused on elections and politics that before. Frankly, I have known for some time that I increasingly lapse into a rant. Why is that?

Here's the problem - I can't provide much information to you anymore because there's nothing much to report. There is a steady drumbeat of ordinary or trivial details from the agency to pass along but the excesses of this CPSC administration have gone on so long that they now bore most people. On a more macro level, the news spigot shut off because (a) the Dems in Congress stopped listening a long time ago and are doing NOTHING to fix this mess, and (b) the CPSC has demonstrated that they are going on their merry regulatory way no matter what we say or think. Time and partisan appointments are giving Mr. Waxman his tacit victory.

So we are stymied. And what tools do I have left at my disposal? Consider what I have already tried: I have employed representation in Washington for now almost two years. The cost of this exercise comes out of my personal pocket. No need to feel sorry for me, but that's a fact. I have also testified before Congress, I have testified before the CPSC (several times, at their request), I have written numerous comment letters (none of which were answered), I have appeared in endless articles and on 60 Minutes, I have given speeches, sponsored a rally, and yes, given up thousands of hours of my life to write almost 500 blogposts for you (and the CPSC) to read. I have left no stone unturned.

If you had done all this over a two-year period and produced the scant results I had, what would YOU do, Anonymous? Keep mumbling to yourself? Is that really productive? If the problem is as serious as I say it is, then continuing with a losing strategy seems pretty dumb to me. It was Albert Einstein who reportedly said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". It appears that a change in strategy is needed - if we want to produce a different result.

And blaming the parties responsible is appropriate. My readers know I am being honest and candid here. You know where I stand. The Dems are responsible for this mess. They may have had help creating the law in 2008, even the signature of Mr. Bush to close the deal. Then again, when the carnage became clear, the Dems employed the Nancy Reagan "Just Say No" defense in the face of indisputable evidence of their policy failures. The Dems have been a rock of intransigence and indifference for two years now. The Republicans have not. Again, that's a fact. And the CPSC is being run by Dem politicians who work consistent with the wishes and desires of the Congressional Dem leadership. I am supposed to overlook this? Possibly not notice, look away? That view, if you hold it, insults my intelligence.

These days I have few choices available to me. I can continue to pursue a clearly ineffective strategy and find my voice increasingly marginalized by its irrelevance, or I can work within the political system (as is my right) and find another route to the desired outcome. I hate the CPSIA and I hate what Congress and the CPSIA have done to the CPSC. I cannot abide by this. So now what? Sucking my thumb is not an option. It's time to get RID of these people. They made themselves a big part of the problem and deserve what they get. After all, the rules of the games were known in advance, and they knew what they were doing.

It's my right to take steps politically to fix this situation. I hope I don't lose you as a reader, Anonymous, but if you have better things to do or better sources of information, I trust you will come here less often. My commitment to our employees, customers, suppliers, consumers and other stakeholders remains unwavering and has to come first. I am loyal to them and won't be defeated by this year's version of tyranny.

Onward to November 2 and the defeat of the people responsible for this Greek tragedy!


Dan Marshall said...

Speaking only for myself, Rick, I agree with the vast majority of your grievances with the CPSIA, as you well know. However, I have come to believe that your personal attacks against congress people and their aides, CPSC Commissioners, and representatives of consumer groups have done little but make our problems more intractable and less likely to be resolved.

Also, you have openly criticized the efforts of the HTA to work with Congress and the CPSC as foolish and naive while alternately using our members' plight to illustrate your points. And, you've twice published HTA correspondence without permission. So, yes, I too am feeling alienated and disrespected.

The CPSIA was passed by republicans and democrats together and both have full culpability in the mess they created. Continually setting one side against the other is unlikely to resolve this mess. I, for one, am growing tired of watching good companies run by good people go out of business while safety and common sense are traded for partisan politics and personal attacks. I'm sure this seems naive to you, but I think its time to tone down the rhetoric and start finding some solutions. Admittedly, there's little help until the next congress, but it's my strong belief that whatever hope we have won't be found in a tea cup.

Again, I'm just speaking for myself.

Wacky Hermit said...

The Democrats have made themselves the "enemy" on CPSIA, this is true. But don't for one minute think the Republicans are therefore your friends. Some of them may have come to regret their CPSIA vote, but the fact remains that they were willing to pass a bill they hadn't thought about (if they even read it at all). They proved that they were willing to stick it to small businesses if it meant they got to say they voted "yes" on something For The Children.

I think that, until such time as we get a crop of brain-enhanced Congressmen in, that your time would be better spent documenting the damage CPSIA is doing. I know it's a heartbreaking job (and one I can't quite bring myself to do either) but all your ranting against Democrats is just beating your head against the wall.

If you want to do something that at least has a chance at being effective, you could oppose the Safe Cosmetics Act. Unlike CPSIA, which was already law before many of us found out about it and got organized against it, the Safe Cosmetics Act is a bill that's still in committee (where, God willing, it'll die an ignominious death). You can't make the world of hurt CPSIA brought on us go away, but you can turn it to something productive.

The people who bring these overweening, "precautionary" laws have succeeded up until now because nobody's been willing to stop them for fear of appearing to be against safety. CPSIA set the stage and brought in a bipartisan cast, all of whom realized that there was a sort of Laffer curve of safety. This is a tremendous asset and something entirely new in modern American politics, and you helped create it. I say declare you've lost the battle, but go on to win the war.

jennifer said...

Being a small business owner I agree with a lot of what Rick says - and most of what he anticipates will happen in the marketplace has and will continue to fall apart. I personally wouldn't have the nerve to write what he does but I think it makes a difference in people listening.

I am also a HTA member. I really like what the HTA is trying to do and feel grateful for the commitment but I don't think they have been successful either. Yes they (the commission) all listened to the HTA but that didn't change anything and the HTA is really only focused on their group. The problem with that is that there are a lot of in between size type companies and that strategy doesn't solve the problem of a bad law and is not inclusive.

I don't think a strong voice is bad and that seems to be how things get changed and resolved in our gov't - well that and voting.

Carlos Pero said...

As a newcomer, it appears to me the goals of survival are twofold:

1. Avoid enforcement in 2011
2. Fix the law

Hopefully by 2011, the people in charge will be wise enough to know the law is broken and any attempt at enforcement would yield very bad press.

Rather than just hoping, what can be done now is use the elections to raise awareness and put better people in charge to further both goals above. That's why the current situation is more political rather than informational.

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

Carlos, you are right. The tricky part is no. 1, avoid enforcement. Our company has done a good job of keeping kids safe - this is well-documented. But the new rules make remaining compliant literally impossible. The impossibility is both operational and financially. The rules are simply out-of-reach. That said, you have to take them seriously since the agency spent TWO YEARS researching and drafting them. Presumably, this reflects their best effort.

So I don't know how we dodge the enforcement effort. We can't pay for what they want and we can't manage the effort reliably, either, based on these published rules. We're a sitting duck.

Hey, let's not forget that the testing stay of enforcement lapses on February 10, 2011. That's not getting much attention nowadays. To put this in perspective, that's 181 days from today. The CPSC has discussed INNUMERABLE TIMES the need to give industry time to adjust to changing rules. They are STILL spewing out draft rules and putting labs in and so on. It's all up in the air. Unless the comments given last week are truly the joke I suspect them to be, the agency will need months to digest them.

So now what? Are we to swing in the wind until they are good and ready to tell us what the rules are? Probably. Last time they confronted this issue, they gave industry "14 months" to get ready for the change in testing requirements. Aha. Now with six months to go, they're keeping their heads down.

Very inspiring. This is government administration at its very best.

halojones-fan said...

@Dan: Sorry, but no. The Democrats have had a President in office and full control of both houses of Congress for nearly two years now. Saying "Republicans passed it so they share the blame" is inaccurate; the Democrats could repeal this thing any time they wanted and they have not done so.

Moreover, the Republicans on the CPSC have been trying to help; help moderate the CPSIA, help determine what is actually required, help manufacturers understand what's needed, basically do everything that Rick et al have been begging for all along.

This is not a bipartisan failure.

Esther said...

I stopped bothering to send comments to the CPSC because it is futile. There is no point. They won't listen. As I see it we only have a few options left.

1. Vote the idiots out and hope a new batch of politicians can unravel this. Truth be told, this is the least effective option. The complexity of the mess makes it extremely difficult not to mention politically unpopular. Which politician is going to sacrifice their reputation to repeal a law that is about "children's safety"?

2. Sue. Sue the government. Sue the politicians. Sue the CPSC. One lawsuit failed in regards to pthalates and everyone gave up. Of course, how do sue an entity that can print it's own money (not like they really have any, but we can pretend like the Federal Reserve does)? I honestly believe there is sufficient evidence and grounds to sue, but who will do it first. How do you go up against a behometh that can crush you and make your life miserable?

3. This option involves an asteroid or some other cataclysmic event which renders the problem null and void. We could also call it an Act of God.

We can't play along to get along anymore. The system is balanced in favor of the statists. We can pretend like they do, and try to work within the system. But Dan, compromising or endorsing certain changes to the law didn't do one thing for your members. There is one, and only one, hope - complete and utter repeal. This is the position I've had since 2008 and it's the only thing I support today.