Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CPSIA - Dem CPSC Commissioner Bias Against Manufacturers MUST Be Stopped!

Before the April 7th House hearing on the CPSIA, the three Democratic CPSC Commissioners joined together to assert that in the absence of their "leadership" at the agency and their vaunted CPSIA law, manufacturers would be "dosing" children with lead in ever greater amounts. To be precise, they said they oppose "any change in the law that would lead to an increase in the doses of lead to which our children are exposed on a daily basis . . . ." According to them, changing the law means that "doses" of lead WILL increase (but leaving everything "as is", including their position at the helm, means that children will remain "safe"). In other words, they were warning Congress that "we" are planning to or will inevitably increase lead "doses" upon a change in the law.

Our company is a manufacturer of children's products, in particular educational materials and educational products. This scurrilous libel applies to me. I don't like it one bit, either.

Despite having previously raised this point in this space, I am still not quite sure people fully comprehend how offensive this action by Tenenbaum, Adler and Moore actually is. Of course, we all know the word "dosing" is offensive on its face. Everyone also knows that accusing me and my manufacturing peers of an absence of values and integrity, not to mention an actual present intent to harm children, is remarkably slanderous, unfair, untrue and completely unknowable. It's practically a blood libel. But what I don't think is clear is how grievously the three Democrats have violated a basic tenet of American social justice. in their panicky effort to appease consumer group zealots, the Dems have demonstrated a bias, a dyed-in-the-wool prejudice against an amorphous mass of people tied together only by false accusation.

It would be their undoing if they had used the same logic to attack just about anyone else.

Consider the following:

How would you feel IF Inez Tenenbaum said she was opposed to changes in CPSIA lead rules because she didn't want black people or gays to start "dosing" children with more lead?

or . . .

IF Bob Adler objected to changes in CPSIA lead rules because he said he wanted to prevent Jews from "dosing" children with more lead as they are wont to do?

or . . .

IF Thomas Moore pointed to Muslims as the principal danger in relaxing CPSIA lead rules?

The shock waves would reach tsunami heights. None of these people would still be working for the federal government, either. Public outrage would ride them out on a rail.

Of course, they didn't say any of these things (to my knowledge). Instead, the three Dem CPSC Commissioners stood shoulder-to-shoulder and simply said they can't abide the changes because manufacturers will "dose" children with lead. Can't trust manufacturers . . . .

This apparently is quite believable. The media bites down hard on the silly story, that's for sure. Consider Jeff Gelles of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "With bigger matters at stake, it was easy to overlook another drama unfolding last week: a little-noticed assault on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's efforts to improve children's safety and the transparency of its complaint-handling process. But it sadly fits right into the theme of a Republican Party eager to please its core constituencies - in this case, business groups that often bristle at any regulation, even ones designed to protect children from unsafe products."

If it's "obvious", it must be true, right? Yes, if you are biased . . . or a bigot . . . or gullible.

So apparently, it's "believable" when politicians abuse their power by accusing me of an intent to harm children (despite the fact that we have a virtually unblemished record of safety and I have devoted my business life to making children's lives better) - all because I am a member of a group called "manufacturers". Had they leveled the same accusation at me or at a group including me based on race, creed, color, gender, religion, sexual preference or some such, they would be banished from our government.

This is a dirty bias exposed, plain and simple. The Dems' accusation is also the height of cowardice, relying on political power to bludgeon a group of randomly-selected citizens for political gain. They know they have overwhelming power and are unlikely to be accountable for this malicious lie.

This isn't the first time Inez Tenenbaum has resorted to this kind of unscrupulous media and Congressional pandering. You may recall my outrage over her statement to ABC News on the first day of the Xmas selling season last year (September 30th) when she used the occasion of Mattel's 11 million unit recall to warn America against "manufacturers" who don't design in safety up front. In my blogpost entitled "Recall the CPSC", I questioned why Ms. Tenenbaum was warning American consumers about our company - after all, we are a manufacturer. What had we done to deserve this treatment from Ms. Tenenbaum? Had WE suffered a massive recall? Had WE injured children? Did she have ANY evidence that WE were doing a bad job of "[building] safety into the product from the very beginning"?

Nope, she didn't - she made that accusation without any cause to do so. Mattel erred (if they actually did), NOT US. This is called bias. Read her remarks but substitute in the words "Jews", "black people", "gays" or "Muslims" for "manufacturers" to see the effect clearly. She was WAAAAAY off-base, but who held her to account? No one. It's okay to have a bias against manufacturers.

What can we do about this? I think it's incumbent on Congress to do something about it. Let's be frank - Congress appointed these people and they are accountable for the government that we "enjoy". Is Congress ready to let bigotry and bias form the basis of our laws and our regulatory system? Is Congress ready to abandon its responsibility for oversight and to manage these rogues? How about a sense of basic fairness - there are huge numbers of manufacturers serving the American market. They are our neighbors, our friends, our relatives. Are we satisfied having a government run by people who HATE and DISTRUST manufacturers, think that "justice" involves taking away their due process and deciding cases before evidence is heard?

I sure hope somebody's listening. This is a MAJOR PROBLEM. It's time to end the reign of terror at the CPSC!


Anonymous said...

You are dead on in this post. The ignorant bias that oozes forth from parts of the Commission is truly disgusting, but I couldn't put a finger on why it made me feel that way. Your post finally pointed out why to me.

Anonymous said...

Rick, while I fear that your dramatic comparisons may cause many to dismiss your argument out of hand, I believe your point is correct. The CPSIA defenders paint the entire industry with a single brush. That you industriously work to provide high quality products that are good for children is irrelevant to them. The fact that you sell these products to children for money makes you a predator in their eyes.

These people suffer from a crippled epistemology. Their evidence of danger speaks for itself:

- Dana Best states a number for how many children lick bicycles. Where does this number come from? Nowhere, she pulled it out of her special hat. Then she proceeds to make projections based on this garbage number wherein she mangles the basic arithmetic.

- In written testimony Dana Best implicitly equates lead levels in substrate with lead levels in blood which, of course, is patent nonsense.

- Rachel Weintraub can't provide a single victim of lead poisoning from children's products but she is sure they are there, they are just invisible.

If this isn't an example of crippled epistemology I don't know what is.

A quote from a research paper by Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule about the 9/11 truth movement applies perfectly to the unsupportable assertions by the CPSIA defenders. In their report they conclude that these kinds of theories "typically spread as a result of identifiable cognitive blunders, operating in conjunction with informational and reputational influences. A distinctive feature of conspiracy theories is their self-sealing quality. Conspiracy theorists are not likely to be persuaded by an attempt to dispel their theories; they may even characterize that very attempt as further proof of the conspiracy...those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology..."

To think that the evidence presented in support of the CPSIA actually passes muster for Congressional testimony is sad. To think that Congress actually buys it is just plain scary.

Ben S said...

There is no standard for Congressional testimony. See #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement