Thursday, April 7, 2011

CPSIA - Three Dem CPSC Commissioners Accuse Industry (You) of Dosing Kids with Lead

In a revolting display of cowardly fear mongering, the three Democratic CPSC Commissioners yesterday wrote the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade to protest the proposed CPSIA amendment.  In this letter, in defense of the lead-in-substrate provisions, the Dems sow fear by suggesting what you might do:

"The CPSIA set one of the most protective lead limits for children's products in the world. The public health community continues to hold its overwhelming consensus: There is no safe level of lead.  We 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, particularly when the marketplace has for the most part already adjusted to lower lead levels and is well on its way to getting the lead out of children's products." [Emphasis added]

Hmmmm.  Apparently we evil toymakers, sinister educational product makers, monstrous t-shirt and jeans producers, venal shoemakers, diabolic rhinestone merchants, demonic ATV purveyors, fiendish motocross enthusiasts, vile vending machine operators, corrupt jewelers, slimy resale shop owners, worthless book publishers, perverse pen companies, satanic carpet weavers - we all are just waiting for the CPSC to look the other way so we can "dose" children with lead.  

This kind of asinine accusation normally would be something to deride and lampoon in this space, but in this case frankly, it's not at all funny.  Here you have three CPSC Commissioners with a majority vote (including Chairman Inez Tenenbaum) going national with serious, maligning insults of our values and our integrity.  They can hardly restrain themselves - they go further to assert that we have only "for the most part adjusted" to the new rules - you know, by firing people, cutting products, withdrawing from markets.

This is your "leadership" on the Commission.  I want to vomit.

CPSC Commissioners are appointed by the President.  I wonder if a better word is "planted".

The letters make clear where children have lead exposure risk.  Lead in D.C. tap water, no, that's fine - what can anybody do about THAT?  House paint, environmental sources - nah!  No, the real problem is industry and its "dosing" through children's products.  The last line of defense is the CPSIA.  The three Dem Commissioners put it succinctly - change the law and poison children. Better to over-regulate than under-regulate because it's a zero-sum game, right? 

As usual, the Dems don't mention that THEY CAN'T PRODUCE EVEN ONE INJURY VICTIM FROM LEAD-IN-SUBSTRATE IN CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS.  There are more than 50 million children in this country in the regulated age group and no one can find a single injury victim - EVER. Nonetheless they apparently think it's perfectly fine to wag their fingers at us and accuse us of unspeakable acts.  

Who'd say anything, anyhow?  Won't get fooled again. . . .

I guess we have a hint here how these people might vote on the technological feasibility of 100 ppm.  Giving them an extra year to lower the boom won't do anything to protect my employees or my customers - they are TELLING US that the die is cast.  That's because you and I apparently want to "dose" children with lead the first chance we get!  They reinforce the hyperbolic tone by standing pat on the age limits under the CPSIA - we NEED the 12 year old limit.  Why? Because Mommy says so.  Junk science to the rescue! We can't have kids eating their ATVs, can we?

Does anyone wonder why trust in this agency is destroyed beyond repair?  Who in the business community would ever expect to get a fair shake from these consumer group front men?  Government for all us?  Hardly.

Defending themselves on a weak point, the Dems contend they are sympathetic to small business. Myself, I can't measure commitment by limp and syrupy words of consolation - I look at what they do, not what they say.  These people have done precisely ZIPPO for small business after three years of begging, pleading, screaming.  I am tired of hearing about how much they CARE about small business. [Guess who drafted the letter?] As a friend of mine used to say, it's bullpucky.

Here's a shocker:  I actually agree with one thing these people say - that parents deserve safe products regardless of who makes them. Of course that makes sense (no one cares whether a tortfeasor is a big company or a small company) which is why I want sensible standards that apply equally to everyone. In this case, the government should stop telling us how to run our businesses.  Make a reasonable set of standards based on a real and defined "substantial product hazard" standard and go from there.  This is parent-friendly and quite workable for small business.

Of course, my suggestion would make these Democrats much less important and certainly less heroic.  Their letter makes clear who "saved" America - the CPSIA, the Dems in Congress and the Dems on the Commission.  They're the ones who really CARE.  

Won't get fooled again . . . .

Fittingly, the letter wraps up with words dripping with insincerity:  "Nevertheless, while it is true that no one, including us, wishes to over-regulate, similarly we cannot support under-protecting the American consumer, particularly our nation's children."

In other words, the Democrat Commissioners are daring Congress to loosen the nose around out necks and are prepared to blame them if anything goes wrong. This also provides cover for zealot Senators who will make sure you have a great opportunity to go bankrupt or remain under the thumb of their out-of-control agency.  I don't think it's much of a stretch to say it looks like a conspiracy - Democrats against you.

It would be wrong to call this letter disillusioning.  That happened a long time ago.  It also conveys little new information. Anyone truly shocked by this letter by these authors has been asleep at the wheel for the last three years.  This merely confirms or updates what we already knew.  I don't have a solution to people like this running the show.  I can't do anything about it.  One of them, Thomas Moore, is now about six months past the end of his term.  Maybe Congress forgot about him.  

Pay attention today.  The stakes are high and getting higher.  The CPSC is working against you.  We will need keep fighting to survive.


Jim Woldenberg said...

Way to go, Rick!

There is really only one solution . . . we need change of control in the Senate to get something done. Finally, with a GOP House, there is movement on amending this terrible law. Sad that only one of the 2 major parties in this country will do something about this. Dems are driving moderates and independents away with this kind of irresponsible politics.

Anonymous said...

Their slogan may be "there is no safe level of lead" but their real message seems to be: "Be Afraid" - they obviously are and they want to force their irrational fears on the rest of us.

If they want to live in their own little fear bubble that's fine. But if they want us to be afraid too they need to back up their assertions with hard evidence. So far they haven't been able to.

It's Congresses job to see through the fear mongering and legislate based on reality. In that regard the CPSIA is an abject failure. And as this failure has become more and more obvious the most disheartening thing of all has be the Congressioal Democrats response: hiding their heads in the sand. Clearly they live by the unspoken motto: "Be Afraid".

See that bicycle in the garage: Be Afraid. Writing a note with a ball point pen: Be Afraid. Want your child to play in the band: Be Afraid. Reading a book printed before 1984: Be Afraid.

No known instance of anyone ever being hurt by lead in these things, but you never know so you'd better BE AFRAID!

The new rallying cry of the American Democrat: "Lead could be anywhere - BE AFRAID".

Anonymous said...

The real problem here is that children often touch things that aren't theirs. They even go outside sometimes where, as some of you may know, rocks and dirt are often found just lying around! (that's right, rocks are not just for science kits!) The Democrats will eventually get this horrible, dangerous mess cleaned up but it's going to take awhile. Until they do we need to find a way to keep our children safe. I think a national policy to instill in our children a deep fear of touching things would help a great deal. Schools could be required to distribute t-shirts with the Democrats motto emblazoned on them: "Lead could be anywhere - BE AFRAID!"

As a lifelong Democrat I feel safer just thinking about it. Vote Democrat - BE AFRAID!

Ben said...

Why does Moore get to stay on past his term? Why doesn't the seat go unfilled until a replacement is nominated and confirmed?

Anonymous said...

I am so very tired of articles about "how, oh how can we get this economy going again?". It is always more taxes or less spending.

Why is there never discussion about how regulations hurt business. My business would have grown much more in the last three years, ie. more employees, more taxes into the economy if I wasn't so fearful of my government and their fear mongering.

Of course there is also the cost of my focus on trying to operate legally (when I simply can't) instead of building my business.

Rick - could you perhaps enlighten me on what all these hearings mean?I keep watching hearings but then nothing happens? Why? What is the process?

Anonymous said...

Darrell Issa is looking for input regarding regulations hurting small business. Check him out on Twitter (!/DarrellIssa) and submit comments to him here:

Anonymous said...

Per Ben's question: I believe that Commissioner Moore is allowed to stay up to one year past his term expiration date. (this would be true for any commissioner.)
But does he ever DO anything? I never hear him speak or participate in the hearings or process.

Anonymous said...

I should add that even the Commission does not believe what they say!

In practice, CPSC looks at how much lead (or cadmium for example) comes off of a product first using either a wipe test or acid extraction test. It then calculates how that lead might affect blood lead levels. For that reason, CPSC was perfectly happy with a 600 ppm million "safe harbor" for lead jewelry. (If someone exceeded 600 ppm they could still do an acid extraction test and market the jewelry if not enough lead came out to harm a child.) They have worked to do something similar for cadmium. This is called using science.

However, CPSC has chosen the path of advocacy for a law that was written with less concern for scientific rigor. Their standard is really an "absolute safety" standard but the net effect is minimal or no additional "real" safety and diversion of resources from things that arguably are real hazards. It might be good rhetoric and politics, but it is awful science and public policy.

Anonymous said...

In contrast to the 3 Dem's simplistic approach to lead, read the testimony of Dr. Beck.
Her testimony provides the technical framework--virtually the same as that used by the CPSC staff--for making risk based determinations on lead.  The shortcoming to using her approach for all products is that the tests and analysis are very expensive compared to a simple lead level.  However, her approach could be used either to illustrate how worthless the current limits for substrate are for most common products and materials, or for making an exemption argument.  In one sense, Congress chose an easy approach that sets simple to test for--albeit unreasonably low--limits.  If low costs and  easy determinations are the goal, lines could be drawn based on age or type of product, or conceivably type of material.