Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CPSIA - I Think I Found Someone Who Lost a Few IQ Points . . . .

Morons on parade . . . .

Never failing to disappoint, the Tribune (via its South Florida Sun-Sentinel) today published the latest left wing tripe about the CPSIA Amendment (ECADA).  In an article entitled "Pandering politicians threaten to make hay of product safety", Nicole Brochu unquestioningly falls in line with Henry Waxman and Rachel Weintraub on ECADA and trashes safety legislation she clearly does not understand.

I am pretty sure Ms. Brochu is not a regular reader of this blog.  She has successfully remained ignorant of many indisputable facts about safety in children's products, not to mention the detailed nature of the problems caused by CPSIA.  That certainly makes it easier to react emotionally to the "threat" posed by ANY effort to change the ill-conceived CPSIA.  And that she does . . . .

Ms. Brochu starts by confirming her bias against business and ruling out any consideration of opposing viewpoints (possibly involving FACTS):   "I don't know about you, but when it comes to keeping the nation's supply of kids' toys and other consumer products safe, I'm going with the advice of doctors, scientists and watchdogs. I'm not sure we can rely on toymakers and motorcycle distributors to have the public's collective back on this one. . . . [The] only thing [ECADA] proposes to enhance is special interests' bottom lines -- not the CPSC's authority, or its protections of the consumers in its care."

Ah, special interests again!  She must have been talking to the estimable Jan Schakowsky.  As everyone knows, I am a "very cynical . . . special interest".  You should see my lapel pin!

Ms. Brochu regurgitates the platitudes and slogans of the shrill groups opposing any change to the law:
  1. ECADA and CPSIA are toy bills.
  2. CPSIA was passed by an overwhelming majority of both Houses of Congress and was signed by "pro-business Republican President George W. Bush".
  3. As a result of the CPSIA, there has been a "noticeable improvement in the public's wounded confidence" (presumably in children's products and the federal government).
  4. "[A] bunch of pandering politicians [are trying] to muck it all up for us.  Since Republicans took over majority control of the U.S. House last year (and even before), they have set their sights on diminishing the safety act's laudatory provisions in the name of lifting the burden off small-business owners."  [Ed. Note:  This is a variant of the argument that only Democrats and consumer groups care about kids, certainly not businesses or Republicans.]
  5. ECADA is "a hyperventilating overreach that would put the country's health and safety at risk.  And that's just what an impressive contingent of folks -- including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Kids In Danger, Public Citizen, Union of Concerned Scientists, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the CPSC's chairman and two of its commissioners -- say this measure would do." 
  6. ECADA "[waters] down the safety act's firm hold on lead content in children's products . . . ."
  7. The book industry and motorcycle  industry are "special interests" seeking a pass for their products. No matter the merits of their claims, the law's protections cannot be weakened in any way.  [Ed. Note:  This is the "zero sum" argument again - if manufacturers are made better off by ECADA, it follows "logically" that children MUST BE worse off.]
In each case, I have already replied to these misstatements and mischaracterizations in this space.  Since I seem to repeat myself endlessly, I am going to spare you one more trip around the same block today.  You can find the answers in my recent postings on ECADA.

The author finishes up with one of the biggest misconceptions promoted by the opponents of ECADA:

"The bill would do away with the requirement that manufacturers test their products before bringing them to market, putting the onus instead on the tax-funded CPSC to conduct extensive, costly analyses to determine if testing is necessary. Taxpaying consumers shouldn't shoulder the burden, or the cost, of making sure the products they buy are safe. In any reasonable scenario, that responsibility should fall on the businesses -- big or small -- making money selling their wares to the American public."

This remark reflects a gross misunderstanding of how businesses operate and how the proposed change in law affects businesses regulated under the CPSIA.  ECADA does not eliminate the need to test children's products for compliance with the strictures of the CPSIA.  The lead standards are still on the books, the rabid regulators are still breathing down our necks and THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW IF YOU COMPLY WITHOUT PERFORMING PRODUCT TESTS.  What ECADA accomplishes, Ms. Brochu, is to stop the government from telling us how to run our businesses.  We know better how to comply with these rules than they do, and can save vast sums of money wasted on government-mandated testing overkill.  We will STILL HAVE TO TEST. There is no way around it.  And if we screw up, we pay.  This is not really a change, btw.  We have always been subject to American tort law and have always been on the hook for our failures.

I wonder if the knuckleheads who believe that ECADA eviscerates the CPSIA understand that the government has no way to force businesses to test.  Mandated testing does not mean that every children's product will be tested, any more than posted speed limits mean that you will never get a speeding ticket.  To survey compliance, the CPSC will always have to test products - and cops will always need radar guns.  Scurrilous businesses that don't want to spend the money to comply will lie - and good businesses will spend themselves into bankruptcy paying for endlessly repetitive tests.  The mandated testing regime has little to do with these behaviors because this is the realm of compliance.  Rules do not eliminate bad behavior as common experience instructs.   The drafters of ECADA get this point, and have incorporated the modest concession that the standards are more important to safety than attempting to manage thousands of businesses.  Ms. Brochu would know this if she read my blog.

I want to draw your attention AGAIN to the important point that Ms. Brochu's safety neurotics have yet to answer my query - WHERE ARE THE VICTIMS OF LEAD-IN-SUBSTRATE?  If we are saving children from a dreaded threat NOW, presumably children were suffering grave consequences in the past.  Yet when asked to name these victims and provide case histories and other identifying and validating data, the advocates cannot name even ONE victim - from any country, at any time, using any children's product by any manufacturer under any living conditions.  Zero known victims - but we must bear billions in costs to comply with a neurotics' legislative and regulatory wet dream. 

Notably, in May 2010 I published my own analysis of 11 years of CPSC recalls from 1999-2010 and found only three alleged injuries (all from lead-in-paint) and one death (from swallowing a lead bangle from a bracelet).  That's it - and there are no known victims of lead-in-substrate in the CPSC's publicly-available recall records in that time period to the best of my knowledge.  Or at any other time in the history of the world.  The absence of lead-in-substrate injuries is stark in comparison to prosaic risks we bear EVERY DAY.  Stair falls have killed almost as many people in Japan as fires despite the fact that many structures in Japan are made of wood (1976).  In Canada, injuries and fatalities on stairs are at least ten times greater than those from natural disasters (1985).  In the UK, it has been estimated that more than 100,000 stair injuries occur annually (1999).  Yet the federal government wants us to spend literally BILLIONS OF DOLLARS annually to protect against a health threat not associated with a SINGLE documented injury.  We are being governed by idiots.

Maybe someday we can expect the media to think before it speaks.  Maybe someday the standards for journalism will include knowing what you're talking about, investigating and challenging preconceived notions and a healthy skepticism for pat answers.  Until then, we have the Tribune and Ms. Brochu.


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