Friday, August 12, 2011

CPSIA - That's all, Folks!

Sadly, after four years of CPSIA advocacy, it’s finally time to say farewell. The timing of my goodbye comes as we approach the third anniversary of President Bush signing the CPSIA into law (August 14, 2008). I am paroling myself for time served. This is my final blogpost.

This exhausting journey came to a crashing end because I concluded that I am not able to engineer further relief from this terrible law. Congress, having finally passed a CPSIA amendment (HR 2715) after three frustrating years of our begging for help, is finished with this issue for good. They put an end to the lingering issues by cutting loose all the politically sensitive groups affected by the CPSIA (ATVs, bikes, books, resale goods). Those of us with working memories will recall the many words spoken over the last three years about the lead "dangers" presented by these goods to justify their inclusion in the law in the first place. I guess Congress decided lead risks wear off for certain kinds of products. Interesting . . . .

The remaining affected industries will not receive additional relief from Congress because any significant political pressure which might drive change has been neutralized. This was a Democratic strategy to make this issue go away (divide-and-conquer), and it worked. I believe the CPSIA will not be amended in the next two years in any way and may not be amended in a meaningful way again for many, many years. Read HR 2715 – that’s all you are likely to get from Congress.

I have no realistic expectation of further relief from the CPSC, either. The three Democratic votes on the Commission can’t be beaten, and as I have shown in this space, they always vote as a pack with no meaningful exceptions. One "triple vote" will always beat two votes. These Dems have selective hearing or memory or just don’t give a darn about data or testimony that doesn’t validate their conclusions. The outcome of a CPSC hearing, Commission meeting or request for public comment on a CPSIA issue is about as much in doubt as the average Moscow show trial. [It just takes a little longer. . . .]

The comparison to Stalin's show trials is apt. In the 1930's, the Soviets cynically used legal proceedings to lend the appearance of legitimacy to its "findings of fact" (generally based on coerced confessions) and its rendering of "justice". Of course, the trials were just a sham, nothing more than an administrative procedure for implementing a political agenda. And at the CPSC? I cannot point to a single CPSIA issue on which the Democrats showed an open mind or were capable of being influenced by data or reason. Draw your own conclusions, notwithstanding Bob Adler's self-proclaimed "agony" in always casting his votes against businesses. After naively testifying at, contributing to or analyzing and reporting on so many CPSC proceedings that I have lost count, I have totally given up on these people and consider influencing them a lost cause. It’s not worth my time to continue to attempt to work with them.

So with no hope of further legislative relief for the foreseeable future and with closed minds and closed doors at the CPSC, this is not a worthwhile venture for me anymore. I cannot justify it and plan to turn my attention to other opportunities with greater promise of my adding value. I am done with the CPSIA and the CPSC.

Despite the almost overwhelming urge to “sum it all up”, I don’t intend to offer any concluding wisdom. Already prone to repeat myself endlessly in this space, I have clearly stated my position on the issues and my opinions haven’t changed. You know how I feel with specificity. Given that I believe it’s all over but the tears, I can’t see what good would come from parting words on the “war”.

Kind readers, you have become my friends and family. I really value your readership and your support. This blog reflects your pain and your passion, too. We have fed off each other. I want to thank you. You have sustained me.

For those of you who read this blog just to see what I would say about you and who will not miss my little missives (or me), I can only say that I have been completely honest and candid in this space, working with facts and real data, consistently documenting my source materials and my analysis. I respect that you may disagree with my conclusions or opinions, but I don’t respect that you refused to take me on. For all your whining and grousing about me, generally behind closed doors, none of you ever stood up in this space to tell me where or how I was wrong. You apparently lacked the courage to engage in a true, open debate where the outcome was not predetermined in your favor. Perhaps you preferred to ignore me, my arguments and my data, hoping I would go away. In the end, you got your wish. Lucky us.

So the battle ends for me, here. Perhaps someday we will see the return of common sense and respect for corporate members of our society in our safety laws. Until then, good luck to you and Godspeed.



Anonymous said...

Atlas has finally shrugged!!!!

Paul said...

Rick, thank you for sharing the actual data, information analysis, legal insight, the rally, the hearings, and media exposures as the ground for us to stand and fight on all this time. From your effort, we have learnt, witnessed, and experienced clearly how we are being insufferably played by our Congressmen, our Senators, and our President for nothing. Obama is likely to throw the QE3 six months before the election for another four years. I think there is very little we can do about that. But no matter what, for all coming elections, I won’t let my representatives forget about the CPSIA, and I will share the CPSIA experience and your blog with all my friends and families, for them to take their votings very seriously.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rick, I was cleaning out some drawers yesterday and I found my tag from that fateful April 1st when my children and I made the trip to DC to attend the rally. (I was stopped before I even got out of town for having a burned out headlight)

I am very sorry that this terrible law could not be properly amended.

I'm also very sorry that my senator is still quite stubborn on this law and I am praying that he is not going to be reelected this round and that we get a second clear-thinking person in the senate.

Please keep your blog up so it will show up in internet searches. Your research, clear-thinking, etc should not be taken down.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Rick. You've been an important voice for so many smaller companies in this fight. We understand that and appreciate all of the hard work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all you've done, Rick! I appreciate you keeping us up-to-date with your blog. I still have hope.

Anonymous said...

I will miss my daily visits to your blog.
Thank you for trying.

Melissa said...

Thank you, Rick. I, too, will miss your blog. You and I are on different side of the political fence and I didn't always agree with some of your political swipes (though some were admittedly well-deserved), but I always thought that your product safety analyses and focus on risk-based approaches were well thought out and supported by facts. That is the way it supposed to work. We can disagree on our views, but facts are what bring us together in order to make the best decisions we can for all interests. I agree that this HR 2715 is a joke. You will guess correctly that I am not in the business of ATVs, books, resale or bicycles. I will miss your blog, but I am not surprised at your decision. You have carried the weight for all of us for a long time and deserve the break to get back to your life and your business. Best of luck to you and Learning Resources!

Jon said...

Your keen eye for facts and excellent insights have been a beacon of rational thought.
We owe you a huge debt for the straight talk and fearless persistence.
We've learned so much from you. (I might even vote Republican someday.)
Thank you for writing honestly and bravely about such a misunderstood issue.

Anonymous said...

Thank you CPSIA!

Anonymous said...

Rick,thank you for everything you have done. Although I am part of one of the 'saved' groups (resale) this 'relief' comes far too late to help me. After coming perilously close to bankruptcy, I managed to get out of my lease and close down my resale operations with a shred of money and a mountain of debt. So the only relief I will now enjoy is knowing I don't have the burdens of being a business owner since I have had to rejoin the ranks of the employed to begin the long paydown of my debt. The CPSC and their fearmonging friends successfully scared off many of my former resale customers. So I can only sigh and work for governmental change in an incremental way and hope that companies such as yours can find a way to survive.

Kate said...

Rick, we in the resale industry, and we who could not get over the stupidity of this law, salute you for your hard work, deep research, and unbiased eye on reality. You have given it the good fight, and hopefully educated some people along the way.
America NEEDS more people like you! Thank you for being who you are.
Kate of

Lori said...

As I'm watching the Commission webcast on component testing and certification, I realize how much I miss Rick's "cynical special interest" comments and analysis.

Esther said...

Rick, Thank you for your tireless work on this issue. You did work that many of us couldn't do - representing so many of us who wanted and needed a common sense approach to safety. I too stopped bugging my representatives as they had no interest in helping right a serious wrong. Instead, I am working to vote for the people who will stand for good common sense and praying that the tyrants in office are thrown out.

Anonymous said...

I think the most fascinating thing to me, after watching the CPSIA debate for over 2 years, is that I never once saw a rebuttal to Rick's detailed analysis of the flaws of this law - not from Congress nor the consumer groups.

(Dana Best's testimony would only count for something if it had been delivered on April 1st.)

Congress obviously knew of his arguments. They invited him to speak at hearings. They appeared to listen to his testimony. Then they blundered on as if he wasn't there.

Instead of looking like an intelligent body of legislators, Congress looked like an out of control oil tanker on a collision course with the docks.

The very legislators that I have voted for in the past helped set this ill fated tanker on it's course. Since then they have been deaf, dumb, and blind in the face of Rick's and others very cogent arguments that the course may not be correct.


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

The Dems are completely self-justifying so you won't ever see them own up. Even the fact that recalls are down is a meaningless statistic. They won't talk about injuries related to recalls . . . because it might their actions look like economic crimes. Shame on them!