Monday, January 19, 2009

See No Evil, Hear No Evil . . . Speak No Evil?

We scream and we scream, and still find ourselves with few satisfying answers to a simple question: Are they listening? The "they" is Congress, specifically the House and Senate Committees responsible for the CPSIA and potentially for its remedy. We know others are listening, like the numerous Congressmen (Barrett, Bilirakis, Carney, Dent, Gerlach, Holden, Pitts, Platts, Ryan, Tiahrt, Weiner) and Senators (Brownback, Levin, Leahy, Mikulksi, Sarbanes, Snowe) who have expressed their concerns over this law, and the more that will soon follow. I think the CPSC hears us, too. Does Congress? If not, what's the problem?

It's a real puzzle - or is it? My sources tell me that at the Congressional staff meeting on Friday Jan. 16 held to clear up "misunderstandings" and "confusion" under the CPSIA, staffers apparently stated that no changes would be forthcoming in the law (aha, that clears everything up quite nicely), and that somehow this law is just a "safety net" for products. [That last remark is fascinating - I don't recall them characterizing the CPSIA as toothless in public. Are they saying different things to different people, depending on the audience? Now I AM getting confused.]

Even more outrageous, unnamed staffers are reported to have stated that no hearing would occur until an additional CPSC Commissioner was appointed, and that CPSC would be "unable" to appear at any earlier hearing. In other words, they have no intention of holding hearings in advance of the February 10 implementation date, despite the reams of data they possess on the many serious problems their law is causing. Actually, it is my understanding that the CPSC has requested such a hearing, but that request apparently fell on deaf ears. Spin, spin, spin - and then tell everyone that all discordant views are misinformation or the confusion of [fill-in-the-blank] people. Finally, to cap it off, we understand that House staffers are simply "too busy" to attend meetings with industry and the CPSC to discuss the details of the real life impact of the law.

Is there a pattern developing here? Does Congress believe it can just bury this problem and no one will notice? Put your hands over your ears and your eyes, and the problem's not there, right? Why won't Congress hold hearings and let the People speak out on the record? When it comes time to have such a debate, they seem to be too busy or have other excuses to keep inconvenient opinions out of the public eye. After all, if they can keep the protests to a few frothy blogs, this will all blow over . . . right? It is ironic that the people who patted themselves on the back for defending safety, Mom and Apple Pie, are now resorting to legislative trickery to silence you, their opponents, for the crime of disagreeing.

Just a quick reminder: February 10, is 23 days away. Let's not let it become National Bankruptcy Day - please keep screaming at your representatives in Congress. It's not too late - but we're getting there . . . .



Anonymous said...

Rick you are spot on!

Anonymous said...

Who's willing to "take a chance" unless you're big enough to pay the fines. Are they asking us to just pretend this all didn't happen? I agress a new commissioner needs to be in place but the sooner the better. Meantime can't they at least say the law will be suspended until a later date? Sounds like they are wanting us (the people) to make our own laws. Should we all stick together and break it or all stick together and do as told which will then show the country how insane this really is? I'm still having trouble trying to make my own local businesses understand. I've realized not to many people are willing to "read" the law which the way isn't that what congress failed to do when passing the thing?

Anonymous said...

My Rep's office on Friday confirmed with me that I indeed did have to test our products. Isn't that helpful? Tell me something I don't know. Just more fuel for the fire at this point.

Mark Riffey said...

No question about it. I noted the same thing on January 4 in

They dont have their eye on the ball. I place a lot of the blame on this on the infrastructure theyve placed around themselves to "protect" their ears from us. I doubt 10% of the messages sent in or called in have actually reached a Senator or Rep.

Note the image on that post (URL above), I think youll find it timely:)

Anonymous said...

Rick, I'm the homeschooling mother of 11 children who have derived a lot of benefit from Learning Resources over the years.

I'm so grateful for what you're doing and for demonstrating how far-reaching this legislation is for so many businesses and families. I'm blogging about how this will affect homeschooling families at

My husband and I have sold new and used books and educational supplies since 1995. Our warehouse is so tiny compared to yours, but it's still a scary thing to look around us, have no idea what really complies, and feel like the rug has been pulled out from under our feet.

Keep up the good work. Your Youtube video was what finally provoked me to go read the legislation for myself. I'd heard rumors, but it was just so hard to believe that something so far-fetched could be true.

Valerie Jacobsen

The Happy Tomato said...

Have you considered repackaging all those fine abacuses you offer as Adult ("12 & up") Worry Beads, Rick?

Each day seems to bring some new morass of logic, but I am still screaming.
I felt such a throbbing behind my right eye in that Julie Vallese interview as she nearly spat at the camera, blaming "misinformation" perpetuated by bloggers, and "the MOMMY BLOGS...!"
First: don't call me "Mommy" unless you came out of my body, and secondly, just because you absolutely don't want to hear something doesn't make it "misinformation."

I am mortified to report that someone from my moms' group(300+ seemingly educated women) sent this Snopes link to the group yesterday and said, "Phew, sorry to have worried everyone! Looks like the CPSIA impact is just a hoax!"

It's just a re-publishing of the CPSC clarification on second-hand stores--oh, NOW I'm clear!
Isn't it fascinating that we will even more quickly be reassured than concerned?
I propose we start a parallel site, listing real things we should actually fear. (Maybe "Isotopes" or "Zoetropes")

Sorry I'm punchy, but all I've done for weeks is contemplate the demise of my business, wonder why no one seems "to know about this", and then try to distill this mess down to an Everyman(and mom)'s discussion in one place, and here it is:

It's much smaller and less resourceful than you are here--but maybe the moms' group will start paying attention.

Unknown said...

About 2 weeks ago I called my Congressman (Jim McDermitt) and spoke to his aid for about 1/2 hour. His bottom line for hand made products was, "They aren't going to send the Toy Police out any time soon," and "for now, track what materials are used in the handmade item you are making that way you can verify the its components comply with the new law." I am not sure how to feel about that. Basically, he is saying it is ok for me to break the law because they can't enforce the it. Great solution!