Thursday, May 14, 2009

CPSIA - A Fixed Game

Today's hearing of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Committee on Small Business brought to light a number of issues caused by the CPSIA. For those of us who are struggling to survive an incomprehensibly dangerous and misconceived law, this long-sought hearing presented a great opportunity to get on the record. I filed testimony, as did others. Many people rushed to get on the record, to set it straight, because Mr. Waxman and his co-horts have done yeoman's work keeping us off the record. This hearing was much anticipated, largely because we had received direct feedback from committee staff that they understood the issues with the CPSIA and were genuinely concerned.

Watch the hearing videos - Nancy Nord's testimony was honest, insightful and intelligent, and the committee treated her fairly. Notably, Ms. Nord said what I have always wanted to say (on the record), namely that none of the armchair quarterbacks in Congress can point to ACTUAL LANGUAGE in the CPSIA that gives the CPSC the purported "discretion" to exercise common sense judgment in implementing the law. Of course, there is no such language (the opposite is true, as Ms. Nord noted clearly) - the Dems' claims of such authorization is poisonous and shameless manipulation. The industry witnesses (including AmendTheCPSIA Rally speaker Susan Baustian) painted a depressing picture of a law devastating small business without acheiving any safety payoff. Small Business is the charge of this committee. The truth was spoken, did anyone listen?

Unfortunately, Chairman Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania had selective hearing today. See Altmire's Committee press release in which he makes up a story about industry fingering the CPSC. This didn't happen - the videos don't lie. The Republicans didn't have wax in their ears - the Republican Committee press release accurately notes that the testimony universally criticized the law, NOT the CPSC. Isn't that interesting - the Republicans seem able to digest the spoken word, yet the Dems hear what they want to hear. Oh, wait a sec, what's this? A press release from Jason Altmire's OWN website - it quotes Laurel Schreiber detailing the small business problems caused by the rigid and unrealistic law (and then Mr. Altmire launches into the Party lies - oops, I meant "Party line" - about the "bad" CPSC under Ms. Nord). So Mr. Altmire apparently was able to hear at least a little bit of criticism of the law, when it emitted from his own constituent, but still seems to have concluded, despite the testimony from several witnesses, that the problem is solely with the agency.

If Mr. Altmire and the Dems already "knew the answer" and had no intention of listening to the small business witnesses, why hold hearings at all? I can only speculate that this is some sort of Kabuki Theater staged for the benefit of I-have-no-idea. It seems that Mr. Waxman and his associates finally decided that if the "whiners" want a hearing, they'll get a hearing, and the Dems can twist it into whatever they want. The word must have come down to Mr. Altmire that if he wants to eat, he must toe the line. Hence the fantastic misleading press release. [He's not the first Dem to be taken out to the wood shed about the CPSIA.] Interestingly, Mr. Altmire seemed the epitome of polite and empathic concern at the hearing but turned into a jackal at press release time. This is not particularly endearing behavior, if you ask me.

Get used to it, it's a fixed game. The Democrat-run Congress has decided to go its own way - they don't work for you anymore and are deaf to your legitimate concerns. The situation has devolved into "anti-transparency" where government has been taken over by people with a Nanny State agenda, and they will impose it using all available "behind closed doors" means to keep inquiring eyes away. The "anti-transparency" government operates by repeating the Big Lie over and over - namely that the law is perfect (oh what a great process to craft it!), that we really need this protection, and that the CPSC is at fault with intentionally incompetent implementation - until we all fall under their spell or expire from exhaustion (they seem to be indifferent). You will see this again with Climate Control and the Toxic Substances Control Act (Waxman's version of REACH).

This new way of government is for the "have's", not the "have-not's". In this case, the "have's" are consumer groups and rich industry groups or companies with large, vocal constituencies. The "have-not's" are the rest of us, including MANY law-abiding family businesses that used to be considered the backbone of the economy. This is not what the Constitution promises but the stewards of your future are unconcerned. After all, fairness and equity are secondary considerations since we REALLY need all this precautionary protection. The shadowy staffers who run Energy and Commerce in both Houses of Congress send messages to their Commissioners on how to grant common sense "justice", and ignore the law in the process. This works great for our staffer government.

Why is this "anti-transparency"? Ahem, what about public hearings instead of quiet instruction in the dead of night? What about laws that are written down, and enforced as written? What about laws that apply to everyone equally, without regard to economic ability to mount multi-million dollar campaigns to gain exemptions? In the new world where enforcement and practice diverge away from the law itself, we are subject to unwritten laws that can change without due process. This is simply not right and is subject to abuse.

And another thing, Mr. Obama does NOT feel your pain. His position, like the rest of the Deaf Dems, is to jam this law down your throats, reasonable or not. Before we grant him Sainthood for a good couple months of speechifying, I believe he should be held to account for his culpable silence and complicity on this law.

I may recall this matter the next time I vote.


Esther said...

So many people keep telling me that this has to be a non-partisan fight, after all Dems wrote the bill and a Republican president signed it. Sure there is non-partisan blame to spread around but a Congressional non-partisan fight to change the law doesn't exist. If the ruling party has determined that this law won't change, then it won't. At least not right now. I am holding my breath for 2010 in hopes we can break the Dems strangle hold and 2012 to make a POTUS change. Even then, I am doubtful. Congress is corrupt and I am not sure what to do about it.

Catherine Jaime said...

I wanted to be cautiously optimistic after watching the briefing videos that we might get somewhere with getting this mess fixed. But you've brought me back to earth with your well-spoken, factually-based words.

So the April 1 Rally has come and gone, the first Briefing has come and gone...Now where do we turn to help turn a fixed game in our direction?

Michael D. Shaw said...


I have to repeat my earlier point that the only solution is jury nullification.

Congress is not going to fix this thing UNLESS you can find a Dem who is not afraid to go against the leadership. Good luck, since they are all a bunch of feckless weasels.

And, while you're at it, you can blame the Repubs for never supporting a candidate who runs against the very defeatable Waxman. Think his district is the same as it was 30 years ago?

John said...

LOL, the Republican Committee press release really did get it right:

"The law prohibits the sale or distribution of any product intended for use by children under the age of 12."

Glad to see someone understands the law.

Anonymous said...


You did a great job at the hearing. I think the need now is to push for full enforcement of all laws like this that pass - to the letter. Otherwise, our Congress makes a MOCKERY of our legal system. Let the people decide whether or not this job they've done on us is a good one...!

Separately, I've just posted a piece on NAIS ( )- an article came out that flat out demonstrates that the gvmt's own data shows it will put small farmers out of business (same exact horse as CPSIA, different color). I hope we can help save small farms because...they're next!

Sad, but, it's as I said - it's going to take a whole America losing before folks wake up and understand, by FEELING, what has happened here. What is taking place before the eyes of the nation is a RAPE of our businesses, our parental authority, our children's future. And, right now, the victims are being put on trial. So the abuse is sure to continue...UNTIL...people identify with the victim.

Now, if these folks who do not work for us (but I'm sure they've got a list of contributors that are pleased with the job they're doing?) can dole it out in little bits, over time, I'm sure folks will willingly give up their rights - not trouble themselves with things that they don't feel swiftly, immediately, personally, deeply.

It truly is an amazing thing to watch - the process of getting people to self-censor, self-regulate, self-destruct. Far easier than enforcement and overt brutality. We can be trusted to destroy ourselves. The only thing we have to fear...! Well, they've done a good job of pushing the fear (so good, they don't need to enforce the actual law, eh?).

I believe it also comes back to some of the things in my March post about REAL solidarity (same blog When there are enough victims; when there is enough suffering...only THEN, will folks come together and BE the change our children truly need (not this game where folks race to grab "free money" on the backs of their own children!!). Only when there is enough suffering on a much larger scale will folks turn off their Wii's and "reality show" distractions and participate.

Ultimately, the cycle of abuse can only be broken when folks recognize the REAL victims (stop putting them on trial) and, more importantly, the real victims no longer participate in a codependent role. When the victim neither "whines" nor screams; when the victim chooses ONLY to assertively move forward, stepping beyond any framework imposed by others, only then can the victim regain control and power.

Ghandi was not a victim. Martin Luther King was not a victim. Let us not be victims, either. I'll go on a fasting adventure with all of you...for OUR children! Any other ideas?

Warm Regards,
Tristan Benz
Maiden America

Colleen said...

Your concerns would be far more believable if you were equally polite and respectful to both parties. If you always call the republicans republicans, you should consider doing the same with the democrats. Otherwise, it sounds like your mind was made up beforehand.

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

Colleen, no offense meant. Frankly, I am not political, or at least I wasn't. Nonetheless, this dispute has turned into a political matter, with no regard to the consequences for businesses and other concerned citizens affected by the mud fight. The children's market has become a bashing ground for a Republican Commissioner which is a useful way for the Democrats to position all Republicans, especially those with Bush connections, in a bad light. No matter that they must lie to do it. It is also essential for Democrats who are bound and determined to enact a Nanny State to brand this issue a "bad Republican" problem. How else can they defend or sell their Nanny State agenda coming soon to food, chemicals and the environment? Golly, all we need is lots more government to protect us! It is sickening and a terrible turn of events for a great nation. Shame on the Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Although the discretion given in the CPSIA to the CPSC to make interpretations, rulings, and the like may be very narrow, as you say, and may in fact be unconstitutional, at this point, who cares?

It would be better than nothing to have the CPSC go rouge and carve out some leeway in the law.

If the Congress didn't complain, then if you ever were hauled into court, you'd at least have something to hang onto. The existence of clear CPSC rulings that you followed could be used by your attorney to ameliorate your fine or sentence.

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

I cannot agree that any movement away from the Rule of Law benefits any of us. I think the short term gains will be far outweighed by the costs of a breakdown in the discipline and accountability of a transparent, legitimate regulatory system. Sure, it's nice to be able to sell-off stock, and of course, I understand the economic need for that (reasonable) freedom. I fear (dread) the next shoe to fall, however.

Remember, the risk of a lawless process affects of all of us. If they don't need to follow rules in giving the ATV'rs this pass, then perhaps later they may be able to dispense with due process. After all, due process is slow and expensive. If the CPSC knows the "right" answer, why should they bother with a process at all? Trials seem like such a waste of resources. After all, regulators are never wrong - right?

Before you sign up to give up all your rights, please think about the possibility for abuse or unjust results when the shackles of process, procedure and constraints are significantly eroded. The Rule of Law protects the little guy and people in the minority. If you are in a minority, including by terms of gender, please consider how willingly you would sacrifice the protections that give you a fair shake in daily life.

We cannot afford as a society to give up these rules, no matter how wonderful the short term gains. ATV'rs should demand not only the right decision BUT ALSO the right decision made the right way. The law must change - and the CPSC should stop playing fast and loose with Constitutional law.

Catherine Jaime said...

I agree with you completely. As much as I am offended by the Nanny Govt. and CPSIA's effects, I am more offended by the loss of "the Rule of Law" and the trampling of our Constitution.

Laws that are ignored are worse than no laws at all. This toxic law must be fixed!

Don said...

The point of this law, as with tax law, environmental law, etc., is to make certain that EVERY American is guilty at a technical level of a crime. This provides the government the cover they need to take a person down anytime that person becomes troublesome. The government wants control down to the last individual but needs some constitutional cover. By making complicated laws over every aspect of our lives, they have the ability to remove political opponents whenever and wherever necessary.

Prepare for a great deal more of this.