It is now past 1 am on the East Coast and our Rally is less than 9 hours away!
Hopefully by now you are regularly following the constant developments and new content on our web site. You should know, by the way, that the site was only created two weeks ago by just a few, hard-working volunteers. Unbelievable! So, please do your part and forward our web address www.AmendTheCPSIA.com to as many friends as possible. Explain them, in your own words, why our action is important to you, to them and to our country.
You do not have to be in DC to be part of the action!
Whether you are surfing, blogging or twitting you can help a great deal by encouraging people to connect to the site and contribute their thoughts, stories, comments and ideas. We have no editors, no political agenda except to get your story out in the open for everyone to hear. It is clear that too many people are either still clueless, in a state of information overload due to the broader economic crisis, or simply in denial of the real impact of the CPSIA.
One of the most important aspect of our Rally is that everything we are doing is totally transparent and for all to see. We certainly welcome and encourage all points of views to be shared, debated and added to the mass of data that we are putting together for everybody to see. In the end, we believe that people will make up their mind based on the facts and that more information certainly cannot hurt.
In a few hours, a number of business leaders from many parts of the Children Product industries, from relevant scientific fields (lead and phthalates) and from our political leadership will take a leadership stance and engage in a constructive bi-partisan dialogue to fix the CPSIA. Yes, we can have safe children products without destroying an entire section of our economy. They will share with all the real facts and stories of the many people they represent. These are sad stories of people, companies, families being unnecessarily and dramatically affected by the ‘lightspeed’ implementation of the CPSIA.
Our coalition will call for Congress to impose a one-year comprehensive stay of implementation of the CPSIA in order to fix the obvious flaws in this law. This is a reasonable amount of time to have proper congressional oversights hearings, provide businesses of all sizes an opportunity to transition to the new regulations and to allow adequate time for the CPSC to issue guidance and rules.
You will be able to see it live on our website, to follow the blogs and tweeter messages. But do not stop there! Please add your comments, your testimony, your personal story. Your families, your customers and mostly the children that you serve need you to take that step.
Today, the political madness will stop and our grassroot movement of hard-working, law-abiding, mission-driven community leaders is changing the dynamic of this wasteful drama once and for all.
Please join us and bring others along.
This post was reprinted with permission of Kathleen of Fashion Incubator.
Act One: Shame
A lot of people have already gone out of business due to CPSIA but they’re ashamed to admit it. They blame themselves because they know there was some slop in their operations and if they’d had it together, this wouldn’t have happened to them. In some ways, they were the lucky ones -if it weren’t for the self blaming and loss of self respect- because they avoided the death by paper cuts of the August tracking and labeling requirements. Maybe you could have done something to avoid it but I don’t see how. I really don’t. Failing to prevent an unforeseen event doesn’t make you any less a victim so it serves no purpose to blame yourselves. That’s why so many have gone out of business without a word or telling any but a few close friends. It’s why it’s so hard to find anyone to interview these days. If I held any sway at all, I’d ask you to put up a banner on your websites explaining that CPSIA is the reason you suspended sales. This is nothing to be ashamed of. The people who should be ashamed, the ones you’re letting off the hook, are the very people who did this to you, those who claim to help victims, the special interest groups. They don’t help victims, they are victimizers, abusers of the public trust. Slowly I think the word is getting out about them. You must hold them accountable.
Act Two: Honesty
This is what no one wants to say publicly. That in some ways (not that one would truly wish this) it would have been better if those affected by CPSIA had gone broke all at once in one fell swoop. It would have been a big story, the drama would have ensured prompt legislative action. Rampant business failures would have been more accurate outcome of what the law will end up doing anyway. But no, we got a stay on testing that had two primary effects. The first was, the stay was very effective at dissolving activism in opposition to CPSIA overnight. Those that held out were just so darn grateful for a year long testing reprieve they went back to their cubbies to carry on with what they were doing. Most are confident “somebody” is going to fix this law so by the time the stay expires in ten months, they think they will have nothing to worry about. The second effect of the stay removed a sense of urgency to consider the broader gamut of costs. Nobody is talking about the pending tracking and labeling requirements coming up in August. T&L isn’t well understood; if anything, it’s perceived as a paperwork problem that enterprises will unhappily but readily absorb. Most consider it an annoyance but not particularly burdensome. Unfortunately, T&L is insidious, that is what will kill most of the businesses left standing. The problem of tracking and labeling will pick people off, in ones and twos with no readily discernible pattern. There won’t be any dramatic news stories of death by paper cuts but that’s exactly what will happen. Assuming you don’t also go to prison that is or are levied $100,000 fines because you filled the form out improperly.
Act Three: Crime
Scene One: It is inevitable that the CPSIA law will create an endless cycle of enforcement, justification and funding. Because it’s so easy to get into the business, so easy to fail to comply, so easy to get caught and fined, the special interest groups who lobbied for this law will emphatically thump their chests and proclaim loudly “look at all these offenders”, good thing we have this law! Look at all the people we caught”. Because of the sheer complexity of labeling and tracking, violations are inevitable. Violations will have nothing to do with safety. Unfortunately, the law itself will become a self perpetuating machine of justifications for its need and continuance. The public will assume a lot of unsafe products have been prevented from entering the market when all they’ve really done is create a shopping list for any number of infractions that have nothing to do with safety at all. You can go to jail for omitting a period or putting one in the wrong place. Once they start catching “criminals”, they can get more money for enforcement meaning they’ll catch even more of you. Congress has said openly that the fines are intended to be a source of revenue. A sort of tax paid by the “guilty”.
Scene Two: CPSIA will not prevent bad actors from entering the market place. Lead and safety regulations have been on the books since the 70′s; enforcement which Congress has continually failed to fund, is the problem. Rather, the bad actors will gravitate to the poorly lit alleys of the consumer stream, preying on poor and indigent consumers who won’t have recourse to pay the higher cost of consumer goods that is inevitable under CPSIA. But there’s more, the gestation of a black market economy. If these criminals were merely doting grandmothers and home workers with no other income opportunities it wouldn’t be so bad but it will be bad. Sarah explains it best:
By increasing the height of the hurdles one has to jump to sell a legitimate product, Congress is encouraging more and more of them not to bother, and the few that are left have every reason to become less ethical. One of the reasons we have so many home crafters selling children’s products in the first place is that it’s a sort of “gray market”– a semi-regulated market– where it’s easy to start a business. Putting more pressure on a market like that will turn it into a black market in a heartbeat.
At first, little would change. But after a while, we’d start to get reports of disreputable people entering the market. Perhaps someone would import toys illegally that were hazardous, or someone might use imported fabric that was coated with a toxic chemical to make clothes. The government would find it difficult to crack down on them because they don’t have business licenses, merchant accounts, etc. Shut them down? Confiscate their merchandise? Next week they’ll be in business on a different street selling something else. Government would respond with warnings about buying that cheap black-market trash, but warnings never extend anyone’s budget enough to make them able to buy more expensive, regulated goods. Honest men and women would cut corners to compete with them. And thus would all consumer regulation on children’s products come to naught.
Tomorrow we’re having a rally in Washington. People from all over the country have converged to protest the canceled Congressional hearings. We have been shut out of the political process. The stay is nothing but a delay with the effect of silencing you. Nothing has changed. If you do not make your voices heard, you won’t be in business much longer. Or maybe you will be but I doubt it will be legally.
What you can do:
- If you’re close, attend the event in Washington DC.
- Attend the protest live over the internet tomorrow between 10-12 AM EST via the Amend CPSIA website. Sign up in advance to get your login credentials.
- Provide financial support. Rick Woldenberg is paying for the lobbying effort out of his personal funds. I have donated $2,000 on your behalf ($1,000 of which was donated by The Good Mama) but any assistance you can provide is sincerely appreciated. Send it to Rick via the paypal account he set up for donations.
We are now working full speed ahead across multiple fronts. People from around the country started to arrived in DC ealier today and have literally moved on the spot to the U.S. Capitol and start our education campaign on how the CPSIA is so damaging to all of us for no benefits. As a result of all these efforts, a number of very productive meetings with Congressional staffers have occurred today. There is a lot of anticipation ahead of the Rally and more participants are joining every hour.
Glenn Beck and CNN have confirmed that they will cover our event with a camera crew. All the political press from DC will be represented and we are also expecting several national newspapers (WSJ, etc). Lou Dobbs has also expressed interest in our story.
Right now, we are briefing all our speakers, representing more than 12 different segments of the Children’s Products World. The event is set up to be an outstanding demonstration of the vitality of our democratic process when we, the citizens, decide to take back the power of free expression that is granted by our cherished U.S. constitution.
Many representatives and senators will attend and speak at the Rally. Considering that the initial vote on the CPSIA was so universal across both sides of the political spectrum, it is extremely encouraging that a number of elected officials are not only realizing that the law needs to be modified but are also willing to step forward and to push for the right solution.
Sadly, it appears that Representative Waxman (California) and his staff continue to be engaged in ‘behind the scene’ tactics of intimidation with their fellow Democrats. We believe that a number of Democrats do understand that the law needs to be changed but are being pressured not to appear to support our attempt to create a genuine, bipartisan and concrete dialogue. Apparently, Rep Waxman recently called for a meeting at the exact same time as our Rally. How pathetic is that? Please remember that this is the same fellow who, a few weeks ago, forced the cancellation of a Hearing set up by the Small Business Committee to allow for our stories to be told.
I remember the bullies I had to face in high school. I would not let them intimidate me or worse take advantage of my friends. Like I stood then (I may have received a few knocks as a result…), I will stand now for our constitutional right to have our voices heard and will certainly not be intimidated by such a ridiculous abuse of power.
Tomorrow cannot come soon enough!
The below is the first part of a two-part series by Lizi, age 11. She will also be reporting for us and sharing her views after watching the rally online at home with her mother Kim.
My name is Lizi, and I’m 11 years old. My mother previously sold toy stuffed animals on Etsy.com. Although they are probably lead-free, she is unable to test them to prove it, because the testing price is more than her yearly income. I also had plans to open my own shop, with my mom’s help. My hope was to sell clothes and other items for kids my age. For a few weeks, I bought plain shirts, decorated them, and planned to sell them. When I first heard about the CPSIA (The Crappy Pointless Stuff Invading America, as I call it), I actually cried. I didn’t see how they could pass something so stupid. My dream was either impossible, or a lot more complicated. I couldn’t sell clothes, Mom couldn’t sell toys, and come on – as if the economy wasn’t bad enough already!
As an avid reader, I think that the effect that the CPSIA has on libraries and book stores is just horrible. A lot of my favorite books when I was little were definitely printed before 1985. I thought everyone was concerned about kids not reading enough! I also love to shop at thrift stores. You can find great deals, unique things, and it’s better for the environment. Now, because of the CPSIA, all of the cool kids’ stuff is gone. I’m getting big enough now that I can fit into the women’s clothing sizes, but what’s my three-year-old little sister supposed to do?
In school, I am studying American History. It’s interesting to me that our government, which started out so great, could turn into…this. From my studies, I thought that Congress was supposed to represent us, the Americans. Now, when people ask them to change the CPSIA, they don’t even listen.
It seems to me that a better solution would be to ban everything– or at least test– everything from countries whose exports have proven harmful.
Quick update, Stephanie and Sonja just finished a GREAT meeting with David Strickland from Sen. Rockefeller’s office. I found this about him
“David Strickland, senior counsel on the Commerce Committee under Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who is taking over Appropriations, is considered a candidate for the Treasury Department. He also played an important role on legislation setting standards for toy safety and fuel efficiency. He could also land jobs at the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”
She said it was the most amazing meeting and made the trip successful. She was able to communicate with him on the impact the CPSIA has created on our businesses and he was very responsive to them. This might not be their last trip to Washington DC to discuss this issue!!!
More to come!
Jolie forwarded on the following message about the ladies of Oregon:
Stephanie and Sonja just contacted me after meeting in Senator Merkley’s office. They have had a great meeting and they have a lot of information to share with you all when they return. It is time to have another meeting soon.
Senator Merkley wants to support the people of Oregon and is interested in exactly what our amendments should be. Andrew Green, from Merkley’s office, suggested working with some law professors (Lewis and Clark school of law) to write up what would best meet the needs of the people of Oregon. This can be written as a new bill, or an amendment to an existing one. Currently there are 8 new bills in circulation.
The ladies have 2 more meetings today, I will keep you all posted.
A letter I wrote to my local paper criticizing Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho for voting for a law and then asking for a hearing afterwards and generally being un-Republican. I sent a copy to Mr. Simpson too. The letter was printed in its entirety the week of March 22nd, 2009 in the Caribou County Sun (not online). I received a response from Mr. Simpson, if it would interest anyone. His response made it clear that he didn’t even read this letter.
Dear Caribou County Sun,
While it is gratifying to see Representative Mike Simpson call for a hearing on the ban on OHV’s for children, the article fails to explain the whole story. I have been following the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) very closely since December 2007. The law explicitly bans the sale or distribution by a “manufacturer of a product” intended for children 12 years and younger which may have a certain level of lead or pthalates.
The law is extremely complex and contains fast deadlines and costly conformity requirements. The risk of lead poisoning from the use of an OHV is less than that found in tap water.
It is unbelievable that a government body can ban an element on the periodic table of elements with an Act of Congress. It is true that lead poisoning is a concern among children, but the primary source of lead poisoning is lead paint in older homes. As unbelievable as it may sound, the law as interpreted by the CPSC will force the removal of books off library shelves and clothing from thrift stores. It will ban the sale of ink pens and jewelry. It will force manufacturers to test 100% cotton t-shirts. The most egregious aspects of this law is that it is being applied retroactively and forcing the removal of product off shelves – not because the product was actually dangerous but because manufacturers can’t afford to prove it is safe. It’s easier to just pull it and ship it off to the landfill. The implications from this law is far reaching and it will have devastating affects on consumers over the next few years.
I have written to Representative Simpson several times about this law and my concerns about the law’s overreach. If Simpson truly believes the law “has begun to overreach its stated intent,” then Simpson is just an example of the problem that is systemic in Congress. The truth is he voted for a law that he either didn’t read or understand. The language of the law is very broad in application with very little wriggle room for exceptions to be granted. The law had very little debate and no hearings from affected industries so that a workable and sensible solution could be found.
The truth is he voted on a law which was written by Rachel Weintraub of US-PIRG, a consumer advocacy group with politically left leanings. This law was passed merely on the emotion of the moment in order to do “something to protect the children” with no thought as to its consequences. Simpson has joined his Democrat peers in blaming the CPSC in its interpretation, but the truth is that the CPSC is bound by the language of the law that Congress wrote. There is only one group to blame and it is idiot lawmakers who do not read the bills they vote on, nor listen to their constituents. In this case one is left wonder why Simpson is calling for a hearing after the fact? Why were there no hearings before the vote was taken?
The truth is Simpson voted for one of the most anti-business pieces of legislation in US history that has caused over $3 billion dollars in economic losses to date. This is in addition to the over $30 million dollars in earmarks that Simpson was proud to sponsor or co-sponsor in the recent federal budget. It has become clear to me that Simpson is a bit too cozy in Washington and it may be time to consider replacing him with someone who is not a Republican in name only.
Soda Springs, ID
This rally report was sent in by Jolie of Skipping Hippos who is working closely with the two ladies who are representing their small business organization from Oregon.
Yesterday afternoon I dropped off the last package to the ladies selected and sponsored to go to Washington DC by the people and small businesses of Portland. They have been working frantically for more then a week to get prepared for this trip.
Times are tough everywhere, but the Oregon economy has double weakness right now. Oregon has the third highest unemployment rate in the country, and Oregon people are very, very creative. The crafting and artist community defines the Pacific Northwest. Travelers from all over the world can recognize the style and care of the people of Oregon. Products leading in eco-friendly and safety. This is the community who sent these women to Washington, who saw an opportunity to be heard and pooled their money together in bits of $15 and $25, to send these women out there to make a differences.
Two families are interrupted, two businesses are put on hold, two daughters will be very sad about 8 pm tonight when they do not have their mommies there, to love them to sleep. These two women, mothers, business owners are on the plane, flying across the country to fight for the people and businesses of Oregon. They are sleeping on couches, eating packed lunches, and working tirelessly for the people who raised the money to send them there.
We owe these women more then just the cost of the trip. They have turned to all of the resources in order to make this trip possible. The staff at Spielwerks Toys is working the extra time to cover for Sonja’s absence, friends and family were called in from hundreds of miles away to help care for her young daughter for 4 days.
Stephanie has called on friends and family to assist her as well. From coast to coast, Stephanie has a support system who has spent hours helping this inspiring woman to fight for what is right-the necessity to bring common sense to the CPSIA. Stephanie spent hours writing and compiling information to hand to all of the lawmakers in Washington DC that she will be meeting with, and she was doing this with her 4 year old daughter sitting patiently, waiting for her mom to play, cook, and care for her.
Stephanie and Sonja represent the 100,000′s of mothers in America who have worked early morning, all day long and deep into the night to live the American dream. We want to do both, be a mother and a business owner. We want to be able to take a vision and make it come true; to share our gift, craft, talent, whatever it may be, with the world, and make money with it to support our families. This is our right! This is the right we have earned through generations starting with our homesteader Great Grandmothers, who made their own clothes and made them well enough to bring in food in a time when no one had money.
I want to teach my kids to sew, knit, stamp leather belts like their Grandfather. I want my kids to know they can work hard to learn a trade, and then be rewarded for their hard work. How will I explain that their projects must be filed in the great “testing bin” for an indefinite time, because we do not have the money to third party test the hat she just knit!
Stephanie and Sonja are out in Washington DC fighting for us all. Everyone has a story that is his or her own, but we all need the same thing.
We need common sense brought to the CPSIA.
Esther, a fashion designer and a librarian, shares her thoughtful insights about how CPSIA affects her library.
This is a compilation of two of my blog entries and its effects on one of the industries in which I work.
I have had two careers. The first started in a library when I was in college. But like most of my peer co-workers in the university library, we went out into the world and got a “real job”. For me that was in the fashion industry. I have worked in the fashion industry for the last 12 years in a variety of capacities creating product for big box retailers and specialty boutiques. Most of my has been technical in nature such as pattern making, grading, and quality control. Some of it has been in design and retail. As the fashion industry has contracted, factories have closed and job opportunities have been minimized. Somehow, I have managed to keep a few toes in the industry the last few years. The reality is that I still had bills to pay. So I have returned to my library past. For the last 4 years I have worked part-time in a small library. This means I can easily claim the title of Fashion Designer, Pattern Maker, and Librarian. I have a unique perspective on the CPSIA and its effects on two industries. I decided to run the numbers of how the CPSIA would affect a small rural library.
The CPSC issued a press release
(http://cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09120.html) (not an official rule) on their intended enforcement plan come February 10th. One hot little item in this press release is that the CPSC is not concerned about books printed 1985 or later. This means that libraries and book publishers now need to worry about books printed pre-1985. Do we test or throw books out? How do we sort through our collections and keep kids from checking out pre-1985 book? With this blog entry, I try to show how it would be impossible to do it.
Some of these numbers are best guess estimates. It appears impossible to run a report detailing the total number of books with a pre-1985 publication date. The creators of this cataloging system never devised an easy way to do this but who would ever think we would need this?
Another caveat is that even though a book has a copyright date of pre-1985, it still may have been printed post-1985 and that info may not show up in the record in a consistent enough way to run an accurate report. Plus, how do we take into account the cross over between Junior Fiction and Young Adult? In any event, the only accurate way to determine the numbers is to physically go through the shelves and look.
A nearly impossible task, at least for a small library with limited staff and slashed budgets.
Total library inventory: 34,668
Total est. juvenile inventory: 10, 601
Percentage of juvenile inventory: 31%
Estimate of inventory pre-1985: 75% or 7951 units
Now if we have to test pre-1985 inventory at $500/book: $3,975,375
Now, I am assuming we will have to do the certified laboratory testing for several reasons. The testing costs were not included in the yearly budget, so we would have to reopen it and appropriate funds to pay for it. It is a lengthy, messy process to add to the budget, so money realistically won’t be available until Oct 1st, long after the certified lab testing goes into effect. Next, we would need to pay staff to go through all of the shelves and box up the books. Oh yeah, and pay for the boxes and ship them to a certified lab clear across the country. Did I mention this library is in rural Idaho? Shipping costs alone will kill us. The testing costs exceed the entire city budget, btw.
Another problem is that the certified laboratory testing will render most of the books down to toxic goo. So why even bother with the testing.
It is unlikely that the city will appropriate funds for testing. That leaves us with throwing out 75% of our juvenile section and replacing those books. We would still need to estimate close to $4 million dollars for replacement costs, if replacements can be found on all the titles.
Plus we would need to pay staff to sort, box up/throw out books, buy replacements, and process them. And did I mention books are heavy. I would love to see a garbage truck pick up our trash can loaded with books! Of course, if they are banned hazardous substances, we can’t just throw them in the dumpster. We would need a hazardous materials removal specialist to do that….
And really, this starts to become silly. We don’t regulate what books or audio visual materials a child can checkout. This brings our entire collection of 35,000 items under suspicion. What will the kids read while we are in the process of removing, testing, replacing thousands of books?
So our realistic choices are:
- Shut down our children’s section, or
- Ban kids 12 and younger from the library.
Not so realistic considering how popular our library is with kids.
BTW, the hottest new read is 1984 by George Orwell or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I think it would be good to send our Congressional Representatives copies, just make sure it is printed pre-1985.
Fashion Designer and Librarian