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CPSIA – Making It Up as We Go Along

743 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are 68 days left until Election Day.

The CPSC today whacked education company Lakeshore Learning Materials with a recall of Magnetic Maze products. This recall involved 18,500 units of a total of five products sold over a 18-month period. Was this recall justified? Well, anything goes these days but consider the facts:

There have been no reported injuries from this “hazard” – namely loose magnets. The company has received ten reports of loose magnets. The CPSC sums up the “hazard” this way:

“The magnetic maze board’s plastic wand can separate and expose a magnet that can be a choking hazard to children. Also, if a child has more than one of these toys and the magnets detach and are swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforations or blockages, which can be fatal.” [Emphasis added]

Before we unpack this baloney, please consider for the umpteenth time where the CPSC’s LEGAL BASIS for issuing a recall comes from. The authority to recall consumer products derives from the FHSA which restricts the agency’s authority to “imminent hazards”. Section 12(a) of the FHSA provides this definition: “As used in this section, and hereinafter in this Act, the term ‘imminently hazardous consumer product’ means a consumer product which presents imminent and unreasonable risk of death, serious illness, or severe personal injury.” [Emphasis added]

So the CPSC must reach the legal conclusion that this product creates an IMMINENT AND UNREASONABLE RISK of death, serious injury or severe personal injury to order a recall. Did they meet that standard here?

The CPSC provides two explanations for this recall, namely small parts/choking hazards and intestinal perforations from ingestion of magnets. Of course, the latter hazard is derived from a fear of Magnetix, a notorious recall in the bad zone of 2007/8. There is no indication that these magnets were strong magnets as found in the Magnetix product.

A quick glance at this product confirms that the product is DESIGNED with small parts. These products were certainly tested for compliance with law (we know these folks well, and they are exemplary corporate citizens who are exceptionally careful about legal compliance and safety). Therefore, the assertion that the presence of small parts in this product somehow constitutes a violation of law or good practice just doesn’t hold water. I could use stronger language, but I think this is a nonsense excuse.

And what about intestinal perforations? That’s pretty icky, shouldn’t we be intolerant of loose magnets? Well, the CPSC states the conditions under which these magnets could be a problem:

Step 1: The child must have more than one recalled product. [You need two products to have two magnets! There are 18,500 defective units in the world, let's not forget - a total universe of 18,500 magnets.]

Step 2: TWO magnets must fall out, one from each unit. [Ten loose magnets in the world are known. As noted above, there is no indication that these magnets are dangerously strong enough to perforate anything. A niggling detail?]

Step 3: An idiot child must choose to EAT these two yummy loose magnets in one sitting.

This has never happened, apparently. Could it happen?

This is well-beyond farfetched, but there you go. At today’s CPSC, the agency is apparently no longer permitted by the politicians who run the place to reason or to assess any form of risk. If the risk can be put into words, that seems to make it real enough to punish any company severely. No doubt this recall exposes Lakeshore to grievous penalties, too. And for what? Can anyone make the case that this makes anyone ACTUALLY safer? And, call me picky, but is this a case of “imminent and unreasonable risk of death, serious illness, or severe personal injury”? I believe this speaks for itself – the answer is no.

Remember, these regulators work for us, the citizens of this country. As the regulators confuse and scramble the expectations of industry and consumers, as they disregard their enabling legislation to chart a path that makes sense only to them – something important is lost. Is that acceptable? Not to me. Remember this on November 2nd. Let’s hope it’s not too late by then.

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CPSIA – Making It Up as We Go Along

CPSIA – Apparently, NONE of Us Knows What We’re Talking About

742 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are 69 days left until Election Day.

The CPSC just issued its Final Interpretative Rule on the meaning of “Children’s Products”. For those of you with a pile of reading materials on your desk from the CPSC, this delectable morsel weighs in at 63 pages. Add it to the heap.

Good news, however – you don’t need to waste too much time reading it. The time you spent commenting on the prior draft, now THAT was the waste of time. I burned a few hours on that exercise myself – what-a-fool, I will never learn. The REASON you need not waste time reading the final rule is that virtually all comments you (and anyone else) gave were disregarded or discounted. The changes to the rule were minimal or meaningless and there was no reconsideration of the manifold flaws in the “draft” interpretative rule. If you don’t believe me, have fun deconstructing the 63 pages of drivel against all the comments noted and unremarked upon.

So what is the story we should tell ourselves about this little incident? Here’s a few choices for you:

  1. Commenting on these rules is a waste of time because the CPSC is tired of the game – they want to get this done, and that means dealing with comments is not in the plan anymore. [Connect the dots with the pending expiration of the testing stay, and you may get a sense of the urgency.]
  2. The solicitation of comments is compelled by law but there is no obligation for the agency to accept any of our comments. Since they know best, they no longer care what we think and have decided not to even pretend anymore. It’s a sham process.
  3. We’re all incompetents, which is perhaps why we need to have a CPSC so desperately.

I bet it’s no. 3 – we’re all idiots and our comments reflect it. It’s hard to face up to one’s shortcomings . . . but I appreciate the gentleness of the message from the CPSC. Rather than embarrass us by announcing that we business people know nothing, they just politely ignore our ravings.

And think – now that we’ve established that they know everything and we know nothing, processing of recalls and other financially-impactful events with the agency will be much easier. They are right, by definition, and we are wrong, by definition. Simple! We’ll save a lot on legal fees, too, because there won’t be any point in arguing. No, I’m not talking about the PGA. . . .

I love government of the people, by the people, for the people – especially if those people are unchecked regulators!

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CPSIA – Apparently, NONE of Us Knows What We’re Talking About

CPSIA – Illinois Politics in the Gutter

742 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are 69 days left until Election Day.

After two years of banging my head against the wall on the CPSIA, it has become clear that much of the problem is in Congressional leaders from two states, California (Waxman, Boxer, Feinstein) and Illinois (Durbin, Rush, Schakowsky). [I hope I'm not forgetting any other "worthies".] I live in Illinois. The fact that our state is part of this disaster is no surprise. I get to follow the local political goings-on in the paper and on the Internet. Of course, people talk, too. We sure know how to pick ‘em in Illinois . . . .

I think it’s well-known that I am not a big fan of Ms. Schakowsky for her cheerleading for the noxious CPSIA and her leadership of the gang that stymied any effort to fix that awful law and its regulatory by-products. And it’s hard not to be utterly disgusted by her legislative agenda, which earned her the rank of NUMBER ONE SPENDER IN CONGRESS and which has been a job-killer of the first order. She provides many reasons to dislike her passionately . . . but did you also know that her husband is a FELON? As a lawyer, I have very little sympathy for felons. One never becomes a felon by accident. [As a matter of fact, the prospect of being accused of a felony under the CPSIA is one of my hottest "hot buttons" as I deeply resent that our government could make something that inappropriate possible under federal law.]

Yes, in fact, Schakowsky’s husband is a crook. Robert Creamer was convicted of financial crimes in 2005 (check kiting and tax evasion, a $2.3 million fraud committed against nine financial institutions to fund his salary, among other things) while Schakowsky was a sitting member of Congress, served five months in the pokey for his felonies and then was placed under house arrest with his member of Congress spouse for 11 months. Perhaps you think this is some sort of Illinois sitcom or perhaps a new kind of reality show. Here is Creamer’s jail release record, if you are curious.

Creamer’s criminal record is absent from his bio, interestingly enough. Anyone shocked to learn that Creamer was an important advisor to our very own Governor Blagojevich, a fellow felon? Creamer has quite a business going as a political consultant – Democrats from all over the country clamor for his help. Hmmm.

And the Illinois sewer continues to spew to this very day. Mr. Creamer, who was a critical thought leader and trainer for the 2008 Obama campaign (Obama is another Illinoisan with a CPSIA taint), is now apparently part of Democrat Alexi Giannoulias’ campaign for Senate against Mark Kirk. Here’s a still of Alexi Giannoulias posing with Mr. Creamer:

Also conversing with Mssrs. Giannoulias and Creamer is lobbyist Larry Suffredin. Here’s what Wikipedia says about his lobbying practice: “Suffredin is a registered lobbyist with Cook County, the City of Chicago, and the State of Illinois. Suffredin lobbyist clients include resort and casino company MGM Mirage, owners of the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Illinois, and Penn National Gaming, owners of the Hollywood Casino, Aurora, Illinois, the Illinois Alliance of Competitive Telephone Companies, the Donors Forum of Chicago, the Illinois Arts Alliance, and Illinois Citizens for Handgun Control, the Chicago Bar Association, and Kankakee Regional Landfill LLC. He is also a registered lobbyist for Abbott Laboratories, Nursepower Services Corporation, and Quest Diagnostics.”

I assume the three of them were discussing the weather. “Pretty sunny out today, Bob.” “Larry, did you see that rain cloud as you drove in?” “Alexi, surely it won’t rain on your parade!”

This still is from a Giannoulias campaign video pitching an endorsement by Jan Schakowsky. Perhaps there are a few dots to connect here. . . . Giannoulias chats with Creamer at the 1:45 point in the video, check it out yourself:

An Illinois Senatorial candidate hanging out with a felon who stole from banks? Hey, isn’t that practically the very question that dogs Giannoulias in this campaign? How ironic! And then there’s the issue of members of Congress who consort with thieves. This is even more ironic given the Dems’ practice this year of viciously bashing banks and bank bailouts. Perhaps defrauding banks is okay, but keeping them afloat is not. there an odor in the room???

What integrity! How inspiring! Can’t wait to vote . . . .

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CPSIA – Illinois Politics in the Gutter

CPSIA – Cadmium Law Rammed Through in California

741 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are 70 days left until Election Day.

California State Senator Fran Pavley (hope you’re sitting down, she’s a Dem) rammed through the latest in state cadmium regulations, setting a 300 ppm limit on cadmium in children’s jewelry. This law, if signed by the CA Governor, will enable a barrage of lawsuits by consumer groups feeding off this kind of CA legislation. Zero lives will be saved, but plenty of jobs will be lost. We are already hearing of companies that are pulling out of California and more will follow. The craziness in California is basically unbearable at this point.

What really steams me about this law is Pavley’s VERY OWN PRESS RELEASE. Consider these quotes:

“Senator Pavley (D-Santa Monica) . . . is seeking a ban on the dangerous metal cadmium after learning that manufacturers are simply replacing lead with cadmium. ‘Cadmium is a known cancer causing agent and there is no reason for our most vulnerable citizens – our children – to be exposed to this highly toxic metal,’ said Senator Pavley. ‘These manufacturers are replacing one toxic metal for another when less toxic alternatives like zinc are available. It’s completely irresponsible to use cadmium in jewelry marketed to children.’”

“As an Assembly member in 2006, Pavley authored a law to ban the use of hazardous levels of lead, a powerful neurotoxin, in children’s jewelry. . . . However, a loophole in the law has allowed jewelry makers to substitute cadmium. Recent laboratory reports in the United States are now showing that the heavy metal cadmium is being used in place of lead. ‘It’s a shame that jewelry makers are using a loophole in the law to harm our children,‘ said Senator Pavley. ‘There is absolutely no excuse for manufacturers to use this dangerous agent in products for kids.’”[Emphasis added]

Let’s be clear about something – there is absolutely no publicly available information to suggest that anyone is substituting cadmium for lead in jewelry (or in any other children’s product). That’s pure urban legend. If there is such evidence, someone should put the evidence up for all to see. This is a LIE – during election season. Shocked? I’m not . . . I live in Illinois.

I have already thoroughly covered the fact that there are NO KNOWN CASES of cadmium poisoning in children from any consumer product – EVER. This makes me surmise that Ms. Pavley is either stupid or she’s a liar. One thing’s for sure, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But I’m sure her message of crisis “averted” is a good seller back in Santa Monica.

Oh, by the way, did you catch her recommendation that zinc be substituted for cadmium because it’s so much safer? Certainly we can trust the esteemed Ms. Pavley, a world-renowned toxicologist and metallurgist, right? Ummm, well, what about zinc poisoning? It’s pretty icky – here’s what you get with Ms. Pavley’s preferred way to kill kids:

• Body pain
• Burning sensations
• Chills
• Collapse
• Convulsions
• Cough
• Fever
• Low blood pressure
• Metallic taste in mouth
• No urine output
• Rash
• Shock
• Shortness of breath
• Vomiting
• Watery or bloody diarrhea
• Yellow eyes or yellow skin

Hey, this sounds much better than cadmium poisoning. Of course, neither will ever occur in children because of their contact with children’s products. After all, no one’s ever had the cadmium poisoning California wants to prevent. If no one’s ever had it . . . do we need to change anything to prevent it in the future? Do we need to know anything to make this judgment?

Nahhhh – besides I love zinc convulsions!

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CPSIA – Cadmium Law Rammed Through in California

CPSIA – Wingnuts Against Cadmium

740 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are 71 days left until Election Day.

On Thursday, in an unannounced Federal Register notice (you all read the Fed. Reg. for fun like me, right?), the CPSC announced that a petition had been filed by four esteemed consumer groups demanding that the CPSC and EPA issue rules against the presence of cadmium in children’s products, especially “toy jewelry”. Not doubt this effort was coordinated with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) to assist her in her reelection effort. The four consumer groups are the Sierra Club, Empire State Consumer Project, Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (hmmm) and, our ole’ pal, the Center for Environmental Health. Although the petition has not resulted in action by the agency YET, they have requested comments on the petition. Goodie, something else to waste our time on!

The only reason I know about this event is that wrote about it last Wednesday. I am sure you monitor Bloomberg for sneak requests for comment by the agency, just like me. If you go the CPSC website, good luck finding a reference to this important Fed. Reg. publication. Oh well, the CPSIA already legislates that we must be telepathic anyhow.

The cadmium mania has nothing to do with health or safety. Even the wingnuts behind this petition are unable to cite a single injury EVER from cadmium in children’s products. They ask that rules be implemented “before a child dies or is seriously injured”. Well, since this regulation never existed previously and cadmium has been used as a trace component in jewelry for hundreds of years, the argument that this is a “real” risk does not impress me. I hold a degree in engineering but who am I to tell the CPSC how to do math. What do you suppose the probability of injury might be if the instances are ZERO over hundreds of years involving literally trillions of human interactions? Pretty high, I guess . . . .

They better be pretty high, if the CPSC actually cares what the law says. Ha, I gave up on that a long time ago, but for you devotees, here’s the deal. I have written about this many times already – the suthority to recall consumer products derives from the FHSA which restricts the agency’s authority to “imminent hazards”. Section 12(a) of the FHSA provides this definition: “As used in this section, and hereinafter in this Act, the term ‘imminently hazardous consumer product’ means a consumer product which presents imminent and unreasonable risk of death, serious illness, or severe personal injury.” [Emphasis added] Is it even theoretically possible for a consumer product containing cadmium to meet this standard if there are exactly zero documented injuries – ever? Of course, we have been told that “anecdotes are not evidence” . . . unless perhaps a consumer group is dishing out the (imaginary) anecdotes.

And then there’s the mania in the press. The press seems no better able to evaluate this threat than any of the other urban legends underlying the CPSIA. One wonders how they assess other risks . . . like swimming pool deaths. Oh yeah, real deaths are not a problem if the activity is really fun, like swimming which claims hundreds of children’s lives annually. Better to put our resources into cadmium testing – since there are no recorded events of cadmium injury from consumer products. Consider this quote from Bloomberg: “Retailers such as Dress Barn Inc. and Claire’s Boutiques Inc. have recalled necklaces, earrings and bracelets this year after finding cadmium in the products. McDonald’s Corp. offered $3 refunds in June to customers who bought “Shrek” drinking glasses with high levels of cadmium in the paint.” [Emphasis added] I have pointed out ad nauseum that the CPSC admits that the Shrek glasses are SAFE but given that the recall went forward and no one remembers what happened, those glasses had to be really dangerous, right??? According to Bloomberg, that seems to be true.

The petition features the usual hyperbolic description of an imaginary crisis with hysterical references to a “rising tide” of incidents (poisonings) and unfounded accusations of manufacturers “substituting” cadmium for lead. Shame that facts hardly matter anymore. They pull out all the stops to embellish their case. If repeated enough, this kind of reasoning becomes accepted as a truth, just like “no safe levels of lead”. Our “leaders” seem prone to this kind of duping.

My favorite part of the petition is the assertion of the dire threat posed by cadmium. Again, there are no reported injuries from cadmium EVER in consumer products. The CSPC admitted at last February’s ICPHSO meeting that their only toxicological data on cadmium relates to workplace exposure (generally airborne). According to Wikipedia, two big sources of cadmium for humans are food and cigarette smoke. The CPSC has literally NO data on risk from consumer products – principally because there is NO evidence that there is any danger. Given the data, they made the judgment that gathering the data was a waste of money (back when people cared about such things). The most famous incident of widespread cadmium poisoning related to scandalous industrial pollution in Japan over many years. That’s a far cry from the situation confronting America today.

Should we crush the toy jewelry market or pummel the rest of us with high testing costs and other legal disruptions because our regulators are unable to distinguish between industrial pollution in Japan on a massive scale, and enamel or jewerly solder with traces of cadmium in it?

According to the wingnuts, yes, we should.

And I remind you – we have 71 days left until Election Day. I recommend that you give generously to candidates that don’t come from Mars, have some semblance of common sense and commit in blood to oppose the junk science movement that has taken over the CPSC and Congress. Work the neighborhoods, greet people at train stations and then go vote in droves.

If we hurry, we might get something done before the CPSC turns the screw one more rotation.

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CPSIA – Wingnuts Against Cadmium

CPSIA – CPSC Calls for Comments on 100 PPM Lead Limit

738 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are 73 days left until Election Day.

The CPSC recently called for comments on the CPSIA’s scheduled reduction in permitted lead limits to 100 ppm on August 14, 2011. This is one of the most disruptive provisions of a truly disruptive law and therefore this call for comments DESERVES YOUR ATTENTION.

Let’s review the situation – the CPSIA requires that the lead limit be lowered to 100 ppm if it is “technologically feasible” (Section 101(a)). This determination can be made product-by-product or even by product class. In other words, some of us might get a free pass because the CPSC decides it isn’t “technologically feasible” for them, but the rest of us might get screwed. Figure that the big guys with the money to put in comments prepared by highly-paid consultants have an advantage here. Big surprise . . . .

The definition of “technological feasibility” is found in Section 101(d) in the CPSIA.

“(d) TECHNOLOGICAL FEASIBILITY DEFINED.—For purposes of this section, a limit shall be deemed technologically feasible with regard to a product or product category if— (1) a product that complies with the limit is commercially available in the product category; (2) technology to comply with the limit is commercially available to manufacturers or is otherwise available within the common meaning of the term; (3) industrial strategies or devices have been developed that are capable or will be capable of achieving such a limit by the effective date of the limit and that companies, acting in good faith, are generally capable of adopting; or (4) alternative practices, best practices, or other operational changes would allow the manufacturer to comply with the limit.” [Emphasis added]

To help explain what “technological feasibility” means, I have coined this expression – “If Rolex can do it, you HAVE to do it.” Yes, that means that this term has been defined to focus solely on technological capability with an explicit and intentional omission of any economic considerations (how expensive it might be for you to lower your products to this level). A single example of a product produced within these extreme limits is apparently an insurmountable obstacle to an exemption under this provision. No matter that it is extremely expensive. The all-platinum ATV comes to mind.

The meaninglessness of this reduction from a health or safety standpoint is likewise legally irrelevant.

A quick scan of the Request for Comment shows that the CPSC intends to follow its earlier path of exempting materials that are ALWAYS under the 100 ppm limit. I have “criticized” the conclusions of the previous CPSC effort. Expect nothing less than the insights from the CPSC’s last try which authorizes the use of super-expensive materials and by-products of nuclear waste in children’s products. Anyone for an osmium-laced baby blanket?

You will also note that there is ZERO reference to economics in the Request for Comment. In other words, money factors are totally irrelevant. This might matter to you if you project that this requirement could lead to sudden and deadly losses in your business or otherwise hasten your departure from the children’s product market. Not that the Dems (who are driving this thing) or the CPSC give a darn about your little problems.

YOU NEED TO SEND IN COMMENTS ON THE 100 PPM LIMIT. Ideally, you will gather data and make a reasoned argument. PROTECT YOURSELF – this is an important request for comment. Comments are due on SEPTEMBER 27, 2010.

And one last note: despite your government’s current attitude, this remains YOUR country. Please consider how you feel about a law like this and its impact on your stakeholders (owners, employees, customers, suppliers, consumers, community). You don’t need to accept the fate Mr. Waxman and his merry band have in mind for you. There’s an Election Day coming. Don’t waste it.

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CPSIA – CPSC Calls for Comments on 100 PPM Lead Limit

CPSIA – EU Warns on Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act

738 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are 73 days left until Election Day.

The EU has served notice of its objections to Henry Waxman’s latest brainstorm, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2010. This profoundly misconceived bill, championed by leftist consumer groups for its supposed benefits to consumers while ignoring the real problems likely to cripple commerce, has garnered increasing corporate interest in recent weeks. With more and more attention being given to persistent job losses and anemic (if any) economic growth, this bill seems suicidal. That apparently is no deterrent to our saviors, the Democratic majority in Congress. Reliable sources tell me that this bill will resume its relentless march toward law upon the return of Congress to Washington later this Fall (before Election Day).

Don’t mistake this bill for good policy. We have gone over the many unforgivable flaws of this legislation in this space in the past. It is starkly anti-small business and is an economic depressant. The likely impact would be akin to a trade barrier tariff and could be this generation’s version of Smoot-Hawley. It is also almost certainly a flagrant violation of the WTO and would trigger retaliatory regulations in our principal export markets. Trade war – just what we need . . . since export sales is about all that’s working here now. Small business owners, please consider the impact on your export business if you need to set up registered agents in 50, 60, 70 countries. Think of the legal fees, think of the potential litigation that would be invited. How many such markets would you close?

There’s more cooking in Congress to “help” us this election season. These guys are going to keep trying to “save” you until you save yourself on Election Day. Stay tuned.

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CPSIA – EU Warns on Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act

CPSIA – Obama Doesn’t Get It . . . .

In response to the release of yet more terrible jobless claims numbers this AM, President Obama renewed his call to lower taxes on small business and to ease the small business credit crunch. The legislation, which promises to lower certain taxes on small business and to increase federal funding of loans to small businesses through various means, is “stuck” in Congress. Mr. Obama blamed the Republicans for “blocking” the bill: “‘There will be plenty of time between now and November to play politics,’ Obama said. ‘Let’s put aside the partisanship for a while and work together.’”

I think this is rich, personally. We run a small business and I know what it feels like to be a small business in the Obama-cized children’s product market. We are facing skyrocketing costs nicely matched with soft revenues and mounting taxes (funded by the company, too). Cost increases include $300K in new medical plan expenses to accommodate the terms of the Obamacare initiative, plus astronomical all-in costs for increased safety testing under the new CPSIA rules and related manias. The increased testing has yet to reveal any useful information of identify any health threat that constitutes a human safety risk – so all that money is wasted.

These costs have a common link – they are both a result of increasing regulation. I know, I know, Mr. Obama has lectured us that we really need all these new regulations. Well, I don’t agree, but in any event, we see these regulations as major impediments in our business. These high costs affect our cash flow and our business outlook – to the bad. Do the Democrats think we maintain our sunny disposition when we face a shaky market lacking confidence (soft revenues), higher costs (a lot higher) and mounting cash needs from higher taxes and other federal regulatory expenses? This is rather a recipe for managers who want to hide until the storm passes. Who will spend money on new investment now? While we are not cutting our product development efforts, we haven’t bought new equipment, fixtures or additional office/warehouse space in several years now. And we have no plans to do so. Welcome to the Dems’ economy. No wonder new jobless claims are over 500,000 in the last month.

In the case of the CPSIA, the Dems are only too happy to whack us with heavy regulations, all justified by imaginary benefits. The imaginary benefits of the new CPSIA regulations are as invisible as the imaginary problems they are designed to solve. The absence of data on effectiveness is matched by the absence of data suggesting that there was a problem in the first place – the “know nothing’s” jacked up your costs and destabilized your business to no purpose. Now Mr. Obama wants to fix it all with another handout. Throwing money at the problem is new style. And after that handout is parcelled out, the Dems will proceed to raise taxes on higher income individuals (read, small business owners, particularly S Corp owners) to attempt to staunch the hemorrhaging Federal deficit, and then express “shock” at the sluggish economy. No doubt the next step will have to be more handouts and perhaps Cap-and-Trade to raise more costs. What a great cycle. . . .

Is there another way? Well, as for small businesses in the children’s product market, I would note that the voluminous new CSPIA rules (two feet high and growing) impose massive costs on industry (to comply) AND on government (to enforce). I think of the stupid health official bent on enforcing his food handler’s license rule against the little girl in Portland operating a lemonade stand – many of the new CPSIA rules are pointless from a safety standpoint and cost big money to administer as well as to comply with. If the Dems seriously want to stimulate the economy and add jobs, here’s an efficient way to do it for NO out-of-pocket cost – DROP your boundless regulations and go back to something more modest and manageable. This also means that the Obamite idea that life is better with lots more government needs to be shelved. I submit the recent rules on testing frequency and “reasonable” testing programs as evidence that inviting bureaucrats to become involved in operating businesses brings nothing but trouble, inefficiency and devastation. There must be a better way.

Hey, I figured out some time ago that I am talking to myself here. The CPSC certainly doesn’t care or understand what I am talking about (or else they might have done something about it perhaps 300 blogposts ago). The Democrats in Congress likewise are deaf and disinterested. I cannot name a single Democrat, NOT ONE SINGLE DEMOCRAT, who will stand up in front of their peers and demand significant amendment or revocation of the CPSIA. The Dems are in lockstep agreement – no light shines in if your head is in the sand, after all.

You can’t work with people like this.

I urge you (URGE YOU) to select the CPSIA perpetrator of your choosing and WORK to knock them out of Congress in this election cycle. Remember – they are trying to put YOU out of business. You need to return the favor.

Return the favor . . . this is my theme song until polls close on November 2. Then the party begins.

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CPSIA – Obama Doesn’t Get It . . . .

CPSIA – Did Anyone Think to Test the Lemonade for Lead???

Am I the last person in America to hear about the seven-year-old girl in Oregon whose lemonade stand was shut down by County health officials for not obtaining her $120 food handler’s license?

After I got done laughing at the contemptible stupidity of the national trend of obsessive rule following (I’m not done laughing, actually), this certainly brought to mind the awful CPSIA and its potential to inflict this kind of mindless regulatory “enforcement” . . . AGAINST YOU AND ME.

That subject is no joke, I am afraid. As I have been repeating endlessly, the current testing frequency rule that the CPSC recently published without a blush will force our company to spend $15 million a year on testing, including the destruction of 81,000 units of our products (54 units per test times 1500 products). That’s not over my lifetime but in the course of ONE YEAR. And our fearless CPSC leader seemingly can’t WAIT to enforce these rules against bad people like me. Chairman Tenenbaum has tirelessly promised to refocus her agency on enforcement in the coming year. She wants to shut somebody down to prove how tough she is.

If you think this lemonade example is something that would “never” happen at the hands of our responsible federal government, well, you and I disagree. Let’s consider the legal basis for lead-in-paint recalls. Heaven knows the CPSC has imposed many of those during Ms. Tenenbaum’s tenure. As you may remember from prior posts, the derivation of recall authority comes from the FHSA which restricts the authority to “imminent hazards”. Section 12(a) of the FHSA provides this definition: “As used in this section, and hereinafter in this Act, the term ‘imminently hazardous consumer product’ means a consumer product which presents imminent and unreasonable risk of death, serious illness, or severe personal injury.”

Strangely, today’s CPSC policy on lead-in-paint is one of strict liability. This means that EITHER the agency has reached the legal conclusion that any amount of lead-in-paint constitutes an imminent and unreasonable risk of death, serious illness or severe personal injury, which is tacitly impossible, or the agency has decided to just IGNORE THE LAW. No one’s asking these questions publicly, but that’s the nub of it. This interpretation allows them to demand a recall for a dot of paint in the center of the pupil of the eye of a doll, something they have certainly done, and assert that they have protected you from something dangerous.

Nice but it’s not within their legal authority to make up fairy tales to sell to the press.

So the CPSC is already dinging other companies in the children’s product industry for inconsequential “offenses” that are arugably OUTSIDE its authority. The exercise of judgment, at least on lead-in-paint, is now against agency policy.

Who will be the next lemonade stand shut down? Don’t assume it will just employ seven-year-olds. The proprietor might look a lot like you . . . .

Read more here:
CPSIA – Did Anyone Think to Test the Lemonade for Lead???

CPSIA – Happy Birthday CPSIA!!!

Can’t let a wonderful occasion like this go unnoticed – HAPPY BIRTHDAY CPSIA! Two years ago today, President Bush signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act into law, giving vast new powers to CPSC and promising wondrous new levels of “safety” for children in our country.

And how much safer we have become! In my post “Numbers Don’t Lie“, I abstracted the injury statistics from CPSC children’s product recalls over the prior 11 years. I know from “someone who should know” that the CPSC does not tabulate injury statistics like this – so I am your only source even on the second birthday of the CPSIA. No matter, the spreadsheet indicates that there were 242 recalls of children’s products between August 14, 2008 and the end of my study, April 21, 2010. By contrast, there were a total of 657 recalls of children’s products between August 14, 2008 and the randomly-selected end of my study, March 5, 1999. The injuries associated with lead that proceeded the CPSIA were one death and two asserted injuries, and after the CPSIA – one asserted lead injury (in two years). [See "Numbers Don't Lie (Update No. 1)".] What an achievement! It’s so, soooo clear we need this tough new law. . . .

By the way, I don’t mean to be too “science-y”, but a reduction in lead injuries from one death and two asserted injuries in nine years to one asserted injury in two years is simply not a statistically significant reduction. And we must consider additionally that ALL of the injuries, before and after the CPSIA, were ASSERTED BUT NOT VERIFIED. So there may be ZERO recorded actual injuries – we just don’t know. This makes our health improvement objectives even fuzzier.

And the cost of the CPSIA “final solution”? Well, I have calculated that, using the HTA’s estimate of $5.625 billion in annual CPSIA compliance costs (which I believe is low and in any event was calculated before the CPSIA showed its hand on testing frequency – see below), the 11-year cost of compliance is a mere $61.9 Billion. Using EPA metrics for the economic value of a human life and one lost IQ point, and giving full credit to each of the three asserted but unverified lead injuries, I have calculated the cost of the injuries to be $6.1 million over 11 years. That’s pretty symmetrical, don’t you think? $62 billion in costs to save $6.1 million.

Spend $10,000 to save a buck. That sums up this era in a single sentence.

Oh, but it gets even better. In case you, or pick any regulator, are too dense to understand the implications of those numbers for the future prospects of the children’s product market, the CPSC has recently published a rule for comment on testing frequency and “reasonable testing programs”. This rule was due on November 14, 2009 (hence the “15 Month Rule”) but was delayed because the CPSC understood the rule’s potential to literally kill all small businesses in this market. [That would include our business, btw.] So they held a two-day workshop in December 2009 to hear ideas and industry concerns and then spent months crafting the rule. This rule has been in the works for two years now. You have to figure they’re serious.

The CPSC was kind enough to illustrate the costs our business can expect under their sparkling new rule. So I broke out my trusty calculator (again – too math-y? too science-y?) and determined that they intend for us to spend a mere $10,000 per item per year in testing. This includes destroying 54 samples of each item in the process of testing. Anyhow, think of how many products you make – and multiply by $10,000. That’s your annual testing bill now.

Drum roll, please . . . our bill will be a mere $15 million per year! Pretty exciting to get off so easy. No doubt our bankruptcy will make American kids safer. Of course, I am pretty sure it won’t make them any smarter – our educational products will cease to exist. Then, of course, their ignorance of math and science might qualify to run the CPSC. There’s always a bright side to tragedy and catastrophe, I suppose.

It is worth a passing note that this is my 490th blogpost on the CPSIA and its terrible effects. I have submitted comments letters by the bushel basket, testified numerous times at the CPSC (often at their request), testified in front of Congress, been on national TV and radio, wrote Op-Eds and been featured innumerable times in various publications, held a rally on Capitol Hill, met with Commissioners, Congressional staffers and members of Congress, and so on. The CPSC’s actions are not being taken in ignorance. They are being done in the face of reason. This is not partisanism – this is “know nothing-ism”.

So Happy Happy Birthday, CPSIA! Your work is not done, unfortunately. Our company is still breathing.

Read more here:
CPSIA – Happy Birthday CPSIA!!!

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