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CPSIA – Sound Bite Justice

Today the CPSC Commission voted 3-2 to impose the 100 ppm lead standard retroactively as of August 14, 2011 , having concluded that there are no materials or products that the CPSC staff could identify for which this level of lead is not “technologically feasible”.  This vote has been long predicted and anticipated.  The entire meeting was conducted in a thoroughly partisan manner, with sharp dividing lines between Dems and Republicans.  What-a-shock.  I experienced a range of emotions watching this two-hour hearing.  None of them were surprise.  I experienced some boredom, as the debate was so predictable and so repetitive of past meetings.  Many self-serving remarks by the Dem zealots.  I experienced a mild sense of hopelessness, as it is clear that the Dems are unreachable. I experienced rising exasperation over their refusal to listen or consider data – unless it agrees with pre-existing agendas and alliances.  It is hard to not feel you are appearing before the Hanging Judge.  I won’t attempt to analyze what was really going on today, you already know it.  The posturing was sickening among the Dems.  That said, you deserve some flavor of the event.  Here are a few tidbits for your amusement or annoyance: She’s just the nicest! Inez Tenenbaum explained that the 100 ppm standard would have gone into effect if the CPSC had not chosen to decide the question of “technological feasibility”.  As she sees it, ” this [decision] is a courtesy to people .” What, Boeing isn’t covered by the CPSIA?! After vigorously stating her case on the cost-benefit analysis of this rule and condemning the possible adoption of this rule as a violation of the recent Executive Order applicable to the CPSC, Ms. Nord restates the obvious. Unfortunately, the power of her logic was lost on at least three of her colleagues by my estimate:  ” Just because a material is out there for a jet plane, doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate for a toy plane .”  No! Is that a promise, Bob? Defending caveman logic to his followers, Bob Adler rebuffed the Executive Order argument and the order of the person who appointed him to his post:  ” This is not a new Executive Order . . . . [They] said could you at least do a plan for economic analysis and I do think that we are planning on doing that and we have done that in the past. It says “to the extent permitted by law” we should do cost-benefit analysis. And I just wanted to say over my dead body would I agree to do the kind of cost-benefit analysis that is contained in Section 9 of the [CPSA]. That is paralysis by analysis. If you look at the data . . . nine [CPSC] standards in 30 years using those procedures. I am not against cost-benefit analysis; I am definitely against the kind of cost-benefit analysis that’s contained in our statute. Section 101 does not EXPLICITLY bar a cost-benefit analysis but it effectively does so .”  [Emphasis added] I find this rather interesting as he challenged me on February 16 with the question of whether I recommended that he violate the law.  It was a tense moment – he was trying to corner me into telling him to spurn his Congressional mandate.  Nevertheless, it is appears that Bob can pick and choose which laws bind him and which do not.  That shouldn’t surprise anyone who went to law school.  Law school profs always know the right answer, even if it makes no sense to anyone but themselves.  They care sooooo much, they really feel our pain . . . . Ms. Tenenbaum set the records straight on the purity of her good intentions:  ” I so believe that we have been diligent in looking at the marketplace and surveying materials. We have admitted it would be an extra cost to some companies and been out front. But, again, ‘technological feasibility’ the definition is not ‘economic feasibility’. Not that I don’t sympathize with small business owners and that is why we have worked on other rules [like the component part rule]. We are trying to be as flexible as possible and work with small businesses and the industry to accomplish what Congress mandated for us to do .” I know it’s just a detail but in the last three years, what exactly has this “effort” achieved?  Oh yeah, I forgot about Neal Cohen – we can cry on his shoulder!  In fact, Ms. T. closed the event with the offer that Cohen has his box of Kleenex ready for you whenever you need him. Somebody’s getting the shaft, let the record reflect. Nancy Nord noticed something the Dems must have missed:  ” You know, one of the things that is of concern to me is that the penultimate recommendation from the staff here is that ‘complying materials APPEAR to be commercially available for most products.’ Listen to the hedge words there in the staff recommendation. They ‘appear to be’? Well, let’s find out for sure and let’s do it on a product category basis. ‘Most products’? Well, what about the ones that can’t meet it? That’s our responsibility as [regulators], colleagues .” Hmmm.  Professor Adler grades the final exam. Bob Adler was in top form today.  The “over my dead body” remark was just an appetizer.  He went on to inform us that comment letters which arrive late are not operative, especially if they did not properly read his mind on what he wanted to see: ” I do want to also comment on some of the last minute submissions we got from our friends in industry, and I always appreciate those comments and I do consider a lot of these folks to be good friends both of this agency and of mine. But it’s really hard to take it seriously when it comes in at the penultimate or ultimate moment when you’ve had a lot of time to get that kind of information to us . . . . [Recites all the opportunities to comment prior to this hearing.] All of that, if you want to make a point, would have been very helpful especially we’d had the kind of hard quantitative data that SGS and the Hong Kong-American Chamber of Commerce gave us. And I’m going to just make a brief comment = you’re free to do it, it’s not helpful to tell us we’ve read the law incorrectly. I think we’ve read it correctly. I don’t think it’s helpful just to tell us that it’s going to be difficult and more expensive to get compliant materials. I think we know that, I think the staff told us that. What we needed was more hard data demonstrating the points that you’re making because what we really got were a lot of conclusory assertions when what we really needed was some hard quantitative data. And all the hard quantitative data I’ve seen really points in the opposite direction. So I really appreciate all the last minute comments. Too little, too late as far as I am concerned .”  [Emphasis added] This lecture was repeated three times by Mr. Adler unprompted, for reasons best understood by him.  Interestingly, Mr. Adler seems to have forgotten that I presented hard quantitative data on this same topic in my timely-filed 100 ppm comment letter and in my Febuary 16 testimony.  Of course, it did not agree with the SGS or HKACC submissions.  I guess since he found their data useful, mine must have been wrong.  According to his remarks today, I didn’t even submit it, which is rather surprising since it was discussed extensively in the Staff report :  “Learning Resources reported 98.3 percent compliance with the 100 ppm standard for its products, but found this compliance level to be unacceptable because of the difficulty in identifying where the noncomplying components would turn up.” Bob Adler flips his flop. You would think with three repetitions of his condescending lecture on late submissions, that Professor Adler must mean it.  Can’t get a good grade in his class with that behavior, right?  Well, maybe not for the teacher’s pet:  ” One very quick point, well two. One is that the [AAP] study you shared with us, and again thank you so much Commissioner Northup, is a 2005 study. We got a letter last night from the American Academy of Pediatrics reiterating their support for moving down to these levels. . . . ” Bob Adler wings it. . . . In the face of a vigorous attack by a well-prepared Anne Northup on the shoddy scientific data presented by the AAP supporting the “no safe level of lead” assertion, Mr. Adler lapses into hyperbole and fantastic assertions incapable of validation: “It isn’t just the [AAP]. A lot of what they’ve done has been drawn from research done around the world on the effects of lead. I’ll bet there must be ten thousand, I know there are thousands and thousands of studies on lead, all of which point to the very severe toxic effects associated with [these products] .” Mother knows best! In a truly shocking display of personal preference substituting for appropriate policy and regulation, Ms. Tenenbaum decided that we don’t need recycled materials in children’s products because who would want them anyway?  ” The scientific community has shown us over and over again that lead is cumulative and so I think there are safety benefits in reducing the exposure to lead and the accumulation of lead in the body. Also, I don’t know that parents are interested in having products that their children use, particularly infants and young children, that are mouthable being made of recycled materials, recycled materials that may contain a higher level of lead. Recycled plastic – do you want your child to have a recycled pacifier? Well, that is why Congress has set these strict limits.” [Full disclosure, we recently won a toy industry award for environmentally-friendly toys made of recycled plastic.  No one has objected to them to my knowledge, and believe me, they are wonderfully and thoroughly tested for compliance.] And the support for Ms. T’s bald assertion is . . . what?  Did she find something in the legislative record?  Is there some verbiage in the law?  I have not heard this previously from anyone at the CPSC but notably I have repeatedly noted that the CPSIA will be the death of recycled materials in children’s products .  Still, Ms. T’s logic is irresistible – she is there to figure these things out for us and certainly knows best.  After all, she loves children, probably much more than any of us. She cares.  What else do you need to know?  With her power to impose policy, her preferences will become our marketplace.  Brave New World, courtesy of the Nanny Staters. Tenenbaum says you can ALWAYS file for an exemption! Ms. T. reminded the audience at least four times that if they wanted to, they could ALWAYS file for an exemption if they can prove their product or material can’t be made to the new standard subject to the non-economic technological feasibility test.  The door is always open . . . . This promise seems to be in denial of reality.  Let’s start with the fact that the CPSC staff studied this question for more than a year and concluded, as summarized in a 59-page tome, that EVERYTHING is technologically feasible.  That seems to put us all against the wall when it comes to exemption petitions.  And then there’s the fact that for three years, nobody has been able to get an exemption for anything, regardless of how obvious the case, unthreatening the use or how well-funded the supplicant. Notes Ms. Northup:  ” I just think we should warn the public that it is unlikely that any petition would be accepted and that that is, first of all, for anybody to file it would be far more costly than to just pay for the materials and increase the cost of their products in all likelihood, not to mention the delay they would have in us in actually addressing their petition .” And Nancy Nord speculates that petitions for relief are highly unlikely in any event:  ” I will just tell you, in my conversations with folks out there, there is a feeling that ‘why bother?’ There is a comment weariness, there is a sense that it isn’t worth the candle, and so I guess if you’re not a company that’s either been put out of business or not making the product, you don’t have the money to hire the lawyer to file the petition. So I think that’s just an empty option for most people .” Who do you believe?  Hey, as Ms. T says, the door’s always open even if it’s the door to oblivion. The outcome of the decision to implement the 100 ppm standard was foretold but let’s not forget something important – this is a retroactive rule as implemented today .  Unless Congress acts, we are all in the soup.  Even worse than before.  Call your Congressman and don’t stop until they take action.  Mr. Obama must sign something by August 14 or all hell breaks out . . . again.

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CPSIA – Sound Bite Justice

CPSIA – Consumers Union is Hazardous to Your Health

Lies, innuendos, misstatements, twists – which is it this time? Today Ami Gadhia, one of the Consumers Union CPSIA hacks (a.k.a. “Policy Counsel”) weighed in with her usual bunk about the lurking “dangers” in children’s products.  In particular, today’s tripe is a protest against modifying the CPSIA.  Her writings and utterances are invariably infuriating for their lack of perspective, tall tales and general fear mongering.  In her article ” Turning Back the Clock on Child Safety Protections “, Ms. Gadhia continues her fine tradition of twisting and obfuscating the facts.  Considering her background in the subject matter and her law degree, one must assume ill-intent.  This can’t be accidental. Let me debunk her junk one-by-one: a.  “Turning Back the Clock on Child Safety Protections”:  The Op-Ed’s title is absurd in light of the actual bill’s wording.  The CPSIA Amendment (ECADA) is a mild and surgical bill intended to offer minimal but effective relief from over-regulation while preserving the structure of the CPSIA.  Killing the CPSIA is politically impossible, it appears, so this is the best that can be offered at this time.  Ms. Gadhia must be asserting that ANY change in the CPSIA is a setback.  This argument is always left unproven – but no one ever holds her accountable so why not tell the tall tale?  The consumer groups rely on the appeal of the “zero sum” argument which also goes unchallenged.  It goes like this:  ANY change in the CPSIA which might benefit a business is THEREFORE a setback for children’s safety.  If the Cubs lose 15-5, they are somehow better off if they instead lose 13-5.  Right. . . . b.  Ms. Gadhia, like her fellow manipulators in the consumer “advocacy” field, relies on an emotional appeal to kick off her crock – the story of a child who swallowed magnets, leading to gory injury.  A few notes on this line of reasoning: The CPSIA is NOT a toy law.  Despite Ms. Gadhia’s relentlessly repetitive references to toy safety, the law applies equally to ALL children’s products, from shoes and t-shirts to pens to rhinestones to ATVs and bikes to books to educational products to carpet to what-have-you.  By focusing on toy gore, Ms. Gadhia lulls her reader into overlooking the awesome overreach of this bill.  We don’t want kids injured by magnets . . . ergo , we should ban all hazards in all things.  Huh? The magnet hazard she refers to had never been seen by the agency previously.  It was a classic latent hazard, unregulated specifically because it was unrecognized.  You can see Gib Mullan, the current General Counsel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and former General Counsel and Director of Compliance at the CPSC say ON VIDEOTAPE (at the CPSC Tracking Labels hearing ) that the agency first thought the problem was a small parts issue, not a strong magnets issue.  No law can effectively regulate UNKNOWN hazards.  Claiming that the CPSIA “solves” this safety issue is pure baloney. The magnet hazard was addressed promptly and effectively by the agency without the need for changes implemented by the CPSIA. The agency had this power under its 1972 enabling legislation and following laws. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. c.  Ms. Gadhia intones ominously about banned phthalates and their links to “a variety of health risks”.  As has been well-documented here, that provision was placed in the law at the last minute by Diane Feinstein, true to her San Francisco roots.  This is the same place that worked for years to ban circumcision.  Yes, they are really scientific in that community.  For a discussion of phthalates, please watch the 60 Minutes segment in which I appeared. d.  Ms. Gadhia trots out yet another misleading but longstanding justification for not changing the CPSIA – namely that it passed by an overwhelming majority of Congress.  I fail to grasp the intellectual power of this “infallibility of Congress” argument, and further note that dozens of members of Congress have been trying to change the law ever since.  There has been more than a dozen bills floated to amend this “perfect” law since August 2008.  In addition, the timing of passage of this law (three months ahead of the 2008 Presidential poll electing Mr. Obama) made it very dangerous politically to vote against this terrible law if you wanted to keep your job in Congress.  Even Mr. Bush had to sign it for political reasons.  The political and media frenzy in 2008 made rationality impossible, and minds were made up.  Have you ever made a bad call when you were furious?  ‘Nuf said . . . by everyone except the dangerous Ms. Gadhia. e.  The Consumers Union storyteller informs us that ECADA “would poke some serious holes in the product safety net”.  What a dream if Ms. Gadhia were actually right that this amendment would actually dent the CPSIA that I hate.  It doesn’t, regrettably.  To “prove” her points, she lists four lies : “The bill undermines safety testing for children’s products”.   The bill eliminates MANDATORY testing as required by the CPSIA.  It does not ban testing, nor does it discourage or remove the incentive to test.  Excessive testing is one of the original problems cited in the bill, and has cost our company well in excess of $1 million since the passage of the bill – all without making even one product in our product range safer, even a little bit.  This term is the brainchild of the consumer groups (Rachel Weintraub?), reasoning that if the government didn’t require mandatory testing, no testing would be done.  This misconception overlooks the enforcement of the new standards.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to assess whether you comply with the standard without testing.  Enforcement of the standard, as is anticipated, means that everyone WILL test.  What is being eliminated is the role of Mother Government “helping” us by telling us how to run our businesses.  If the standard is enforced, people will HAVE TO test.  If they don’t enforce the standard, they won’t enforce mandatory testing either. What’s the big deal here?  Just the opportunity for Ms. Gadhia to mindlessly bang her drum. “The bill undermines lead protections”.    Ms. Gadhia informs us that consumer confidence would “erode” if the current one-size-fits-all standard is replaced with “a variety of standards that will be different depending on when the product was manufactured, the age of the child for whom the product is designed, whether it contains small parts, and other factors.”  OMG – standards that are reasonably tailored to the individual hazard and individual product!  NO – please tell me we still live in a world where books, t-shirts, diamonds and rubies, ATVs, bicycles, appliances, pens, carpets, DVDs and toys are ALL subject to exactly the same rules. What is the world coming to???  I presume Ms. Gadhia thinks we are idiots, or else this is all she has, which ain’t much.  Anyone surprised? “The bill undermines the effectiveness of the new crib safety standard”.   I have previously addressed this issue – the three Dem Commissioners made this same baseless accusation a few days ago.  See my reply in this space. “The bill undermines the new public database for people to report and read about product safety problems”.   Ms. Gadhia warns “the provisions in this legislation would place onerous burdens on the person making the complaint, thereby discouraging parties with valuable safety information from reporting.”  Whoa – you mean we won’t get to see stuff like this , this  and this again??? Ms. Gadhia needs to get one last jab in:  “The Leisy family’s experience shouldn’t happen to another child.”  Okay, I don’t want to see any child injured ever again for any reason . . . but does Ms. Gadhia even make a coherent argument here?  Does one thing have ANYTHING to do with another? It’s time to turn back the clock on irrationality and lowest common denominator government.  Who should set the tone for us – the Anthony Weiners of the world (did you hear that his wife is pregnant?) or people that are interested in children’s safety AND the viability of American businesses that provide jobs to your neighbors and valued products to your kids?  I think it’s time that our representatives in Congress, especially those in Congress calling themselves Democrats, to stand up for WHAT’S RIGHT rather than what’s easy or what’s safe (for their job security).  We pay them to lead, not to cower.  PASS ECADA AND END THE CPSIA CHARADE!

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CPSIA – Consumers Union is Hazardous to Your Health

CPSIA – Fools in Charge

So happy to be so safe . . . and so unemployed! Today’s initial jobless claims report is yet ANOTHER report card on the dense and unthinking approach to economics implemented by Mr. Obama, Mr. Waxman and their Dem minions since the 2008 election.  A full three years after the economic cataclysm, and with a diminishing ability to blame this misfortune on someone else, the Dems stubbornly stick to their over-regulation agenda dooming Americans to safe, safe unemployment.  Can’t be too careful, you know. The CPSIA is the poster child for the Nanny State.  Mr. Obama told David Letterman on September 21, 2009 that the national problem he had to fix was that we had ” too little government, too little regulation “. Our industry has become a classic example of the cure being worse than the disease.  The story has been told again and again.  For instance, the CPSC heard (and promptly ignored) at its February 16th hearing from a representative of the bicycle industry, all the small bicycle manufacturers have left the children’s market and the big makes of bikes have sharply cut their product lines.  They also informed the CPSC that if the 100 ppm lead standard comes into force, the rest of the bikes will disappear from the market.  Quite a stimulus plan – you can imagine all the jobs this useful plan has created.  Other consequences is a general reduction in choice and availability in child-size bikes, which not only punishes families but also retailers. Do any of the numskulls running our safety apparatus have evidence that any child has EVER been poisoned by lead-in-substrate from a bike?  No, they don’t – because there is no evidence that any child was ever injured by lead-in-substrate anywhere using any product at any time.  Did you realize that one of the big problems in making a bike comply with this moronic law is that bikes use recycled steel for the frames – and the law provides that paint does not constitute a “barrier” over the steel.  The lead content of recycled steel is hard or impossible to consistently control at the levels dictated by the law.  The industry representative submitted testimony and evidence to the CPSC (consistent with evidence I have also supplied) showing that tests on the SAME PART in ten places yields ten different lead contents.  This law is killing jobs, products, companies and markets.  The evidence and data is right there for any thinking individual to read and consider.  The true believers stand in the way of rationality. Please send Mr. Waxman and Mr. Obama a thank you note for the weak, sinking economy.  They have CHOSEN this path of Nanny Statism to keep you “safe” although they really can’t demonstrate you were ever unsafe or that you needed this further protection.  If you are one of the unlucky 9.1% who can’t find a job, perhaps you will take some comfort in knowing that your Dem-led government made this choice for you.  Safe but unemployed – that’s what you need, what you want, what you got.  The best government money can buy . . . . The solution to fools in charge is to amend the CPSIA and restore sanity in safety administration.  PASS ECADA AND END THE CPSIA CHARADE!

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CPSIA – Fools in Charge

CPSIA – John Stuart Mill and Crib Safety

“I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.”

John Stuart Mill
1828

The CPSC recently congratulated itself for banning drop-side cribs. Scott Wolfson clucked on Twitter: “RT @Scott_wolfson: The lifesaving crib rules approved by #CPSC today are a key part of the #CPSIA. #CPSC wants all babies to have a #safesleep.” Other people, like Rep. Jan Schakowsky, also rushed forward to take credit for this change in regulation.

To judge from these press releases, a real crisis in public safety has been addressed. Is that true?

Wasn’t it Winston Churchill who once said that history is written by the victors???

I have not touched the crib issue previously because, frankly, it’s too hot to handle. Who would want to defend a product associated with baby deaths? There but for the grace of G-d goes I. On the other hand, the projected compliance expense of $550 million is breathtaking, particularly given the fact that the agency’s ruling is both retroactive and mandates replacement of cribs in certain childcare facilities. Even Commissioner Robert Adler calls this expansion of the CPSC’s role as “uncharted territory“. This sets a new precedent for government (CPSC) intrusion that I find troubling, even under these circumstances.

The always astute Lenore Skenazy questions the CPSC’s justification of three fatalities a year linked to drop-side cribs. She labels herself “subversive” for looking at the numbers. [You know you were thinking it, admit it!] Based on the injury figures released by the CPSC, she notes that the deaths attributed to drop-side cribs are less than those attributed to spider bites (five per year). She puts the drop-side crib-related deaths in the context of 4 million births per year and asks where the limit is in our effort to save ourselves.

Skenazy rattles off many other death statistics (such as 1,300 per year from stair falls) for further perspective on the scale of the drop-side crib “crisis”. She does not discuss pool deaths, which number between 1-2 per day and generate 11-12 childhood emergency room treatments for serious injuries daily. But the obsession of this CPSC is drop-side cribs, so we should not worry about those other things . . . .

Lenore makes a good point. What IS the limit? And how much should we pay? Is this really a public health crisis, and if it is, aren’t all those other causes of childhood deaths similarly a crisis? Who gets to decide which crisis is our top priority?

As J.S. Mill points out, despair sells well so we are naturally inclined to accept on face value the shrill self-congratulations of the politicians who are so busy making us so safe. I have been battling the same self-justifications and self-praise by politicians and consumer “advocates” over lead for three years. Does the absence of injury statistics matter to anyone?

Interestingly, the CPSC provides some context on its crib decision. If you read through the document announcing the change, you will find out a few interesting tidbits:

  • Despite Ms. Schakowsky’s claim to have created this regulatory storm, the industry has been working on standards for many years. ASTM F 1169–10, the full-size crib standard, was originally published in 1999 and has been revised several times since 1999, including 2010. The same can be said of the voluntary standards for non-full-size cribs. The statement in the CPSC press release noting that “[t]he federal crib standards had not been updated in nearly 30 years” is pretty misleading – the voluntary standards relied upon by the agency and the industry have been regularly revised. [Until this administration took over, the CPSC relied on voluntary standards as a matter of public policy.] Even more remarkably, please note that the current CPSC action adopts these voluntary standards as the new mandatory standards with minimal amendments, calling the adopted standards “substantially the same” as the voluntary standards. Hmmm.
  • The CPSC initially issued mandatory standards for cribs in 1973 and amended them in 1982. There has been on-and-off activity at the agency in the ensuing years. Crib safety was not a new subject to the Commission when Ms. Schakowsky announced the latest crisis. Ms. Schakowsky didn’t solve the crisis either when she purportedly wrote this provision of the CPSIA. Is it actually certain that there ever was a crisis in drop-side cribs . . . or was Ms. Schakowsky simply looking to bulk up her hagiography?
  • Annual sales of cribs are estimated at 2.4 million per year, including non-full-size cribs (approximately 300K per year). Thus, over 11 years (2000-2010), that’s 32 deaths and an estimated 26.4 million cribs sold and 40 million babies born. Crisis? There are approximately 591 models of full-size cribs and 81 non-full-size cribs on the U.S. market, according to the CPSC. In recent years, the CPSC has recalled 11 million “dangerous” cribs defect” since 2007 (about 40% of the estimated total sales in the last 11 years).
  • A pilot CPSC project of data gathering on crib injuries from November 1, 2007 to April 11, 2010 generated a total of 3,584 “incidents”, including 147 deaths associated with full-size cribs. Some of these incidents go back as far as 1986, btw. Of the 147 fatalities, 107 were not related to any structural defect in any way. Of the 35 fatalities related to “structural problems”, 18 were related to drop-side cribs. [The CPSC document contains a detailed analysis of the injuries, as well.] So of entire pool of fatalities from cribs in this period, 18 of 147 were related to drop-side cribs in some way – 12% of the total fatalities. The CPSC press release somehow omitted this additional fact.

This data cannot be correlated to the December 17 CPSC press release in which they note 32 deaths since 2000 (11 years). There is no data provided on the AGE, CONDITION or QUALITY of the cribs involved in the deaths, no information on the MAINTENANCE or STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY of those cribs or whether the hardware failure was apparent or not. In its May 7th press release, the CPSC notes however that the 32 deaths include “some [fatalities which] occurred in cribs where the drop side detached without caregivers noticing the detachment, while some other deaths occurred after a consumer tried to repair the detached drop side, but the repair ultimately failed.” [Check out the photos to see what a consumer "repair" might look like.] No quantification whatsoever. Arguably, this CPSC statement suggests that any solution to the problem involves, in whole or in part, user education.

The CPSC did not supply data to distinguish between product failures/defects and parental or caregiver error or misuse. It’s all laid at the feet of the crib design. The CPSC’s “analysis” is pretty simple – you don’t need drop-sides for your baby to sleep comfortably in a crib, and if we eliminate drop-sides from the market, presumably a certain number of unnecessary infant deaths can be avoided. It’s a presumption, however.

It’s hard to argue with their logic but it’s also hard to know what has been accomplished. We do know that the ban of drop-side cribs costs a lot of money, however. Isn’t that relevant, even a little bit? If user education is essential to ANY “solution”, how do we know we have spent our $550 million well or achieved anything whatsoever? The precise mechanism leading to the fatalities cannot be determined from the paltry data released to the public. Table pounding by advocates is, regrettably, not data. As Mr. J.S. Mill notes, the advocates’ histrionics are likely to be taken as “sage” in this case. What if we knew that ten years out, the replacement cribs caused the same number of deaths or perhaps even MORE deaths? The rate of fatalities in these cribs in already remarkably low. How can we be sure that the new cribs will be better? Should we just take Nancy Cowles’ word for it?

I find it interesting that the crib industry has been rather quiet on this change in rules. There are literally dozens of suppliers of cribs in this country, and more than 11 million units have been recalled. Why such quiet from these companies? I suspect the reason is that most consumer do not blame the brands for these recalls, and few people are motivated to return their cribs. [That includes me. Consumer advocates label recalls "unsuccessful" when we the people don't do what they want us to do.] So the cost of the recalls is probably modest BUT the government is mandating that $550 million be spent by childcare providers on NEW cribs. Why would crib manufacturers object to this cost-effective stimulus plan?! Surely many people taking the old drop-side crib out of the attic will say “Whoa, that was recalled. I better buy a new one . . . .” Many, many people.

Thank you, CPSC, for making us so darned safe! The crib industry probably loves you (secretly). Not so sure about hotels and childcare providers. Ultimately I know who pays for all this, however, and it isn’t the consumer advocates or the regulators. It’s the guy who stares back at you from your bathroom mirror.

The CPSC for its part did something easy and self-serving: they saved us from yet another lurking danger that none of us could see, all at our expense. I wonder if the CPSC would be as enthusiastic in their actions if they had to pay for it out of their own budget (or pocket). The money they spend is OURS, and they never even need to steady their hand to write the check. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s much easier to spend someone else’s money, especially when there are a lot of zeroes involved. The CPSC is making us do it for our own good. Does anyone see a problem here?

The new rule sets dangerous new standards for CPSC (government) intrusion into our businesses and into our lives. The CPSC’s action means that the Commission thinks it’s now okay to take retroactive action with impunity. This is a BIG change in regulatory policy. Bob Adler notes: “The Commission has never before entered into a rulemaking, whether or not required by Congress, that not only has retroactive applicability, but also requires the replacement of every product in a given product class – particularly in an occupational setting like child care facilities.” OMG – and this is okay . . . why??? Because he says it’s a crisis and it’s important to do.

This is government power without restraint, and it’s a serious issue. This is much more serious that drop-side crib deaths. I do not know how to run a business in a market regulated by people who make up the rules to suit their mood. I thought there were protections against this.

Let’s hope Mr. Adler and his associates made a good judgment for all of us. They are spending our money and we have no choice but to do as we’re told. That’s “government of the people, by the people, for the people” nowadays, I guess.

I wonder what Abe Lincoln would think of this government . . . .

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CPSIA – John Stuart Mill and Crib Safety

CPSIA – Save "Lost Souls", Vote for the Slanderbase!

The semi-religious mission of the safety zealots was on full display in today’s New York Times. In an article entitled “Deep Divisions as Vote Nears on Product Safety Database“, the Times profiled the controversy of the pending public database final rule approval (due on November 24th in a rubber stamp Commission session), highlighting on the idealist objectives of the database supporters. As per its typical leftist slant, the Times article gives scant credence to the legitimate concerns of manufacturers or the demonstrable consequences of the unrealistic Utopian vision underlying the CPSIA. After all, we manufacturers only care about money, right?

Every drama needs a hero, villain and victim. The public database controversy has all the right elements – manufacturers and Republicans as “villains”, consumer groups and Democrats as “heroes” and consumers as “victims”. Positioned this way, why would anyone ever support manufacturers? Who would want to even listen to the black hats? Hmmm. Good strategy, Naderites!

Consider the illustration used in the article – Michele Witte suffered the unspeakable horror of losing her child in a crib death. She asserts that the database might have saved her child. Perhaps that is true, perhaps it is not. Nothing can salve the wounds she has suffered . . . but that does not make the database a good idea. [I might feel differently about the database if, for instance, it was limited to deaths.]

The implication that the database is necessary to protect consumers is not a well-examined assertion. There is already a lot of data available to consumers. For instance, the CPSC maintains a massive national injury database called NEISS. A search of crib injuries on the NEISS database for 2009 (classes 1543-1545) reveals 572 reports which extrapolates into a national injury estimate (for 2009 ALONE) of 16,537 incidents.

Here are a few representative NEISS entries (the first five in the above sample):

- CHILD FELL 3 FEET OUT OF CRIB AND LANDED ON TILE FLOOR. CRIED IMMEDIATELY. D:CHI, FOREHEAD HEMATOMA.
- PT FELL WHILE TRYING TO CLIMB FROM HIS CRIB. LANDED ON L SHOULDER ON THE FLOOR. FELL 4 FT. CRIES WHEN PICKED UP UNDER ARM.
- PT FELL OUT OF HER CRIB AND STRUCK HER HEAD. NO LOC. CRIED IMMED. NOW ACTING NORMALLY.
- FELL OUT OF CRIB. DX HEAD INJURY
- PT STANDING UP IN CRIB, FELL BACKWARD AND HIT HEAD ON CRIB, NO LOC BUT MOM STATES PT HAD DAZED LOOK AND HAS BEEN LETHARGIC; HEAD INJURY

Did you learn a lot from this information? Can you verify that it’s true? Can you see ANY issues with attaching (unverified) product identities to this unverified and uninvestigated data? Are you a plaintiff’s attorney?

What are the zealots saying to justify their support of the database in the face of persistent and rational criticism of its design? Commissioner Bob Adler, former Henry Waxman staffer and longtime board member of Consumers Union, sums it up:

Some folks are worried more about lost sales and not worried enough about lost souls.

So, in other words, Adler condescendingly asserts that people like me are only concerned with MONEY. Instead, he claims that what’s really at stake here are “lost souls”. What is Adler talking about? Here’s what Wikipedia says about “souls”:

A soul, in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions, is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans are souls; some attribute souls to all living things and even to inanimate objects (such as rivers); this belief is commonly called animism. The soul is often believed to exit the body and live on after a person’s death, and some religions posit that God creates souls.” [Emphasis added]

Mr. Adler’s POV makes the question of having a federal database a moral imperative. Wow, now that’s a heavy decision – souls are at stake! Furthermore, Mr. Adler positions those who support the database as moral people and those who oppose it as immoral money-grubbers who prize financial well-being over the safety of consumers. Ugh. I would hate to be a Republican Commissioner voting against the final public database rule with Mr. Adler’s curse hanging over my head! Ouch.

Catching on to the theme, Ami Gadhia of Consumers Union, chimes in: “It’s a slow death . . . . [The] information never gets out in the public.” [Emphasis added] Death . . . souls . . . database! Do I hear a new slogan???

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, ever sensitive to criticism, archly defends the agency’s effort to dialogue with people like me. Please recall that part of their “outreach” was to ask me to spend our company’s money to fly to Washington, D.C. to give testimony on the public database. Matt Howsare, Tenenbaum’s then Counsel and now Chief of Staff, told me that they needed more perspective from manufacturers and kindly asked me to prepare testimony. As previously noted, NOTHING that I said in my testimony was adopted or used in any way apparent to me. The NYT notes:

“The commission chairwoman, Inez Tenenbaum, disputed the idea that manufacturers’ concerns had not been properly considered. She said the agency offered numerous forums for comment and some of those ideas were incorporated into the final proposal. ‘We have been abundantly fair,’ Ms. Tenenbaum said.” [Emphasis added]

Apparently, testimony at a CPSC hearing is meant as an outlet for venting, not for listening. That’s “abundantly fair”, we are assured. Makes you wonder what “unfair” might look like . . . .

[A Senate Commerce Committee CPSC oversight hearing is said to be in the offing for next week. One fantasizes that they may take an interest in this issue, but the Senate is still a Dem stronghold. Don't hold your breath. Expect self-congratulatory positioning by the self-serving and deaf Dems.]

Consumer groups are portraying manufacturers demands for Constitutionally-guaranteed due process and other appropriate procedural safeguards as a grab for “advantage”. In other words, procedural safeguards for manufacturers are not legitimate protectible interests in light of the POSSIBILITY that consumers may glean some useful information among the garbage that will accumulate in the “post-it-and-forget-it” slanderbase being put up by the agency. Again, the NYT provides the bully pulpit for the zealots:

“Consumer advocates suggested the opponents were trying to weaken the database to protect business interests. ‘They have a great deal now, and I think they are trying to maintain the status quo by levying these unfounded arguments,’ said Rachel Weintraub, director of product safety for the Consumer Federation of America.” [Emphasis added]

If ever-disingenuous Rachel Weintraub is saying that we Americans have a “great deal” because we enjoy the protections of the Bill of Rights and other Constitutionally-guaranteed rights protecting groups and individuals against persecution and excessive governmental power, I agree. I agree heartilyand don’t want to lose those essential legal protections that form an important basis for our investments. Please REMEMBER, everyone loses something when ANYONE loses their legitimate legal protections. Btw, Bob Adler is a lawyer and a former Scholar in Ethics and Law at the business school at UNC Chapel Hill . . . .

Mr. Adler plays a little fast and loose with his database concepts. Apparently, it’s okay to put garbage into the database because the government “disclaims” its accuracy:

“Mr. Adler, the Democratic commissioner, said the database was not meant to be a legal forum like a court but more like a catalog of consumer experiences. He noted that a disclaimer on the database said the commission did not guarantee its accuracy. ‘”I put my baby in a diaper and my baby developed a rash.” That goes up. It’s an early warning system to alert other consumers,’ Mr. Adler said.”

Ahem: “But Ms. Nord said the proposal remained far too vague. She cited the recent case of Pampers Dry Max, made by Procter & Gamble, in which thousands of parents asserted that the diapers were causing their babies to get a rash. A commission investigation found no link between the diapers and the rashes. ‘We would have posted all these complaints about them even though they proved to be wrong,’ Ms. Nord said.”

Any idea why the CPSC “must” put up such a controversial database? The zealots know that there is legal risk in hosting a database that may include erroneous information or information that might slander manufacturers or tortiously interfere with commerce. They know this might violate manufacturers’ legal rights and could lead to lawsuits – and don’t want the legal liability or the hassle. How to get the data and avoid the legal problems? Get the government to host the legally-dubious information! Clever – but not necessarily in the interests of consumers or American markets.

Is the CPSC supposed to provide Mr. Adler’s catalog of “consumer experiences”? Is that part of its mission? [Readers of my blog know that] I realize we have a right of Freedom of Speech (check out the Bill of Rights), but is the federal government really supposed to foster that Freedom of Speech? I appreciate that Mr. Adler thinks a consumer “experiences” database is a really good idea (I disagree) but since when do our tax dollars need to be used to provide it? Is that the only option that makes sense? And that goes double for such a dangerous proposal that presents the realistic prospect of discouraging investment and other economic activity.

So many words wasted on people who won’t listen. Expect a “spirited” debate on the database as foreplay followed by the 3-2 partisan screwing that masquerades as safety administration these days. The song plays on . . . .

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CPSIA – Save "Lost Souls", Vote for the Slanderbase!

CPSIA – Certainty, CPSIA-style

These days, you can count on the CPSC to hold against regulated companies, particularly in response to media inquiries. Facts are a secondary consideration. The WORST thing that could happen to you or your product is if a reporter calls the CPSC. You’re cooked – safety administration these days is some sort of reality show, and everything’s dangerous if a reporter is sniffing around.

And three years later, they’ll hit you with a big penalty.

This week’s crisis is the “discovery” by the Associated Press that some enamels used on glassware (the outside) have lead or cadmium bound in. The recall fo 12 million acknowledged safe Shrek glasses was the first indicator that we faced a “crisis”.

Heavy metal use in glassware enamel is not exactly big news, nor a particular cause for concern (except for enterprising and paranoid reporters). Consider for example that our ever-wise Congress EXEMPTED these coatings years ago from lead regulation (“[The lead paint ban] does not include printing inks or those materials which actually become a part of the substrate, such as the pigment in a plastic article, or those materials which are actually bonded to the substrate, such as by electroplating or ceramic glazing.” 16 CFR 1303.2(b)(1)). [You may also be interested to see all the other exemptions to the lead paint ban, in 16 CFR 1303.3.]

When confronted with the “shocking” news that other coated glasses besides Shrek had lead or cadmium in the enamels, the CPSC withered. They caved, and labeled these glasses (all very likely safe but featuring Super Hero images and the like) as “Children’s Products”. Here’s a video of the reporter enjoying his 15 minutes of fame playing off the Shrek scare. He concedes that even HE thinks the risk is “low”. No matter, it’s good to stir up the mud. AP needs all the coverage it can get these days.

I am so happy we are being ruled by junk scientists now.

And the CPSC’s determination that these products are “Children’s Products” means they are subject to CPSIA regulation. This empowers the agency to recall them “out of an abundance of caution” and to impose penalties for failures to comply with the myriad rules of the CPSIA. No matter that this classification was hardly clear previously. Hmmm. Let’s see how the mishmash interpretative rule on “Children’s Products” makes this determination “clear”.

I say “mishmash” because I defy you to figure this out for yourself by reading all the pages they threw at us. In fact, the latest “interpretation” in the so-called Final Rule does NOT seem to override the interpretive dicta in the prior version. It merely comments on the public comments that the agency by-and-large utterly ignored. The CPSC never bothers to reissue or conform past rules or interpretations. That’s a job for us hobbyists.

In any event, it so happens that I addressed this very issue in my comment letter on the rule. The following section comes from the never-overwritten text accompanying the prior version of the rule. Consider this advice given to industry:

“The more of these types of characteristics that a product has, the greater the likelihood that the product is a children’s product. For example, a pen which is decorated or whose advertising and marketing features themes that correspond to obvious children’s interests, e.g., preschool characters, will greatly influence the purchase for preschool children. However, there also are ‘novelty’ pens that could appeal to children 12 years of age or younger as well as older children and adults; such novelty pens would not be considered to be primarily intended for children. For example, a simple ball point stick pen bearing an elementary school’s name, without any other decorations, would likely appeal to anyone (i.e. students, teachers, parents) connected with the school. A pen with a silly head on the top, not associated with any particular mass media (and not sold in toy stores), may have just as much appeal to adults as it would to children. Pens with puzzle features that allow the user to take them apart and reconfigure the design also are likely to appeal to children and adults alike, and thus, are not likely to be considered children’s products because they are not primarily intended for children.”

Clear as mud.

Remember, we in industry must interpret this gobbledygook and run our businesses. Perhaps even more difficult is to use “rules” like this in agreement with your dealers. Basically, since the rules make no sense, it is not possible to agree with many or sometimes ANY of your customers. Welcome to my world.

It is extremely unfortunate that in the wake of conceding the safety of the Shrek glassware, and even worse, in the face of explicit exemptions of glazings in the FHSA, the CPSC would proceed to declare these items within the scope of its regulations, thus exposing yet another group of innocent companies to huge unexpected and unjustified losses. Brands will be further damaged, consumer confidence dented, and no doubt, sales of children’s products will be bruised in the prime selling season. Good going, government!

This agency seems downright dense about the impact of its activities. For myself, this act proves that the CPSC cannot be trusted, has lost any sense of what constitutes safe or unsafe, and is dangerously reactive (especially in response to members of Congress and members of the press). For regulated companies, this is the worst of times – we face a looney regulator who is absolutely devoid of self-discipline or judgment. They administer a kind of “hang-’em-high” justice. If you are ever in the gray area with the CPSC, you can count on them to push you over the edge. Their rationale – you have to err on the side of safety even if you have no reasonable basis to suspect that any safety issues existed.

Okay, I get it. But when the regulator has no idea where “safety” is, erring on the side of safety means pleasing reporters who are trying to sell papers. Reporters sell fear – that’s the only way to sell papers these days. Connect the dots – random losses are coming to all of us.

Selling children’s products is for crazy people. I cannot believe the damage being inflicted by these people.

The database gets approved tomorrow. Enjoy the ride!

Read more here:
CPSIA – Certainty, CPSIA-style

CPSIA – Recall the CPSC

778 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are only 32 days left until Election Day.

In a remarkable demonstration of the anti-business bias of the current CPSC, Chairman Inez Tenenbaum took to the air today to bash toys and to take our old friend Mattel to task for four recalls of more than eleven million units.

Uh-oh, Mattel’s at it again. Hope this doesn’t mean it’s time for another CPSIA. It is Election time, after all.

Some background:

The CPSC Commission hosed us on Wednesday with its decision on the definition of “Children’s Products”. [Here is the approved definition (link to follow).] I will write about this in the next few days. In typical Tenenbaum fashion, rather than face intense and negative media attention on the bungled decision in which the agency knowingly effectively banned hands-on science education in the United States (see The New York Times and Associated Press on this issue), announced several high profile recalls and a scary “warning” about popular but apparently deadly infant products to distract the media and possibly you, too.

The four recalls and the warning are each prominently displayed on the CPSC website. Each was announced by press release so as to garner maximum attention. The new definition of “Children’s Products” was not announced, although there are two Commissioner’s Statements currently up on the website (Adler and Nord; Northup’s is done but the link isn’t up yet – here is her blog on the topic). The draft of the new rule is nowhere to be found on the CPSC website. There was no press release for the decision and no reference to the decision on the website other than the buried statements of the two (warring) Commissioners. Hmmm.

Probably just a little oversight, right Scott??? More on this later.

The five matters released to distract you were:

a. A warning to stop using Infant positioners in cribs. Twelve babies died in 13 years.

b. Fisher-Price recall of 2.925 million inflatables for choking hazard. Sold over NINE YEARS, 14 small parts found in kids’ mouths, three kids were “beginning to choke”, no injuries.

c. Fisher-Price recall of 1.075 million high chairs for laceration risk. Sold over NINE YEARS, seven injuries requiring stitches and one “tooth injury”.

d. Fisher-Price recall of 120,000 “Wheelies” for choking hazard. Each set includes four cars, so the universe of affected “Wheelies” is actually 480,000. Two broken toys discovered among the half million out in the marketplace (wheels fell off). No injuries.

e. Fisher-Price recall of 7.15 million Children’s Tricycles for risk of “serious injury”. Sold over FOURTEEN YEARS, ten injuries with six requiring medical attention (cuts).

Interestingly, when these recalls were brought to my attention this morning, the CPSC website simply listed the four Fisher-Price recalls as it normally does for recalls. However, by midday the marketing of the “crisis” had begun with a screaming headline in large print on the home page reading “Fisher-Price Recalls More than 10 Million Products“. No doubt the presentation was changed as a public service (these products are sooooo dangerous) . . . . The link under the headline leads to a blogpost about the four “grisly” recalls noting the following “information”:

“Fisher-Price did the right thing in agreeing to provide consumers with free remedies for these products. But all companies must do better. They must give more attention to building safety into their products. They must work to ensure that they are adhering to safety standards. And if any company finds itself with a defective product or one that is causing injuries, it must report the problem to CPSC immediately. Meanwhile, as moms, dads and caregivers, you, too, have a role. We thank the dozens of you who reported these incidents. Thanks to you, CPSC was able to investigate, work with Fisher-Price on a remedy and recall these products. If a toy breaks in your child’s hands or if your child suffers an injury from a product, tell us so that we can investigate. And if you own one of these recalled products, stop using it and contact Fisher-Price for free repair kits and replacement products.” [Emphasis added]

Is this about Fisher-Price (Mattel) or about you and me? Did we do something wrong? Apparently we must have. We were spanked in this blogpost. Was it a “teachable moment” for you? Was it as good for you as it was for me?

There is so much more to say about this:

1. I find it shocking that the CPSC would so shamelessly try to cover its tracks on the approval of the final “Children’s Product” definition. It’s not only an embarrassment to the agency, but it’s an insult to your intelligence. How this reflects the agency’s view of the media, I will leave it to you to divine. It ain’t a compliment.

2. Inez Tenenbaum went on TV today to stoke fear of toys. She did this on what is essentially the kick-off day for the Xmas toy season, September 30. Yes, our government sent its top official on national TV to scare the crap out of consumers and to warn them not to trust the companies making toys right as they were going out to the store to buy Xmas presents. This is a Barack Obama stimulus plan in action! Thanks for ALL the help, guys. Doin’ the Lord’s work every day . . . .

Here are a few quotes from Tenenbaum’s ABC News interview:

ABC: “It’s a major recall involving four different products.”
ABC: [Re High Chairs] “The problem with the high chair, I understand, is these pegs. What’s the problem there?”
Tenenbaum: “There pegs stick out and children have fallen on these pegs. Several have been injured and seven have required stitches.”

[Tenenbaum smirks as she neglects to advise that the seven injuries requiring stitches took place over NINE YEARS and were all minor injuries.]

ABC: [Re Trikes] “The hazard is a fake key that protrudes from the bike frame.”
Tenenbaum: “These tricycles have this key which sticks up and little girls have jumped on this key and have had serious cuts.”
ABC: “Serious injuries.”
Tenenbaum: “Serious injuries.”

[Another minor omission - Tenenbaum neglects to mention that the six injuries requiring medical attention affected six children among more than seven million users, took place over 14 years and involved toddlers that were supposed to be under parental supervision. Do you think she was helpful enough to the ambitious reporter who wanted a scary story? At least she took the hint and characterized the injuries as "serious injuries".]

. . . .

ABC: “There’s a message in this for all manufacturers.”
Tenenbaum: “Manufacturers need to build safety into the product from the very beginning so that we don’t have to recall on the back end.” [Emphasis added]

[This is my Xmas gift from Tenenbaum. Mattel is the cause of this, and it's Mattel that screwed up if ANYONE screwed up. Still, Ms. Tenenbaum can't miss the opportunity to use TV to tell MY customers to not trust ME. Thanks so much. And this Administration is MYSTIFIED about why we can't get our job market going again. I'm stumped, too. . . .]

ABC: “In a statement this morning, Fisher-Price said it wanted to reassure parents that its products are ‘overwhelmingly safe’. But if you have any of THESE products, you SHOULD call the company. They will offer a fix for some of them . . . others will be replaced outright.” [Emphasis added]

[Lest anyone mistake this for yet another idiotic and reactive series of recalls, ABC tries to portray Mattel as untrustworthy with the quote about the overwhelming safety of the 11 million recalled toys . . . then tells you to get them out of your house pronto.]

3. The Wall Street Journal was able to put a happy face on this sorry episode. Mattel’s 2010 earnings will only shrink by a penny a share because of the massive recalls. Anyone want to organize a telethon to help out a buddy in distress? How will Mattel make up that penny? Oh, the horror of it. . . .

4. I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that Mattel has succeeded in certifying about ten of its corporate labs to test its products. I call on the CPSC to release the Mattel test reports behind these recalled items. I can’t wait to see the first recall of a Mattel item tested in a CPSC-certified Mattel lab. You’ll never know about it, because the CPSC and Mattel will move heaven and earth to keep you from finding out.

5. The recall of the Mattel “Wheelies” will be known as the original “broken toy standard” recall. Please consider the ominous nature of this development. The Mattel toy cars were reported by eager and enthusiastic consumers because they found a broken toy. The CPSC is calling for this kind of “help” so you can expect a LOT more of this in the future. To be precise, two broken toys were found in this case. No one was hurt. No allegation has been made public that any child was even possibly in danger. No disclosure was made about how the toys broke.

The CPSC apparently intervened to “investigate”. These investigations often begin with a warning to the manufactuerer – you can participate in the CPSC’s Fast Track Voluntary Recall program and avoid a formal investigation and possible penalty, or you can take your chances on what determination we will make months or years later. This kind “offer” is generally a short-lived one, possibly allowing only a few hours to decide. [This dirty secret is certainly true - ask around . . . or wait for the call.] The facts may be just like this one – a broken toy has been discovered (horrors), do you want to recall (today)? Mattel decided to recall in the case of the “Wheelies”, based on two broken toys and perhaps on a conversation with the kind folks at the CPSC.

Do you get this one? If a consumer reports a single broken toy to the CPSC, the agency may investigate you and you may be forced to recall the item immediately. No injuries are required, just the POSSIBILITY of injury. Do you see ANY problems with that standard? Do you think the possibility of injury is the same as the certainty of injury??? Are your products indestructible? Is this a standard for recalls you are prepared to meet? And how do you plan to blunt this regulatory attack?

Having fun yet?

You heard it here first. The “broken toy” standard – that’s the rule now. I’m not kidding.

For those of us idiots who persist in making children’s products, these recalls are chilling, particularly in light of the decision on “Children’s Products”. The CPSC is busily engaged in shrinking our market through scare tactics and reactive regulation of the markets. They are also building barriers to entry that protect mass market companies and ensure the demise of small business. How many of you can withstand the cost, damage and disruption of a 11 million piece recall? None of you. This will cost Mattel ONE PENNY. Aw, poor Mattel. Who will be left to compete with them? Hasbro. And you? You’re screwed. The CPSC doesn’t even bother with lip service on this one anymore.

The new definition of what constitutes a ” substantial product hazard” under the CPSA is now . . . everything. Anything that might possibly cause injuries is implicitly an “imminent threat” and must be recalled. There is no defense to the possibility of injury. Heaven forbid that there may have been injuries of any kind. Then you are dead. You’ll find out your penalties in a few years but right now, the recalls must proceed. Doesn’t matter what percentage of the items cause injury. Doesn’t matter how many years it took to accumulate the injuries. Doesn’t matter if the consumer was at fault or if there was dereliction of duty on the part of adults. The company is always at fault.

We are aiming for a Utopian society now, guys. Do you doubt this? Read this article carefully from the top a second time. The message is clear: Manufacturers, get out of Dodge, unless you are Mattel.

RECALL THE CPSC! This madness will kill us all. This is all about a mania and political leadership hired to foment this change in approach. There is little reason to believe these people will change – it’s time to start over.

Read more here:
CPSIA – Recall the CPSC