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CPSIA – Database Fun and Games

May 8, 2011 by Jolie  
Filed under BLOG, Featured Articles

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CPSIA – Analysis of Pending House CPSIA Amendment (Sections 3-11)

Continuing with my analysis of the pending draft of the CPSIA Amendment:

Section 3

CPSIA – Analysis of Pending House CPSIA Amendment (Sections 3-11)

Continuing with my analysis of the pending draft of the CPSIA Amendment:

Section 3

CPSIA – AAP, Get a Calculator!

In my continuing exploration of the misuse of data by consumer groups to prove up the “need” for the CPSIA, it occurred to me that Dr. Dana Best of the American Academy of Pediatrics can’t multiply. She needs a new calculator.

Just an aside: Japanese government officials announced today that radiation OUTSIDE the disabled reactors at Fukushima have now reached LETHAL levels:

“Water in an underground trench outside the No. 2 reactor had levels exceeding 1 sievert an hour, a spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. told reporters in the capital today. Thirty minutes of exposure to that dose would trigger nausea and four hours might lead to death within two months, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Preventing the most-contaminated water from leaking into the ground or air is key to containing the spread of radiation beyond the plant. A partial meltdown of fuel rods in the No. 2 reactor probably caused a jump in the readings, Japan’s chief government spokesman said today. ‘There’s not much good news right now,’ said Gennady Pshakin, a former IAEA official based in Obninsk, the site of Russia’s first nuclear power plant.” [Emphasis added]

The Japanese situation is a real crisis. The AAP wants you to think lead is also a crisis. It’s not.

In my post yesterday, I reported on Dr. Dana Best’s testimony in front of the CPSC Commission on February 16th about the purported effects of even trace amounts of lead on the intelligence of our children. While Dr. Best speaks for the AAP on occasion, I know that she doesn’t always write her own testimony. Sometimes she reads words written by other people under her own name. In the Spring of 2008, I went looking for Dana Best, and in response to a voicemail I left at her office, Cindy Pelligrini of the AAP called me back. Dana Best never called me back. I was calling in reference to the then pending Illinois lead labeling law which was being propelled by Dr. Best’s seminal House testimony on lead (September 20, 2007). In that phone conversation, Ms. Pelligrini acknowledged to me that she had written the September 20th testimony, not Dr. Best, and as a consequence, was the “right person” to talk about its contents. Ms. Pelligrini’s qualifications to write House testimony on lead on behalf of a professional association of pediatricians? According to her in our conversation, she holds a degree in political science. She is not a doctor and she is not a scientist as far as I know.

So is it surprising then that Dr. Best got all tangled up in numbers in the recent CPSC testimony? As I noted yesterday, Dr. Best asserted the following: “When averaged across even a modest population of children, the public health harm caused by lead is significant. Considering that there are about 75 million children in our nation, impacting one-half of one percent of all children would mean an exposure of 3.75 million children. . . . For one million children, [the loss of lifetime income from one IQ point per child] would total over $8.3 billion.” [Emphasis added]

Okay, let’s break out our calculators and check Dr. Best’s math. 75 million x 0.005 = 375,000. Oops! Didn’t she say that “one-half of one percent of all children” is 3.75 million kids? Hmmm.

[Sidebar - she's almost right about the population of kids, but not quite. According to childstats.gov, there were 75.2 million children living in the U.S. in 2010. Of course, only 50.4 million were under 12 years of age, basically the age bracket covered by the CPSIA. This is not a calculator error, this is just more junk statistics from a so-called "expert". I hope the CPSC Commission employs a fact checker!]

I think that’s a big difference. 3.75 million children is 1-in-20 but 375,000 is 1-in-200 (based on a population of 75 million children, an inflated number). Using the more realistic population number of about 50 million, Dr. Best’s 3.75 million number is 1-in-13 children. Dr. Best’s number suggests that there is likely to be two or more lead poisoning victims in EVERY classroom of children in our country. Do you believe that?

Give me a break. The problem is that there are many people out there who might believe this nonsense. Some of them may be your elected representatives.

Dr. Best goes on to “illustrate” the scope of the “cost” of this poisoning, all based on her assumption of 1-in-13 children losing IQ points. She illustrates the “cost” to society of the loss of a single IQ point on a seemingly “modest” population of 1 million children. [Don't forget, she hasn't produced even ONE victim yet.] Since she is apparently severely math-challenged, let me help you here. One million children is (roughly) 2% of the age range covered by the CPSIA. In other words, it’s about 1-in-50 kids. Her “modest” assumption implies at least one brain-damaged child in every other classroom in America, all because of lead-in-substrate in children’s products. Her illustration is intended to show that the incredibly “high” cost of the purported lead epidemic justifies the extreme measures of the CPSIA to eliminate lead down to trace levels in children’s products.

Do you believe her? Why, exactly? If there are so many damaged children from lead-in-substrate in children’s products, why can’t the AAP come up with a few and show real case histories? Why won’t they talk about real data?

I am not impressed. The AAP holds itself out as an “expert” but puts out junk statistics to back up junk science recommendations. We are being scammed.

You MUST demand of your Congress that they won’t be fooled. The age of junk science needs to be brought to an end! Let your voices be heard!

Read more here:
CPSIA – AAP, Get a Calculator!

CPSIA – Senate Dems Try to Line up Against Pompeo Amendment

Senator Jay Rockefeller issued a press release today to slam the Pompeo Amendment de-funding the CPSIA database. Mr. Rockefeller apparently feels that the legitimate concerns of American manufacturers and retailers pale against the need for consumers to make product judgments based on unfiltered hearsay, lies and nonsense:

“’This database will provide important safety information to American consumers,’ Chairman Rockefeller added. ‘A mother will be able to check the CPSC database to see if there are complaints about a crib model. A young couple will be able to see if a certain microwave has a history of safety complaints or if there are complaints about a coffee maker shorting and causing fires. I will fight this ill-informed proposal to undermine such an important consumer protection tool. It’s a bad idea and a bum deal for American consumers.’” [Emphasis added]

Consumers will also be able to decide to stop driving Toyotas because of accusations borne of driver error, or drop DryMax diapers over discredited claims of diaper rash.

True story – last year, stopped at a stop light, my car was gently rear-ended by an elderly lady driving a Toyota. As I approached her car after inspecting the minimal damage, she expressed “shock” at the accident and informed me that it was “sudden acceleration” just like in the newspapers. Who could see such a calamity coming? I noticed a little dog on her lap, jumping up and down, trying to get out of the window to sniff me. Let’s just say that I didn’t immediately side with her “explanation” of the accident. Nice doggy! That incident could have been reported under the current terms of the new database (were it a consumer product). Who would pay the price for that kind of baloney assertion? The manufacturer – with no defenses whatsoever.

Nothing surprises me anymore BUT Senator Rockefeller’s denials fly in the face of House testimony given on February 17th, not to mention the outpouring of testimony, data and legitimate procedural complaints by industry. In the hearing on the 17th, Inez Tenenbaum ADMITTED that the agency will be posting information that may be inaccurate or false. To quote Ms. Tenenbaum, “that’s what the rub is”.

I cannot overstate how frustrating it is (remains) to see Democrats stick to the script notwithstanding data and testimony that directly undercuts their position (and their credibility). Either they think we are morons, or else they must believe the government is something SEPARATE AND ABOVE the people. President Lincoln took a different view, stating in the Gettysburg Address:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

It is hard for me to believe Mr. Rockefeller believes what Mr. Lincoln instructed on that day. The testimony on the database is not a farce, and our concerns are legitimate. If the concerns for consumers are actually so urgent, why not hit the “pause button” to fix the issues affecting those of us stubbornly trying to provide jobs in this country? Talk to the Pompeo staff – they want to FIX the database, not kill it. Is it really necessary to trash the economy out of pure stubbornness?

The time to genuflect to the holy CPSIA and its misguided almost-unanimous passage through Congress is OVER. Senator Rockefeller, please pay attention to the legitimate needs of those who provide JOBS to your constituents and de-fund the CPSIA database until it can be fixed. You represent the many millions of people who are still working in this country, too. It’s time to remember EVERYBODY’S interest in this matter, not just the left edge of the left wing.

Read more here:
CPSIA – Senate Dems Try to Line up Against Pompeo Amendment

CPSIA – I Stand Corrected

I was working too quickly yesterday. The CPSC MIGHT kick the can down the road, if they vote to do so on January 31. Nice – you have ten days to adjust to that decision, and until then, I guess you can sweat it out. Perhaps you should pray for relief.

Maybe Congress should make the CPSC hang on for something they want, like their budget. Talk of a 50% budget cut might get the message across to these administrators about the need the plan ahead.

This is your government at work. Remember, in the U.S., the government is by the People. If you don’t like this treatment, make yourself heard. Call your Congressman or send them a fax (or ten). This outrage needs to be outed.

Read more here:
CPSIA – I Stand Corrected

CPSIA – Consumer Groups and the CPSIA

Walter Lippmann, founding editor of The New Republic and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, once cited the components of wartime mythmaking as “the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe, and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality.” Hmmm. He might have been talking about lead in children’s products. Mr. Lippmann explained: “Men respond as powerfully to fictions as they do to realities [and] in many cases they help to create the very fictions to which they respond.”

Last week, a number of interested stakeholders met with the staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss what to do about the CPSIA. Do I need to explain why the situation is urgent? The list is long, and the victims are basically defenseless. Mass market companies are inconvenienced but not hobbled; small businesses are crushed, confused and scattering into other markets. Consumers, unaware that the federal government has meddled in an unprecedented way with a market upon which they depend, are oblivious to the threat posed by the weakening or departure of their suppliers. And the Dems just smile and tell us this is all for our own good. Don’t worry, they know what’s best!

Various stakeholders tried to explain the many ways this law has caused harm and the reasons why it is appropriate to loosen the noose around the business community’s neck. Scan my remarks, the HTA’s presentation or the words of the AAFA as an example, and you will see how high the stakes are.

No meeting on the CPSIA would be complete without consumer groups chiming in to defend this “perfect” regulatory scheme. In this case, Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America and the American Academy of Pediatrics all touted the triumph that is CPSIA. CU spent a fair amount of time asserting that the public database rules adequately protect manufacturers and that the perceived defects in the proposed database plan had already been addressed by the Commission. [See Nord's blog and Northup's blog on this topic.] What, me worry?! CU also noted that there WAS broad support for the CPSIA (back in 2008), as if that were sufficient justification to stick with a clearly defective law. This was nothing more than the Waxmanis’ argument that no further discussion is merited because of the Perfect Legislative Process. Ah, the infallible Congress, how could I forget?

My special friend Rachel Weintraub of CFA took the opportunity to reassure the gathered crowd that the law has done us all a lot of good. [She was careful to not put anything in writing. Given that limitation, I must work off my notes and apologize for any inaccuracies.] Her reasoning relied on the assertion that consumers “thought” that someone issued a “stamp of approval” for children’s products being sold in U.S. markets. This strikes me as “transference”, meaning that this may be how Rachel feels herself or how she feels we the general public OUGHT to feel. In any event, there are a lot of consumers out there, and I rather doubt Rachel is able to know how they all felt. She went on to assert that consumers lost faith int he regulatory system. Ditto. After recounting the many wondrous things the law has engendered, she asked that the law be given more “time to work”.

More time to work? To what end, to finish the job and put everyone out of business . . . other than CFA? OMG.

And then there is my personal favorite, the AAP through their Washington representative Cindy Pelligrini. Ms. Pelligrini has been making trouble over lead for many years. I first encountered her when the 2007 testimony she ghosted for Dr. Dana Best was used to justify the Illinois lead labeling law (see below). For last week’s meeting, the AAP submitted a position paper announcing its unwillingness to support any change to age limits, lead limits or even the consideration of risk by the CPSC. Why do you suppose the AAP cannot support the consideration of risk? Ms. Pelligrini explained in her oral remarks that the AAP felt consideration of risk would be too BURDENSOME ON THE AGENCY. What a heartbreaking scenario, the terrible burden! The AAP is so considerate to think of the quality of life of CPSC Commissioners.

The AAP was able to muster support for tightening the lead limits in the CPSIA to 40 ppm, however. Perish the thought of dropping the 100 ppm standard! When I questioned the process by which this position paper was created by the AAP, Ms. Pelligrini wrote me to explain that it is old news, derived from their January 21, 2009 letter to Henry Waxman. So, apparently, nothing has happened in the last 24 months nor any additional data developed to merit reconsidering their recommendations. I see.

Of course, I recognize that the metabolic impact of lead has not changed because of the development of injury statistics (or, more accurately, the development of no-injury statistics), and in this sense, I suppose, the AAP position need never change. On the other hand, I have previously addressed the issue of science being used as a bludgeon to “prove” preconceived notions. In my post of December 14, I discussed an article entitled “The Truth Wears Off”. It could have been about the story the AAP tells about lead.

Without going into the arguments about the falsity of the AAP’s claims (or at least their fatally misleading nature), I would like to draw your attention to the “detached from reality” position they take on lead limits. They want to establish a limit of 40 ppm for lead. Anyone remember that Mr. Obama’s vegetable garden at the White House was at 93 ppm? The AAP points to research they conducted with the U.S. Geological Survey to come up with this limit. In other words, it is their estimate (however faulty) of background lead “contamination” in our environment. [As if the natural presence of an atomic element constitutes "contamination".]

AAP’s suggested lead limit of 40 ppm is basically below the reliably measurable limit and imposes uncontrollable economic risks on manufacturers. By uncontrollable, I mean that the odds of finding a part or component with lead levels in excess of 40 ppm are pretty good in almost any manufacturing setting – given the disorder, irregularities and complexities of the real world, defects of this nature are not really preventable, at least in a prophylactic way. [This is different than saying anyone is likely to be injured, please note.] Even a Six Sigma company would find this a major challenge. Remember, if you find such a part or component, the entire lot becomes a liability and may have to be discarded, a total loss. The imposition of this kind of manufacturing risk will cause many market departures and other bad economic impacts. You will only have to discard one big lot to get the message – find something less regulated to do.

My word against hers, right? Well, perhaps not. My home state of Illinois is running a test on this point. Illinois has a new law that requires labeling toys (you know, a warning label that Scott Wolfson doesn’t think matters) if they have paint with lead over 40 ppm. Actually, since lead-in-paint is now illegal under federal law at 90 ppm, the Illinois law effectively requires labeling for paint on toys BETWEEN 40 and 90 ppm. Feel safer already? Not everyone does. See the coverage in the Akron Beacon-Journal on such labeling. The headlines of the article says it all: “Label on doll shoes made by Toys R Us subsidiary worries parents. Warning about lead is cause for concern. Company says product is safe, but some experts say children shouldn’t be exposed to even small levels of metal in toys.” The AAP thinks this would be a jolly good rule for the entire economy.

I could go on. [If you are bored, you are welcome to consult my response to the "no safe level of lead" argument in response to Bob Adler's attempt to "prove" this point.] In point of fact, the consumer groups are just trying to gum up the works. There are apparently still some members of Congress (I am not ready to name names) who are “true believers” and according to rumor, are ready to block any sensible effort to fix this law. I guess it’s tough for some people to admit a big screw-up. Keep this in mind the next time you hear the media blame Republicans for “gridlock”.

In any event, you should not feel particularly comfortable just because the Republicans are running the show in the House. The Republicans are in fact very aware of the issues and the details of the problems under the CPSIA and at the CPSC, and are motivated to do something about it. They have the votes and the intent to move something useful forward. However, the Senate is still controlled by populist Democrats who just seem deaf to reason, argument or data. As long as they (or even just one of them) stands in the way of putting this part of the economy back on track, we are stuck. Even with the grudging cooperation of Senate Democrats, we also need the White House to sign the law. And then there’s the persistent zealotry on the CPSC Commission. Many variables and risks remain.

Despite the odds and the death march aspect of this “war”, we must carry on. We must keep fighting, we must keep calling, we must keep protesting. The words of Ronald Reagan ring in my ears:

“I do not believe in a fate that will befall us no matter what we do. . . .

I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”

We are the People, this is our country. We do not need to be held hostage by a small group of zealots. The task of taking back America did not end at the 2010 midterm elections. If the Dems will not help us, and if the consumer groups are going to be obstructionist to the very last, then we must fight and we must fight with vigor and intensity. No one is going save you . . . but you.

Read more here:
CPSIA – Consumer Groups and the CPSIA

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 . . . .

Read more here:
CPSIA – John Stuart Mill and Crib Safety

CPSIA – The Worm Continues To Turn

The day we all feared, the day we knew would come someday . . . well, the Federal Register says it’s coming soon. According to a notice of “Final Rule Stage” published on December 20, the CPSC is moving forward on the so-called “15 Month” Rule.

You have to chuckle at the “15 Months” part. This rule was legally mandated to be enacted 15 months after the CPSIA was signed into law. The presumed date of enactment would then have been November 14, 2009, a mere 14 months ago now. They didn’t even published a first draft until May 2010. If the agency can somehow finish this project by January 14, it could be called the “15 Months Times Two” Rule. Then again, it’s basically inconceivable that they will make it. Eventually they’ll need another name for this thing.

The urgency behind finishing up this rule is that the testing and certification stay expires on February 10, 2011. Remember that Bob Adler already said he wouldn’t vote an extension of this stay because . . . he hates stays. Perhaps he prefers market chaos and economic depression instead. Anyhow, to avoid the showdown, they need to get their ducks in a row, hence the need to get this rule going.

I sent in comments on the first draft of this rule on August 3. I wasn’t a big fan . . . and I guess other people had reservations, too. According to www.regulations.gov, the CPSC received 112 comments letters (that may overstate the number, because regulations.gov seems to have some duplicates). I haven’t read them myself, but I assume I am the only one who saw any flaws in this rule. The rest of the letters are probably just “thank you” notes.

Anyhow, it’s worth noting that the Chinese New Year occurs on February 3, 2011 so take my word for it, all the Chinese factories will be closed on Feb. 3rd and probably won’t reopen until Feb. 10 at the earliest after a two-week holiday. Some workers are gone three or even four weeks for this holiday. In a “best case” scenario, the CPSC can’t take action on this rule until they officially acknowledge the public comment “thank you” notes and hold a public Commission meeting. Do the math – if they choose to take action on this rule now, we will get about ten minutes notice to begin conforming. I can’t see any risk of market chaos again . . . can you?

Here’s a fairly obvious fact for you – we have not incorporated any of the pending rules into our supply chain or manufacturing processes. Why? You tell me what I’m supposed to do. The rule that has been published is deeply flawed and, basically, stupid. It is not a final rule. 112 comment letters were filed on it. It could change . . . it BETTER change. How am I supposed to implement rules that haven’t been published or possibly even written? Telepathy? I don’t read minds and I haven’t implemented the unknowable, either.

If this does not make your blood boil enough, consider these excerpts from the notice of Final Rule Stage:

  • “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of death and injury associated with consumer products.” [Emphasis added] The CPSIA makes consideration of RISK by the CPSC illegal. Bummer, huh? Someone should have told the CPSC because they still claim to be concerned with “risk” of injury.
  • “When deciding which of these approaches to take in any specific case, the Commission gathers and analyzes the best available data about the nature and extent of the risk presented by the product.” And then ignores it??? See also the final bullet below.
  • “As for exemptions [from the "15 Month Rule"], the statute does not appear to give the Commission the authority to exempt firms from the testing or certification requirements, so it may not be possible to exempt firms within section 14 of the CPSA.” In other words, HTA, you can lump it. And the CPSC is telling you who to blame – Congress.
  • “The congressional mandate to issue this regulation does not require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to do a cost/benefit analysis for this regulation. Therefore, a cost/benefit analysis is not available for this regulatory action.” Head-in-sand syndrome. I bet you’ll be able to do a cost/benefit analysis pretty quickly when your costs go up again by 20x.
  • “[It] is not possible to provide an analysis of the magnitude of the risk this regulatory action addresses.” Ahem. And it’s okay to put forward a rule of this complexity and far-reaching impact while flying entirely blind because . . . why???

Let’s not forget that there’s a new Congress being sworn in January 5th. The incoming Republican House majority has pledged to shrink the federal government and to closely examine how regulatory agencies are governing. Hmmm. Help may be on the way . . . soon.

Read more here:
CPSIA – The Worm Continues To Turn

CPSIA – Report Abusive Database Rule to Eric Cantor!

Today, Republican CPSC Commissioners Nancy Nord and Anne Northup, noting the stifled debate orchestrated by Democratic CPSC Commissioners on the final public database rule (up for a vote on November 17th) and the toxic impact of that rule on the business community, have proposed their own alternative rule on the database.

I will provide a link HERE as soon as it is available. I believe the CPSC is currently mud wrestling over whether the Nord/Northup alternative proposal can be shown to you . . . the public. I think the Dems don’t think you are mature enough to be able to read it. Perhaps when you’re older . . . .

Here is Nancy Nord’s blogpost and Anne Northup’s blogpost relating to their proposed new rule. I also want to commend Ms. Northup’s three other blogposts on this topic, beginning on October 27. It is gratifying to see Commissioners taking political risk to do the right thing. Both Ms. Nord and Ms. Northup are taking a stand here. Let’s hope that fighting breaks out on other issues, too. We need the help.

This proposal by two Republican Commissioners is yet more shocking evidence that at today’s CPSC, safety and market integrity is an entirely partisan issue. Frankly, I don’t understand this and find it all so outrageous. In my view, this cartoonish standoff is ENTIRELY the fault of the Democrats who are stone deaf to the legitimate concerns of the business community. The hollow words of Inez Tenenbaum committing to “dialogue” with stakeholders makes me want to scream.

Consider, for instance, that I testified at the hearing on the database on November 10, 2009 at the personal request of Matt Howsare, Tenenbaum’s then counsel (now her Chief of Staff). Ms. Tenenbaum purportedly wanted my feedback on this critical proposal, and as it was related to me, the agency needed more comments from the business community. Naively, I spent our company’s money to fly to Washington to accommodate this seemingly reasonable request. I am accepting Fool of the Year nominations at this time. . . .

This hearing took place almost exactly ONE YEAR AGO – plenty of time for Ms. Tenenbaum to absorb my testimony. Listen to my testimony – did the majority take ANY of my points seriously? According to Nancy Nord, she was not allowed to ask at the October 20th Commission meeting about CPSC Staff’s conclusion that the rule would have an insignificant impact on small business – the ENTIRE focus of my testimony in November 2009. Don’t kid yourself, staff conclusions like this are are driven from ABOVE – from Ms. Tenenbaum and her political patrons. Ms. Nord was gaveled silent by the majority party – they had heard enough, I guess. Other issues impacting business interests from a fairness standpoint were also ignored or blunted.

This kind of treatment is completely outrageous. This example of government-out-of-control explains why the public spoke so profoundly last Tuesday. Nevertheless, the people running the shop at the CPSC didn’t hear you on Election Day. We MUST stop the Dem’s plan – unless you want to be eaten alive by trial lawyers. Listen to my testimony – it’s a road map to litigation doom.

Eric Cantor has called for substantially increasing Congressional oversight of the activities of federal agencies which he says are “now actively working to enact [President Obama's] agenda through agency regulations”. Could Tenenbaum, Adler and Co. be doing JUST THAT at the CPSC right now? Hmmm.

Please WRITE ERIC CANTOR to tell him what you think. His fax number is 202-225-0011. Please post your letter as a comment to this blog.

Read more here:
CPSIA – Report Abusive Database Rule to Eric Cantor!

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