“To the Barricades!”

This will hopefully be the only call to activism that I will ever issue at this site.  But when legendary Blawger Walter Olson calls you out by name, it’s hard to continue sitting idly by. 

So…..according to Olson, today is CPSIA Blog Day.  For the unaware, CPSIA is a new law scheduled to have a huge impact on manufacturers and retailers of children’s products (defined as anything used “primarily by a child under the age of 12”) on or about February 10, which has been dubbed National Bankruptcy Day as a result.  In many ways, the law is well-intentioned, meant to prevent a repeat of the 2007 Chinese lead toy scandal, while also dramatically restricting another substance, phthalates, which is believed to be unacceptably hazardous to small children. 

The trouble is, this well-intentioned law is far from well-structured.   To say it is confusing would be an understatement of Herculean proportions.  But the far bigger problem is that it casts an unbelievably wide net that is going to devastate thousands of small and medium-sized businesses who have never before been accused of manufacturing or selling unsafe childrens’ products.  In my “piece up at Culture11,” I provided a pretty good summary of just some of the effects this law will likely have on small and medium-sized businesses in an shockingly large portion of the economy (it’s not just children’s toys!).  And Olson himself put together some fine pieces for Forbes in the last few weeks.

I’d ask that you take a quick look at that material.  If you’re persuaded, please take the time to go here for your activist marching orders.  As for me, I’ve embarked on my own little bit of activism on this today; unfortunately, it’s not of the sort that I can talk about right now.

See also: John, who was responsible for first bringing this to my attention.

UPDATE: It looks like a number of other bloggers who Olson called out have also answered the call.  But it’s worth highlighting Patrick’s response (Patrick is, I believe, also known as SSFC of the now-defunct Social Services for Feral Children; he now writes for the often-hysterical, usually poignant, group blawg/blog Popehat).  Patrick writes:

the CPSIA was enacted in response to 2007 voluntary product recalls of certain toys manufactured in China and imported to the United States, toys which were found to contain lead paint.  The offending toys were a set of buckets featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and Curious George, and a magnetic toy made for Mattel and its subsidiary Fisher-Price.  These toys were recalled amid another, more serious scare pertaining to Chinese products, the dog food scandal in which pets died due to toxic additives, similar to the scandal which China itself is now facing due to tainted milk.

One difference among these scares is that no federal legislation has been offered pertaining to pet food, or to milk….The other difference, the main difference so far as I can determine, is that unlike the dog food scandal and the milk scandal, no one died and no one was hurt in the lead paint scandal.

He goes on and makes a pretty compelling case proving that, in fact, no one was killed or even remotely injured in the lead paint toy scandal.  Worth pondering, I’d say.

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