Children beware! If you sneeze too hard, you might break your plastic bubble, and then the world will come to an end!
Thank goodness I don’t make products targeted toward children. Our congress has consistently failed to see the consequences of their shenanigans, and the CPSIA is no exception. They passed a huge, broad law with no thought as to how it would affect small businesses and libraries. The most incredible irony of this law is that while well-intentioned, it completely FAILS!
Children have access to dozens of small items that were never intended for children. This is because their parents are incompetent, neglectful, or make occasional mistakes. If a charm falls off of a mother’s bracelet and her child finds and eats it, that is her fault. It also will not be prevented by all of these new regulations. Sure, they look on the surface like we are really concerned with our children’s safety, but how effective are they going to be, really? Children have a way of getting into trouble that is seemingly unstoppable. Intelligent parents take appropriate steps to prevent undue harm, and they also let their children make mistakes! One of the biggest teachers in life is the mistake. You make it, you deal with the consequences, and it teaches you why you don’t do that. I’m not saying we should feed our children lead; I’m simply advocating a lowering of the padded walls and placing more responsibility on parents, teachers, and caretakers to have common sense. Letting a child chew on possibly radioactive jewelry = not okay. Letting a child go down a slide and possibly end up with a skinned knee = okay. Perhaps the problem is that people are too stupid these days to know what presents a substantial possible hazard to children? This isn’t a problem we can fix with a law that takes away opportunities for learning.
The one thing this act will succeed in is trashing our economy and our ability to educate our kids even more. Small businesses, second-hand stores, and craftspeople are faced with a difficult choice. Well, it’s not so difficult for some who would never be able to afford it. They can either stop selling any products that would ever be considered as intended for children, or they can have every item they make or all of their materials tested for phthalates and lead. This means astronomical cost increases for these businesses. Thrift stores can’t afford that kind of per-item cost increase, so they are throwing away all of their children’s items. THROWING AWAY. The new law makes it illegal to sell or even GIVE AWAY these items.
In addition, we are in danger of losing all children’s books published before 1985. Can you imagine what will happen to libraries (Do your kids have a library at school? Do they like to take home piles of books to read during the week? Not anymore!) when they have to pull 60-70% of their children’s stock and trash it? I am fully in support of protecting our children from lead poisoning, but how many kids have been seriously harmed by book poisoning? Seriously now…as a blog I read said, If You’re Eating the Book, You’re Doing It Wrong. No more hand-me-down books with fantastic illustrations from great-grandma. Nope, into the trash it goes. Well, unless you want to break the law. You don’t want to be a criminal, do you? Little Jimmy might decide it works better as a meal than as a book, and we certainly can’t disabuse him of that notion!
The CPSIA is a bullshit law passed too hastily in an attempt to look like we were doing something. I fully support the sentiment behind the law. I agree that regulations on hazardous materials should be enforced. However, browbeating every reseller into testing end products is not the way to do this. Mass manufacturers should bear the responsibility for certifying that their materials are made without these hazardous materials. This should apply to all items, not just children’s end products. Anything containing a high level of these haz-mats should come with a warning label. If these chemicals pose a threat to children, what makes you think adults who don’t know better won’t give their children access to items that were never tested? “Warning! May contain lead levels that exceed 600 ppm. Not for use in children’s items! Oh, and by the way, don’t use this to paint dishes or make utensils from, either.” Crafters who use these materials should be able to point to the manufacturer and say, “Look, the materials I used were certified. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that I am covered under their certification.” Even if you don’t have to do the testing on your end product, you still have to get certified under this law.
I thought we were trying to help small businesses get back on their feet, not yank the rug out from under them. I thought they were the “heart of the American economy.” Yeah, help us get loans…and then tell us that you’re increasing our operating costs tenfold. Good plan, America. Look, if you want to control hazardous chemicals, I’m all for that. But could you please, please, try to do it in a way that has a chance of working?
Thank goodness I don’t make products targeted toward children.