Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A day late, a dollar short

Here's a little update on HR 4040 (also know as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, or CPSIA).

Yesterday was what some activists are now referring to as "National Bankruptcy Day". While the Consumer Product Safety Committee issued a stay for some types of testing (basically extending the deadline for manufacturers of selected products), Congress and the CPSC failed to provide "meaningful relief" to the resale industry (such as thrift stores and consignment stores). One ray of hope may come in the form of a reform bill introduced last Thursday by Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), which would provide some necessary clarification and amendment to CPSIA.

If you are still on the fence about this, or thinking I'm blowing it way out of proportion, consider this: the cost of testing all these children's products will be passed on directly to you. As much as I applaud the idea of standards to protect my children's safety, these rigorous standards are being imposed on domestic manufacturers when it was a recall of imported children's toys that was the prime impetus behind CPSIA--and it will be domestic businesses and consumers who will have to foot the bill. Expect hikes in the prices of:

* kids' clothes
* furniture and bedding
* school supplies (including any office supplies--like paper clips--that might be used by children 12 and under)
* toys and books
* gear (such as strollers, bicycles, car seats, etc.)

Oh, and expect that the children's section in your local library may have to pull all their old books off the shelves (since testing each unique book would cost at least $150 a pop through the required third party testing procedure).

Still not worried? Check out this article in Forbes. Sure it's from a big-business point of view, but it raises some valid concerns for us little people, too.

Please consider signing the online petition to ask for reforms to CPSIA, as well as writing to your senators and urging them to support Senator DeMint's reform bill. This is an issue that crosses political and economic lines; we all benefit when our nation's small businesses are vital and thriving, and working families desperately need resources for affordable children's clothing and gear in this tough economy.

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