Monday, January 19, 2009

Let the Liquidation Begin

My not-quite-really-local consignment store just sent out their e-mail sales alert. Guess what?

PLUS, our BIGGEST Toy sale ever....
50% OFF all gently used toys ...ALL
DAY 9:30am to 10pm
No coupon necessary Excludes new toys!
Valid at participating store(s) only. Not valid with any other specials, coupons or on previously purchased items. All sales final.

It's a one day sale, but note that nothing can be returned and the steep discount. The CSPIA deadline is getting close! I'll let you know if they have other big sale days. At the end of the e-mail they add this:
Due to the new lead law...we are no longer purchasing painted wood toys, painted metal toys or any toys which are questionable. Safety is our number one priority.

Which is very close to the wording used in the CPSC release about resellers.


christinemm said...

Don't you think they are overreacting? I just re-read that press release and it makes clear what is okay to resell.

Also I do still feel the CPSC is being a bit too excessive such as the aprt that says if the used toy lacks the age warning. Let's be real, most of the time that is on exterior packaging not permanently etched into a toy so it is not always on the toy itself.

Stuffed toys with buttons, eyes, noses etc have been an issue for a long time but I didn't think they were the focus of this lead and pthalates thing.

Big government = bad. It just works out that way. Even when good intentions are at the heart of the original idea such as 'keeping kids safe'.

Kim said...

It's hard to say if they are overreacting. The CPSC makes it clear that it is illegal to sell anything that is over the 600 ppm lead content of the entire item. I read in one of those linked articles about the snaps on a onesie failing the requirement. It would not matter if the store had no idea that the item contained that much lead. And they could possibly face a jail term.

I imagine that if you want to stay in business and minimize the risk of being caught selling an illegal item, you try to follow the minimal guidelines the CPSC did publish--assuming that those will be the items they look at most closely. I really feel like they are between Scylla and Charybdis.

Adding all of these new items into the law is definitely idiotic. Even the CPSC states it in that release. They specifically worry about painted toys and jewelry. Those are the items that have been issues.

It seems, perhaps, that the heads of the CPSC could choose to interpret the legislation in a less intrusive way (even though it was written sloppily) since it is their venue. Instead, they choose to try to consolidate huge swaths of power into areas they were never allowed to inject themselves before. Pretty famous effect of these government regulatory bodies is to always find more work for themselves.

Many of the crafters have made the wonderful point that the law tries to solve a problem that has not recurred since the initial terrible outbreaks, that the existing law those items were covered by was already violated, and that the CPSC was not inspecting enough.

Most people speaking out about the law undercut their own position by ceding the premise that children's products should be entirely lead and phthalate free. Those statements are ignorant of science and reality. I agree that lead introduced into the body, especially for children, can be harmful at certain levels, that does not mean that parts of a product that children would not be in regular contact with need to meet such stringent standards (the example of rivets in a stroller where the legs bend comes to mind). Two phrases I've memorized when it comes to looking at any regulations:

1. The dose makes the poison. Compounds that are bad in large amounts do not have the same affect in smaller concentrations. The studies in lead are fairly complete and we know a lot about how lead gets into the body, with ingestion being the biggest factor. No one wants to sound like they are 'for lead' so no one questions the numbers quoted in the legislation (from 600 ppm now to 90 ppm by 2011-ish). Those people deserve the laws they get and so do people who would appeal to emotion ("you are against the children if you are against this law" types) rather than debate on the facts as we know them.

2. Cost-benefit-risk analysis. Most people who haven't been in a manufacturing industry would like to believe there can be no price placed on a human life. In fact, it is necessary to put a price on safety--the possible risk of life for people building powerful items and the possible risk of injury for those and weaker products. Not only do producers put a price on human life, it is the only way to know, along with how fool-proof people will expect items to be when they buy them, when costs and excessive bulk are worth it for the consumer and the producer. Some people would like to stick their head in the sand and pretend that designers should put any risks at zero. They're idiots who don't know the first thing about how much that would cost, whether it is feasible, how it would affect the functionality, and how cumbersome the end product would be. You can add all of the people who want government-controlled healthcare to the idiot list.

Of course, there are those who do not care about other people's willingness to accept some risk in order to mitigate cost and varied other factors (form, function, timeliness, etc). They are usually trying to get the government to force everyone to subsidize their fears whether others would want to be crippled by overly burdensome regulations or not. And the more the government steps in and takes those decisions from the people, the more it is expected and welcomed. Pretty soon no one can imagine life when you had to actually think about decisions, research products, and be prepared to have good credit and take out a line of credit you could use for medical bills should the need arise.