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February 16, 2009

CPSIA Watch: Libraries, Charities, Children, Consumer Goods Hardest Hit. [jdub]

I’m sure that some of you have been following this, at least sort of out of the corners of your eyes. But as more details emerge, the CPSIA debacle is proving more and more to be a perfect example of what happens when Congress acts precipitately and the Law of Unintended Consequences catches up. CPSIA was the legislation passed practically overnight to protect tow-headed American children from eeevil lead and pthalates, if you'll recall.

For a decent introduction to the problem, go here.

So what? Well, for example, libraries are unsure as to whether they can circulate childrens’ books made before 1984. Some libraries are already tossing or removing to storage thousands of books... here's one estimate of the cost to a single library: 3 million and change. Goodwill and other resellers are tossing out childrens’ clothes left and right. One-half of the Omaha area’s secondhand childrens’ clothing has been discarded. Kawasaki, Honda, and Yamaha have stopped selling dirtbikes and replacement parts:

The value of inventories that now cannot be sold is unknown, but it probably exceeds $100 million, by our estimate. Just take 7,500 franchised dealers, many of whom carry $25,000 worth of inventory at wholesale cost.

Who needs free books or cheap clothes in this economy anyway, right? Or retail jobs, or charity?

Overlawyered has pretty much flooded the zone on this -- I don’t want to simply link all of the things he’s got, so give him a look. His CPSIA archive is here. Go. Read. Be angry.

So, to recap: Henry Waxman and his accomplices (including, we should note, many Republicans,) have managed to pass a bill which, inter alia,

1) requires the destruction or other removal of huge supplies of secondhand clothes, in winter,
2) may or may not preclude libraries from lending huge chunks of their childrens’ collections,
3) effectively removes as-yet-uncalculated amounts of inventory from salability from small- and medium-size businesses, without compensation.

In the middle of (as we are constantly told) the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg... the economic effects of this legislation reach in every direction, most of which were, of course, unanticipated.

This is what happens when Congress gets the panicked urge to do something, anything, in a hurry. You’re not aware of any other pieces of legislation that fit that bill, are you? I mean, surely they can’t be that stupid, right? Right?


UPDATE: A commenter asks if this includes, for example, eBay.

In order to crack down on online sites such as Craigslist and Ebay, the CPSC says, they are currently working with an internet surveillance team to watch over the online marketplaces.



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posted by xgenghisx at 11:38 AM

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