CPSIA Update: Clarity Contra the CPSC

By February 10, 2009Economy, Regulations

Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com comments on the CPSC guidelines issued late yesterday, which were — we assume — intended to provide clarity for manufacturers and retailers who handle products made for children. From “CPSIA chronicles, February 10“:

In general, the rules appear to hold little that is surprising or new, and thus serve to confirm that the law will prove a disaster unless quickly revisited and reformed by the U.S. Congress. To take just one example, that of resale, thrift and consignment stores, the CPSC guidance advises that such stores discard, or refuse to accept donations of, a very wide range of children’s items unless they are willing to test the items for lead or call their original manufacturer — neither of which steps is consistent with the economics of an ordinary small thrift store. Included in the suspect list are most children’s clothing (because most of it has snaps, buttons, zippers, grommets or other closures with unknown/unproved metal or plastic content), most books that were printed before 1985 or that (even if more recent) include metal or plastic elements such as staples* or spiral binders; most playthings (dolls, balls, trains, toy cars, etc.), most shoes and hair ornaments, most sporting goods, outdoor play items and wagons, board games when including any plastic spinners, tokens or other items, all bicycles and tricycles in kids’ sizes, most decorations for kids’ rooms, nearly everything with metal or synthetic applique, most school, art and science supplies, and on and on. A much diminished assortment of t-shirts, pullover sweaters, slip-on canvas shoes, unpainted/untreated wood blocks, post-1985 glued-spine books and a few like items might remain on the shelves, but for the most part, it now seems clear, the U.S. Congress in its wisdom has decided to banish the business of kids’ resale to the realm of outlawry, even when carried on by non-profits with unpaid volunteers.

Overlawyered has become a daily read on the CPSIA issues, documenting the consequences of badly drafted legislation passed in an overheated political environment. (For a 50-state roundup, see his commentary at Forbes.)

One lesson we draw: These unintended consequences were SO predictable.

The other thing we like about Walter’s recent posts is his use of public domain art, classic children’s drawings and the like, to illustrate his posts. Raggedy Ann and Andy, how nice!

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