Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Energy and Commerce Committee to US Artisans: Drop Dead


Got your attention? Too bad we all weren't paying attention to the US Energy and Commerce Committee.

Sell handmade toys, children's clothing or any child-oriented item in your shop?
Have some handmade children's toys, clothing or bath or body product you want to donate to a shelter?
Perhaps you want to give some handmade cradle or bassinet away to your best friend.

Forget it.

Come February 10th, you have to:

Empty your shop of the toys, forget about donations, and don't give them away - you might as well send them to the dump. The landfills across America should be full of handmade children's products in the coming months.

Why?

The U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee, the same group that attempted to pass the small-business-killing FDA Globalization Act last year, passed the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act in August. Quietly, sneakily, this bill was passed into law and is just now becoming evident for what it is - the death knell for any handmade artisan product for children.

We're in the early stages of launching a website that will be the home of artisan associations united to fight this Draconian Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and the coming revival of the FDA Globalization Act. Membership will be free, and open to all American artisan associations, bringing under our umbrella those who craft bread, chocolate, beer, toys, clothing, wine, bath and body products, cheese - well, you get the idea. I believe we have some innovative and powerful campaigns planned, and I will post more here when we move forward.

We have both a PR and legislative contact campaign planned for both the short term and long term goals - to fight this committee, and any other that attempts to put small businesses into bankruptcy. The CPSIA will be a hard battle, since it's already law. Just think about it - no more crocheted hats from the local store for your baby, no more wooden toys from the woodmaker on that country road. They'll be outlawed February 10, 2009, and any business selling them will be closed down.

It's a horrifying state of Big Brother and we have to take this into our own hands at a grassroots level and organize and fight.

Here's some more information, originally published by Forbes magazine.


January 16 -- "Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act is now shaping up as a calamity for businesses and an epic failure of regulation"

"Congress passed CPSIA in a frenzy of self-congratulation following last year's overblown panic over Chinese toys with lead paint. Washington's consumer and environmentalist lobbies used the occasion to tack on some other long-sought legislative goals, including a ban on phthalates used to soften plastic.

"A group called Handmade Toy Alliance is calling attention to the law's burdens in that area. Booksellers are mobilizing. Yet prominent consumer groups have continued to defend even the law's more extreme applications, and their spokespersons are dismissive of public outrage. 'I haven't heard a single legitimate concern yet,' Public Citizen's David Arkush wrote last month.

"
Instead they must put a sample item from each lot of goods through testing after complete assembly, and the testing must be applied to each component. For a given hand-knitted sweater, for example, one might have to pay not just, say, $150 for the first test, but added-on charges for each component beyond the first: a button or snap, yarn of a second color, a care label, maybe a ribbon or stitching--with each color of stitching thread having to be tested separately.

"Suddenly the bill is more like $1,000--and that's just to test the one style and size. The same sweater in a larger size, or with a different button or clasp, would need a new round of tests--not just on the button or clasp, but on the whole garment. The maker of a kids' telescope (with no suspected problems) was quoted a $24,000 testing estimate, on a product with only $32,000 in annual sales."

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End of the Forbes excerpt. Any members of artisan associations reading this, please contact me via the form on my website.

I've written extensively in the past about the business-killing measures that IFRA, the EU and Global Harmonization pose to the Natural Perfumers Guild and small businesses that produce bath and body products. The new organization will work to push back the rising tide of government regulations that threaten to destroy our small, independent businesses.

Image from Hillary Lang on Flickr.

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