My husband and I have cared for lots of children. When you consider the number of foster children we’ve had in our home, the many times we’ve watched the children of our friends and relatives, and our own five blessings, it’s no wonder that our home is designed to be a fun atmosphere where children can be comfortable and safe.
Despite the fact that we’ve gone through literally dozens of toys, hundreds of diapers, and thousands of clothing items (especially when you count all the lost socks and hairbows individually), no one has ever lost a finger or been poisoned by lead in our home.
As of February 10, however, we will no longer be able to walk into a store and purchase items for our children as we’ve done in the past. Once again, our government has decided that they know what is best for our children and no retailer is allowed to sell any product for children ages 12 and under without the government’s stamp of approval.
There are several reasons that this new law is a huge problem, but I would have to say that the most immediate impact is the fact that it is going to bankrupt thousands of small businesses. It is essentially going to force all small businesses that cater to children to close their doors.
There was originally concern that the law would apply to USED products as well as new products and now e-mails are flying around the Internet stating that stores that sell used products are exempt. Read the law carefully and you’ll see the problem.
The press release sent out by the CPSC on January 8, 2009 stated that “Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.”
It sounds like they are except from the certifications and sure enough, they do NOT have to have the products certified themselves, but read the next paragraph of this news release, which states, “The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.”
So in other words, they do not have to have the products certified, but if they sell products that haven’t been tested, they still will be liable for fines so they actually ARE responsible for making sure all the products that they sell are within the government’s new code of safety!!!
If we want our children safe, why should this bother any of us?
Families who purchase used materials, particularly clothing and toys, will no longer have the option of going to the local thrift store to purchase these items. No retailer is going to sell older used items for fear of violating the safety regulations. For families who are already barely making enough money to pay the bills, purchasing items at thrift stores and other resale shops is a necessity, not a luxury. We cannot do without these second-hand-stores and other resell events.
Many families have had to create home businesses to stay afloat and this law will deny them the right to do that. This new law will essentially put them out of business because they will not be able to pay the $500 or more per item to have it tested. Let’s say the mom down the street stays at home to care for her children and dad works. They don’t qualify for any sort of government aid and would prefer not to take it anyway. Instead, they’ve decided to work hard, take pride in their own accomplishments, and operate a small home business to supplement dad’s income. The business doesn’t require a lot of overhead because mom simply purchases ribbon, glue and hair clasps to make specialty children’s bows. These are sold at a local children’s specialty clothing shop for $5.00 each. Mom puts $2.00 worth of supplies into each hairbow, then she makes $1.50 profit and the store makes $1.50 profit on each bow. It’s not a lot, but over the course of a month, mom might make an extra $100 to help with groceries. With this new law, mom has to pay a minimum of $500 for EACH AND EVERY different type of bow she makes. If the ribbon is a different color or the clasps are slightly different or are a different size, she has to pay a separate fee for each of these different bows. Since she is only making $100 a month from the bows anyway, she cannot afford the fees to have each of her bows certified as “safe.” Even if she were making $500 per month, she wouldn’t be able to pay this fee for each of her different bow styles. So there goes the American dream for this family. Mom is very crafty and could make another type of product, but all of the products she is considering would be used by children, which would still require her to seek certification. Mom has to stop making the bows and even the loss of that $100 a month puts the family in a position where they have to start getting loans to make ends meet and before you know it, the family is so far behind that they are filing bankruptcy.
Many businesses purchased inventory before this law was ever created. While the press release from January 8 states that these businesses do not have to pay to have the items certified as safe, if the business is found selling non-certified items, then the businesses will be fined.
If all of this sounds too absurd to be true, rest assured that many of us thought the same thing until we started researching this issue. When things like this come up, and they seem to be happening more frequently in recent years, I sometimes think people think those of us who pay attention to these matters are alarmists and there is really nothing to be so concerned about, but this law will affect all of us. Go back to the example of the mom who makes the hairbows. Let’s say that she decided to go ahead and pay the $500 per bow to be allowed to still sell them. Well, she only makes 100 of each type before moving on to the next bow so she will have to increase the price of each bow by $5.00 just to pay for the testing. That means instead of purchasing a bow for $5.00, now your hairbow will be $10.00!! Think of how many things you purchase that come in contact with your children every day. Now think of paying double for all those items. Everything will go up in cost as a result of this law. I don’t know about the rest of you, but we can barely afford to pay our bills now, much less paying double for everything.
What can you do? The first thing I would recommend is to contact your United States Representative or Senator and tell them that you support measures to keep our children safe, but that you strongly oppose this law (H.R. 4040). It is going to bankrupt thousands of small businesses and I think the trickle effect of increased prices is going to bankrupt many thousands more businesses. This could in turn result in millions of bankruptcies of American families.
In recent years, products from China have had increasing amounts of lead or other toxic materials or have been proven unsafe for children. If poorly made products from China or other countries are the problem, then do something to ban imports or increase safety protocol for imported children’s products. But do not force hard-working families who are pursuing the American dream from the ability to create a business and pay their own way.
P.S. If we really want to help our economy and our country, I think perhaps someone should start taking away the massive amount of power that the judicial branch of our government has gained in the past fifty years. When our forefathers created this country and developed our system of government, they specifically created the three branches of government so that they would have checks and balances on one another, but the judicial branch has gained way to much power and now frivolous lawsuits, greedy attorneys, and immoral judges have created an environment where our judicial system is basically dictating how we run our country. Personally, I would rather be allowed to pick and choose which products I purchase for my children in a society with free trade than on where the government dictates what is or is not allowed to be sold. I honestly believe that living in a free country also includes the right to purchase substandard products! That may sound crazy, but if a large (or small) company is creating poor quality products, I believe in a system where they will eventually go out of business. That’s the way the system works in a free market society, but now the government is going to be putting the small businesses that create the best quality products out of business. This is unacceptable!