American Samizdat

Tuesday, January 15, 2008. *
How things really work or why you should enjoy your tasty lead based toys. From Eyes on Trade:

By contrast, industry holds hegemonic sway in Washington. At an event held this morning at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, representatives from the Bush administration, and toy and retail industries - despite a year of record outcry about imported product safety - brazenly held forth about how, in their opinion, the public and the government has little to no role in regulatory checks and balances. Corporations can do it better. Among some of the choicer quotes:

  • "While we welcome lower lead standards, they are difficult to implement in the next year. We may have already placed our Christmas orders months ahead. We will be covered this year by the same high lead standard that has protected consumers for years."
  • "We think that the recent recalls do not indict the system. On a strict numerical basis, we’re consistent with past years. The CPSC is getting more efficient… like the private sector, the public sector is getting better at doing more with less. The recalls of the last year show that the current system of self-reporting is working."
  • "We’ve heard from our supply chain that the costs of complying with duplicative testing – and a CBO study confirmed this – increase the costs to consumers by 10%. This is not a good thing for consumers."
  • "there’s no credible report of injury from lead inside the products… we should focus on hazards that post the biggest threat… it would be shame if parents were looking through their toy box while ignoring their window sills."
  • "Our economic viability has to do with confidence of consumers, with our brand integrity. There are specific complexities to sourcing overseas, in addition to the efficiencies and cost savings from this vast production capacity. The worst thing that could happen is that we turn inward, that we turn protectionist. The marketplace is much more complex than the 1950s’ model of domestic supply."
  • There were loads of other good nuggets on the ongoing attemptsby Congress to put together a Consumer Product Safety Commission bill, including slams on CPSC disclosure to the public of company information, on efforts to create a STOP button to block unsafe imports at the ports, on an increased role for state attorney generals (who are apparently "political people" in contrast to Bush appointee Nancy Nord), and the Senate for not getting permission from industry before writing their bill.

That industry lobbyists feel they can even getting away with suggesting that parents' safety concerns are not real, or that the industry can self-regulate, just indicate how far we've come from any sense of shared societal responsibilities and class co-existence.

But what's even more disheartening is the reaction from "the other side of the aisle." Progressives on our side are often having the debate while looking at their own feet, fixated on the legislative details while corporations rule the roost.

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posted by Philip Shropshire at 10:33 PM
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