Politics

“Because We Said So”

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At his new Culture11 digs, John Schwenkler points to a Washington Post article about the impending February 10 National Bankruptcy Day, about which I have written prolifically in recent days.

One of the few saving graces with respect to this legislation, which will devastate small, medium and domestic businesses in numerous industries, has been a recent opinion letter which held that the bill’s ban on phthalates would apply only to products manufactured after February 10 and not to pre-existing inventory that was manufactured prior to the statute’s effective date (products containing any amount of lead, no matter how unlikely to be “mouthed” by a child or to contain the legitimately dangerous lead paint, are not so fortunate). This exemption for some pre-existing inventory is important because without it, businesses would be forced to destroy products already on their shelves, even if those products were legal when manufactured. The exemption is particularly important to small and medium sized businesses because of how businesses of that size order and/or manufacture their products many months in advance in order to take advantage of bulk discounts; larger businesses can obviously turn over large quantities of inventory much quicker than small businesses and, moreover, were much more capable of being aware of this law’s potential effects as early as October/November of 2007.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, having solved all “Natural Resources Defense” problems, is apparently not happy with the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s issuance of the exemption for pre-existing phthalate inventory. As such, they have sued the CPSC to make sure the law, with its $100,000 minimum penalties, is enforced in as draconian a manner as possible.

In defense of this lawsuit, the NRDC’s spokesperson expressed little sympathy for businesses that will have to close:

The problems of the retailers and the toymakers are beside the point, Colangelo said. “Congress decided these toys are unsafe,” he said. “That’s critical here. […] We’re talking about something that Congress decided was unsafe and shouldn’t be on the shelves.”

So why are these products so particularly unsafe that it justifies forcing hundreds of businesses to close in the midst of a severe recession? “Because Congress said so.” And why did Congress say so? “Because they’re so particularly unsafe that it justifies forcing hundreds of businesses to close in the midst of a severe recession.”

Again, if ever there was a time for conservative blogospheric activism (although liberal and/or libertarian activism would also be more than appropriate), this would be it. Unfortunately, the Malkinized portion of the Right (also the most activist portion) is much more concerned with talking about the NY Times’ latest flub on the all-important issue of Caroline Kennedy’s qualifications for Senator, not to mention Obama’s amorphous ties to the equally important issue of who the 800th Most Corrupt Chicago Politician of All Time spoke with and when, to even be aware that this problem exists and can realistically be prevented.

(Cross-posted at Publius Endures)

PS – I promise my next post here at Donklephant will be on something other than this issue.