This has been brewing beneath the surface of my mind lately, and it has reached boiling point. I now deem it necessary to blow my top.
It started out as a curious incident at Dollar General. The kids begged and begged for some “fish squirties,” aptly named bath toys whose function reflects the name. Less-than-thrilled by the prospect of four gallons of water, toys that propel it, and two overzealous children, I nonetheless caved that day. (Moms, I was at that point where I would have done or said anything to get out of the store in a relatively calm manner. It was past naptime, you understand.) So, we reach the checkout and the cashier says, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I can’t sell this to you,” as she snatched it out of Linus’s little hand, pointing to the type-written sign on the pay pedestal with her other. “Due to the recently-passed law, all products aimed at children under 12 that might contain pthalates are not for sale and subject to heavy fines.” And that was the day that Mommy had to explain to Linus the pitfalls of Government. “Linus, honey, I’m so sorry. Blame the government.” (Of course, now every time we go to the store, and Linus sees something he wants, he queries, “Can the government let me have this?” And I go to smile, before realizing that his question reflects so much truth lately that all I can do is shrug and inwardly groan.)
Fast forward to my little solo shopping excursion last week. I freely and openly admit that I shop at Goodwill. Children have a habit of a) growing so fast that they barely wear an item of clothing, therefore leaving it brand-new and b) wearing their clothing to rags. It is this combination that makes parents realize the genius of second-hand stores for children’s items. Call it fiscal responsibility, if you will. I have found more name-brand, excellent clothing for the kids at Goodwill or other thrift shops that I’ve barely had to pay over $5 for any single item of clothing. (Plus, it’s rather fun/challenging to find a great bargain.)
Well, minus the children I was ready to hunt and rummage. Change of season, Linus grew six inches, we need some bigger clothes! I went to the back of the store to find–NOTHING! Nada. No children’s clothing. I’m not exaggerating. No toys, no childrens books. I was like a black hole, and just as I turned to ask the store clerk, “Where are the goods?” I remembered: GOVERNMENT! CPSIA! DAMMIT!
Okay, so what is CPSIA? It’s the latest law designed “for the children” that practically no one in the House or Senate thought through when it was passed last August. There was one nay vote in the House, and three in the Senate. It was enacted on Feb. 10th, and it has done almost as much to piss people off as the drunken spending spree that is going on now. (Which goes to show how many of our elected officials shop second-hand, apparently.)
One of the Senators who didn’t vote for it, South Carolina senator Jim DeMint (along with five other Republican senators) has introduced a bill to amend the law so that it doesn’t include thrift stores, libraries, garage sales, hand-me-downs, etc… There is also a bill being introduced in the House to do the same. Here is some more information about the law and its effects and requirements.
CPSIA: The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act. Remember the China/lead toy scare? In the rush to “do something,” our elected nincompoops passed a sweeping law that will do more to worsen the economic climate for millions of Americans who don’t necessarily buy all their childrens’ duds at Baby Gap or Janie and Jack. Like garage sales? Depend on hand-me-downs? Fuggedaboudit. Many stores won’t risk the liability or $100,000 fine. (Here’s an excellent article that outlines the law and what is being done to try and amend it back to common sense.)
And that’s not the worst of it: any childrens books that are pre-1985? Trash can. Might have lead-type. And we all know that children generally lick the pages of their books, right? That treasured copy of The Velveteen Rabbit? Get rid of it; it’s a hazard to your child’s health. (Pause to think of the ramifications on used book sellers or collectors.) That mom friend who knits baby scarves to sell online? She might want to reconsider. It is absolute insanity.)
Look, I managed to survive my “unprotected” childhood without growing a second head so far. Do you think we’re overreacting?
Anyway, this post grows long, and if you want to learn more, just google CPSIA and you’ll find tons of information, “Save handmade” blogs, etc…
What is the lesson, here? There have been more stupid laws passed because the words “for the children” or “for the environment” are pasted on them, and in the end, they ultimately do far more harm than good. (One that I can think of off the top of my head is the 1972 US banning of DDT, which has led to millions of malaria-related deaths in primarily Africa, the largest casualty group being children.)
As for poor children who might need that donated winter coat? Well, they won’t get it. Hey, they’ll be cold, but at least they won’t run the risk of lead exposure, right?