We all remember the wholesale panic over products, notably toys, being recalled left and right over lead content. A few punchlines and some "ripped from the headlines" television later, I wonder how many of us knew Congress had actually done something about it. God knows I was in the dark on that one. It must have been all the panic over a presidential challenger possibly being from Kenya. I say panic, but it smelled a lot like bullshit to me.
Last summer, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, or CPSIA, which set new limits for lead, lead paint, and chemicals known as phthalates in products marketed for children 12 and younger.
No manufactured hysteria from the right-wing on this, none that I heard anyway. So far as I know, Rush Limbaugh's jowls failed to flutter over this legislation, but then again, I try to ingnore him unless MSM brings up the latest really stupid fucking thing he says. No months and months of arguing, angry town hall meetings with constituents packing heat, just a bill passed to crack down on shoddy and dangerous crap being peddled to us for our kids.
And now, for the first company to sidestep the hell out of the bill.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (now featuring former Bush cheerleader, ex-Kentucky congresswoman Anne Northup as a commissioner) recently voted 3-0 to grant Mattel leave to use their own laboratories to conduct safety testing, rather than employ an independent lab, which is mandated under CPSIA. Not that it matters much right now, anyway. The CPSC said it would delay enforcement of some of the testing requirements until January 2010. What's the point, exactly, of Congress passing a law, if agencies can decide when and if to enforce it?
Just this last June, Mattel agreed to a $2.3 million civil penalty for violating the lead paint ban with six toys produced either by them or subsidiary Fisher-Price recalled. Then again, Mattel spent over $1 million lobbying the legislation of CPSIA, which is kind of like spending 25 bucks at a Kinko's to fight a 50 dollar traffic ticket.
Mattel's labs in Mexico, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and California have apparently been proven to be clear of any corporate influence, confirmed by statements from yesholes Lisa Marie Bongiovanni from Mattel and Scott Wolfson of the CPSC. Mattel says they are unique, because they own their own production facilities and can do the testing there. There is nothing unique at all about that situation, for two reasons. First, Mattel is hardly the only company to own production facilities, and secondly, Mattel apparently gets what it pays for.
In CPSIA, there is an exception for companies to get labs "firewalled," that is, free of corporate influence and thus somehow classified as a third party lab. Mattel, who spent the aforementioned million plus on lobbying CPSIA, pushed the hardest for this provision. Now, they are the first company to benefit from becoming an exception to the rule.
The CPSC would not name any other companies that are seeking the firewall exception. Then again, the CPSC made absolutely no mention of the vote at all, on the commission's website or anywhere else.
Like I said, nothing unique at all, just awfully goddamn convenient.