Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Milk, Toys, then what?

The government is protecting us from ourselves again and in the process is slowly (or quickly) putting small producers of all kinds of children’s items out of business.

The new laws regarding lead and other harmful chemicals in children’s products are certainly reasonable for Mattel and Fischer Price on imported (and even domestically) produced toys and items slated for use by children, especially when the manufacture of the product is outsourced to non-company factories. Certainly having to pay $4,000 to test Barbie is not going to significantly decrease profit margins on the hundreds of thousands of twenty five dollar dolls they sell.

After MUCH public outcry the new law, which will come into effect in February, was changed to exempt resale stores from the testing requirement for ANY PRODUCT meant for use by a child, although they are still required to not sell items with more than the restricted levels of the chemicals, so many are planning on not risking selling toys, sending many parents to Wal-Mart for the next cheapest options.

But what about all the small businesses out there? Largely women owned, who supplement their household income and in many cases are able to stay home with their children by MAKING and SELLING children’s items. Carefully, beautifully, and lovingly made baby slings, children’s clothing, cloth diapers, wood toys, and more are easily available on the internet and at craft shows for those who prefer supporting people and small economies instead of large corporations.

Indeed even small regional companies will be affected. Either forced to reduce their items to only the “A” movers or close all together because their slim profit margins do not allow for the prices of paying US workers to laboriously manufacture their high quality items, pay the testing fee for EACH and EVERY variation of each and every product they sell and each and every component. Here is an explination from a mom who sews little lunch kits of how the cost of her product will go from
$35 to $10,050. Obviously, the cost is for one item, but she would need to sell 290 items to pay for the testing alone…

This is the same mindset that;
Requires us to sleep on mattresses soaked in potentially cancer causing chemicals while dressing our children similarly treating bed clothes. When was the last time you dropped a blow torch on your bed and did not pick it up for 70 seconds?

· Makes lemonade stands impossible for children who do not have business licenses and whose parents homeowners insurance do not cover.

And this mindset may someday make selling fresh, locally grown produce next to impossible without large packing plants and UV irradiation in case the small farmer unreasonably used real compost (instead of chemical fertilizers) or let an animal (deer, chicken, bunny, raccoon) somewhere near their field in the past year as selling meat directly from a farm already is.

The government does not even offer us the option of using warning labels to warn people of potential harm. Instead they will assume we are all idiots who cannot make responsible decisions without them. In fact the reason for the children product rule was because so many parents WERE making decisions, choosing to avoid potentially contaminated products by the big manufacturers in preference of other options (fewer, higher quality toys.) And of course the big manufacturers did not like that, so the solution is to take the OPTION away from people
(sounds a little like prohibiting labeling of GMO-free foods, but I digress.)

At some point people will have to stand up and say “NO MORE!” Or else it will become impossible for anyone to start a small business of any kind because government regulations will make it too expensive a hurdle to jump. We could see ourselves in a hundred years with a permanent upper class, merchant class, and then everyone else, with no hope of anyone moving from their established social position…

Remember what Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Ask yourself what is next?

If you want to help the cause…

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