April 30, 2009

The CPSIA - What do we do now?

I know I have fallen away from the fight against the CPSIA recently. After nearly 6 months it was bound to happen. I do have to make a living and take care of daily life. Don't we all? I had a library conference presentation to prepare and give, a hemstitcher to repair, customer orders to fulfill, yard work to begin. (Let's just say April was busy, busy, busy).

I feel we have lost some ground in the fight. While I had to step back, so are others gradually stepping back. I guess I feel frustration that almost nothing we have done has changed anything. I am tired of writing to my Representatives over and over again. They either don't care, are too busy, or believe their vote for CPSIA was good (and for our good, despite objections). It's almost wasted energy. Of course, my Representatives have lost my vote. I will vote for myself if there is no other opponent and it becomes a wasted vote. That is how disgusted I am with them.

Too many don't know or don't care about the law. The threat of heavy fines or jail time means nothing. It is business as usual for them. How fair is it for some of us to abide the law and others not?

The question is, "What do we do now?"

As time continues to march forward and nothing continues to change, more people will drop out of the fight. We acknowledge and respect the law as it is written. Once law is passed, we obey it almost without question because that is the nature of our country. We believe in the Rule of Law and the business of making laws sacrosanct. And yet, the US Congress continues to pass laws without debate or consideration. It's not just the CPSIA we have to worry about. There are a whole host of new laws which are invading our lives and eroding our freedoms.

And yet, as Americans we CAN refuse to accept a law as binding. One such example is the Dred Scott Decision. In this famous court case, slaves were considered property. They could not become citizens, vote, or be made free. Groups of people decided that the ruling by the US Supreme Court was not binding as law. (And really, the US Supreme Court does not create law, they only offer opinions and we can choose to be bound by it or not. Generally we choose to follow their decisions.)

We can go further back to the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Our very own Declaration of Independence gives us permission to refuse to obey law which becomes destructive to our ability to live reasonably. We may not have arrived at the point where we need to take up arms and storm Washington. But we are quickly arriving at the point where we simply can't obey the law and continue to live. It's more than just the CPSIA robbing us of our ability to make a living as we choose. There are all kind of laws on the docket which will rob us of our freedom to shop at Farmer's Markets, take out a mortgage, speak freely against sinful activities in a religious setting and so many more things....

A law which a large group of people refuse to or simply can't obey (because they just didn't know) loses the Rule of Law effect that we hold so dear. It becomes unenforceable. I am to the point where I want to say, "Screw you, I am doing it anyway."

I haven't crossed that line, yet. I still believe in the rule of law and the process established by the Constitution to seek a "redress of grievances."

So, "What do we do now?"


  1. So well written -- the entire thing makes me want to cry. I teach Government and Economics classes, and have followed the doings of Congress to a small degree -- until CPSIA. Now it seems to have taken over my life. I can't go through a day without wondering about what other bad laws they are working on in D.C.

    And I have always taught my children and my students about the rule of law and what that means in our country...But what does it mean when those in D.C. mock it, and mock us? I just don't know anymore.

    The idea of a representative government seems totally lost on our elected officials. And I don't think most of those who are making legislative decisions have read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution!

    And I agonize with you about "What do we do now?" I'm not sure any of us know at this point...

  2. I wonder about this too. Part of me, the part that always wants to walk on the grass when I see a "Keep Off The Grass" sign, wants to just keep on selling anyway because I know (as I've always known) that my integrity backs up the actual safety of my products, despite any legal strictures that may be laid on them.

    But part of me, the part that knows I'm going to have to look the Lord in the eye at the end of my life, tells me I should obey the law, even if I think it's stupid. But then I think about the Founding Fathers and if they had abided by that principle, they would never have founded our country. If Rosa Parks had obeyed the law, we would still have institutionalized discrimination. If Gandhi had obeyed the law, India might still be British. The list goes on and on.

  3. My anti-CPSIA work has waned, too. Fatigue, ongoing commitments (life) and the overwhelming sense of futility have all tamped down my efforts, despite the knowledge that that is precisely what the Powers That Be were counting on. I have not given up forever, but my business is closed, and every day it remains closed, the less likely I am to reopen, even if the law is amended.

    I would be much more willing to risk the penalties of noncompliance if those risks did not extend to my kids. Any fines imposed would deplete their college funds and God forbid, jail time would separate them from their mother. They are already aware of the law, so even the knowledge that their parent openly disobeys the law is not an example I prefer to set.

    Typically, change only comes at the brink of devastation. I had hoped that more companies would simply close 2/10/09 so the impact of the law would be more palpable to consumers. Imagine – all the places you typically shop (and trust) are suddenly gone! Because so many affected businesses remain open (maybe crippled, but not so customers can tell) there has been no great impact on the general population of consumers, and they remain indifferent or ignorant of the issues.

    It seems to me there needs to be a disruption in general commerce and/or in politics (vote them all out, every last one who refused to support an amendment) before it will even hit the radar today with so many pressing issues vying for attention.

  4. Wow. What a truthful and meaningful summary of how so many of us feel about CPSIA. I feel the frustration, disgust, hopelessness, and despair at this law and the others you reference in this post. I have felt beat down and so want to give up but I'm just not there yet.

    I say yet, because it is a fear that it's just a matter of time that people will stop fighting, the politicians will continue their partisan fingerpointing, and businesses will lose and we all will lose.

    I don't know what to do either...but I'm just not ready to stop fighting. I know you aren't either...thankfully.

  5. I agree with all of the ladies above me and most definitely with your post. I am very disillusioned at this point that our government is so unwilling to fix such a huge mistake.

    After the rally, I asked myself the same thing. What now? What next? But most importantly, for how long? We all have lives in addition to whatever time we're able to give to these efforts. I am sure we would all like to be able to go a day without something reminding us of the CPSIA and sending us back into pensive mode.

    I appreciate everything you've done to educate, inform, and support the fight to amend the CPSIA (even though I too think it should be repealed).