As the Times story notes…
Over all, the number of products made in China that are being recalled in the United States by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has doubled in the last five years, driving the total number of recalls in the country to 467 last year, an annual record.And in case anyone thinks I’m using this story as an excuse to beat up solely on China for the terrible quality of its toys exported to this country, I should note this Chicago Tribune story about the efforts of Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Bobby Rush, both Illinois Dems, to introduce legislation giving the Consumer Product Safety Commission more power to recall deadly toys. This was spurred by a tragic accident that killed a Seattle toddler when he swallowed some loose magnets in a Magnetix playset (Magnetix is a product from MegaBrands based in The Netherlands).
It also means that China today is responsible for about 60 percent of all product recalls, compared with 36 percent in 2000.
Much of the rise in China’s ranking on the recall list has to do with its corresponding surge as the world’s toy chest: toys made in China make up 70 to 80 percent of the toys sold in the country, according to the Toy Industry Association.
I am something of an authority on both of these toys, I may add. The young one spent many, many hours enjoying himself with them, and they are good toys for the right age. However, it is unconscionable for anyone to still be using lead-based paint for children’s products, and though the Magnetix toys are good also, it is easy for tiny magnets to fall loose from them and present themselves as a hazard for a child who doesn’t know better than to put one of them in his or her mouth.
So where exactly is the head of Bushco’s Consumer Products Safety Commission while all of this is transpiring? That was the question asked by Rush as noted in this story about a House Consumer Products subcommittee hearing where the presence of Nancy Nord, the acting chair of the CPSC, was requested.
However, as the story notes…
The day before the hearing, the two panels, one consisting of Nord and the other consisting of consumer advocates, were collapsed into one because of scheduling conflicts with floor votes, subcommittee chairman Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said.The story also notes the reactions of House Repug apologists Michael Burgess of Texas and Cliff Stearns of Florida who supported Nord’s decision not to attend the hearing because she would have been forced to soil herself, apparently, in the presence of those dreaded consumer activists that the Repugs so utterly despise.
Congressional witness panels rarely mix government administrators with private sector witnesses – a ceremonial tradition intended to show respect to governmental authority.
“Although unusual, we have had to have one panel in the past and mix government witnesses with other witnesses,” Rush said.
When Nord discovered that she would be sharing her panel with two consumer advocates from the Consumers Union and U.S. Public Interest Research Group, she decided not to attend or to send another Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) representative.
However, I’m with Dem Rep. Jan Schakowsky on this (no surprise, but she “cuts right to the chase” here)…
…Democrats who made the paneling decision, and consumer advocates said regardless of tradition, Nord, a Bush appointee, should have attended.And by the way, as noted in the Tribune story, the CPSC doesn’t decide to test products until an incident is reported, and they negotiate every word of a recall alert with the manufacturer of a defective product. Both of those policies are seriously, seriously messed up! (trying to use polite language…)
“I hope we can get past standing on ceremony and deal directly with saving children’s lives,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said.
And the last person nominated to head the CPSC, of course, was Michael Baroody, the executive VP of the National Association of Manufacturers (as noted here, and I was only kidding about the Irwin Mainway thing, but who knows who this bunch will nominate next for the post if Nord goes down for blowing off the subcommittee, as she should).