CPSIA, 1984, and Hang On To Your Vintage Books

aliceI can’t wrap my brain around the latest CPSIA news. There have been some developments lately, but there’s still a long way to go.

However, this latest thing, it just about leaves me speechless. I first read about it at Overlawyered:

To take just one example, that of resale, thrift and consignment stores, the CPSC guidance advises that such stores discard, or refuse to accept donations of, a very wide range of children’s items unless they are willing to test the items for lead or call their original manufacturer — neither of which steps is consistent with the economics of an ordinary small thrift store. Included in the suspect list are most children’s clothing (because most of it has snaps, buttons, zippers, grommets or other closures with unknown/unproved metal or plastic content), most books that were printed before 1985 or that (even if more recent) include metal or plastic elements such as staples* or spiral binders; most playthings (dolls, balls, trains, toy cars, etc.), most shoes and hair ornaments, most sporting goods, outdoor play items and wagons, board games when including any plastic spinners, tokens or other items, all bicycles and tricycles in kids’ sizes, most decorations for kids’ rooms, nearly everything with metal or synthetic applique, most school, art and science supplies, and on and on. ~ Read the rest of it here.

I know there’s a lot of stuff there to focus on and really, I’m not upset to see the cheap and cheesy plastic toys get pared down, that’s a good thing. I’m definitely not upset about purging items which really do have questionable or hazardous materials. But there is undoubtedly a lot of perfectly good clothing, board games. shoes, and other things that families on a lower income can really use. Thrift stores are a huge help for these families – trust me, I know!!

But what really makes me sad is the thought of all those books getting heaped in the dumpster! After the above article, Overlawyered focused more on the vintage books, and what I read there made me slightly naseous.

As readers are aware, the Consumer Product Safety Commission yesterday advised thrift stores and other resellers and distributors of used goods to discard (unless they wished to test for lead or take other typically unpractical steps such as contacting manufacturers) children’s books printed before 1985 and a very wide range of other children’s products, including apparel and playthings.

According to a commenter at a very busy Etsy thread on the subject, stores are already beginning to act on this advice:

I just came back from my local thrift store with tears in my eyes! I watched as boxes and boxes of children’s books were thrown into the garbage! Today was the deadline and I just can’t believe it! Every book they had on the shelves prior to 1985 was destroyed! I managed to grab a 1967 edition of “The Outsiders” from the top of the box, but so many! ~ Read the rest of it here.

I have to admit, the first thing I thought of was Orwell’s 1984. A bit extreme? Prehaps, but then again, perhaps not. The reasons are different, but the bottom line is that Big Brother is telling us to “burn” (or dump) our kids’ books. And you know what? I wasn’t the only one who thought it. Valerie at The Bookroom thought about it too (HT: 5 Kids and a Dog.) Valerie writes:

Dear Mr. Orwell,

Children’s books were invented after 1984.

Before 1985, there was no Dick. There was no Jane. There was no McGuffy. No boy named Tom painted a fence, ‘Anne’ didn’t end with an ‘e’, and no one had yet thought of putting ”pictures or conversation” on paper for children.

In fact, children didn’t learn to read in the old, old days before our Leaders saved us from our long, dark night. Back in 1984, there was only a dry wasteland of technical books, encyclopedias, service manuals, and other books for adults.~ Read the rest of it here.

So what can we do?

We can make lots of calls. Apparently it’s the only thing we can do because the Senate Commerce Committee is restricting hearings on this. Valerie also says:

I called the SBA Office of Advocacy today and was told that CPSIA is a “huge undertaking on many levels,” introduced with “poor timing.” I was encouraged to contact the House and Senate Commerce Committees and “turn up the heat” with “lots of calls.” I was told, “The more calls, the more influence.”

What we need to understand is that the Senate Commerce Committee is restricting hearings on this. Henry Waxman, chairman of the Committee on Energy & Commerce and Bobby Rush, chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection don’t want any reasonable amendment and are refusing to allow any discussion. ~ Read the rest of it here.

Who do you call? Valerie has an extensive list in that last article, complete with phone numbers. Here’s a few:

Senate Commerce Committee 202-224-5115
(Becky Hooks takes care of this for the minority.)

Commerce committee members are listed at http://commerce.senate.gov/members.htm

House Commerce Committee (202) 225-2927

Commerce committee members are listed at
Click on “About the Committee” and then click on the “Membership” tab.

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Jack's Mommy
Jack's Mommy
February 12, 2009 10:59 pm

It makes me sick too. Just utterly, punched in the stomach, sick. How come this hasn’t gotten more media attention? And 1984 is actually my favorite book too, BTW. 🙂 Very ironic that all kids books printed in “1984” and before have to go. Very Fahrenheit 451’ish too. I have a local pay per pound Goodwill about 2 miles from me, and their books are only 10 cent per pound. I purchased over 80 lbs of kids books (most of them pre 1990) at the end of December (including an original Five Little Peppers Midway book). It makes me sick… Read more »

February 12, 2009 11:05 pm

I know! I think I tend to blend those two books together BTW – I read them both in the same time period in high school. I should read them again. =P Definitely sensing a little bit of both of those out of this. And the media? Don’t get me started. That’s one of my top peeves about this whole thing. None of this – NONE. OF. IT. is on the news. Why isn’t any of this on the news? Have they been paid off or ordered to keep their mouth shut or WHAT cuz I don’t get it. They… Read more »

February 12, 2009 11:10 pm

Ha! I just saw that page and read that chapter of Alice in Wonderland to Anna this morning. How fitting 🙂 It saddens me that the world is turning into 1984/Brave New World (Take your pick of your favorite controlled society novel. It’s also pretty scary that childrens items aren’t the only thing the government is trying to control. The stimulus packages has pretty scary medical provisions designed to control our lives. If you like, I follow a few uncensored news websites I could send links to. They’ve been very accurate and usually what they report on doesn’t hit MSM… Read more »

February 12, 2009 11:16 pm

About the media, they are owned by very few high level people, and they only report on what they are told. When I watch the regular news, it reminds me of when I was doing military journalism. We were only allowed to report on happy things cause it was a happy paper. Rarely did we mention anything bad, and if we did, it was very vague. When the local media came to the base, we had to spin any story and make it positive. I’m glad I got out, because, before I left, they were telling us we had to… Read more »

February 13, 2009 12:10 am

I hope the book dumping isn’t happening all over! I’ve been slowly rebuilding the library of my childhood by buying copies of the same editions of books I had as a child. And lead or no, I’m not dumping them for nobody! This is one of the most far-reaching, poorly planned and executed pieces of legislation ever! (And in this economy, anything that forces small businesses out of business or prevents people from having access to second-hand items is a BAD idea.)

February 13, 2009 8:03 am

Awesome post, Amber!

I did read somewhere that the library association has been fighting this, strongly. I am sure there will be a great deal of media attention of SCHOOL and public libraries start trashing books.

Yes, I think there has been some conspiracy in regards to media attention also. Of all the cr*p they cover on the Today Show, this would have made much better news!

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Courtney @ Sister To Sister
Courtney @ Sister To Sister
February 13, 2009 8:17 am

This is just so sickening! I don’t think they thought this through and it is costing so much already.

CPSIA chronicles, February 19
February 19, 2009 3:23 pm

[…] While we’re at it, I never did round up the numerous reactions to my post of a week ago on CPSIA and vintage books. A sampling includes The Anchoress, Todd Seavey (also reminded of Ray Bradbury), Open Your Ears and Eyes, Blackadder’s Lair, John Holbo/Crooked Timber, 5 Kids and a Dog, Mark Bennett’s noteworthy posts at Defending People reprised at Blawg Review #199, Carter Wood at NAM ShopFloor and again, David Foster at Chicago Boyz, Der Schweizer Narr (from Switzerland, in German), International House of Bacon (CPSIA “the single worst piece of regulation in my lifetime”), children’s author Vivian… Read more »

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February 27, 2009 5:33 pm

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