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A “Thunderbolt Of Revenge”

Thursday, April 2, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

North Korea is issuing threats against Japan if the latter shoots down its new missile when launched.

Japan (and the U.S.) will ave little choice but to shoot down the rocket if it veers towards either country’s soil. If President Obama didn’t order the Navy to destroy a missile headed even remotely close to Alaska, the signal he’d be sending the rest of the world would be disastrous, and would undo a lot of the good his resolve on Afghanistan has communicated. (There is even a push for another 10,000 troops for Afghanistan, on top of the 21,000 the president has already committed –so credit and support where credit and support is due should be coming from the Congressional GOP.)

With Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking bluntly about Iran, and the North Korean missile launch imminent, President Obama is seeing Joe Biden’s prediction of an early testing coming true. We are all going to get the measure of the new foreign policy very very quickly.

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Over 3 Years, 9 Patients Made 2,700 ER Visits Costing $33 Million

Thursday, April 2, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

You read that right.

Part of the problem is the wake of deinstitutionalization policies that favored the now homeless being turned out of long-term psychiatric care, and an increasing trend away from incarceration for drug offenders. Given that both populations would be incurring taxpayer born costs if housed in hospitals or prisons, the $33 million number is deceiving.

A Change In Mark-To-Market Accounting

Thursday, April 2, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

This injection of reason into the valuation of the so-called “toxic assets” is long overdue, according to many experts, many of whom also urge the return of the “uptick rule” on short-selling.

CPSIA Update

Thursday, April 2, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Yesterday the staff of the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommended to the two Commissioners left that they not issue an exemption to the ATV industry to sell the vehicles specifically designed for the 12-and-under crowd.

This puts the staff on record of preferring a path that will most assuredly see children riding adult ATVs because they cannot obtain or repair the ATVs designed for them. The reason that ATVs are designed for the specific age group is that they prevent the injuries –serious injuries up to and including death– that comes from too-small people attempting to pilot too-large vehicles. The parents fault, you say? Perhaps, but the government which is pledged to child safety is purposefully adopting a policy that they know will lead to the injuries and deaths the Commission is intended to stop.

I asked three United States senators about CPSIA on yesterday’s program –Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee); Ben Nelson (D-Neb) and John Ensign (R-NV). Here are the exchanges:

HH: Last question, Senator Alexander, the Consumer Products Safety Improvements Act, I’ve covered it a lot, it’s crushing a lot of business, it’s destroying inventories, it’s really alarming. Is there going to be an attempt to fix this?

LA: Senator Coburn has an amendment to fix that which I’m going to vote for. It can’t be fixed in the budget process itself, but we’re working on it.

- – – –

HH: Last question, Senator Nelson, Consumer Products Safety Improvements Act, I’ve been covering it a lot, because just nobody else has, and it’s just crushing the ATV people, it’s crushing pen makers, it’s crushing shoe makers, snowmobile makers. Is there going to be any relief, because it just turns out, it’s way too draconian, way too devastating?

BN: Well, I am concerned about world national, international competitiveness of our business and industry in the country, and no question about it, many of the requirements that manufacturers face are draconian. And in any event, add extreme costs to the measures. So it seems to me that that’s something that has to be looked at periodically, and we need to, from time to time, try to relax some of those requirements. But in each and every case, make sure that they’re appropriate.

- – – –

HH: The Consumer Products Safety Improvements Act is just, it’s one of my hobby horses because nobody else covers it, and I’m aware of what it’s done to off road vehicles and snowmobiles and pens and pencils, and children’s books and children’s shoes. It’s just destruction…

JE: Bicycles and all kinds of other things.

HH: Is it going to get fixed?

JE: You know, I certain hope so, because that was, that was, you want to talk about the law of unintended consequences, which is the types of laws that do the most damage around this place, is the things that nobody sees because they don’t realize the regulations that are going to go in behind something, and how people are going to interpret laws that we write up here. And it is extremely dangerous. It hurts organizations like Goodwill that sell used toys or…

HH: Clothing, yeah.

JE: …types of clothing and things like that. It’s been devastating to them, and we really do need to fix it, and it’s going to drive a lot of American companies out of business.

HH: And it also takes 12 year olds and under who should be riding their specially manufactured ATVs and puts them, forces them onto adult ATVs which is dangerous. I know in Nevada you’ve got a lot of off-road vehicle people. Have they spoken with the majority leader about this?

JE: Yeah, I don’t know whether they have. They certainly need to. You know, I mean my kids actually engage in riding off-road vehicles, and it’s something that they’ve enjoyed for a long time, and I know a lot of people who do that whose kids are under 13 years of age. So you’re right. It’s something that, it affects bicycles. It doesn’t just affect off-road vehicles. There’s a lot of things that it affects, and it really needs to be fixed, because this certainly was not the intent of the bill.

HH: Well, I keep looking for, I know that Tom Coburn’s got an amendment coming, I know you’ll support it, so thanks on behalf of all those off-roaders.

No one –no one– defends the CPSIA’s impacts on the ATV industry or all the other industries. Everyone who knows of the law’s devastating impacts on a broad array of industries knows it needs to be fixed. But Congress is embarrassed to have so completely messed up such a minor bit of legislating, and thus does nothing as the money and job losses mount and as real risks to kids grow.

In the media, only bloggers Overlawyered and Shop Floor seem to pay sustained, serious attention to the topic, as the MSM is busy covering the iPod for the Queen story. (The WSJ does have related stories today here.)

My expert, Gary Wolensky of the law firm Snell and Wilmer, gwolensky@swlaw.com, gave the audience an update yesterday and he isn’t optimistic that the two commissioners will overrule the staff on the exemption from CPSIA for ATVs though certainly they should. What a legacy –to allow the commission to destroy so much for no reason, and to stand by as the consumers you are supposed to protect get maimed or worse because you don’t want to offend the incompetent congressional staff who drafted the unworkable law.

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