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The Congress Should Fix CPSIA Now

Sunday, March 1, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Last week I interviewed Gary Wolensky of Snell & Wilmer about the devastating effects of the the 2008 Consumer Products Safety Improvements Act (“CPSIA”) on his clients in the manufacturing and retail industries. Hundreds of millions of dollars of perfectly good inventory has been recalled because of the Act’s draconian standards and timelines. Some industries have been crippled, and others badly damaged. The interview with Wolensky is here.

Now the Boston Globe has noticed the impacts of CPSIA on another of the sectors Wolensky and I discussed –resellers like thrift stores:

A federal law designed to protect children from lead products has caused several Massachusetts thrift stores to stop selling kids’ clothing, shutting off an important shopping alternative for families struggling in this recession.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which took effect Feb. 10, prohibits all shops from selling children’s products that contain too much lead or potentially harmful chemicals. Congress passed the law in response to a series of recalls of toys and jewelry that had high lead content and were linked to several child deaths and illnesses. But the legislation applies to all children’s products, including clothes, which could contain lead in metal zippers, buttons, or painted fabrics.

The sweeping nature of the law has been devastating for many resale shops nationwide, such as those run by Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries. Unlike traditional merchants, thrift stores do not deal directly with manufacturers, which can provide proof that products meet safety standards. The regulation also applies retroactively to goods already in stores, and many thrift stores do not have funds to conduct the tests themselves.

In recent weeks, Goodwill pulled all children’s merchandise from its nine stores in the state. Thrift chain Second Time Around eliminated kids’ clothing from several of its 16 shops. St Vincent de Paul is currently removing children’s clothing with metal zippers, buttons, and painted fabrics from its processing center, which sends out merchandise to its six stores in Massachusetts.

Read the whole thing. The article is right to note that “[t]he fallout from the law is especially damaging for consumers who have increasingly visited thrift stores during the tough economic times,” but it should have spent more ink on the impact to the bottom line of the charitable enterprizes that run the second-hand stores and to the employees of places like Goodwill. The article did not even mention the vast damage the law is doing to other industries like the ATV business and sporting goods, or the legion of plaintiffs’ lawyers who are empowered by the law to bring suits against non-compliers.

I am traveling the next two days but will continue to try and answer e-mails about the law, but suggest that if you have questions you e-mail Wolensky at gwolensky@swlaw.com.

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“The Speech,” 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Rush gave a speech at CPAC today that will be talked about for years and even decades. The CNN commentators called him “angry,” –did that description ever attach to Howard Dean or any of the leading Democrats in opposition to President Bush?– but what he actually was was passionate about freedom. And completely and utterly contemptuous of conservatives urging accommodation to the agenda of President Obama, especially those conservatives ashamed of the grassroots and their attachments to pastimes such as NASCAR and issues such as the dignity of every human life and the importance of marriage.

A week ago a reporter from a major American newspaper called me to talk about Rush. I agreed to do the interview provided it was recorded and that I could air it after the story the reporter was working on ran. The reporter asked me if Rush was a “leader,” and I said no. He is, I continued, a communicator, a pundit and an entertainer, one of the two best in the country –along with Oprah. And a man of extraordinary influence. I think the Rush-Oprah comparison startled the reporter, but it is exactly correct. They have the same reach, and though they have almost completely different approaches to life, both are deeply sincere about their views and thus far beyond merely “effective.” Both communicators change lives.

Rush eschews “leadership.” He doesn’t tell people who to vote for or where to show up and march.

But he does communicate with quite extraordinary clarity the deep, abiding attachment that conservatives have for liberty. He does so with great, good humor, and it is this quality that drives the left to distraction. Rush is funny; really, really funny. This is of course the reason he has succeeded far beyond every other radio talk show host. The “women’s summit” this week was just the latest in a long string of innovative –and profitable– firsts that amused even as it made key points.

And Rush is authentic. And deeply appreciated as a result. Long may he prosper.

BTW: The newspaper’s story hasn’t run yet. Though I am on vacation next week, Duane will play it if and when the story does run to see which quotes the reporter used. That will be interesting.

“Some analysts say Obama’s proposals are almost radical.”

Saturday, February 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Thus sayeth CBS News. No analysts are mentioned, but they should be. Two of the president’s proposals to cripple the charitable and mortgage interest deductions are indeed “radical” as they are squarely aimed not just at high income families who will see their deductions slashed but also at the churches, charities, schools and every not-for-profit that will be greatly damaged if the charitable deduction is reduced, and at every single homeowner in America, especially the retirees, who need their houses to grow in value not diminish. Reducing the value of the mortgage interest deduction reduces the value of every home in America, not just the incomes of those in the highest brackets.

A non-radical proposal would be a straight-forward demand to raise the top rate to 42 or 45%. That would be a transparent attempt to cost-shift, and consistent with standard liberal economics. But a stealth rate-hike that deeply damages the country’s charitable and faith-based sectors as well as every homeowner is indeed radical. No Republican who supports either idea should be supported, and no Democrat who does so can ever legitimately claim to be a “moderate” again.

Declaring even a covert war on churches and home-ownership isn’t remotely “liberal.” It is radical.

Kindle and the Future of Newspapers

Saturday, February 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

A couple of posts below I wrote about the accelerating collapse of newspapers, and thereafter sat down to load up my new Kindle 2 –which is every bit as amazing as advertised and will revolutionize many industries even as the iPod and iPhone have. Jeff Bezos and his team should get a Pulitzer because they are going to save at least a couple of newspapers from the pyre.

I quickly accepted the free trial offers of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and Politico –and nothing else from among the offerings. I’ll probably drop the Times when the offer concludes, but the Sunday sections are worth having, so we’ll see. (Note to Amazon.com: There are many people who would subscribe to the D.C. Examiner and The Washington Times but not to any other newspaper. You should add them. And HughHewitt.com and Townhall.com, btw, to the blog feeds.)

The point is no reader needs anything other than at most the two big liberal papers and the Journal, except for the two alternatives to MSM papers noted. This is why the first big old brand that shifts to the D.C. Examiner/Washington Times model will win and survive. The best bet to make that shift is the Los Angeles Times because it also has the West Coast, Pacific Rim, and Hollywood beats to itself. Maybe this is what Rupert Murdoch sees.

Finally, ESPN and SI need to figure out a daily Kindle-gram full of hundreds of stories.

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