Dear Senator Hutchinson,

I stopped by the local friends-of-the-library book sale yesterday. There's a sign up saying that they are no longer permitted to sell used children's books.

I hadn't taken the internet rumors seriously, but there's no denying it now. Regardless of the good intentions of the law, the CPSIA, as it currently stands written, is preventing me from purchasing old books to read to my children. Vendors now understand it to be illegal to distribute children's books published in the year 1984 or earlier, and many sellers are no longer selling any used children's books at all.

Inside the library, the librarian assured me that they hadn't removed any of the books off the circulation shelves yet. The CPSC has granted libraries a temporary immunity from enforcement of the law.

I'm glad I can still check books out of the library for one year more... but my right to read to my children is now at the mercy of a bureaucracy.

This is not the American way. I never had a chance to vote on the members of the CPSC. They do not represent us, they are not the ones with whom the Constitution has entrusted the responsibility of guarding our rights. I want to live governed by the laws that you write, Senator Hutchinson, you and the other fine men and women of our congress.

I know that these are busy times for senators. You are being asked to vote on more bills than you could possibly have time to even read. This may not seem very important by comparison.

But it is.

As we speak, our children's consciousness of the past is literally being thrown into dumpsters all across America.

Those who are unaware of the past stumble blindly through the present into a future marred by avoidable foolishness. This matters, and it matters now more than ever.

Thank you for your service in representing me and my fellow Texans.

May God give you strength and blessing as you guard and protect the freedoms that make our land so great.

God bless America!

Elena Johnston


Anonymous said...

Did you send it?

Elena said...

You betcha.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Elena, perhaps I'm incorrect, but I thought that used items were not to be included at all (per a recent decision in the past few weeks). The same decision that meant used children's clothing could still be sold. Am I wrong about that?

Elena said...

The testing requirements aren't in effect, but the lead limits are. So you don't have to test you're slings, but if they catch you selling a sling with lead in it, you're toast. Which is just fine, because you can be totally confident that you didn't put any lead in your slings.

The exact same rules apply to resellers of used items. It doesn't have to be tested, but it can't actually have any lead in it... or else. And there's no good faith exemption.

So basically they can sell it as long as they no for certain that it has no lead in it.

Feb. 9, the CPSC issued a statement exempting all "ordinary paper" books post 1985. Anything 1984 or earlier (oh how I wish I made that up...), or with staples, or board books are pointedly excluded from the exclusion.

Kids clothes should be okay, as long as they don't have any metal or plastic parts, like zippers or buttons or rivets.

And well, the lead zipper thing? I guess that kinda makes sense. I DID suck on my zipper incessantly as a little kid. I loved that wonderfully tangy taste...

Anyway, the bottom line is that the law is really complicated and unclear, and different vendors are dealing with it differently.

I'd recommend poking around your local thrift shops and talking to the people who know how it's all playing out on the ground.

And then write to tell your legislators about the experience.

Because it doesn't really matter who the law is supposed to apply to... fact is, my friends-of-the-library book sale has shut down the kids section.

Elena said...

PS. I would be a whole lot less worried about losing all the potentially-lead-containing copies of older childrens books, if this law was not set to put an end to all micro-publishing for children in one year. If nothing changes, it's not just the copies that will be lost, but also the ability to reprint.

Also, the post-1985 book exemption expires in one year. If nothing changes, we'll only be able to purchase post-2009 bestsellers from mega-publishers. All niche-market books will be banned substances.

If nothing changes. And I KNOW this isn't what our congressmen want. But they're awfully busy right now. And the law is so complicated and confusing. And the CPSC is making concessions here and there, so Congress is content to leave it with the bureaucracy.

When we have freedom of speech (for one year) according to the mercy of appointed bureaucrats... well this bears very little resemblance to the United States of America that I've been pledging allegiance to all this time.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately parts of the law that was written by congress make it hard for the CPSC to grant exemptions. So, we did vote for these people. We just didn't expect them not to read bills.