Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sharpen Your Pitchforks and Write Your Representatives: Parents Need to Exert a Political Voice

In case you haven't already seen the article, last Saturday the New York Times wrote an article on the damage done to the Consumer Products Safety Commission in recent years. Read the article now if you haven't already done so.

Government cutbacks have crippled public safety mechanisms while traditional safety watchdogs have been replaced with industry advocates. It's made our food and toys unsafe while we were all distracted with concerns over the safest car seat.

We, people who care about children, are a bigger presence than any other. I for one, rank food and product safety as a top priority. How do we use our collective size to reinstate adequate public safety? I don't know, but I'm open to suggestion.

The present toy recalls are probably only the tip of the iceberg.

My friend just emailed that she's so bothered by the recalls that she's sticking with crafts and homemade toys until she sees some clearer sense of direction.

Where do we go from here? Do we become the new watchdogs armed with a powerful Internet and sympathetic friends with fluoroscopes? What organizations (universities, hospitals, charities, think tanks, etc) do we advocate to step into the chasm that is being left by these cutbacks?

If you are a reader who works for such an institution (or know someone who does) what do you need from parents to convince your organization to take up this cause?

A lot of us have been wondering how these defective and dangerous products have made it into the country in the first place. Jim and I both assumed that there had to be random testing at ports as the FDA doesn't police import quality, but customs inspectors have no equipment and they don't have the authority to take suspicious goods for further testing. We couldn't be more wrong. The understaffed and underfunded inspectors that are present have their hands full looking out for their main charge; finding counterfeit products. Few people are watching this problem, and those who care are being systematically washed out or are burning out.

Let's not die of poisoned toothpaste while wearing genuine Nike shoes. Let's do something about this.

FOR a list of policitical people you can petition for change, persuade, or yell at please look up your Federal representatives at or see all your state and Federal representatives using the zip code search engine at (I have no idea what this site's politics are, but it has a nice politician search). Thanks Jeremiah for the links.

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