Aug 2009

Darned CPSIA

Hi, everybody.

I have some very strange news. As of August 14th, 2009, Stupid Creatures will officially stop marketing to children under 12 years old. I have nothing against kids and pre teens. In fact, some of my favorite fans and customers are kids under 12. By no means do I want to indicate that I no longer like kids or want to serve them. But there are some new laws in place that now make it unreasonably expensive for me to do that for the time being.

America has established new laws governing the manufacture of toys. Because of some tremendous oversights and mistakes made by various overseas manufacturers (and the Americans who hired them), many, many toys, clothing items and food products for kids were recalled over the past couple of years because they contained lead, toxic plasticizing components called phthalates, and other nasty substances.

The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, which applies to everyone from gigantic corporations all the way down to us hand crafters, now REQUIRES each and every one of us to submit to expensive testing of the products we make. In a nutshell, we crafters now have to submit for testing one piece from every run of products we make. Each piece will be disassembled into its component parts, in my case, various fabric, stuffing, thread, my product tag and eyes. And each component part will undergo a test for phthalates, then a test for lead. Each test is upwards of a hundred bucks or more. I’d essentially be paying $800 to $1000 to test an item I sell for $30 to $50 bucks.

I understand that consumer safety is important, but until these laws change to suit small businesses and hand crafters, I have to establish a drastic rule. Only people aged 13 and older may order products from me. What they do with my creatures, or whom they give them to afterward, is none of my business.

This, of course, means that even though all of my work is child safe anyway, I can get a bit more edgy and conceptual with the designs. I can use new and different materials and try new concepts. Who knows if I’ll do all that. Chances are I’ll keep making new runs of new designs just like I’ve always done. Ultimately, this big mess only indicates that we need to bring manufacturing back home to America where we have safety standards already in place. We need to rely more on American hand crafters than big chain stores.

In the meantime, help crafters amend this law by joining groups such as the Handmade Toy Alliance.

Anyway, now you know the deal. If you have any questions, you know where to find me.

A letter to an Asheville City Council Candidate

Hi, Everybody..

My acquaintance Jenny Bowen is running for city council in Asheville. I think she’s a hard working, creative lady with lots of energy and drive and she clearly loves this town. But before I vote the progressive party line, I had to ask her some questions. Here’s what I wrote to her. Feel free to comment.

Hi, Jenny..

What does being progressive mean to you?

I'd like to think that I'm one. Many of my opinions and thoughts on government and culture are left of center.

Some problems, though, that I have encountered with progressiveism fall along this theme:

Most of my liberal friends (who now call themselves progressives) would prefer that people agree with them, and rather than letting it be (each to his own) when someone has a different opinion, they argue and try to change that person's mind when it's really none of their business. Some even go as far as to openly vilify people who disagree with them.

I don't know you very well, but I have enjoyed our encounters. You and I are on the same page about many things, especially this town and all it's unique potential, local economy, entrepreneurship, and not being lazy. I can totally get behind someone who wants to motivate the citizens of a town to higher standards of living, working, producing and consuming.

I'm a Move-On member, and I get their emails. In a nutshell, they tell me what to believe and present articles and news reports with a slant. They tell me what to vote for, and where, when and why to organize events for whatever cause. Often times I agree with them anyway and sign their petitions. But Move-on, being a primary voice for progressiveism in America, gives me the impression that to be "progressive," I have to believe certain things or I'm an enemy. And friends of mine have in recent years become similarly emboldened to look at me aghast and argue at the opinions I've, by my own life experience, wrestled long and hard to develop.

I became a Move-On member because I felt our country had been hijacked by Dubya and his administration, and I wanted our democracy back. Similarly, I voted for Obama mainly to get the country out of the grips of what I believe has become a totalitarian party. I didn't vote for him because I think being a republican is in and of itself bad. We've just had bad luck with republicans lately.

I want to live in a culture that allows healthy disagreement. I don't believe that laws have the power to determine what's wise or moral. I don't believe that because something is legal, it's by virtue good or right or even wise. I don't believe that creating new laws will change what is and isn't moral/good/right.

I don't believe the government is the heart and soul of our culture. If, for example, same sex marriage becomes legal, will religious practitioners have the freedom not to officiate a same sex marriage if they disagree with it? If abortions wind up being covered by Obama's health care plan, will doctors who disagree with abortion be free to decline performing them? Will freedom of religion and conscientious objection be preserved or diminished?

I believe in creating laws that preserve fairness and freedom. I don't believe in creating laws that tell us what to think and believe and whether or not it's okay to practice those beliefs. Does progressiveism mean that we get to change the government in such a way that we can punish people for having different points of view?

Could I simply be seeing the other side of a pendulum swing post Bush?

I think it's great you're running for city council. I hope I can talk to all the candidates and get to know them as well..

Thanks!! Best wishes for your campaign. You've certainly developed quite a supportive following

Yours truly,

Talent abounds.

This guy is very creative. He’s Kieth Habersberger, an up and coming improv actor. Find his website on my links page.