Wednesday, February 4, 2009


So guess what came in the mail yesterday??? Not a clue hu? Well its starts with a C and ends with raft. That's right Craft Magazine vol. 10, eye candy for any crafter(I actually started to drool when I saw it in the mail box). This magazine has the ability to open my eyes to the wonders of crafters who are more creative than me and there projects turn out about 100 times better than mine. This month they have focused on Celebration's, what kinds you ask well anything you want to celebrate birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays, your amazing significant other, National Spam day whatever you want! I was glad to see a magazine focusing on the positive. I haven't been able to read CNN or a newspaper since the fall of the economy. It is depressing they focus on everything bad in the world instead of giving us some hope or a light at the end of the tunnel that we will be okay.

If you didn't already know this I have a degree in Economics and Art History (and a kinda sorta degree certificate thingy in Accounting that gives me enough credit to take the CPA which was a complete and utter failure hence the GMAT decision). Talk about two degrees that don't match. Well unless you like math and your creative so I guess then it might work for you. The entire situation with the economy baffles me even after studying it for 4 years. The rise the fall the lets try and make it better by stimulating the economy. When you learn something in economics its based upon a MODEL and this model is the utopia of any Utopian society. You can predict what that economy will do then try to apply it to our dysfunctional every changing economy. It just doesn't work in the real world (it took me 4 years to discover this). But speaking of Economics on the home front is the CSPIA or Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which is to be passed on February 10, 2009 (which was the only negative thing in the Craft magazine Vol 10 I could find).

If you haven't heard about it in the crafting community here is the run down of what its about. This Act is designed to increase the safety of products geared towards children under the age of 12 (products can be toys, clothing, school supplies, the list could go on forever). Mainly in the terms of Lead based products. It also provides a provision that items will need to be tested by certified inspection agencies. Most of us are all for safety and improving safety for children (how many of us licked the lead based paint on the wall of our houses?). This act could lead to better lives and improved health for children. But what about you the consumer and the producer?

As an economist (and I use this term lightly) I see the good the bad and the evil of this Act.

The good
1. Improved Safety
2. Better quality of life (less stress on parent worrying about if the products they buy are safe)
3. More jobs (with the testing of products more people will need to be employed to test all the new products created for children)

The Bad
1. The price of the products you buy will increase (now don't think that the producer is going to absorb all of it no no no he will pass it down to the consumer YOU!)
2. The price of production will rise (producers will have to send items off to be tested costing money, money they might not have)
3. Production of children's products will slow causing less products produced for children per year.
4. Less selection and diversity of products for children (whose minds need to be stimulated while growing)

The Evil
1. With the price of production rising small business will be forced out of business.
2. Large businesses may also close there doors as it may not be profitable to make children's toys anymore.
3. Crafters (who are even smaller than small businesses) will no longer be able to provide the individualized specialized products you like to buy for your kids.
4. Large businesses will Rule the World (larger businesses are usually able to sustain through new legislation and are able to afford new testing and new ways of production where as small businesses cant keep up with trying to afford to test products.)

The Big Question at the end of this is who wins? I agree that Children's products should be as safe as possible. Many Crafters started there business on these principles and have created products that are safer than what many of the large companies produce in mass scale. Why should Crafters and Small businesses suffer? They are the entrepreneurs trying to get off the ground with there AMAZING products. With the new ACT in place the unemployment rate may actually increase instead of decreasing. The price of products will increase and during these dire economic times who will be able to afford these items. Large businesses could monopolize the markets making it even harder for people to create small businesses and compete.
The effects of this are mind boggling. In my eyes NOW is NOT the time. With the economy in turmoil and and end not in the near future, by taking away income from people just trying to make it by would create an even worse economy. I know for myself as a Crafter selling online I don't make much a month, but it does help put money away for that house I'm looking forward to buy one day. I do believe that one day there will need to be stricter rules on products for children, but the legislation needs to be written in a way as to not kill a reviving industry such as crafting.

The only upside to this story is that the legislation has been granted a stay (meaning its not going to be passed in 6 days) for one year to "provide some temporary, limited relief to the crafters, children’s garment manufacturers and toy makers who had been subject to the testing and certification required under the CPSIA. These businesses will not need to issue certificates based on testing of their products until additional decisions are issued by the Commission. However, all businesses, including, but not limited to, handmade toy and apparel makers, crafters and home-based small businesses, must still be sure that their products conform to all safety standards and similar requirements, including the lead and phthalates provisions of the CPSIA". This is good news for now, but will be interesting to see what happens in the next year with the revisions of this legislation. Hopefully there can be some compromise which not only increases safety but also keeps the crafting and small business industry thriving.
Note that I'm not an expert on this and have made some practical observations of the implication of this legislation. And I cant believe what a Debby downer I became by the end of this. I'm trying to shed some light on this and give different POV's of people, obviously there is no right answer to this problem. Crafting has been around for centuries and it would be a shame to see this industry disappear because of the cost of testing products yet, it would also be horrific to see more children dieing because of faulty products.

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