Sunday, March 29, 2009

blog #264 >> Where did all the books go?

I wish I were a more articulate person.
Unfortunately, I'm simply what I am, so I'll do what I can.

First of all, I'd like to say, I never thought they'd do it. I never thought they'd actually do it. I knew they were trying to, I signed a thing online against it. But not until today did I realize that they actually did indeed do it.

What happened today to bring me to this realization? Well, I broke my Goodwill ban. I had told myself I wouldn't shop at the Goodwill anymore. Whenever I go there I end up buying a lot of things I don't need. And I really like things. You know strange discarded things. Old 60's lamps, tea cups, little unusual things you'd never see anywhere else. Treasures to me, but junk to anyone else. Junk is a strange thing. Some people see junk and that's all, yesterday's forgotten lunch box or some useless old Jello mold. But for other people, things hold memories. These are usually hopelessly sentimental people. When these people see the old forgotten lunch box it reminds them of things that were long forgotten in their own minds and that otherwise would have remained lost. For them finding these things is like finding an old friend and keeping these things are like keeping memories. My house is full of this stuff. However, I realize I don't need any more things and when Goodwill raised their prices before Christmas, that was the end for me. Anyhow today I broke that ban and headed off to the Goodwill with the neighbors to drop off some things. (Their things not mine.) And of course just so long as you're there you might as well go inside.

So the hunt for things begins! Start with clothes, too expensive for second hand... moving on. Oooh housewares, always good stuff in housewares. Frames, frames are nice. And of course books for last. I get myself into the most trouble with books. My New Year's resolution was not to buy anymore books! But instead to use the library. The library is wonderful, I love the online system. However I'm the type of person who will read the same book, over and over and over again, until the library needs to beg for it back. Funny, I won't cry during a movie, but no matter how a book ends, I'll cry every time. Even after I've read it two dozen times. I guess I've just got a soft spot in my heart for books. Anyhow off to the book section.

What do I see when I get there... AH! Where are they! Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty, Treasure Island, Little Women, The Hardy Boys, Curious George, Peter Rabbit, Heidi, Peter Pan, The Boxcar Children, Pokey the Little Puppy, The Little Engine that Could, and the Little Golden Books, all gone! There are like five empty book cases in the children's section. Yeah there are a few left over in the corner, but where are they?

Where did they go?
I don't know.
But I do know who did it and why, so there's no need to ask anyone.
5 little letters make up the acronym without making a word:
There's the who.
Lead paint and Phthalates
That's the why.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), was passed by Congress last summer after the panic over lead paint on toys from China. But it's not just applying restrictions on toys from China, it's applying them to everything ever made throughout history for children under age 12. Actually that's little sarcastic. There is a short list of exemptees including gold, pearls, untreated wood and yarn among other things which obviously couldn't possibly include lead... (which is really a relief because I give kids precious gems and gold to play with all the time.) This new law requires testing for every children's item sold from Walmart, to eBay, to your garage sale in your own back yard, to be tested for lead. This testing isn't easy or cheap. And it destroys the item you're testing, so if you've only got one, there's really no sense in testing for Phthalates.

Which leads to my next question... What the heck is a "phthal-whateverit'scalled?" "Phthalates are particularly nasty substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility." Which I had to quote because I didn't know either.

So where are all the books? Books aren't plastic. I'm confused.
Since children's books are included in the CPSIA act they of course must either be tested or pulled off of second hand shelves. In 1985 it became illegal to use lead pigments in books, therefore all books printed after that date are consider safe to resell. But all books printed before that date must be tested before selling (which is impossible because it destroys them!)

It's so sad that all those books can no longer be sold. Unlike adult books children's books have some of our finest illustrations. I have quite a collection on my book shelf, mostly unknown artists with unknown talent, but I enjoy every page. I suppose you could possibly sell them as collectibles yes, but the law says it applies even if "the products are to be commonly understood as intended for children’s use, even if not labeled as such" so basically there are no exceptions based on technicalities.

Also, it should be noted somewhere in this rant that, " one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations." How many books would you have to eat I wonder before you got sick? Let's think about this. Why are kids eating books? Do these children have parents? Do these children have enough to eat? Shouldn't we be worrying about why children would be eating books, instead of taking the books away from them? If the hunger problem in America has gotten that bad, taking away the books isn't going to help. I guess they're suppose to eat healthy things like gold and wood instead. What's wrong with people!!!

Who works at the CPSIA? Apparently, no one with sense or kids. We could solve this problem in two minutes. Stickers! Actually this was my sister's idea and here's what she has to say: (Just have a sticker on them that says something like "this item has not been tested for lead or philosewhateverit'scalled". Or "this toy/book is not intended for children under age 12". I'd probably think twice about buying some crap toy from the Dollar Store and it would save homemade and used toys from all the testing requirements. Plus, parents could decide for themselves who to trust. Problem solved.) Yes! Stickers only make sure you test them for lead first! We can't have a sticker on a product warning about lead that has lead in it! Geez!

Has it really come to this? I never thought it would. I thought it would be repealed long ago. What about the libraries? They seem to be fighting it now, but what happens later when they can't? What will happen to all those books? And I thought Fahrenheit 451 was just fiction. Quick everyone start memorizing books! I'm ready to start a black market for pre-1985 children's books.

Who's with me?


Good less sarcastic sources that I've quoted.
CPSC CPSIA retailer's guide
City Journal - The New Book Banning
(You should especially read this article it's the best one I've seen!)
Save Handmade!

....alright, I feel better now. I can sleep.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is VERY sad. I don't understand how this happened. LM