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You do NOT want a small business exemption
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Melanie
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:58 pm    Post subject: You do NOT want a small business exemption Reply with quote

I've seen several of these discussions, small business versus big...and yes, it is extremely divisive and will do our cause no good at all. But I would ask everyone to step back for a moment and view this as a consumer...I am one, and I am a small crafter too...Even if they gave small businesses exemptions, the big businesses would have to comply...thereby passing on all of those expensive testing costs to the consumer...Do you really want a t-shirt that now costs $10 to cost $50 because Hanes had to pay for lead testing? Think about the big picture here, and the effect on business, jobs, the stock market...everything. It's all related..and if these items are not available...or are available but at astronomical prices, the results will be disastrous....for ALL of us. I am quite certain I'm not the only person to have ever shopped at a Wal-Mart, a K-Mart, Target, Sears, etc...we must stay focused on the issue...this is a badly written law, and amendments need to be made to exclude items that are absolutely lead free...like natural fibers...it's a start. Then have them define the types of products that MIGHT have lead in them because of how they are manufactured and test those! Otherwise, they're throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as the old saying goes...
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SarahJ
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

miracle wrote:
Well part of the benefit of this law is the penalties and damages change the scope of legal payouts in the case of actual harm.


Ah!! Didn't think of that somehow. That makes sense to me now.
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annika
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

miracle wrote:

You are going to find that bigger manufacturers will become in total compliance and will use that as a sales advantage. As a parent, when picking a carrier, most will go for 100% tested for safety vs that which is tested only on the parts that the child is exposed to and must bear the warning label "do not leave child unattended with carrier."

So both sides have to be weighed. Not only the legal requirements, but the market impact.


I think that many carriers and other similar items (items used by the parent with the child but not designed to be played with) will still tell you to not leave the child unattended with it--they likely do now and likely will continue to after testing. And I intend to be in total compliance as well (and don't have any problem whatsoever with the new safety requirements just the redundant testing), but I still believe that some people seem to believe that companies should have to save them from themselves.
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cjvandijk
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:02 pm    Post subject: Long history of businesses requiring exemptions... Reply with quote

and getting them.

http://www.sba.gov/advo/laws/regflex.html (thanks to Cecilia of HTA for posting this hopeful link)
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guest
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

miracle wrote:
Food handling laws still apply to farmer's market vendors. As a result most famer's market vendors actually operate restaurants or commercial food producing entities and use the farmer's market as a grassroots marketing effort.

And if a school has a bake sale using home made goods, and is caught, HUGE trouble, fines and all. Usually public schools know better. And I have yet to have a private school do that. I think *I* was in high school when that stopped.


A world where there are no bake sales of homebaked goods and where farmers markets don't have local growers and jam-makers but instead corporate restaurants and marketing outposts sounds horrible and sterile to me.

So why on earth would a crafter-- or anyone else who supports an economy rich with local, sustainable cottage industry-- fall in line with wealthier firms intent on expanding their operation at the expense of those local farmers and jam-makers that fall by the wayside?
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Long history of businesses requiring exemptions... Reply with quote

cjvandijk wrote:
and getting them.

http://www.sba.gov/advo/laws/regflex.html (thanks to Cecilia of HTA for posting this hopeful link)


This has already been discussed

http://fashion-incubator.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=3695&highlight=rfa
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

guest wrote:


A world where there are no bake sales of homebaked goods and where farmers markets don't have local growers and jam-makers but instead corporate restaurants and marketing outposts sounds horrible and sterile to me.

So why on earth would a crafter-- or anyone else who supports an economy rich with local, sustainable cottage industry-- fall in line with wealthier firms intent on expanding their operation at the expense of those local farmers and jam-makers that fall by the wayside?


I don't know what gives you the impression that a company is either local or very large. Our farmers markets are full of local growers and local micro-enterprises, yet they are required to adhere to laws of food safety and handling. And while you may feel safe eating home baked goods, when you multiply that and make that available to hundreds or thousands of people, you have the need for standards.

I never said that a restaurant was a big corporation or chain, I just said it was a restaurant. Even a business with only one person can be incorporated (and may want to be, for liability purposes).

I don't know why you guys keep acting like there are not shades of gray between micro single person enterprises and very large, publicly traded corporations.

It's like either you're one person doing it by hand or you're big and bad. I don't get it.

FWIW, California certified farmer's markets are pretty good. Full of local growers, artisans and producers. And the added regulations of food handling means you can trust that the company met some standards vs somebody who just up and made stuff that morning and may not even be aware of proper food handling techniques, temperatures, etc..
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guest
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2 things:

1. I think it's because there are so many shades of gray between an individual selling hats she knit herself directly to her neighbors at a church bazaar and a corporation that makes hundreds of different products at locations around the globe, owns dozens of brands and is buttressed by an opaque and difficult-to-govern legal structure that it is reasonable for the law to distinguish between different kinds of firms. Holding small, local business to regulations written for transnational companies operating on a different scale and with more power and greater access to money and resources is anti-competitive and favors big business. Applying only the standards written for small and mid-sized businesses to big businesses with trans-national operations is insufficient as it is often difficult if not impossible to hold international firms accountable to local or national regulations.

2. Yes, toymakers all make toys. But saying that the best interest of small proprietors and craftsmen are best left in the hands of big business interests is not honest or true. NAM is a big business lobbying group that opposes climate change regulation, opposes the Family and Medical Leave Act, opposes restrictions on lobbying, opposes the corporate alternative minimum tax, lobbies to restrict the ability of employees poisoned by absestos to take their employers to court, lobbies against environmental regulations, lobbies for the tax laws and subsidies to shut down plants and move operations overseas, lobbies the gov't and the WTO to pressure China to make its internal policies (like labor laws and currency) more favorable to their interests, lobbies against reasonable corporate taxes and for corporate loopholes. To be clear, I don't think most of the manufacturers that visit the Fashion Incubator are the kind of company that NAM is lobbying for. I don't know that for a fact, but I'm guessing. And I don't think small can only mean a single person knitting one hat at a time. But I'm responding to the surprise and anger I read about the Handmakers Toy Alliance not backing NAM and I don't think it should be all that surprising that a group of domestic manufacturers and crafts-scale operations don't fall in line with NAM, an organization that does not, nor ever did, have the interests of working people, of independent producers, of small and mid-sized businseses, of consumers or of a fair and open market in their heart.

And FWIW, I have no dog in this fight, aside from being a concerned citizen and worker-owner and a student of history. People here keep writing how they don't get it, the hostility to big business or why someone who makes things on a crafts-scale would want to distance themselves from the businesses and lobbying groups that have money and power. All I'm saying is, I get it. And it's reasonable. People feel genuinely trampled upon and alienated by big (corporate) business and good reason to doubt that corporate lobby groups truly have their best interests at heart.
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But saying that the best interest of small proprietors and craftsmen are best left in the hands of big business interests is not honest or true.


Woah-- I'm not saying the best interest is best left in the hands of big business. I'm just stating the reality that this is where most of the pressure for change comes from.

OR let me rephrase this- big businesses are going to be the ones to get most of what they want, so it's best to not alienate them and point fingers, but to slide in there those things which benefit the handmade community. Big business will be able to fight effectively becuase
1- their ability to fund their battle
2- their financial impact lends them visibility
3- they aren't asking for a total out, only reasonable testing standards, which is still in line with the intent of the law

The problem with the HTA proposal was that it is the equivalent of a kids saying "this is not my fault, it's HIS fault, punish HIM, let me go" when the reality is the goal is to stop bad things from happening period. It ignored the cold hard reality that the OOAK community often creates unsafe products because of a lack of knowledge of product safety or regulations or a lack of acknowledgement that they apply. Just troll etsy. Every craft community has this problem. Handmade toiletries has it (people making products without adequate testing for bacteria growth or just throwing any old thing together) and this industry does to.

What is happening in BOTH industries is the government is saying this is getting out of hand, time for standards from the top to the bottom.

BOTH industries have reacted with "this is unfair that you want to shut the cottage industry down we are the back bone of the economy and this is a big business conspiracy to get rid of us we should not have to pay for their stupid greedy mistakes from their harmful earth killing products."

The cold hard truth is that is just not a credible response.

That's all I'm saying. Fight for what you can get. Total exclusion isn't it.
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jen m
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

miracle wrote:
Quote:
But saying that the best interest of small proprietors and craftsmen are best left in the hands of big business interests is not honest or true.

Total exclusion isn't it.


So true. I have tried to in all of my letters to present the issue from both my perspective as it relates to my company and as it relates to the wide sweeping law Congress created which applies to any size company. CONGRESS created the law and it needs to be modified by them so that it makes more sense. If they don't amend it we will continue to get press releases like the Consignment Shop press release yesterday which really is nothing but a restatement of the law. I am not asking for exemptions. I am asking for a smart common sense law that focuses on actual risks.
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joanna
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. I'm "guest" from before. I just realized I could type in a name and still be a guest. I've never written on this forum before-- this topic just sucked me in. Sorry if I created confusion.

2. Miracle, responding to your post, you make a lot of really good points. I agree that the goal is safety, not punishment, and that it is appropriate to regulate all levels of business in the interest of public safety. I agree that an appropriate goal for small business is not no regulation but regulation that is less draconian and more clear and pragmatic. It doesn't serve the public interest to enact laws that are so opaque that they are largely ignored nor does it serve the public interest to erect barriers that inhibit a diverse marketplace and diminish the availability of safe and affordable goods.

But I still question whether the best strategy for small businesses to pursue is to align themselves with big business lobbyists. I don't see the evidence that small business and craft-production benefits from sliding up to big business in the hopes that when their lobbyists get what they need, they'll throw a few breadcrumbs to the rest of us.

I see a lot of evidence that suggests that, to the contrary, big business pursues its own interests and providing any kind of aid to competitors does not further their interests. The trade and monetary policies, regulatory policies, tax policy, etc. that NAM effectively lobbies for has extracted a heavy toll from all but a tiny percentage of American businesses.

I understand that 'working with' big business is considered by some to be just part of the 'reality' of doing business, but another reality is that domestic manufacturing businesses have been so greatly diminished over the last thirty years of working 'with' big business interests that it's reasonable to question if this route really is the best and only way.

If people in the handmade community see their interests as very different from or even in conflict with the interests of corporations than it's difficult to for me to understand how those interests would be furthered by an alliance in which the power imbalance is so great, the interests so divergent, and the incentive for corporations to help small business nil.

I'm not assigning any values-- I'm not saying big businesses are "bad" or "evil." I do think it's naive to believe that corporations will act in the interest of anything but their bottom line; this is not a value judgment I am assigning; it is fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, a chartered mandate, an institutional goal. On that ground alone, plus any examination of their history, a reasonable person might give pause before allying with corporate interests to question whether one would really gain more than she would loose.

And I'm not saying small businesses are all good and wholesome and safe. That would be silly. I am trying to point out that there are real differences between small businesses and the corporations represented by NAM. Corporations' interests and small business interests are often at odds.

I also disagree that most pressure for change comes from big businesses. While this has been the case for the last few decades, it is not always the case in American politics and is never the only place pressure comes from. This is a democracy. An active citizenry that holds their elected representatives accountable is also a pretty effective way to accomplish change.
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again, I think there is a vast difference between larger corporations and those that are billion dollar entities (or multi billion) like Wal Mart and Target.

The bulk of people on the front end fighting are in the tens of millions of dollars of revenue. These companies are large corporations from the perspective of a crafter, but they are far from the "big huge evil greedy bad" corporate entities that they are being lumped together with.

You can argue that companies like Wal Mart don't have your best interests at heart, but you cannot say the same for companies like Rick Woldenberg's Learning Resources.

The... and I can't think of a proper adjective for this behavior, but the behavior of the handmade and craft communities paint companies like LR with a wide and sweeping brush of negativity, thus causing alienation.

I have no dog in this fight either. But I won't fight for that kind of mentality.

These larger companies are good companies run by good people whose intentions are just as good as the handmade and OOAK industries. EXCEPT, the response is completely different. Trying to throw them under the bus serves no purpose.

it seems like the craft community has it in their heads that corporate = bad and evil and that's just a ridiculous way of looking at things.
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joanna
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not really sure whether you are responding to me or or to something you're reading somewhere else. I'm not assigning values like bad, evil, whatever nor am I assuming anything about individual motivations. I'm not the "craft community" nor its representative. I just speakfor me.

I also don't know who Rick Woldenberg is or what Learning Resources is. But I do think it's kind of weird to insist that between a multi-billion dollar corporation and a tens-of-millions-of-dollars corporation there is a legitimate and meaningful distinction, yet somehow between a tens-of-millions-of-dollars corporation and a ten-thousand dollar sole proprietorship there are no significant differences or conflicts of interest. The first half of what you are saying I agree with, but the second part just doesn't make sense.
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

joanna wrote:

I also don't know who Rick Woldenberg is or what Learning Resources is. But I do think it's kind of weird to insist that between a multi-billion dollar corporation and a tens-of-millions-of-dollars corporation there is a legitimate and meaningful distinction, yet somehow between a tens-of-millions-of-dollars corporation and a ten-thousand dollar sole proprietorship there are no significant differences or conflicts of interest. The first half of what you are saying I agree with, but the second part just doesn't make sense.


What I am saying is this:

A lot of vocal members and organizations in the craft community have painted corporate entities with a wide brush, as bad or greedy or importers bringing in containers of dangerous products. they have said that these are the companies that should be regulated and scrutinized by CSPIA, not the small handmade or OOAK industry.

My point is that mentality ignores the reality that there is a difference between a large company like Wal Mart and a multi million dollar company like Learning Resources. When I said that bigger corporations will be at the forefront of this fight and it's better to be aligned, you argued that they don't have small biz interests at heart.

I say they do. It is the billion and multi billion dollar companies that have little to fight for, because all they will do is push the burden back onto the plates of their suppliers. They can return truckloads of merchandise as they please because they are big enough to do that.

The companies in between have the same kind of issues as the craft industry, if only the craft industry would just get open minded. These are companies run by people who may very well have started out the same way, but just decided to take their companies in a different direction. Their size does not prohibit them from having good intentions, being concerned about safety and putting out a good product.

These are the people being thrown under the bus by the handmade and craft industries. These are the people that should be aligned with to fight for changes or amendments in this law. Yes there are differences in the BUSINESS in terms of size, scale and scope, but in terms of the people behind them, and their beliefs and values, they have so much more in common with small micro biz than they are being given credit for.

Craft/Handmade industry has been behaving as if there is only black and white. Polar ends of the spectrum. There are so many shades of gray in between.
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joanna
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
When I said that bigger corporations will be at the forefront of this fight and it's better to be aligned, you argued that they don't have small biz interests at heart.


I don't know why they would. Do small businesses have the interests of larger corporations at heart? No. I'm not making a value judgment or saying larger companies are evil, but realistically, they look out for their own interests. If, on some issues, those interests and the interests of small business align, then by all means, everyone join forces on those issues! But you are ignoring the "shades of gray" by insisting interests always align, and it would be silly to think that a lobbyist paid for by group B is going to lobby on behalf of group A. Never gonna happen.

I also want to clarify that by big business interests I don't mean the values, beliefs and intentions of an individual who may have started or who is running a business. I'm referring to the institutional interests of a corporation and lobbying groups like NAM that pursue specific policies that do harm local communities and regional economies. I'm not making any assumptions about the motives of anyone. I have no reason to think anyone is out there trying to screw the world over or isn't trying to do a good job, make their momma proud, etc.

Anyway, I can't comment on what the craft community (whoever or whatever that entails) is doing or saying because I don't know what you're talking about. But thank you for the very interesting discussion. You've given me a lot to think about. And I will agree with you wholeheartedly that there are many shades of gray.
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