Kentucky frontiersman Daniel Boone once joked, "I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks."
As part of his ongoing efforts to kickstart more public awareness about the unintended economic consequences of the congressional confusion that led to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), Missouri State Senator Tom Self gave a talk to the race enthusiasts at the Daniel Boone Motocross track last Sunday afternoon in London, Kentucky. Senator Self urged the crowd to get the US Congress to become at least as honest as Daniel Boone in recognizing the disastrous effects the well-intentioned CPSIA law has been having on the motorcycle industry, where conditions are reaching the friction point:
“Amateur racing right now, folks, is in the balance,” Rep. Tom Self said to a crowd of motocross riders.
“When people hear about this, they either think of one of two things. Either that it’s not true because it’s ridiculous, or it is true and there must be some simple fix. ... The problem is it is true ... and it could literally take an act of congress to change it.”
Self is talking about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that was passed by the U.S. Congress in August and went into effect in February. The act limits the lead content in children’s toys — everything from infant’s toys, to books, and for Self, and most alarmingly for motocross enthusiasts, motorcycles. The act banned the sale of small 50cc and 65cc motorbikes that are only big enough for use by children because they contain lead. This leaves somewhere between one to two million bikes on inventory across the country that can’t be sold, according to Self. It’s not that the congressional act is completely a bad thing in Self’s mind — it does protect small children, particularly infants, from ingesting lead from toys — it’s that the act oversteps its effectiveness.
“What the government needs to concentrate on more is, if they’ve got that kind of situation(lead in toys), deal with that situation and don’t go broading out just for the sake of trying to overprotect,” Self said. “So many times government, again well intentioned, tries to work on something, but how it works on paper and practically are two completely different things.”
The act bans toys, clothes, books — any product used by children — that might contain lead in them for fear that the children could ingest the lead by putting the product in their mouths, or by handling the product and then putting their hands in their mouths. Self says it is ridiculous to assume that small children would somehow ingest lead from playing with a motorcycle.
Banning the children’s bikes also means replacement parts will stop being made, which Self says, leads to bikes that are dangerously under-kept or simply inoperable. “The concerning part of that is you’ve got kids that have been riding for a while, and their bike is not available,” Self said. “And, Lord willing, this won’t happen, but they are going to be awfully tempted to climb on a bike that is too big for them. And then you’ve got a real problem.”
Self’s appearance near London was his last of a 10-day tour that took him to Illinois, Indiana and to St. Louis in his home state [of Missouri], where he spoke to a crowd of 50,000 people at the Supercross ride. The tour was about getting the word out, Self said. Although the act has already been passed, and there is an uphill battle getting the law changed, Self told the crowd of motocross riders and their families that if they got active and vocal, things could change. But, Self said, that’s going to take everyone in the motocross community. “If we don’t buck up and get serious about this thing, we are all going to be playing Mumbly Peg and chess in a year,” Self said to the motocross riders.
“It’s that simple. It’s your choice. In motocross there’s a saying, ‘You’ve got two choices. You can go big or go home.’ Kids you want to go big, or do you want to go home?” The littlest motocross riders in the crowd all let out a, “Go big.”
A sign of immaturity in children is when they fail to see the consequences of their actions; without a belief in the value of seeing the big picture, they would constantly snack on chocolate bars and coca-cola instead of fruits, vegetables and juice, they would stay up "past their bedtime" at the expense of a good night's sleep and being refreshed for the next day, they would simply jump on a motorbike and ride instead of summoning the discipline to first learn about safety and maintenance, as well as the honesty required in understanding how to ride within one's limits.
Sometimes I get the impression that the average kid who spends time in the great outdoors has more maturity, common sense and appreciation for the broad horizon of life's Big Picture than does the average members of Congress, who don't even read the bills they sign into law.