Postscript on Creeping Environmentalist Totalitarianism

May 31, 2011

Speaking of “efficiency”, I knew that the EPA already had the power to tell us how much water could come out of our showerheads (which is bad enough), but I didn’t know that “The venerable Consumer Reports” had turned someone in; I’ve now independently verified that this appeared in the October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports (page 36):

. . . the $500 Hudson Reed Theme Thermostatic AS333 shower tower’s forceful spray seemed too good to be true — or legal. 

Showerheads made after 1994 can’t pump out more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a pressure of 80 pounds per square inch, according to federal regulations. Most shower towers or multihead showers get around the rules by limiting each head or spray to 2.5 gpm. So if you have four sprays, they could legally use 10 gallons per minute. But the main showerhead on the Hudson Reed used a whopping 3.95 gpm, on average. A test of a second sample confirmed those results. We’ve contacted the Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the regulations.

(I like that the federal government isn’t interested only in gallons per minute, but also has a further regulation specifically on the water pressure, as if their concern weren’t to save water so much as to give us a not-very-good shower.)  Again, “Consumer Reports acknowledges that many shower fixtures get around this rule by using several shower heads, but the magazine decided to report the new single-head fixture to authorities, anyway.

So, did CR’s actions make a difference?  Well, they were proud to report in the June 2010 issue (page 41),

After our article was published, the Department of Energy requested data from Hudson Reed on the AS333 and proposed a $1.9 million fine for that and 63 other products.
. . .
“We are encouraging people to come to us with test data that they have,” said Scott Blake Harris, general counsel for the DOE. “But anytime we see credible evidence of a possible violation, such as published in Consumer Reports, we open an investigation.”
. . .
At press time, Hudson Reed had to pay the penalty or negotiate a lesser amount by April 15, after which the DOE would seek the whole amount in court.

Great.  Anything else you can do to help us out, Consumer Reports?

We believe that the federal standard should set limits for the overall flow of multiple-head systems.  (Ibid.)

I can’t believe it.  My formerly favorite “consumer advocacy” organization has become an advocate for big government, against us.

Incidentally, I had just subscribed to Consumer Reports for the first time earlier this month, when I thought I was going to need a new car.  When it turned out I didn’t, I decided to keep my year’s subscription anyway—it could be useful for other products, but also I figured it was just a good organization to support.

No more.  I called today to cancel my subscription, ask for a refund, and ask whether they had anything to say for themselves.  The guy at the first number I called couldn’t answer that last question, and referred me to Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports.

I called the number he gave me, (914) 378-2300, and reached a person pretty quickly.
— I explained that I was concerned to learn that Consumer Reports had turned in a showerhead maker to the government in 2009.
— She said that CR is a consumer-advocacy organization, and so of course they report any product that they think will be harmful to consumers.
— I explained that the complaint had been, if anything, the opposite, that the product worked too well, and violated the EPA’s limit on water flow.
— She now said that she couldn’t offer me any explanations and that the information contained in the CR article was all they had to say on the subject.
— Then she hung up on me.

I had to make a separate call to cancel my subscription.

Who needs secret police if the citizens are willing to rat each other out for free?

Since it’s on topic again, here’s that “Green Police” commercial for your viewing pleasure (and/or astonishment and horror):

I still can’t believe that commercial ever got made.

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16 Responses to “Postscript on Creeping Environmentalist Totalitarianism”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    When your grandchildren run out of water to drink and air to breathe and die a horrible, painful death, what will you say?

    • Tevyeh Says:

      You know, I lie awake at night and think about that. What will our grandchildren do when we’ve poured the entire global supply of fresh water into that portal to oblivion at the bottom of the bathtub?

  2. Mickey Mouse Says:

    I don’t even understand the point of this post. So you support degrading the enviroment and violating the law?


  3. What do you two think liberty means?

  4. Snoodickle Says:

    Liberty to me means not having to endure other people destroying the planet that I live on with impunity. Therefore, government intervention is necessary to secure our liberty.


  5. How Orwellian! (You can’t think of anything else that liberty might encompass?)

    OK, we’re still waiting on “Mickey Mouse”’s answer to that, but in the meantime, next question:

    Why do you think we declared independence from King George III? Do you think we should have declared independence?

  6. Tevyeh Says:

    While I think some regulatory restrictions on water use—at the state or local level—reasonable in areas where water is truly a scare resource, to impose such restrictions nationwide is overkill.

    I remember calling out the stupidity of a “green” group at SUNY Buffalo when they tried to launch a water conservation effort—never mind that Buffalo is situated next to one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world.

    Of course, these folks fit right in at at institution that spent obscene amounts of money trying to demonstrate its “greenness” by installing a solar array—never mind that Buffalo is one of the cloudiest and snowiest cities in the U.S. I personally doubt that those panels will ever recoup the energy that went into their own manufacture and installation, even if they aren’t accidentally wrecked by the poor maintenance guy they send up on the roof five months out of the year to shovel the snow off of them.

  7. Snoodickle Says:

    If you want to discuss liberty, I would suggest developing a faster moving line of argumentation. Let’s speed it up to the 21st century. If you insist on continuing to advance the paranoid and delusional narrative that President Obama is trying to establish an authoritarian regime through environmental regulations, stick to the point. No one cares about King George III.


  8. Check and mate!

    It’s funny you should mention sticking to the point, since you’re the first one to bring up President Obama in this conversation. This isn’t about him, and as far as I’m concerned, it isn’t really about the intentions of anyone else on that end (in the government), either (about what they’re “trying” to “establish”, for example); it’s about us, and our liberty, and what encroachments on it we’ll put up with. (“Paranoid” and “delusional” imply that the things I’m talking about exist only in my head, but you’ve managed to respond to a version of my argument that exists only in your head.) I’m willing to assume that everyone in the EPA has the best of intentions. Seriously, maybe George III did, too.

    (If, on the other hand, you were thinking of my recent post suggesting that “the administration[ is engaging in a] ‘concerted campaign’ to keep energy prices high”, you agreed that that was a great policy. In any case, given that I cited and linked to sources there and you haven’t challenged them, it would be strange to dismiss that claim out of hand as “paranoid” or “delusional”.)

    In any case, I think you’ve made it clear that you either don’t agree with, or simply haven’t thought about and don’t understand, America’s founding principles and the value of human liberty. (My third and final question was going to be why you think slavery is wrong.) You’ve offered no basis for any limit on the government’s power over our lives, other than perhaps that the government should do no more than it claims is necessary to protect the environment in the future (which is no limit at all).

    If you have no objections, in principle, to absolute totalitarianism, then, as you might put it, “No one cares” if you think some particular encroachment on liberty hasn’t gone too far.

  9. Snoodickle Says:

    Ha ha ha. Trust me, I understand both our founding principles and the value of human liberty much better than you do. There is another common theme in your posts, and that is your resentment of the fact that I am at least your intellectual equal, and most probably your intellectual superior. That is why you feel it necessary to make every exchange a competition (say, for example, a chess game). If you seriously want to discuss liberty, I think the starting point, as always, has to be gay rights. Until you concede that your position on gay rights is entirely inconsistent with the concept of liberty, you will be nothing more than a person who pretends to cherish values that he truly does not care about.

  10. Mickey mouse Says:

    So I would assume you support the legalization of marijuana?


  11. No, I don’t.

    How about you, why do you think we declared independence? Do you think we should have?

  12. Snoodickle Says:

    We declared independence so that Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson could smoke hashish and sodomize whores out of the watchful eye of British law.


  13. […] course the federal government also presumes to be able to dictate what toilets we can use, what showerheads we can use, and what light bulbs we can use, among other things.  Meanwhile various state […]


  14. […] of what you earn, or dictates the details of your life down to what light bulbs you can use and how much water you can shower with.  Pro-choice—oops, pro-abortion—in this one area, but not pro-choice about life in […]


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