Three More Attacks on Civilization
Jeffrey A. Tucker
by Jeffrey A. Tucker: Rebecca
Black's 'Friday': A†Libertarian†Allegory
weíve got a global marketplace where banned and nearly banned products
can be purchased with a click. This is how I obtained a box of Savogran
Trisodium Phosphate, which sounds like an explosive but is really
just a cleanser that was in every dish-washing soap until last year.
It is made of phosphorous, an element from bone ash or urine that
was discovered in Germany in the 17th century. It is also the reason
that dishwashers once cleaned dishes perfectly, leaving no residue
old Calgon commercial that showed food falling off plates and glasses
left gleaming at the end of a wash? That was phosphorous at work.
It is still
a must in commercial establishments like restaurants and hotels.
But 17 states have already banned the product for consumers, causing
most all makers of the detergent to remove it from their product,
which vastly degraded its value. The detergent makers saw the writing
on the wall and this time decided to get out in front of the regulatory
machine, anticipating a federal ban before it actually takes place.
are clueless as to how sometime in the last year, their dishwashers
stopped working properly. They call in the repairman, who fiddles
with things and announces a fix. But it is not fixed. The glass
are gritty and the plates often need to be rinsed again after washing.
Many households have bought new machines or resorted to just running
the dishes through twice.
of phosphorous-free detergent is the real reason. As Jonathan Last
in the Weekly Standard, the anti-phosphate frenzy began
in Washington State, which was attempting to comply with a Clean
Air Act mandate that a certain river be swimable and fishable. This
was a problem because tests found inordinate amounts of phosphate
in the river. As part of the effort to comply, the state banned
phosphates from detergents. That was in 2008, but the way politics
works these days, the banning spread to state after state
again with the backing of federal law.
Now, it is
clear that the lawís proponents knew exactly what the results would
be. It would increase dishwasher use and even end up leading people
to abandon dishwashers altogether, and either solution leads to
much more water and energy use. In other words, even by the goofy
environmentalists own standards, this is no savings. It might end
up in the reverse.
the ban have even shown that phosphorous reduction in the Washington
State river is entirely due to a new filtering system and, further,
that it turns out that the phosphorous in the river was not even
a problem in the first place!
Of course the
facts donít matter. Our conveniences like clean plates and machines
that makes them so must be sacrificed to the false gods of environmentalism.
One of the great innovations in human history must be reinvented
because governments are enthralled by the witchdoctors of mother
earth. And thus must mankind take yet another step backward on the
trajectory toward social progress. And to heck with your fetish
for clean things!
A similar impulse
is driving the new attack on ice makers. Jeffrey Kluger writes
in Time Magazine a typically hectoring piece that claims
that one way to say the earth is to "buy a couple of ice trays.
To the long list of human inventions that are wrecking global climate
Ė the internal combustion engine, the industrial era factory Ė add
the automatic ice maker."
Of course we
donít use ice makers for completely arbitrary reasons. It is because
it is a pain in the neck to carry a full tray across the room, spill
a bit here and there, and then balance it carefully in the freezer.
And then when you take it out, your fingers stick to the trays and
you have to break the tray and dump the cubes into something and
re-freeze what you do not use, and then the cubes stick together
and so on. Thatís why we use ice makers.
the Department of Energy hates them. And so it has warned all makers
of freezers that it will lower the energy-compliance rating of any
freezer that keeps them. Or, another way to make a freezer with
an ice maker is to degrade the refrigerator and freezer itself,
leaving most of the energy use for the ice maker.
model forgets a perfectly obvious point: having an ice maker often
means that you have an ice dispenser on the outside of the fridge,
meaning that you do not have to open the door to get your ice. This
is surely an energy saver. Having to open the freezer far more often
only ends up wasting energy, which is another reason for the ice
maker in the first place (saves on electrical bills).
facts donít matter. If there is something you like and makes your
life better, you can bet that some bureaucrat somewhere has targeted
it for destruction. Saving the planet is the most convenient excuse
around. Time Magazine would contribute more to "Saving
the Planet" by putting an end to its print publication.
We can see
where this is headed. Just as people hoard old toilet tanks and
old washing machines that actually use water to wash clothes, so
too people will now have to hoard their old refrigerators because
they work. We are becoming like the Cubans with their 1950s model
cars, holding on to them for dear life if only to preserve some
elements of civilization in the face of government attacks.
Now letís talk
drain openers. Everyone knows that the best chemical drain opener
is lye, or sodium hydroxide. It is wicked stuff that cuts through
grease, hair, or just about anything else. It will burn right through
human flesh and leaving terrible scarring. But for drains, nothing
Now that less
and less water is flowing through our homes, thanks to regulatory
attacks on water use, and the water we use is ever more tepid, thanks
to regulatory attacks on hot-water heaters, it is no surprise that
clogged drains are ever more common, thus making lye an essential
If you can
get it. The mainstream hardware stores have stopped carrying the
stuff. So have the grocery stores. When I asked around, I thought
I would hear stories involving liability for injuries, but no: instead
the excuse is the drug war. It turns out that this stuff is an ingredient
in the making of methamphetamine, and hence it too is on the regulatory
you can still buy it through Amazon, but how many people know this?
How many people are buying liquid drain openers only to discover
that they donít actually work? Surely millions are doing this. So
far as I can tell, there is nothing but hush hush about the strangely
disappearance of lye-based crystal drain openers from our shelves.
there we go: we must also live with clogged drains, so that not
even the pathetic drizzles of tepid water that come out of our faucets
can flow down the drain, and we must stand in pools of bacteria-breeding
water as we take our short, cold showers. Itís back to the 19th
century for all of us!
In these three
examples, we can see the model at work: puritans and paranoids work
with bureaucrats to unravel all the gains that markets have made
for civilization. And they do this not with persuasion or an attempt
to convert us to their primitive faith. Instead, they do it by force,
driving us back to the compost pile, the river for cleaning, and,
eventually, having to hunt and gather for our food that we take
back to our caves, which serve as domestic environs for those lucky
enough to survive their regime of coerced poverty.
Tucker [send him mail]
is editorial vice president of www.Mises.org.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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