Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hidden Monsters

When I debate liberals at the Huffington Post I occasionally point out that I favor freedom and liberty.  They counter by saying "what do you mean freedom?" or "your freedoms haven't been reduced under Obama."

This is some of what I mean:

Part of an article at Lassiez Faire Books, Regulators Destroying Your Home Appliances:
Ayn Rand’s novella Anthem, the ebook of the week in the Laissez Faire Club, is a story about a government that hates, fears, and bans technology precisely because it wants to keep the people enslaved in a primitive state of being. Preposterous right? Wrong: this is going on every day right in the United States, as the regulatory machine continually wrecks technological advances, past, present, and future. This article discusses two such cases.

The material discussed in this article will matter far more to the quality of your life in the future than the outcome of the president election. And yet we can know with nearly perfect certainty that no candidate will be asked about these issues. They know nothing about it.

Neither do the moderators of the debates. It all takes place beneath the surface of American politics within the belly of the bureaucratic monster that actually runs the country and over which elected politicians exercise virtually no control whatsoever.

The regulation in question is “Energy Conservation Standards for Dishwasher, 77 FR 31918.” You can spend the day reading the history’s most obtuse bureaucratese, complete with legislative history and technical detail, along with testimony for and against and the Department of Energy’ final judgement. Or you can just internalize my summary: get used to hand washing your dishes. As of May 2013, dishwasher manufacturers are not going to be allowed to make or sell a machine that works.

The excuse is energy and water conservation of course. The presumption is that consumers and manufacturers have no interest whatsoever in saving energy and water even though everyone pays for both and, for the most part, our usage determines what we pay. The reason that companies and consumers have not adopted the new standards on their own is that they are incompatible with clean dishes.

There’s a pretty good chance that your current dishwasher using 6.5. gallons in a load. In the future, only 5 gallons of water can be used in the course of washing dishes. Maybe the manufacturers can ramp up the intensity of spray? Think again: new “energy efficiency” standards require that they use even less energy. Less energy plus less water equals dirty dishes. Plus, the new energy standards will substantially increase the cost of the appliance, taking it out of the affordability range for elderly people and the poor.

How the heck can the regulators get away with this? You really want to know? Here’s the answer that the Department of Energy cites: “7 U.S.C. 7701–7772 and 7781–7786; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3. Section 301.75–15 issued under Sec. 204, Title II, Public Law 106–113, 113 Stat. 1501A–293; sections 301.75–15 and 301.75–16 issued under Sec. 203, Title II, Public Law 106–224, 114 Stat. 400 (7 U.S.C. 1421 note).”

So there.
BTW, Anthem is short but compelling.  We are moving closer to that world than you'd think.

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