Inside the Beltway there are loads of enormous buildings, each with its own campus, and each filled with thousands and thousands of people dedicated to stopping your toilet from flushing right, making your appliances cease to function properly, messing with your engine’s performance, taking the spare tire out of your car, and making everything more expensive.
Jeffrey Tucker visited Brazil and enjoyed taking an old-fashioned shower.
We have long lived with regulated showers, plugged up with a stopper imposed by government controls imposed in 1992. There was no public announcement. It just happened gradually. After a few years, you couldn’t buy a decent shower head. They called it a flow restrictor and said it would increase efficiency. By efficiency, the government means “doesn’t work as well as it used to.”
We’ve been acculturated to lame showers, but that’s just the start of it. Anything in your home that involves water has been made pathetic, thanks to government controls.
You can see the evidence of the bureaucrat in your shower if you pull off the showerhead and look inside. It has all this complicated stuff inside, whereas it should just be an open hole, you know, so the water could get through. The flow stopper is mandated by the federal government.
To be sure, the regulations apply only on a per-showerhead basis, so if you are rich, you can install a super fancy stall with spray coming at you from all directions. Yes, the market invented this brilliant but expensive workaround. As for the rest of the population, we have to live with a pathetic trickle.
It’s a pretty astonishing fact, if you think about it. The government ruined our showers by truncating our personal rights to have a great shower even when we are willing to pay for one. Sure, you can hack your showerhead but each year this gets more difficult to do. Today it requires drills and hammers, whereas it used to just require a screwdriver.
The water pressure in our homes and apartments has been gradually getting worse for two decades. I had to laugh when Donald Trump made mention of this during the campaign. He was challenged to name an EPA regulation he didn’t like. And recall that he is in the hospitality business and knows a thing or two about this stuff.
“You have showers where I can’t wash my hair properly,” he said. “It’s a disaster. It’s true. They have restrictors put in. The problem is you stay under the shower for five times as long.”
The pundit class made fun of him, but he was exactly right! This is a huge quality of life issue that affects every American, every day.
It’s not just about the showerhead. The water pressure in our homes and apartments has been gradually getting worse for two decades, thanks to EPA mandates on state and local governments. This has meant that even with a good showerhead, the shower is not as good as it might be. It also means that less water is running through our pipes, causing lines to clog and homes to stink just slightly like the sewer. This problem is much more difficult to fix, especially because plumbers are forbidden by law from hacking your water pressure.
The combination of poor pressure and lukewarm temperatures profoundly affects how well your dishwasher and washing machine work.As for the heat of the water, the obsession over “safety” has led to regulations that the top temperature is preset on most water heaters, at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is only slightly hotter than the ideal temperature for growing yeast. Most are shipped at 110 degrees in order to stay safe with regulators. This is not going to get anything really clean; just the opposite. Water temperatures need to be 140 degrees to clean things. (Looking at the industry standard, 120 is the lowest-possible setting for cleaning but 170 degrees gives you the sure thing.)
The combination of poor pressure and lukewarm temperatures profoundly affects how well your dishwasher and washing machine work. Plus, these two machines have been severely regulated in how much energy they can consume and how much water they can use. Top-loading washing machines are a thing of the past, while dishwashers that grind up food and send it away are a relic. We are lucky now to pull out a glass without soap scum on it. As for clothing, what you are wearing is not clean by your grandmother’s standards.
So you might have a vague sense that your clothing and dishes aren’t coming out as clean as they might have in the past. This is exactly right. But because we don’t have a direct comparison, and these regulations have taken many years to gradually unfold and take over our lives, we don’t notice this as intensely.
When you travel to Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, or Switzerland – and probably many places I’ve never been – you are suddenly shocked. Why does everything work so well? Why don’t things work as well in the US? The answer is one word: government. This is the only reason.
Read the whole thing.
There are two kinds of people. There are people who go to the Out-of-Doors to hunt and fish and to enjoy Nature as an active participant, and there are citified wussy wimp nincompoops who hike or bike or ski or climb in the Out-of-Doors wearing expensive synthetic getups in the same kinds of colors as lifesavers.
Outside Magazine is a publication for exactly those kind of tree-hugging, Obama-voting sodomites. If you want a laugh at just how far up his own posterior one of these eco-snowflakes can insert his head, read this, Wes Siler’s pious screed explaining that campfires are “a dangerous, polluting, wasteful relic of the past,” way too hazardous and unsafe for ordinary Americans to safely enjoy.
[T]he campfire has had its day. With massive wildfires raging all summer long and exhausting state budgets, and with participation in outdoor recreation booming to record numbers, maybe the the negative impacts of the campfire now outweigh tradition and comfort.
The Jaguar (Panthera onca), third largest feline predator in the world, has been described as extinct in the United States since early in the last century, but rumors and scattered alleged sightings on the tops of the “sky island” mountains south of Tuscon, Arizona were followed in recent years by photographs and videos, and even treeings and collarings of real jaguars in the Arizona mountains.
Smithsonian has a typical bleating nincompoop piece gushing over the return of the jaguar (in reality, doubtless, jaguars have always been present in the same area in very small numbers, their existence simply denied and overlooked by the authorities), complete with naming the kitty, publicity and promotion for particular self-appointed experts, partisan turf war accounts, and anti-capitalist agitation (development of a single copper mine south of Bisbee might threaten or somehow impede the peregrinations of the odd jaguar).
The real threat to the presence of jaguars in the United States is Donald Trump’s “great, beautiful wall,” 35 to 50 feet high, which would probably not stop really determined humans, but which would put the final kibosh on rare cross-border species like the jaguar.
If you can put up with all the cant, it is still worth reading.
Jaguar filmed recently in Arizona (February 2016 video)
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Betty Gorisch discusses the exaggerated sense of self-importance which so wildly misunderstands the comparative scale and importance of humanity and its activities in the great scheme of things. There is consequently always an imminent danger of our producing one or another species of grand natural catastrophe if we fail to listen to our experts.
[H]umans tend to see themselves as the causes of a great many natural-world disruptions, which allows applications of political pressures imposing behavioral control on humanity. I suggest we may be looking at a kind of infantile egoism extending into individual and collective maturity and throughout our species; human agency as causative should accordingly be looked upon with skepticism. The view seems to be that if it were not for human activity, the natural world would not change much, and certainly not much for the worse. When challenged with specifics on such matters, most people would be quick to acknowledge that there are indeed other engines of destruction, but there is a default tendency to blame people and the things they make and do first. Any other possible causes are generally evaluated later — not only after human agency has been ruled out, but also after media attention on the matter in question has faded.
Some few of these people almost certainly know better. We can only speculate about their motives. I myself find it almost incomprehensible that they think their own accumulation and exercise of power will be unimpeded by reality. In similar fashion, it is difficult believe that they can be motivated by the gaining of wealth. They already have wealth in nearly monopoly quantities, and while it is clear that they are not merely interested in living extravagantly and intend, instead, to purchase more power, they have not many serious opponents in this world for that either. They come perilously close to being whisperers — the kinds of faint seductive whisperers who inspire humanity with, “You will be like God!”
Read the whole thing.
Ronnie Cohen is a California liberal who raised her son to be environmentally-conscious, and she has been paying the price.
My son, Cory, will leave our Northern California home to start college back East in the fall, prompting other mothers to offer condolences about my soon-to-be-empty nest. Though they expect me to break into tears, my overriding emotion when my youngest departs will be relief. I will finally be freed from the constant scrutiny of the ever-vigilant eco-warrior I raised.
I can do nothing right in my teenage son’s eyes. He grills me about the distance traveled of each piece of fruit and every vegetable I purchase. He interrogates me about the provenance of all the meat, poultry, and fish I serve. He questions my every move—from how I choose a car (why not electric?) and a couch (why synthetic fill?) to how I tend the garden (why waste water on flowers?)—an unremitting interrogation of my impact on our desecrated environment. While other parents hide alcohol and pharmaceuticals from their teens, I hide plastic containers and paper towels.
I feel like I’ve become the adolescent, sneaking around to avoid my offspring’s scrutiny and lectures. Only when Cory leaves the house do I dare clean the refrigerator of foul-smelling evidence of my careless waste—wilted greens, rotten avocados, moldy leftovers. When he goes out to dinner, I smuggle in a piece of halibut or sturgeon, fish the stocks of which, he tells me, are dangerously depleted. Even worse, I sometimes prepare beef—a drain on precious water, my son assures me, and a heavy contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions.
What a relief I will feel to be out from under the fiery gaze of my personal sustainability meter-reader!
Read the whole thing.
Predictions made on the first Earth Day, 1970:
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist
“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.”
• Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist
“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
• New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day
“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University
“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
• Life Magazine, January 1970
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
The co-founder of Earth Day killed and composted his girlfriend.
Joel Kotkin explains that California has fallen into the hands of the rich and spoiled and ideologically deluded who are determined to embrace a pious environmentalist agenda which will preclude the maintenance or new development of the kinds of infrastructure needed by the rest of the population.
California has met the future, and it really doesn’t work. As the mounting panic surrounding the drought suggests, the Golden State, once renowned for meeting human and geographic challenges, is losing its ability to cope with crises. As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the state’s middle- and working classes.
The water situation reflects this breakdown in the starkest way. Everyone who follows California knew it was inevitable we would suffer a long-term drought. Most of the state—including the Bay Area as well as greater Los Angeles—is semi-arid, and could barely support more than a tiny fraction of its current population. California’s response to aridity has always been primarily an engineering one that followed the old Roman model of siphoning water from the high country to service cities and farms.
But since the 1970s, California’s water system has become the prisoner of politics and posturing. The great aqueducts connecting the population centers with the great Sierra snowpack are all products of an earlier era—the Los Angeles aqueduct (1913), Hetch-Hetchy (1923), the Central Valley Project (1937), and the California Aqueduct (1974). The primary opposition to expansion has been the green left, which rejects water storage projects as irrelevant.
Read the whole thing.
Investors Business Daily offers the modest proposal of using market mechanisms instead of penalties and coercion.
California is so dry that Gov. Jerry Brown has instituted water-use restrictions for the first time in the state’s history. The problem, though, is not a shortage of water. It’s a shortage of thinking.
The Parched State — once known as the Golden State — is so dry that Brown said it “demands unprecedented action.”
“We have to pull together and save water in every way we can,” Brown said Wednesday from Echo Summit in the Sierra Nevada, where, AP reports, “state water officials found no snow on the ground for the first time in their April manual survey of the snowpack.”
“Were in a new era,” said Brown. “The idea of your nice little green grass getting water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”
Using an executive order, the Democratic governor, according to an official statement, “directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25%.”…
No, this is not a new era. It’s still the era of limited thinking. It’s the Soviet way of dealing with scarcity.
What California needs is more water, not more government mandates. Water is a commodity just like any other, and its allocation should not be left to governments.
If it were bought and sold in an open market, there would be a strong incentive to move water to where demand is high and supply is low — such as California.
But as long as prices are kept artificially low by government dictums, that incentive doesn’t exist and potential providers never become actual providers.
If prices are allowed to rise, however, the profit motive will spur innovation — such as the unlikely prospect of squeezing water out of deserts to sell to consumers — and create competition in which rivals will fight to provide the best service at the lowest price.
When there is no true market for water, it falls under political control, which Terry Anderson and Peter Hill say in “Water Marketing — The Next Generation” precludes efficient pricing while at the same time creating political conflict and encouraging waste.
This is where we are now in California.
A water market won’t pop up this weekend to save the state, but market pricing would help conserve what’s on hand until new resources come online.
We’ve made this point multiple times. If the price of water is set by the market rather than bureaucrats who can’t possibly know what the right price is and always let politics dictate their decisions, consumers would self-ration when the price rose.
California successfully navigated its drought problems in the early 1990s under Republican Gov. Pete Wilson using pricing mechanisms and authorizing the California Drought Emergency Water Bank to buy water from agricultural sources.
Farmers profited more from selling water than from the crops they would have otherwise used the water for. One economist said in 1991 that that year might “be a turning point in California’s transition to water trading.”
But California didn’t learn then and it still doesn’t understand today.
Native old-time Californian Victor Davis Hanson identifies the underlying problem: massive population growth in an artificially-watered desert environment whose spoiled inhabitants have embraced an extremist environmentalist ideology which makes their own lifestyles “unsustainable.”
Brown and other Democratic leaders will never concede that their own opposition in the 1970s (when California had about half its present population) to the completion of state and federal water projects, along with their more recent allowance of massive water diversions for fish and river enhancement, left no margin for error in a state now home to 40 million people. Second, the mandated restrictions will bring home another truth as lawns die, pools empty, and boutique gardens shrivel in the coastal corridor from La Jolla to Berkeley: the very idea of a 20-million-person corridor along the narrow, scenic Pacific Ocean and adjoining foothills is just as unnatural as “big” agriculture’s Westside farming. The weather, climate, lifestyle, views, and culture of coastal living may all be spectacular, but the arid Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-area megalopolises must rely on massive water transfers from the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, or out-of-state sources to support their unnatural ecosystems.
We’re suffering the ramifications of the “small is beautiful,” “spaceship earth” ideology of our cocooned elites. Californians have adopted the ancient peasant mentality of a limited good, in which various interests must fight it out for the always scarce scraps. Long ago we jettisoned the can-do visions of our agrarian forebears, who knew California far better than we do and trusted nature far less. Now, like good peasants, we are at one another’s throats for the last drops of a finite supply.