It’s not just vacuum cleaners

And it’s not just Europe. U.S. bureaucrats appear determined to make sure that nearly every appliance in your home A) costs more and B) works less effectively. facepalm

Spurred by President Obama’s climate action plan, the Department of Energy is pumping out new standards for refrigerators, dishwashers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, lamps and many more appliances.

The administration says the standards will not only help the planet but also stimulate the economy by saving consumers money on their energy bills that they can spend elsewhere.

But industry groups argue the standards, which will apply to both commercial and household appliances, could slow the economy, and that the Energy Department is rushing the new rules while overestimating the savings. Other critics argue the push to regulate household appliances is evidence of a nanny state.

Can a country still be said to be ‘free’ where citizens are not even allowed to choose their own appliances?

The rules will affect nearly every household in the country.

“We all have a microwave or a refrigerator or a dishwasher, so these rules do affect basically every American household,” said Sofie Miller, a researcher at The George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center.

We notice that our new dishwasher, thanks to existing regulations, does not clean as well as did our old one, manufactured some 25 years ago. We can hardly imagine how bad dishwashers will get after the next round of regulations.

Government keeps saying it’s on the side of the ‘little guy.’ But as usual, government regulation hits the poor the hardest.

Business groups say the new rules will be expensive for industry to comply with because it will require them to buy new technologies to develop appliances that emit less energy. That will raise the retail prices of household appliances, they say…

Lower-income consumers, however, will be at a disadvantage, [Miller] said. They will have a tough time paying for the more expensive appliances, and are likely to keep using older ones.

She also said that could defeat the environmental reasons for pushing the new rules.

“If you can’t afford a dishwasher, you’re stuck washing your dishes by hand,” Miller said, “which actually uses more water.”

Not everyone stands to lose from the new regulations, however. At least some producers will benefit.

While many of the efficiency rules target household appliances, others focus on business appliances, such as commercial ice-makers, commercial refrigerators and walk-in coolers and freezers.

The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute is challenging the later two rules in federal court. Yurek argues the rules could force as much as 40 percent of the industry out of business.

Ah, but eliminating that 40 percent of the industry would benefit the remaining 60 percent. As the Roman lawyers used to say, if you want to know why a law exists, ask yourself:  Cui bono?, Who benefits?

This report appears in The Hill, a mainstream outlet that has neither a conservative nor a libertarian ideological allegiance. Yet in the online comments, scores of readers expressed opposition to the regulations. At the same time, we noticed only one troll (a government employee, perchance?) who supported the regulations.

Despite the public’s opposition, we would bet that most of these regulations get implemented.

Power to the People?

Then, they came for the vacuum cleaners…

Government can’t catch terrorists or balance its budget, but they sure can protect consumers from powerful vacuum cleaners that work well.

Shoppers are panic-buying powerful vacuum cleaners to beat an EU ban that comes into force next week.

Last night retailers reported that sales had soared by nearly 50 per cent as consumers snap up any remaining stock in the run-up to the Brussels diktat outlawing machines of over 1,600 watts.

Many stores and websites have already run out of the most powerful models, with one reporting its busiest day for sales in more than a decade…

A list of up to 30 high-wattage household devices could be banned next spring following a draft EU report which examined ways to reduce power consumption.

Consumer magazine Which? said the new rules on vacuum cleaners would outlaw some of the best machines, which owe their strong suction ability to their high power consumption.

From September 1, companies will be prohibited from manufacturing or importing any vacuum cleaners above the 1,600-watt limit as part of a drive to reduce domestic electricity use…

Yesterday, there was evidence that consumers are stockpiling their favourite models to use in the decades to come.

Chris Wesson, posted a photograph on Twitter of two 2,000-watt Panasonic vacuums which he said his mother had bought.

He tweeted the comment: ‘Only my mum would stock up on powerful vacuum cleaners before this ban comes into effect. We now have five in our house…’

See, free-born citizens shouldn’t be forced by their government to stockpile vacuum cleaners. Or light bulbs. Or toilets, or refrigerant, or detergent, or shower heads, or… How long do people intend to put up with this crap?

Plus the claim that the ban will save energy is dubious.

The ban from Monday on powerful vacuum cleaners has angered manufacturers, who say it will do nothing to make machines more environmentally friendly and will simply reduce efficiency in the home.

Critics say cleaners satisfying the new rule may use less power but householders will have to use them for longer – so they are likely to use the same amount of electricity in the long run.

Yup, you’ll have to use the vacuum for longer, like having to flush a 1.6-gallon toilet twice.

The bureaucrats, of course, tried to downplay the impact on consumers.

Marlene Holzner, the European Commission’s energy spokesman, said the amount of wattage does not automatically indicate how well a vacuum will perform.

She added what counted was how efficiently a vacuum translated its electrical power into picking up dust, and this would be measured under the new rules.

But the respected consumer magazine Which?, basically the British version of Consumer Reports, countered that most of the best models will be banned.

Last week consumer watchdog Which? warned that many of the best models that appear in its Best Buy tables will be taken off the market as a result of the new EU rule.

Of seven awarded ‘Best Buy’ status since January 2013, five have motors with a power of more than 1,600 watts, it said. The maximum wattage will be lowered further to 900 watts by 2017. Current cleaners have an average wattage of 1,800.

So the plan is to reduce the maximum power to only half of the current average and to do so within less than 3 years. We have to believe that such a dramatic loss of power would have to significantly reduce cleaning effectiveness. The only way effectiveness wouldn’t fall would be if producers, motivated by profit, manage to offset the loss of power by dramatically improving technology within a short period of time.

Left-liberals believe that only the government can save us from the profit motive. The reality is that only the profit motive can save us from the government.

Notable and Quotable

Jonah Goldberg:

It’s a little bizarre how the Left has always conflated statism with modernity and progress. The idea that rulers — be they chieftains, kings, priests, politburos, or wonkish bureaucrats — are enlightened or smart enough to tell others how to live is older than the written word. And the idea that someone stronger, with better weapons, has the right to take what is yours predates man’s discovery of fire by millennia. And yet, we’re always told that the latest rationalization for increased state power is the “wave of the future.”

That phrase, “the wave of the future,” became famous thanks to a 1940 essay by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She argued that the time of liberal democratic capitalism was drawing to a close and the smart money was on statism of one flavor or another — fascism, Communism, socialism, etc. What was lost on her, and millions of others, was that this wasn’t progress toward the new, but regression to the past. These “waves of the future” were simply gussied-up tribalisms, anachronisms made gaudy with the trappings of modernity, like a gibbon in a spacesuit.

The only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years is this libertarian idea, broadly understood. The revolution wrought by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and the Founding Fathers is the only real revolution going.

Massachusetts Has the Worst Drivers

Here is the story from Popular Mechanics:

Allstate Insurance’s annual Best Driver’s Report is out, and what many of us have known firsthand for decades is now official: the worst drivers in America are from Massachusetts. The Bay State accounts for three of the bottom four cities in the rankings.

If you’ve ever had to spend a reasonable amount of time in New England, this “finding” is the least surprising bit of information this side of the pope being Catholic. I mean, there’s a reason “Masshole” is part of the vernacular around here.

Worcester ranks dead last at #200. Drivers there are 134.8% more likely to have an accident than the national average. Boston, which is the worst driving city I’ve ever been in—and I work in Manhattan—finishes a solid 199th. Springfield checks in at 197th. Joining them in the bottom four is America’s wretched hive of scum and villainy: Washington, DC.

I obviously don’t have the information needed to question the Allstate study but I do suspect that Jersey City’s ranking (#152) is probably biased due to the fact that most people driving there have no auto insurance.

Have a Seat

Here is a neat story about an unearthed Roman Empire toilet seat:

The only surviving wooden Roman Empire toilet seat has been unearthed near Hadrian’s Wall.

The seat was discovered intact and well preserved due to the preservation conditions at the Vindolanda site in Northumberland.

“We are absolutely delighted with the find,” said Vindolanda director of excavations Dr Andrew Birley: “There are many examples of stone and marble toilet seat benches from across the Roman Empire but this is believed to be the only surviving wooden seat, almost perfectly preserved in the anaerobic, oxygen free, conditions which exist at Vindolanda.”

In the chilly conditions of what was the northernmost limits of the Empire, a wooden seat would have been preferable to stone.

Dr Birley says the Roman toilets would have been serviced by running water: “The Romans brought this toilet technology to Britain 2,000 years ago. It was cleanliness to the max compared with what had gone on before.”

It really is amazing when you consider that an estimated 4 billion + people still don’t have running water and flush toilets.

Marxist Senate Candidate Opposes “Wage Slavery”

We would have thought that after communism in the 20th century killed 100 million people, we would no longer see Americans in public life advocate revolutionary socialism. Yet the current nominee of the Democrat Party for a Montana seat in the U.S. Senate, Amanda Curtis, is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), an old-line revolutionary socialist organization. not_this_shit_again

Back in the day, the IWW practiced various forms of murder and mayhem.

In 1914 Salt Lake City former policeman John Morrison and his son Arling were shot dead by gunmen as they were closing their small grocery store for the night. Before being shot to death, Arling managed to fire the store’s pistol at the intruders.

A younger son, who was in the rear of the store when the gunmen burst into the store, heard one of them shout, “We’ve got you now.” It was noted in the subsequent trial that Morrison had quit the police force because of threats from IWW members whose activities he had confronted while enforcing the law.

An hour and a half after the murders, Dr. Frank McHugh was awakened at his home by IWW member Joe Hill, who had a gunshot wound in his chest. As he was being treated, a revolver slipped from his pocket to the floor. Hearing about the Morrison murders the next day, Dr. McHugh alerted the police. Joe Hill was arrested, convicted, and executed for the murders.

[...]

During World War I, the IWW tried to sabotage the U.S. war effort. All leading Wobblies were arrested by the Wilson Administration under the Sedition Act of 1918 and went to prison. Moments after the sentencing of 95 Wobbies (including Haywood) at the Chicago Federal Building in 1918, a bomb ripped through the building, killing four. Out on appeal in 1921, Haywood fled to Moscow, where he became a trusted adviser to the Bolshevik government.

Nine days before accepting the Senate nomination, Amanda Curtis posted a Facebook profile pic of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a former IWW leader and chair of the Communist Party USA who was accorded a state funeral by the Soviet Union. Ms. Curtis also published an article in an IWW magazine, and her husband is an official in their local chapter. That chapter’s mission statement includes the following.

The Two Rivers General Membership Branch consists of members of the Industrial Workers of the World, a.k.a. Wobblies, from across the state of Montana (Missoula, Hamilton, Butte, and Billings). We are working to organize the people of Montana into the One Big Union to end wage slavery and eventually end the capitalist system. [Emphasis added.]

And what would be Ms. Curtis’ chosen profession?

School teacher, of course.

In any event, we did manage to find the video of Marx opposing wage slavery.

 

The Wages of LA

Here is a recent story about government plans to raise wages from the LA Times:

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is circulating a plan to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13.25 an hour over three years, followed by annual boosts keyed to inflation, according to business representatives and City Hall officials.

The action is expected to be announced on Labor Day.

So far, the proposal has received a cool reception from major business groups worried about the effect on payroll and the possibility that higher wages could drive jobs out of the city. Even some labor leaders dislike it because the hourly wage does not immediately rise to at least $15, a goal that unions have been pursuing for months to help their members cope with the city’s high cost of living.
 

Sad. When your policies are based on vast economic ignorance you get a crappy, barely growing economy that cannot produce enough new jobs to naturally raise wages higher through competition. So you have to double down on ignorant economic policies that conspire in a vicious circle to yield a further crappy economy. Ergo policies that keep people poor and suffering, which is exactly in the interest of politicos seeking power.

Lady Luck?

This is a very interesting story.  My takeaway is that marrying a lawyer is probably not the best idea:

Harold Hamm is an improbable billionaire, the 13th child of sharecroppers who grew up to control more oil than anyone who isn’t a king or a dictator. So from the moment the news broke last year that he and his wife of 25 years were divorcing, the expectation on Wall Street was that Hamm would accept a fight for his cash and his company. Just not a fight like this.

In Hamm v. Hamm, which is in its second week at trial inside a closed Oklahoma City courtroom, one of the world’s largest personal fortunes is caught up in a timeless conundrum of cause and effect. Did Mr. Hamm become one of the planet’s 50 richest people because he was essentially lucky, a Jed Clampett whose shot happened to strike black gold? Or did he climb the human ziggurat primarily because of sweat and skill, a Ragged Dick whose labor set him free?

In legal terms, the case comes down to “active” versus “passive” appreciation of marital assets, explained Carolyn Thompson, a prominent divorce lawyer in Oklahoma City. “To the extent that it was his work that made him wealthy, then it’s a marital asset, subject to equitable division. If it is attributable to what we call ‘passive’ factors—outside his control—then it remains Harold’s property.”

In February Judge Howard Haralson set this question in motion. He ruled that Mr. Hamm’s stake in Continental Resources was personal property. After all, Mr. Hamm had founded the company back in 1967, two decades before he married a brown-eyed lawyer named Sue Ann.

But Continental’s value has quintupled in recent years, producing more than $17 billion in value, according to an economic analysis by his wife’s legal team. On Monday Judge Haralson released that document, and within the next few weeks he plans to apportion the $17 billion based on what he believes created it: the work of Mr. Hamm, the grace and beneficence of Mother Earth, or, most likely, some combination.

The result is a downright Shakespearean drama, according to a lawyer familiar with the case. In one corner, the richest energy mogul in America—a drawling, cantankerous, fire-eyed game hunter and amateur pilot—is claiming that all $17 billion was essentially dumb luck. In the other, his wife—who moved out years ago—is claiming that all $17 billion is the result of her husband’s infinite wisdom.

Food Stamps as Corporate Welfare

Time magazine reports that producers of sugary drinks use the food stamp program to subsidize purchases of their unhealthy products.

So what exactly can SNAP [food stamp] recipients buy with their benefits? There are a few restrictions, against alcohol, and tobacco for instance. But curiously, most junk food is fair game, calling into question whether the “nutrition” in SNAP means much to lawmakers at all. Here are just a few of the items one can buy:

  •  Red Bull
  • Sugary Soda
  • Candy
  • Mixes for alcoholic beverages
  • Artificial sweetener

Of course, big agribusiness is complicit in the structure of the food stamp program. Simon gives the example of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to bar food-stamp recipients from buying sugary soft drinks with SNAP dollars. Big companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola fought back against the measure, which was ultimately vetoed by the Department of Agriculture, saying that the measure would be unworkable.

But take a look at the current restrictions the Agriculture Department places on food stamp use, and it’s difficult to understand why proscribing junk food purchases would be all that difficult. The list of items that one can’t buy with food stamps but that are also commonly found in supermarkets is extensive, including the aforementioned alcohol, but also pet food, ornamental gourds, and prepared foods. Why would barring junk food be functionally different than barring alcohol?

Why doesn’t Time believe the Dept. of Agriculture when they say that restrictions on junk food are unworkable? The federal government wouldn’t lie to us, would they?

In any event, the issue is a serious one because the structure of the food stamp program is apparently contributing to the obesity epidemic, which poses a dire threat to public health. Some enterprising reporter might want to ask the golfer-in-chief about it sometime.

Don’t Take the Piano

A fun story via the Jersey Journal:

When Jersey City’s pedestrian plaza on Newark Avenue opened on Tuesday, Mayor Steve Fulop bequeathed his piano to the area so musically inclined residents could bang out a number or two on the 88s.

“First day of Newark Ave pedestrian only. I put benches in Street+my piano.Let’s see if anyone steels it or plays it,” Fulop wrote on Twitter.

Well, some guys almost walked away with the piano alright, but they weren’t thieves. They were garbage haulers.

Twitter user Karl Sison captured a shot of three garbage men about to toss Fulop’s upright piano inside a garbage truck late Thursday night.

“Please don’t take the piano!!” Karl wrote.

Sison told The Jersey Journal that he and a few others gathered outside Newark Avenue restaurant Skinner’s Loft told the men that the piano was meant to be free entertainment, not trash, and the haulers left it behind.

The piano is now stored safely inside a construction area next to Skinner’s Loft.

I don’t think this plan is going to go well.  Closing off a major street to traffic seems like a nightmare in the making. How will emergency vehicles be able to get around all the picnic tables?  The mayor doesn’t seem to know the difference between “steels” and “steals” and whoever wrote the hours for the “pedestrian plaza” doesn’t know that 12 AM IS MIDNIGHT.  Oh, and I’ll give anyone 4:1 the piano doesn’t last a week.