To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Monday, April 06, 2009

You'll Take My Bottle Of Ajax When You Pry It From My Cold, Dead Fingers

I'd just like to second the comments made by Megan McArdle in response to this post by Kevin Drum which argues that companies deliberately withhold newer, greener and more efficient technologies from the rest of us ignorant masses.

McArdle and Drum are both reacting to this LA Times story about a ban on certain common kitchen detergents in Spokane, Washington. Runoff from them is apparently killing local fish. The ban has created a black market in detergent because the legal stuff just doesn't get that crusty grime off the family flatware. Seriously, that last sentence is not a joke. Families are driving outside the county to the good shit in.

Drum brushes this aside to say that the only problem here is that there aren't enough regulations to force companies to do what they know is right (in this case change the detergent formula).

It totally escapes him that, as the LA Times story points out, those regulations A) aren't getting the job done and B) are turning ordinary people into lawbreakers, if not exactly felons. McArdle tries -- probably in vain -- to talk some sense into him:
[I]ndustry also knew how to make low-flow toilets, which is why every toilet in my recently renovated rental house clogs at least once a week. They knew how to make more energy efficient dryers, which is why even on high, I have to run every load through the dryer in said house twice. And they knew how to make inexpensive compact flourescent bulbs, which is why my head hurts from the glare emitting from my bedroom lamp. They also knew how to make asthma inhalers without CFCs, which is why I am hoarding old albuterol inhalers that, unlike the new ones, a) significantly improve my breathing and b) do not make me gag. Etc.

In fact, when I look back at almost every "environmentally friendly" alternative product I've seen being widely touted as a cost-free way to lower our footprint, held back only by the indecent vermin at "industry" who don't care about the environment, I notice a common theme: the replacement good has really really sucked compared to the old, inefficient version. In some cases, the problem could be overcome by buying a top-of-the-line model that costs, at the very least, several times what the basic models do. In other cases, as with my asthma inhalers, we were just stuck.

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