Many times the desire to do something ‘good’ for the environment, let’s say save water or an endangered species, seem easy to address and so the government passes a law or creates a regulation that addresses the problem in a simple and straightforward way. Everyone is happy . . . right?
WRONG! I am going to take a look at just a few of these special interest inspired travesties and analyze the unexpected consequence of each.
Let’s take a look at mandated restricted flow faucets first. The government wanted to reduce our demand for water. On the surface redesigning faucets such that they would work as effectively while using less water to do so makes perfect sense so back in 1995 the use of flow restrictive faucets and toilets mandated to use only 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF) rather than the more common 3.5 GPF. First thing people noticed was that a toilet now required 2 – 3 flushes in order to flush the remains of last night’s lasagna! So now we use 3.2 to 4.8 GPF! Still the technology has improved since those early years so this is not so much of a problem and 1.6 GPF will get rid of the more common #1 (is that a PUN? Sorry) usage of a toilet. Flow restrictors and aerators on all the other faucets simply don’t make any sense however based on usage. Why would I say that? My bath takes 22 gallons of water and I don’t want it cold. An old faucet could fill the tub from bone dry to overflowing in 3 minutes and change; the new faucet takes over 11 minutes during which the hot water is cooling down so I have to compensate by using more energy to heat the water before it leaves the faucet! I haven’t saved an ounce of water but have added to the CO2 level of the atmosphere because I needed extra energy to heat it. My biggest complaint (I don’t take frequent baths, prefer the shower) is the kitchen faucet. Like most people today I let a dish-washer take care of scrubbing dirty dishes. A dish-washer is effective and makes sense environmentally. It takes 2.5 gallons per fill. So what use is the kitchen sink put to. Presoaking really burned on stuff is one thing, filling a mop bucket to scrub the floors is another and, most commonly, filling a pot so that I can cook some food. In each case cited there is a requirement for a measured quantity of water, usually hot. So rather than quickly fill the object with the water I need I am forced to sit and hold the faucet or tap my fingers impatiently while I wait for the faucet that thinks there can be NO logical reason for me to want more than 1/2 gallon of water per minute mixed with useless air. Six minutes to fill a bucket to wash the floors. 2.5 minutes to fill a pot to cook a family size batch of chili (I use only Hatch chilis from New Mexico). I can easily waste over an hour each day waiting for a faucet to fill up a container because some twit in the government thought you could save water by slowing it down. Guess what? You really can’t save water by filling a 5 gallon bucket slowly.
The lions of the Serengeti are an endangered species. I was watching a video this morning presented by an environmental activist, and a liberal PC gentleman named Mikkel, who has made his life dream to save these animals. He admitted to being one of the first on the bandwagon to outlaw the hunting of lions in the non-National Preserve area of the Serengeti. This area is currently used for cattle ranching. It was, up until 2003, perfectly legal to hunt lions in this area and hunters from around the world would pay up to $750,000 US Dollars for the privilege. The money would go to the government and a lot of it was set aside to compensate the ranchers for the inevitable loss of livestock due to predation by the lions. Succumbing to international outcry from the anti-hunting and ‘green’ liberals the government banned all hunting in the region. Of course the inevitable happened, the lions kept on killing and eating the cattle. The ranchers picked up a rifle and shot the lions. This is legal since they are not hunting but defending their livelihood. As the population of lions decreased in the rural area the National Preserve lions recognized that the old lion population had disappeared and lions, being lions and territorial, moved into the available area and then began to kill and eat the cattle. The ranchers now found themselves killing lions that used to be protected. Eleven years later and the status of the lions of the Serengeti has become precarious indeed.
We do what is right by forcing our views onto others rather than a reliance on natural consequences, we call this being Politically Correct (PC). We institute rules and regulations without regard to the full use or impact of the object or device we are attempting to control, which is ignoring the aforementioned natural consequence. When we do these things we risk alienation of a portion of our population. Sure, it feels good to get a law passed that makes it illegal to bully somebody by calling them a ‘bad’ name. It feels good to be able to shut someone down by saying “You haven’t shared my experience or culture so you don’t have a right to an opinion.” But isn’t this just bullying too? Whatever happened to “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”? I mean, do we really need rule of law to protect us from jerks? Have our skins become so thin?
Here is a little comparison for arguments sake. When I lived in Europe and the Middle-East I observed that my auto insurance rates were phenomenally low (I am talking about as much as 90% lower for the same vehicle) compared to the rates I paid in the US. I asked why this was. An agent in Turkey explained it very clearly, “Here you take personal responsibility for your decisions. If you have an accident and are injured while NOT wearing seat belts then my company is not required to pay for injuries that would have been prevented had you been wearing them.” He then continued, “If alcohol is involved then you are personally responsible and my company is not required to pay your claim, we only cover the injured party and that only if they also test clean. If they also were not wearing seat belts then neither we, nor you, are liable for injuries that would have been prevented should they have been wearing them.” What an amazingly refreshing idea. If you as an adult, make a stupid decision and it results in personal harm then you are held responsible. Is it any wonder that DUIs are so low in these areas? In the UK they literally laugh at all the silly bells and whistles that remind you to put on a seat belt, that you left your keys in the cars. The American’s penchant for bonging and clanging convinces them that we need to be held by the hand to go to the loo! The sad thing is that it is all too true, we divorce ourselves from personal responsibility in every aspect of our lives wherever possible from child-rearing to how much water we use to wash our hands. This really needs to change.
Okay, five minutes is up, I should be able to flush the remainder of last night’s chili now…