1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16775/the-attack-on-the-washing-machine/

The Attack on the Washing Machine

May 4, 2011 by

You can chart the course of human progress in terms of how clean our clothing is. In early times people used animal skins, had no change of clothing, and had no soap. Then history turned on a dime toward progress — until recent regulations.

FULL ARTICLE by Mark Thornton


Shay May 4, 2011 at 8:25 am

Most people are unaware of this problem either because they have an older model, they don’t do their own laundry, or they are just oblivious to this type of thing.

Do washers at the laundromat count as older models that still wash clothes properly? I’d hate to come in one day and have them work worse than they do now.

Matt smith May 4, 2011 at 9:01 am

My family owned laundromats. Frontloaders get clothes much cleaner than top loaders… But only if they have enough water. In the old days they used much more water than top loaders and now they “mysteriously” use less. Gubmint regulations. It’s all about how much clean water you can get to flush out the dirty water. The problem with top loaders is that they have clothes soaking in dirty water.
This is a minor detail, though. Overall, Mark is dead-on that the new allegedly “green” regs have ruined washing machines just as they have ruined everything else.

A. Viirlaid May 4, 2011 at 11:24 am

Like flush toilets that use less water by government diktat.



Flush 3 times at each ‘sitting’.


Government has saved us nothing but made us flush multiple times, instead of once.

Same story for low-flow shower heads.


One stays under the shower longer, and uses up even more water and more precious time.

Social engineering is for the birds — well, no, not even for them.

In some few cases perhaps the argument might be made —— like making clothes detergents have less phosphorus and even dishwasher detergents —— more convincingly that there is some good to regulations.

Please see http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/aug/16/dumping-less-catching-more/

Sometimes, even “Big” business is no more moral than is government.

But business does respond when the citizenry learns of stuff it does that is harmful.

Although I still have to wonder about that stuff (“Alar”) they put on apples that actor Meryl Streep was involved in.

Please see http://www.sustainer.org/dhm_archive/index.php?display_article=vn686alared

Walt D. May 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I have recently replaced toilets and water heaters.
The toilet actually flushes – saved water – aren’t bureaucrats wonderful?
But I spoke too soon.
I had to let the faucet run for what seemed like an eternity before it was warm enough to wash my hands. All that saved water down the drain :-(
This is the problem with government bureaucrats. They never think things out, and when they get it wrong, they don’t change.

Dan May 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Help, where do we get real toilets that work? Do you have a link?



Walt D. May 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I got mine at Home Depot. They rate each one for various categories, including flushing.
Mine was $99 (in LA) – a Glacier Bay. Kohler are also good but much more expensive.
The Kohler Numi cost $6,400, so unless you have a Jeffrey Tucker budget, its probably a bit more than you want to shell out. Kohler does have good models in the $200-300 range. American Standard also have good ratings.
The toilet does flush. However, people have complained that after installing low flush toilets, they end up getting clogged drains. This is particularly a problem in San Francisco. However, this probably has more to do with City Hall flushing too many $100 bills down the toilet.

J. Murray May 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm

The other problem is that low flush toilets are also frequently pressurized, and when that pressure seal bursts, you’ll be wasting a ton of water, money, and time.

Shay May 5, 2011 at 5:57 am

A. Viirlaid, is there a government limit on the number of sentences per paragraph where you live? :)

A. Viirlaid May 6, 2011 at 10:39 am

Thanks Shay — Good One !!!

Lee May 4, 2011 at 9:03 am

Speaking of clean clothing, the dryer at the place that I am living at right now collects a crazy amount of lint. So much so, that within 3 loads it can be rolled off into a fist sized amount of lint.

Vanmind May 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Perhaps that’s more an indication of decreasing clothing/textile quality, stuff wears out faster.

To hide the price effects of inflation, food manufacturers will offer smaller portions for the “same” price. Maybe fashion does something similar, with lower thread counts or something like that.

A. Viirlaid May 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm

That is an interesting comment.

It actually raises a corollary issue that concerns The FED and the tabulators of our price inflation statistics.

These people use “Hedonic Adjustments” to lower the observed Price Inflation Rate whenever they can justify such lowering by observed IMPROVEMENTS in the quality of a given product that they are using for compiling their inflation stats.

So if a Personal Computer has its speed and memory DOUBLED by the manufacturer but the selling price is kept constant from the lower model sale in one year to the higher model in the following year, the Official Inflation Stats can be considered to be adjusted by a downward move of calculated price inflation by 50% even though the selling price did not in reality change, and, in reality, the old model may not even be offered for sale in the market in that following year (to at least give the consumer a CHOICE of buying now what would presumably be the cheaper and older model).

That is “Hedonic Adjustment”. What a gimmick! No wonder we have real price inflation, but the Government folks have managed to eliminate such inflation from the “Official Statistics”.

So my question that Vanmind so astutely (if indirectly) raises, is:

“If the product is LOWERED in quality (as in Thread Count) and offered for the same price, do our Official Government Price Inflation Tabulation People also in this case ADJUST the Calculated and Reported Price Inflation UPWARDS?”

Not Bloody Likely!!!




Gilbert W. Chapman May 4, 2011 at 9:03 am

Great essay, Mr. Thornton ! ! !

The same (lack of) principles by the government can be applied to:

Automobiles: If everyone wore seat belts, would air bags even be necessary?
Lawn Mowers: Has the automatic stall feature ever been proved to be cost effective, and save hands and fingers?
Garage Door Electric Eyes (to halt doors from closing on children): According to the statistics, less than one child per state per year was killed. H m m m . . . How many children have been killed because because the parent was chatting on a cell phone?
Child Imprisonment Car Seats: In another presentation carried on TED, and the “Freakeconomics” author (?) , children aren’t really safer with those new, improved versions.
Child Safe Medication Bottles: That can only be opened by children!

And, I’ve little doubt other readers can add numerous other examples to my list ! ! !

Aaron May 4, 2011 at 9:32 am

I’m volunteering in the Dominican Republic and Haiti this year, and I can attest to that observation firsthand about productivity and washing machines. It takes an incredible amount of time to do daily tasks when there isn’t running water or electricity. Though, I should say there are a lot of resourceful and ingenious alternatives that I have seen employed. But, the drain on manually doing some basic tasks, effectively removes personal or economic development from the poorest of the poor, because they are basically trying to live each day – something we don’t even think about when we flip on the lights to our laundry room and dump our clothes in the washer and automatically the water flows in and the process starts.

Now, I don’t propose sending washing machines here, no, rather we can invest in economic and educational development. That’s what gets the gears turning and improves life for everyone in the community. One example of this is microfinance (the type of organization in which I work) I’ve seen some of our clients do so well in their micro-business that eventually they are able to hire employees. Productivity makes things continually prosperous, here and back home.

The Anti-Gnostic May 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

“Now, I don’t propose sending washing machines here, no, rather we can invest in economic and educational development.”

Oh please. We’ll be doing that until doomsday. But if you’re going to be down there anyway, is it too much to ask that you do something useful? Like a wastewater treatment plant or reservoir/pumping station for potable water?

Haiti is poor because capital won’t invest there. Capital won’t invest there because it’s exposed to the risk of expropriation, either by the government or by private criminals. That should give you a starting point on the direction that “aid” should take.

Erik May 4, 2011 at 9:49 am

This hits closer to home in Brazil.
– I had to hand wash my clothes for several months. The apartment provided a large space out back with sinks for hand-washing. While hanging clothes one day with the sun beating down on me (making me look more “brasilian”, i.e. “old” at 30), it immediately struck me that this huge space could have been used for more apartments. Actually, washers are available, but people still need space to dry clothes.
– I then had someone to clean my house. Paying the normal rate, it was less than $150 per month, but for many hours of work, it was equivalent to slave labor. And as you might guess, washing clothes was the majority of the time.
– I then bought a washer-drier. I paid the equivalent of $1700. The government has more than 100% taxes on these, they do not want them to exist! But the drier doesn’t have a vent (uses a less efficient system to remove water), so my clothes come out slightly damp (most apartments don’t install vents because even rich people don’t have a drier). But at least I have clean clothes and less rigorous work for my “slave”. I took pictures of equivalent machines when in the US, they took larger loads are cost around $700.
Looking at the big picture….
– Washing of clothes in Brazil provides work for a large group of under-skilled.
– Driers based on gas could easily exist but the governments puts a stop to this as well.
– Government involvement in the electricity companies may be part of the issue (blackouts are common)
– Central air in homes still does not generally exist and homes are not built with such energy efficiency in mind. So in terms of wasted electricity, air conditioners (which many businesses have) are surely a bigger problem.

augusto May 4, 2011 at 10:33 am

“The government has more than 100% taxes on these, they do not want them to exist!”

You are right. The 1988 Brazilian Constitution explicitly says it is a duty of the government to protect labor against automation.

I’m surprised people here are even allowed to drive their own cars. Imagine how many jobs could be created if only the government mandated that only professional drivers could drive! (/irony off)

A. Viirlaid May 4, 2011 at 11:38 am

You are right on with that augusto

Please see http://www.nomorespin.com/blog/

For this quote:

One is reminded of an incident in an Asian country where Milton Friedman upon arrival to a public works program finds that workers are using only shovels and not any earth-moving equipment. Upon questioning about this lack of use of heavy equipment, Friedman is told that this was a public works program and the aim is to employ as many workers as possible. Friedman then quips, “why not give them spoons to dig?”

augusto May 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm

well, we wrote that principle into law. ;-)

(it’s also not surprising that the leading figure during the constitutional convention ended 7th in the following elections… who could take him seriously??)

HL May 4, 2011 at 11:17 am

This reminds me of Europe. It blows my mind that upper class folks hang dry their clothes (or more accurately, have their yugoslaven househelp do it). Hello!

Another example of slowly strangling the joy out of life is how modern fashion avoids the clean, crisp colors and lines that were all-too-briefly fashionable during the early Reagan era. Trampy, dirty colors are in, not unlike the 70′s when degeneracy of spirit was proudly reflected in degenerate clothes.

integral May 5, 2011 at 1:44 am

We hang our clothes to dry at my parents house, mainly because they don’t want to waste money on the extra electricity. It works great in the summer, but in the winter it sucks. (Leaving them out in the wind makes them nice and fluffed in the summer.)

Personally I only use the dryer.

Jeremy May 4, 2011 at 9:56 am

Yeah, totally. Because having slightly cleaner clothes is *DEFINITELY* more important than leaving a livable planet behind for our children.

J. Murray May 4, 2011 at 10:03 am

Read the article again. The new “efficient” machines are causing us to use more water and more energy. I have one of those efficient machines and I always put my clothes through a second full wash cycle without soap to get them cleaned out properly. I have to, otherwise I’ll get rashes and infections from the soap and oil build up the cloth.

It doesn’t do much good to use 30% less water and electricity in a load if you use it twice to get the same results. You end up using 40% more than the older models. Like how I have to flush my 1.8 gallon per flush toilet three times to keep it from building up mold at the water line, which is 0.4 more gallons per flush than the “wasteful” 5 gallon per flush toilet.

Goddard Lewko May 4, 2011 at 10:04 am

Given that the methods necessary to get around the limitations of these “energy efficient” washing machines, to say nothing of how other methods of washing clothes, are even more energy intensive, I can’t imagine you’ll have either if this keeps up.

X May 4, 2011 at 10:09 am

I would think it wouldn’t be too hard to understand that sanitation is a more reasonable concern than water conservation.

Inquisitor May 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Based on what is “leaving a livable planet” (whatever that means) a duty owed to as of yet unborn future generations…?

Dave Albin May 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Yeah, let’s put the government in charge of that, what a great idea…

Ryan May 6, 2011 at 8:11 am

Yeah, the day when all the water is used up is going to be terrible. Where does it all go anyway once it goes down the drain?

Joe M May 4, 2011 at 10:04 am

Had to buy a new washing machine last month. It was a big surprise for me. First I found out that all the washing machines are basically owned by the same company, Whirlpool. Then I found out that there is a new HE High efficiency model. This is a model that you have to use the new HE detergent. Supposively with less water and this detergent my clothes will be cleaner while using less energy. So far I can’t tell the difference between the old and new. Oh, I forgot the new washer has its own clean cycle. It now can take a bath on its own.

skylien May 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

Yeah, totally. Because having slightly dirtier clothes will *DEFINITELY* save the planet for our children!

If you would be capable of catching the conclusion of the text, you had noticed that it was: Now we have slightly dirtier clothes and no planet (according to your logic)! Because new washing machines are in sum more inefficient than the older ones! (People wash more often, use more detergent, load less per washing operation, throw clothes away earlier because they are dirty! etc…)

skylien May 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

ups wrong place..

Charles Labianco May 4, 2011 at 10:28 am

Absolutely clear expository writing, perfect common sense.
We need a thousand articles like this on many subjects
dealing with government meddling. The ordinary common person
who is not very literate can appreciate such an articl, especially
if it is in larger typefont. Of course your forum, Von Mises will
not serve the common person, but your article and the forum
serves the higher educated as well.

augusto May 4, 2011 at 10:37 am

Check out Jeffrey Tucker’s “Bourbon for breakfast”, a book filled with examples of government interference: http://mises.org/resources/5509

Robert Brossman, DDS May 4, 2011 at 11:00 am

My father would have agreed with the washing machine article, but I know if he was still alive, he would insist on adding Red Dye (#1, #2, #3) to the products responsible for vast improvements in the lifetime survivability of the human race. He was a research chemist with DuPont, and pigment and dye specialist.

As I first heard trhe tale, the vast increase in life spans of humanity began to climb upward after someone began adding Red Dye to foodstuffs and especially canned goods during the Eighteen Seventies. Life Expectency was around age 55 then, and today is nearly 80.

Today, Red Dyes are suspected of being carcinogens, and have been replaced for the most part, but was the trade-off worth it?

Karen May 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I’m assuming (hoping?) this is meant tongue-in-cheek somehow–like the warning that eating carrots can be fatal, since statistics show that 9 out of 10 people who die have ingested carrots sometime during the two weeks prior to their death.

hayeksheroes May 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

The soap used to clean the clothes has been regulated and worsen too. No more phosphates, which is a great chemical to clean clothes and dishes.

Dave Finkleman May 4, 2011 at 11:24 am

Yes, indeed. But wouldn’t one expect that we would have to trade the effectiveness of a process for saving energy? Cars with high gas mileage are smaller and less powerful. We trade how rapidly we can climb a hill for using less gas. Solar cells with everything running at 5 volts DC are much more efficient than delivering everything at 220V/60hz. Every device from the fridge to the computer needs some kind of power conditioning device, and those devices dissipate energy. The author is right, but he is also wrong. At best, the public was not witting of the need to trade less water and electricity for rings around the collar. N’est ce que pas?

J. Murray May 4, 2011 at 11:32 am

“Cars with high gas mileage are smaller and less powerful.”

That’s not true. The Chevy Camaro, for example, has 412 horsepower and because the engine disables four of the cylanders while crusing, it has excellent gas milage. I’m getting around 30 miles per gallon while crusing in my F-150 and it’s a 5 liter V8. It has more power and uses less fuel than the 5.7 liter engine in the 2010 model.

Smaller and lighter isn’t more efficient. Efficiency is measured by comparing meaningful output. Efficient is using less to get the same or more. Using less will always result in you using less, that’s a tautology, but are you getting less in return?

BioTube May 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

There’s also the fact that Diesel engines are always more efficient than their gas counterparts.

Sione May 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm


Diesel engines are not “always” more efficient than gasoline engines. For a start the diesel cycle (constant pressure combustion) is less efficient than is the Otto cycle (constant volume combustion) at the same pressure ratio. Even when the Diesel is given a compression ratio many points higher than the Otto it is still possible to exceed its efficiency with an Otto cycle engine- it all depends on the details of the design, the application and the duty-cycle. For example, two of the cars I have Peugeot 405 models. One is a diesel and the other gasoline. It is possible to drive them in such a way that the diesel uses more fuel than does the gasoline one. When I am in the mood I can drive the diesel so that it is always on boost and so that for the same performance as the gasoline car it uses more fuel. However, if I treat diesel car reasonably gently, using it in urban and city areas (stop-start traffic, lights, interesections etc), then it is parsimonious and uses less fuel than does the gasoline car. The duty cycle is key. What amazed me last time I drove a Holden Commodore is how economical it was on highway. That thing had a 6.2 litre gasoline V8. It weighed over 4000 lbs and it was bettering 30 mpg. Different story in the city though.

You guys in the States are unlucky not to be able to drive some of the European diesel cars. They are very economical to operate and some have reasonable power as well. Trouble is that the govt in the USA mandated their exclusion from your market due to an alleged emissions issue. The diesel is claimed to generate particulates which make it far too dangerous for Euro ones to be allowed to exist within the borders of the USA. Govts do that type of thing…


Dan May 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Very interesting. I know about 8 years ago GM was developing a hydrogen car that was really promising (it was far more efficient then this government funded hybrid & electric rubbish we are seeing today). What happened to that idea?!

It seems like real innovation with energy has stopped since the Feds became involved. Everybody is pushing nonsensical electric cars and super heavy and expensive hybrids. The electric cars their pushing now have about the same range as they did a hundred years ago (no kidding), which is to say, not much! Frustrating…

J. Murray May 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm

The problem is that hydrogen driven engines don’t output much power, the refueling stations are expensive to build, and the pressure seal required to keep the car fueled is expensive and difficult to fill. Why do you think places like Ace Hardware won’t let you fill your own propane tank? There’s a ton that can go wrong and can’t have customers suing them over it.

Dan May 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Good point about the hydrogen. There must be a better solution to saving gas then pushing those lame hybrids though. Those things are so lame!

J. Murray May 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I can hope that this becomes a reality in the near future:


Electric motors are far and away superior to gas and diesel. They can output full torque through each RPM, are more powerful, use fewer resources to operate, are more reliable because they basically only have one moving part, and don’t even need an oil change. If Tesla Motors can cram one of those into their Model S and let me recharge a 300 mile run in 5 minutes, I’ll switch to electric motors tomorrow.

The other end of the equation is to stop being so afraid of nuclear energy and quit regulating it into the ground. There’s enough terrestrial uranium with reprocessing to last 500 million years. When that runs out, the sun will explode long before we use up all the uranium floating around in sea water. This is of course assuming the expansion of nuclear energy doesn’t provide the necessary seed energy to make fusion power a reality.

The only real question is how to make plastics and medicine without oil, but then again, we’re finding out that oil isn’t just straight pressure on organic material, but a bacteria byproduct. If diamonds can be mass produced from coal, I bet we’ll figure out a way to mass produce oil from banana peels.

Sione May 4, 2011 at 9:47 pm

J Murray

Also hydrogen has wide ignition limits so you have to be careful with it in an engine or anywhere near a potential ignition source (like a starter motor or anything DC). It has a detonation problem so you are always in danger of hurting your engine. It is difficult to store much of it (so your driving range is reduced). Most metals are porous to hydrogen, so it escapes by going right through them. Hydrogen embrittles metals (so it wrecks material properties on the way out (it does weird things to many other materials as well).

Can you imagine being allowed to fill up your new car with liquid hydrogen? What’s the bet some Bubba would do it with a lit ciggie in his mouth while chattering away on his cell phone. Could be a hazards issue doncha reckon?


BetterMileage101 August 20, 2011 at 12:00 am

I have a F-150 5.4L V8 and it isn’t even close to 30 miles per gallon – more like 10 mpg before I started tuning it and driving it more efficiently. Are you sure about that number?

A. Viirlaid May 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Sometimes there are harmful products that we do need protection from because we are not all knowledgeable enough to know if something is harmless or harmful.

I don’t know the mechanism to create such protection, but I would think that the market could come up with one.

For example, in my opinion, sunscreens are pretty harmful because they “fool” people into thinking that they can spend more time in the sun with them, than without them.

Most especially the early versions were problematic IMHO.

What they did was actually to encourage people to stay in the sun longer than they would have without such “protection”.

The human body evolved with a built-in mechanism to warn us about the danger of overexposure to sunshine.

And as youngsters most of us felt the very real results of staying in the sun too long —— we quickly learned how to protect ourselves with clothing and how to not overexpose ourselves to the sun’s rays.

At the same time, we NEED exposure to the sun, especially prior to the days before we knew what Vitamin D was —— the skin is EXTREMELY efficient at making Vitamin D even after short exposure to the sun —- the problem in northern climes in the winter is that there is very little sunshine and most of us are REALLY bundled up against the prevailing cold —- before we had Vitamin D and cod liver oil, many people would suffer deficiencies of Vitamin D —- and now scientists have found out something very seemingly contradictory —- Vitamin D actually seems to prevent cancer —- so if one avoids Vitamin D which in the old days meant avoiding the sun, one would tend to more easily get cancer of all kinds.

CONTINUING from above:
What happened with the introduction of so-called sunscreens in the 1970-s?

We unlearned those lessons that we learned as youngsters (today of course youngsters never have a chance to “burn” or even get “red”).

We went and “baked” ourselves after the introduction of sunscreens. WHY? Well, for one thing, we did not “burn”.

But that is precisely the feedback we needed to avoid overexposure to the sunshine. Without feedback (with the use of sunscreens, that is) we might think that we are OK with all the exposure we want —— after all, we are not ‘burning’ right?

Why is this bad?

Because sunscreens, especially the early concoctions and various formulas, did not stop all the rays, only the “burning” rays. But the “burning” rays are not the only harmful ones. When I was younger, I read about people who never felt any pain, and thought “hey that is good, no pain”. But this is a big problem for such people because they inevitably damage their bodies through burns etc. simply because they have no feedback system to forewarn them of damage they are doing to themselves. Inevitably their bodies are damaged over time, and their life-spans are much shorter than average.

Evolution is usually very “thrifty” —— like a good engineer, it does not “over-engineer” an organism that it develops if this is not necessary. So evolution only had to make us “burn” with a small part of the sun’s spectrum, for us to learn to “protect” ourselves.
Of course Evolution did its “engineering” in the absence of sunscreens (that we invented).
So we only burn in a very certain narrow range of wavelengths. That is ALL that is necessary, for Evolution to “protect” us, or at least that was ALL that was needed before our creativity came up with SUNSCREENS.

After sunscreens became available, a lot of us (like me) went to our vacation “paradises” (like Hawaii) and slathered on the old sunscreen lotion, and went out and baked ourselves for 4 hours at a time —— Look MOM, no more “burn”.

But guess what?

We may have been giving ourselves skin cancer and not even knowing it. And all because Evolution was too “thrifty”.

It usually takes about 30 years for the “wave” of skin cancer to show up after exposures that are cancer-causing.
Those sunscreens came in at around the beginning of 1980 (in a big way that is). Sure we did not “burn” but the other rays were still getting through and doing their damage over time.

Later the makers of sunscreens added more protection for other wavelengths, but it is not clear that even this is enough to prevent actual skin DAMAGE (as I say, the sun’s rays can “damage” even in the absence of BURNING).

What is now happening could have been foreseen —— 1980 plus 30 years equals a BIG wave of skin cancer.

The implication of sunscreens, for the uninformed consumer, at least in the early days, was that, hey it prevents “burn” and that thus it prevents “HARM” —— I guess now we know that this might not be so true.

An aside:
But if one infers the wrong thing from a product, whose fault is it? —— this reminds me of the guy who was in his RV and left the steering wheel to make himself a cup of coffee in the back, because he had incorrectly INFERRED that the vehicle would drive itself BECAUSE THAT DRIVER HAD ENGAGED THE “CRUISE CONTROL” —— after that, I believe that manufacturer was required to put in plain type in their Operator’s Handbook that Cruise Control could not be used in such a manner.

So in my non-medical opinion, if you do go outside, never LAY in the direct sun to “bake” yourself.
Also do not rely entirely on sunscreens, some of which may even have some “questionable” chemicals that can have their own problems for human skin.

And sometimes relying on EVOLUTION (as your built-in protection) may actually be more sensible than relying on LOTION OR PILL “solutions” to all of our medical “problems”.

nate-m May 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Sometimes there are harmful products that we do need protection from because we are not all knowledgeable enough to know if something is harmless or harmful.

I don’t know the mechanism to create such protection, but I would think that the market could come up with one.

There are lots of organizations that specialize in testing chemicals and other things. There certification programs and all sorts of other stuff that is done that is independent from government.

J. Murray May 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Underwriter’s Laboratories, still the most respectable testing organization on the planet, and they’re privately run.

Sione May 4, 2011 at 9:50 pm

J Murray

Don’t you have Factory Mutual over there for this stuff as well?


J. Murray May 5, 2011 at 5:45 am

We sure do. I used UL because I’m used to seeing their label on the back of products I tend to buy. I trust their research on product safety. That FCC logo on electronics is something I ignore.

Karen May 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm

If you can get your hands on a copy of World Without Cancer, by G. Edward Griffin, I think you’ll find it enlightening. All the best to you.

A. Viirlaid May 6, 2011 at 10:55 am

Thanks Karen.

One wonders how government agencies like the FDA are really ‘protecting’ us when they let products like VIOXX and Fen-Phen into the marketplace.

These ‘protecting’ agencies also somehow allow practices like HRT into medical practice and let questionable chemicals be used in cosmetic products.

One wonders how long it will be until someone proves that Statin Drugs are also doing more harm than good.

Please see “Overdosed America” by John Abramson at http://www.overdosedamerica.com/

Please see “Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good?” at http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_04/b4068052092994.htm

Also even sodas appear not to be safe, whether they are Aspartame-filled diet sodas, or HFCS-filled regular sodas.

Please see Dr. Mercola at


and at


nate-m May 4, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Solar cells with everything running at 5 volts DC are much more efficient than delivering everything at 220V/60hz.


If I needed to run 5v DC for everything running in my house I’d need a copper cabling about the thickness of my leg to handle that much current.

A 60 watt lightbulb at 5 volts would require copper transmission line that can handle about 13-15 amps to safely supply my power. My computer uses about 300 watts to run, at 5 volts I would require a cable about half a foot thick to handle the current!

There are very good reasons why we use high voltage power lines and AC current…

As far as solar power goes.. we are looking at about .5-1.5 kw/hr per day… with 13% efficiency, with 40-70% efficient electrical storage (unless you only want to run your electricity during the day), 70-80% conversion and transmission loss… which adds up to a minimum of 100 or so square miles of solar panels just to safely meet the energy needs of a moderately large city.

Not to mention the vast quantities of rare earth metals and toxic chemicals required and the continuous maintenance and recycling of batteries and panels and so on and so forth.

All in all using today’s technology and trying to make solar panels work on a massive scale would probably create a environmental impact so large and economic loss so vast that it would make the worst examples of coal strip mining from the 1950′s-1970′s look like a fart in the wind in comparison.

Of course individuals doing it is a entirely different story.

My current favorite fantasy regarding energy independence from fossil fuels would be self-contained neighborhood-sized liquid fluoride thorium reactors delivered working by truck and replaced in their entirety when the fuel is nearing exhaustion decades later. (Thorium itself is very expensive to handle and store, extremely reactive, and requires complicated and expensive start up procedures requiring high-grade uranium; so I figure that you could deliver smaller pre-started reactors to work like batteries)

HL May 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm


Dan May 4, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Right on, Nate. I don’t know what to add…

J. Murray May 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Don’t forget the immense labor expense making sure all those panels are polished, inspect them against cracks, and replacing them. Then there’s all the cost of driving those trucks around with the repair equipment over that 100 square miles.

Sione May 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm

With a LFTR reactor you refuel them on the fly as they operate. In fact this is exactly what you need to do so that they operate without generating unwanted daughter nucleides. Luckily the process for adding and removing the liquids and gases involved is straight forward.

Good news is that LFTR by-products and waste have short half-lives and are not highly radioactive in any case. The disposal problem is not anywhere as significant as with conventional uranium and MOX reactor types. There is also not a weapons proliferation issue with the LFTR. Basically it is a commercially appealing approach. It didn’t happen because the nuclear technology industry was state developed, operated and politicised right from inception. Further, one of the govt’s primary goals in developing nuclear technology was for the powerful weapons it allowed. They set out to fry people, not generate electricity for them! Electricity was a handy sideline…


Dan May 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

What is so frustrating is that there seems to be no way to get around these stupid green regulations. I’ve looked for the pre-93 high flow toilets in foreign countries on the net, but to no avail. There must be a way to buy these products from other countries that don’t have these annoying green regulations.


A. Viirlaid May 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Please see:

Brilliant. Rand Paul Links Government Bureaucrats to Busted Toilets (Video)

at http://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/03/rand-paul-links-government-bureaucrats-to-busted-toilets-video/

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul told a Senate Committee on Thursday that his toilet doesn’t work.

And the US government is to blame.

Paul, a Republican, blamed his plumbing conundrum on federal legislation that forces Americans to buy more energy efficient appliances.

“Light bulbs, refrigerators, toilets, you name it. You can’t go around your house without being told what to buy,” Paul said.

“You restrict my purchases. You don’t care about my choices. You don’t care about the consumer.

“Frankly, my toilets don’t work in my house, and I blame you and people like you who want to tell me what I can install in my house. I find it insulting.”

Paul was speaking during a hearing on a bill to improve appliances’ energy efficiency and another proposal to repeal a 2007 law that phases out traditional incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient options.



Dan May 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

LOL. I saw that video a month ago, he was so right! Rand Paul is awesome!

Sione May 4, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Try Australia or New Zealand

greg May 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

My wife likes her front load washer, it gets the clothes cleaner with less wear. Basically, if she is happy, I am too and really don’t care how my clothes get from dirty to clean. However, I do like the low water usage as it puts less stress on our septic drain field and will make it last longer.

My problem is that I can’t find 150 watt interior flood lights for my kitchen can lights. So then I switched to 135 watt light bulbs a couple years ago and now that they have burned out, all I can find is 65 watt. Now I had the electrician install 10 more cans.

I am drawing up my next home now and my electrical plan calls for 105 can lights so that when they restrict us to 35 watt, I will be ready.

Dave Albin May 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm

True, we have a frontloader that works well. And, you can add a sock to it if you forget (there is a pause button). We leave the door open to prevent mold growth. The issue is that frontloaders wouldn’t be here without government mandate, increasing costs and decreasing choices.

J. Murray May 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm

So, front loaders are cheaper and sell better, so they wouldn’t exist without government intervention? Do you hear what you’re saying, those greedy businesses will turn away an easy profit?

A. Viirlaid May 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Hi greg —- while they are currently still relatively very expensive in the marketplace, I have recently purchased some LED lights for the kitchen “recessed” fixtures, and am very satisfied so far.

These seem to be far superior to halogen and the newer compact fluorescent type bulbs (in my limited experience). They are cooler and in my opinion more pleasant.

I was able to replace 65 watt bulbs with 8 and 10 watt L.E.D. lights built to the same size so that they also fit into these recessed “wells” in the ceiling. They have so-called “long necks” that easily reach the screw-in-type receptor.

Of course there are almost unlimited types of light fixtures and bulbs on the market, but I was happy with my specific “find”. I get the same light (or more) with a very clean white mixture of wavelengths, and with far lower power consumption, and a VERY long projected life.

You might want to do some research too. From what I read these types of lights need no “filtering” to ‘clean’ the light —- the light comes very ‘clean’ right out of the light-emitting diodes.

I predict that these types of lights will replace all the stupid (IMO) CFL-s (with their built-in mercury issues) and even the halogens (with all their heat) in time, as production volumes increase and as prices drop.


nate-m May 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

One thing to be careful about LEDs, (although 8-10 watts are probably very safe) is that the back of them gets hot.

That is to say regular light bulbs get hot were the light comes out. So with recessed lighting with florescent or incandescent light bulbs can dissipate heat through the bulb itself. LED lighting requires dissipating the heat from the housing/the base, of the fixture/bulb. Not a typical problem replacing 30watt-60watt style fixtures, but if you have lighting that typically uses something like a high efficiency halogen light bulb in a small housing (like lights for highlighting paintings, small flood lights, or automotive applications) then this can be a very big problem.

People don’t realize that LEDs can give off a lot of heat because they are used to the type of LED that is typically used in electronics, which is relatively low wattage and barely warms up at all.

Besides that, and the fact that a incandescent cost like $0.50 to $1.50 and LEDs cost $15-$30, they are pretty kick ass. Much better then florescents.

A. Viirlaid May 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Thanks nate-m !!!

One other thing I noticed was that some are DIMMABLE and others are not.

Dan May 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Nate: I figure you must be a scientist or engineer based on the technical detail of your blog posts. That’s awesome, I’m finishing a degree this month in Geology (we look at rocks and stuff). Anyhow, good posts!



nate-m May 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

The internet makes me seem smarter then I am. I love just looking up things reading about it and then fiddling around with technology. Technology makes me happy.

If I had to rely on the local library or schools for learning about random stuff then I’d be dumb as a pile of bricks.

Coder May 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Move to Iceland, Norway or Sweden. They don’t have stupid toilets and showers. I also hear Switzerland is sane.

Stupid bureaucrats…

Bryan Björnson May 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm

The problem isn’t the regulations. The problem is the regulatory agencies. Get rid of the regulatory agencies and the ridiculous regulations will disappear.

Jim P. May 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Sounds like the chicken and the egg. Do regulations create the need for regulators, or do regulators create the need for regulations?

Chicklet May 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Who’s surprised here? Studies show it’s not the soap or lack thereof, about 1/2 the recommended amount can get your clothes clean in a newfangled washer. But that old invisible hand just won’t get out of my house, making our laundry room illuminated in a mercury-colored blue light, taking the Phosphorus (or worse tri-sodium phospate) out of the detergent and mucking with the recipe so you can pay double for ‘high efficiency soap’! The real issue is washing your laundry with only a gallon of water, which is pretty black by the end of even the white-towels cycle.

Don’t forget that ‘ole hand’ gave every New Yorker over $200 in the ‘cash for perfectly good but old’ washing machines, I presume to stimulate the mexican economy where the things are built these days.

So here we sit, remembering to run downstairs to lift the lid (the only way to make the tub fill to the top) a second time, using hotter water than we used to, rinsing the clothes more thanks to a strategically placed hose that runs from the sink to the washer. We didn’t have to toss the gas dryer, the feds were unable to come up with energy efficiency standards’, so for now, we only get heartburn during the washing process. As noted, our clothes are NOT cleaner!

Don May 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Great expositon that might have been improved by making a couple of additional points. First, the only thing Consumers Reports has never panned is government regulation, unless it is one they consider insufficiently ambitious. If some federal agency decreed consumers pound their laundry with stream cobbles and lye soap, CR would find any other method deficient. Second, July will mark the first anniversary of EPA banning phosphates from dishwashing detergents – anyone notice the dishes don’t get quite as clean lately? I haven’t checked my laundry detergent label yet, but wouldn’t be surprised if it touts being “Phosphate Free!”

Jeffrey Tucker May 5, 2011 at 10:01 am

Don, can you tell me more about the July EPA ban? So far as I know, it was banned by states under EPA pressure. Finally the detergent companies complied. But there is no national law, so far as I know. Do you know more?

billwald May 4, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I’m told a tablespoon of tri sodium phosphate (TSP) solves the problem in dishwashers. I don’t think it would harm clothing.

SirThinkALot May 5, 2011 at 8:47 am

I dont know what washers Mark Thorton has been using, but I’v never had a problem with my front load washer getting my clothes clean, plus it doesnt have a tendency to come off-balance and ‘spin out’ the way my old top one used to.

A. Viirlaid May 5, 2011 at 9:55 am

For those of you who might not have come across it yet, there is a wonderful post at http://mises.org/daily/5250/Here-the-State-Is-Nowhere-to-Be-Seen

That article by Wendy McElroy is titled “Here, the State Is Nowhere to Be Seen” and complements Mark Thornton’s article very nicely, in my opinion.

Srite May 8, 2011 at 10:24 am

The author refers to Consumer Reports’ washing machine ratings from 2007, indicating the appliances almost all performed poorly then. I don’t doubt that, but I just looked at the Consumer Reports ratings this morning and things have changed a lot since 2007. Consumer Reports now rates over sixty front loading washers and all but one are rated as performing excellent, very good, or good. Only one is rated as fair, and none are worse than that.

So what happened? Consumer Reports prides itself on its independence and lack of outside influences, but it sure looks like something has happened to cause a relaxation of its washing machine performance standards since 2007.

A. Viirlaid May 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

The Government Social Engineers do their ‘thing’ with good intentions of course (or so most of us would like to think).

Here’s a recent case where (in Sweden) the government bureaucrats (economists in this case) do not even get the current science right in their efforts to “save us from ourselves”.

Please see “Scandinavians stare down fat tax” from the May 3, 2011 Globe and Mail at the link http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/daily-mix/scandinavians-stare-down-fat-tax/article2008044/

As the protaginist Dr. Anikka Dahlqvist points out, these nameless bureaucrats incorrectly surmise that it is “fat” content in our diets that is the source of most of our dietary issues with obesity, diabetes, and shortening Life.

She points out that “fat” in the diet does NOT lead to “fat” on the body — that it is the high-sugar (HFCS) content and simple (as opposed to “complex”) carbohydrates in our diets that is killing us.

We have been sold the Lipid Hypothesis for so long (some 40 years) that most of even avoid dairy products. Very few of us have heard of the Cave Man Diet or the South Beach Diet or the Pritikin Diet.

Dr. Anikka Dahlqvist is trying to reintroduce BUTTER into the diet of Swedes.

From that Globe article:

But a popular Swedish doctor is threatening to fight the fat tax “on health grounds.”

Wearing a “High-fat, Low-carb” pin, Dr. Anikka Dahlqvist has appeared on Norwegian national television’s prime-time talk shows to say carbohydrates produce an explosive release of fat the body does not process as well as it does ordinary, saturated fats.

“This is about economists coming in and having a whirl, and so they take as real the advice these advisory experts are giving — that calories produce obesity — but they have not understood that it is carbohydrates that do that,” Dahlqvist told Norwegian NRK.

The Swedish researcher has sold 200,000 books to diet-starved Swedes keen for a return with clear consciences to familiar diets. Her advice is a diet rich in meat and fats.

Popular in Sweden but still shocking Norway, Dr. Dahqvist has coaxed thousands of her compatriots back to cooking with butter. She promises mass demonstrations with followers should overzealous economists tip the government’s hand and force an early vote on a proposed fat-tax bill.

A. Viirlaid May 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I found this great video at Mercola’s site titled “The Witch-Hunt that’s Taking it To One of America’s Healthiest Food Choices…”

The location is at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2099/12/31/us-government-sneakily-subsidizes-milk-industry.aspx

The associated article is worth reading as well.

The gist of it is that the Government is in bed with the Food Industry — that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) turned from encouraging farmers several decades ago to NOT GROW AS MUCH FOOD AS THEY COULD to now encouraging them TO GROW AS MUCH FOOD AS POSSIBLE.

This leads to a problem — how to get rid of the mountains of excess food resulting from this policy.

Of course BOTH policies are FAULTY — because they both are interfering in the free market.

But watch this video and judge for yourselves.

By the end you too might be convinced that the surpluses of cheap SUBSIDIZED food in inner cities is killing the poorest Americans, because it is just that (thereby “cheap”) highly-processed (long-shelf-life) “food” that gets there, into the few inner city stores, because of the “well-intentioned” government intervention. No vegetables are to be seen in those locations.

If there is one thing this MISES.ORG site promotes, it is PLEASE, please: LESS GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION.

I love one person in the video when he responds to the persistent question from the interviewer, “Well should not the Government protect these innocent kids from consuming bad products like Chubby Drinks?”.

The response is classic: “Isn’t that what parents are for?”

A. Viirlaid May 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Mark Thornton on “World-Improvers”:

So there you have it. Politicians, environmentalists, and meddlesome bureaucrats have teamed up to dream up another attempt to serve the public interest. Left to its own the invisible hand of entrepreneurial competition would have naturally made doing laundry easier, better, cheaper, and more efficient.

Instead we have more expensive, more inefficient, and truly ineffective clothes-washing machines.Then there have been changes to laundry detergent, which have in combination with the “energy efficient machines” led to a return of “Ring around the Collar.”

The invisible hand of the marketplace is the foundation of a free society and the source of prosperity. The invisible fist of government is the foundation of plunder and the source of social problems.

Bill Bonner on very same World “Improvers” at http://dailyreckoning.com/on-world-improvers/

This was not exactly the same – but similar – to the way economists sold out in the ’20s and ’30s…and thereafter. Economists were observers too. They watched the way an economy worked and tried to understand it.

But then, they found that they could provide a service to governments – by first helping to predict changes in economic outcomes and second by offering to improve the outcomes before they came out.

This was the bold offer made by the Keynesians in the ’30s…and repeated ever after ….that they could eliminate the most disagreeable features of capitalism, by controlling the down part of the business cycle.

Ever since, they have been working their way up the chain of power from mere advisors to powerful people…to becoming the most powerful figures in government themselves. In some cases, they made money – by offering their services to the large banks and consulting agencies.

But they also gained power and prestige. It was no accident that Hillary Clinton stood beside Alan Greenspan at her husband’s inaugural. And it is no accident that Ben Bernanke gets his face on TIME magazine as the Man of the Year.

Economists now are movers and shakers, not just observers. While the earth scientists offer to improve the world’s climate….economists offer to improve its economy.

Trouble is, there is no evidence whatever that any of their moving and shaking has ever done the world one bit of good. Instead, it merely distorts the delicate price information that guides investment, sales, and growth.

Give them the wrong signals – such as a mistaken idea of how much demand is available or the cost of investment capital – and they make the wrong decisions.

That is when the economists really shine.

After having made a mess of the world, they then offer to save it. This they do in the worst possible way – by sending out even more phony and misleading signals, distorting the markets further, and setting up the economy for more mistakes and more losses.

There it is —— Unholy Alliances between public and private sectors.

This causes huge problems. There is no area of human activity they do not want to intervene in to “make it better”.

Big Problem is, they can ONLY make it worse!

mulia primanta May 15, 2011 at 8:53 am

It’s true that washing machine is one of the greatest inventions in the history of the Industrial Revolution. But people used to wash the clothes manually, by using the brushes and detergent. Of course they also need some water that come from the faucet at home. Without the faucet, it’s hard for them to get access the water easily.

Maytag Neptune Help May 17, 2011 at 11:23 am

Speaking of front load washing machines… If your Maytag Neptune front loader has a timer knob (non digital) you need to check to see if you have the 12002535 faulty door latch wax motor. All MAH3000, MAH4000, MAH5500A Neptune’s shipped with the faulty wax motor and most earlier 2000 stacker models shipped with the faulty wax motor.

You can proactively change your wax motor before it damages your Neptune’s control board and your clothes will not spin and be soaking wet when the wash cycle is complete. When you bother the ole lonely repair guy he will ask you for $450 to repair your Neptune!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: