1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16798/why-everything-is-dirtier/

Why Everything Is Dirtier

May 5, 2011 by

The goal of those who regulate the laundry is not to improve your life. It is to wreck your life a bit at a time by pressing increasing numbers of restrictions and mandates upon private producers. One of these mandates has removed TSP from detergent — and with catastrophic results. Time to end the conspiracy of silence.

FULL ARTICLE by Jeffrey A. Tucker


redfox May 5, 2011 at 8:14 am

So where does one get hold of TSP and Phosphates to get their items cleaner??? I’m sick of dirty clothing and dishes.

C.J. May 5, 2011 at 8:41 am

fox…you should be able to buy online from any number of sources. I know I will.

jmorris84 May 5, 2011 at 8:46 am

How much do you put in for a load of dishes and for clothes?

Jeffrey Tucker May 5, 2011 at 8:47 am

Tbls for dishes, 1/4 cup for laundry

Freedom Fighter May 5, 2011 at 9:42 am

Jokes aside, thank you very much for the information. I am definitely going to try this. I noticed the TSP in the paint section a few years ago, but I never knew it could be used to clean dishes or clothes.

Lee May 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

Just TSP and no other soaps or detergents in the wash?
I am definitely going to try this. My wife is starting to think I’m a crazy conspiritorial nut-job, but it is worth it.

As an aside, I also just read your book “Bourbon for breakfast” and am considering the no shaving cream shave, although I’m a bit sheepish to take the plunge.

Freedom Fighter May 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

No, you have to use the other soaps as well. The soap cuts through grease and emulsifies grease but TSP scrubs it all off.

If you just use TSP, everything will be dirty, you need soap to cut through the grease and other oils. The TSP acts like a chemical scrubber that rubs everything off and rinses them away once everything has been cut by the soap.

You need both, add the same amount of soap you do normally but just add one tablespoon of TSP on top of the soap and you will see wonders.

Freedom Fighter May 5, 2011 at 10:55 am

Your wife can’t argue that the EPA, the government and environmentalists actually did conspire to get rid of TSP in the soaps. It’s a conspiracy, there’s no other way to describe it.

How else would you describe a consorted effort of many individuals, institutions, organizations and groups to remove a chemical from soaps. I call it a conspiracy against TSP.

If I had a wife, I would never tolerate her thinking that I am a crazy nut job, that would spell divorce right away, but then again, the feminist conspiracy against men in the western world would have an ex-wife wash my bank account TSP clean and dirty up my reputation like an EPA agent all the while she’s denying any conspiracy.

That must be why I’m single, I have no trust in women, especially western women. American men thinking they can circumvent feminism by “shopping” for women in asia, arab world, ukraine or other places where women are more “submissive” will quickly learn that women around the world know their rights and can quickly adapt and use western feminism if you bring them here in America, but that’s another story. After all, a Swedish woman waited for the right opportunity to clean up Tiger Wood’s financial assets like a mountain of TSP had hit him. If I had been Tiger Wood, I would have been happy with just my fortune and fame, no need for women to dirty up the scene.

Stay away from women, if you get any urges that you can’t quench with hard liquor, use “this” and then use TSP to clean up your man juice, LOL !

Dan May 5, 2011 at 11:53 am

“…would have an ex-wife wash my bank account TSP clean and dirty up my reputation like an EPA agent all the while she’s denying any conspiracy.” LOL. Good one.

As a side note, I see you are bitter due to past experiences with women. That’s too bad. While many have been suckered into feminism, not all have. I know this because my girlfriend is definitely not a feminist. In fact when I met her, she was more or less a libertarian (of the minarchist stripe), and actually so was I. Neither of our political and philosophical viewpoints and theories had been fully developed yet (we were 18). As I began to read publications from the Mises Institute, I gradually and inevitably became an anarcho-capitalist. It’s funny, people think that being an anarchist is somehow “extreme” when I see it as the perfectly logical extension of Lockean and Jeffersonian classical liberalism.

After awhile, I think I began to sway her in the anarchist direction as well, though we do have outrageously loud arguments over IP (she’s for it, I’m against).

In conclusion, learning to live with someone who disagrees with you on some topics is useful and teaches folks some important lessons. Of course, their must be some ideological common ground, or it is just going to be a disaster.

This is way off topic, I’m done.



Freedom Fighter May 6, 2011 at 6:54 am

I lived with my mother when I was a kid, a teenager and a young adult and she always disagreed with me about everything, was wicked, was angry all the time, abusive, plus I was raised in anti-sex pentecostal and evangelical faith before I left the faith a few years ago. Yeah, I’d say I learned an important lesson, women are nothing but danger for men, both for their financial well being, their reputation and their soul. All they want is power and control, they want your “man juice”.

Colin Phillips May 6, 2011 at 8:04 am

Freedom Fighter,

You sound a bit like General Jack D. Ripper, if you’ll pardon the paraphrasing:
“I can no longer sit back and allow feminist infiltration, feminist indoctrination, feminist subversion, and the international feminist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”

Freedom Fighter, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot and have come out a bit scarred, but remember that not everybody fits into such neat generalisations.

Retep May 6, 2011 at 2:58 am

You my friend… are an idiot

Freedom Fighter May 6, 2011 at 6:50 am

I suppose that you are an example of a brilliant and sophisticated high quality debator that knows the art of argumentation and avoids ad hominems ?

Or you’re just an angry woman unhappy to hear the inconvenient truth.

What’s so idiotic about chosing to be single over married because of feminist and socialist laws putting men at financial and judicial risk ?

Shay May 6, 2011 at 8:28 am

I read this blog regularly and occasionally you post something short and genuinely insightful, otherwise it’s the “just smile and nod” kind of posting. It’s a shame that the diamonds are lost in the rough.

Freedom Fighter May 7, 2011 at 9:19 pm

@Colin Phillips,

“You sound a bit like General Jack D. Ripper”

If you saw that movie, then you know what happens at the end. Heh heh heh >:-D
I also liked the movie Fail Safe and the movie By Dawn’s Early Light, The Sum Of All Fears.

When I was saying “man juice” I was refering to Coach Norton of the movie Saving Silverman. LOL :-D

What I understand by “man juice” is not about bodily fluids but about what makes you a man, that is your income, your strength, your dignity etc. And that women of today rob that away from you because the state, through feminist laws, gives them the power to.

Women today take away your life force, your income, your dignity and you basically are subservient to them, or else there is divorce, custody, losing your house and financial assets. A hooker in Las Vegas would cost much less. But then again, using Coach Norton’s advice is much better.

Stefano May 5, 2011 at 1:36 pm

the no shaving cream thing works great. Granted, I have a beard, but the areas I shave (neck, edges of the beard) have always given me horrible razor burn problems. Now that I just use hot water, no problems.

R Lee May 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Lee, I shave in the shower and haven’t used anything but the razor since I left bootcamp 50 years ago. The only other essential is a good mirror. Last thing I do before I get out.

Philip M May 5, 2011 at 10:13 am

All this talk of chemicals got me curious. I checked the box of the brand I use and it says because of regulations there is around 1.2grams of tri-sodium phosphate per wash (small scoop). I’m guessing that’s a miserly amount compared to a 1/4 cup. It seems to do the job well enough though I’ve never really tried to stress it with masses of dirt or grease. I’m a bit too lazy to go get other brands “in the name of science”, but if anyone has tried small amounts (rather than more TSP than my detergent combined) I’d be curious as to the results.

Dan May 5, 2011 at 11:42 am

I’m curious so I can buy some, which brand do you use? Lundmark uses a lame substitute that does not work.

Freedom Fighter May 5, 2011 at 9:32 am

This sounds like it would make a great late night informercial.

Hello, I’m Jeffrey Tucker and here is my helper Doug French, tonight we’re going to show you the amazing cleaning power of TSP, it not only cleans the patio deck, it also cleans your dishes and clothes to shiny perfect.

Doug: You see those bed sheets right here, let’s add some dirt, some mudd, some oil
Paid applauding public: Oooh, nasty, disgusting
Doug: It’s not over, let’s add some petroleum on top of it.
Doug: Now, I’m going to put those disgusting sheets in the washing machine, add some laundry soap and a quarter cup of TSP. We’re going to let this wash for a few minutes, in the meanwhile, Jeffrey Tucker will show you how to clean your dishes with TSP.

Jeffrey Tucker: thank you Doug. Now, people at home, I want you to look at those dishes very closely, see how they are gritty, disgusting, full of filth. Look, I can’t even remove them with a butter knife, even with a paint scraper I can’t remove them. Well, I’m putting them in the dishwasher right now, I’m adding diswhashing liquid and a tablespoon of TSP. Now, I’m going to set this for a few minutes and we’ll see how the dishes are clean right after this break.

Break narrator: “Are you tired of disgusting dishes, disgusting clothes and disgusting everything, well don’t despair, your problems are over thanks to the amazing cleaning power of TSP. Order now, pick up your phone and call the number now, just $19,99, you will get a bucket of TSP, plus our scouring pads absolutely free, plus a new mop, a new pen, a new Ipad absolutely free. Call now.

LOL !!!

Jeffrey Tucker May 5, 2011 at 9:35 am

Hey, that’s pretty good. Now if only the EPA would watch the commercial.

Horst Muhlmann May 5, 2011 at 10:11 am

Be careful of what you wish for.

If the EPA ever saw that commercial, you and Doug would be off to Leavenworth.

Freedom Fighter May 5, 2011 at 11:20 am

Or worse yet, Guantanamo. Given that Bernard von NotHaus’s silver coinage was deemed to be a terrorist activity, I would not be surprised that Jeffrey Tucker’s promotion of TSP could be seen as environmental terrorism by some EPA or government power drunk whack job.

Dennis May 5, 2011 at 9:44 am

One of my peeves is the advent of the waterless urinal. I teach in a brand new $25 million building on our campus that installed these fetid devices in order to save the planet. But, the restrooms smell like an outhouse in some out of the way national forest campground. The nostalgia value of reliving my childhood days camping in the mountains is not worth the daily exercise in controlling my retching reflex.

Dan May 5, 2011 at 11:59 am

Indeed. The statists have made some things so insanely annoying/and or unsanitary, that in the case you mentioned above, going in the woods would be preferable to their “green solution”.

The water-saving urinals and toilets I’ve used in some stores are really really gross because they have automatic sensors that flush (instead of a handle) which are somehow supposed to save the environment. Unfortunately, the sensors just don’t work, and the receptacles fill up with “material”. Yuck.

Barbarism sure is grand.

Jim P. May 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Do environmentalists actually care about waterless toilets? I always thought this was a way to beat the plumbing guild. I’ve used bathrooms like the one you describe, and indeed, waterless toilets are clearly inferior to virtually any other option. But, (and I wish I could cite this) I recall there being a minor fuss a few years ago that I took notice of … the gist was that the chem toilets were being opposed by some plumber’s guild. That made me think that the chem toilets were a horrible response to a market distortion.

P T Bull May 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I first encountered one at my son’s high school. Now every bathroom can smell like pee that has not been mopped for weeks. Another victory of junk science over common sense.

Subhi Andrews May 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Are you at Santa Clara U?

Dennis May 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I’m at Northern Arizona University.

Dan May 5, 2011 at 9:48 am

I went through this TSP hurdle last October. I could not get TSP at the hardware store (I’m in Northern New York State), the retailers had stopped carrying the additive. I did find it on amazon though, here:


However, the stuff I bought, sold by Lundmark brand, is not actually phosphate. It is a phosphate-substitute. On the back it says “contains sodium meta-sillicate”. Not surprisingly, it did not have any effect. The other brand “Savogran” looks like it might actually have the wanted chemical in it. Beware of things marked “TSP”, this does not necessarily mean they contain tri-sodium phosphate, despite the acronym.

Good luck.

Patrick Barron May 5, 2011 at 10:06 am

Thanks, Jeffrey, for really great article. We are gradually being driven into the Middle Ages.

Does anyone remember the anti-mosquito trucks? These were prominent in the Midwest when I was growing up right after WWII. I had forgotten about them until I saw one in Turkey a few years ago. The trucks pump out an anti-mosquito fog. Most towns had one. I’m sure the EPA has banned them and municipalities are fearful of lawsuits.

Enjoy Every Sandwich May 5, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I sure do. Heck, we kids would follow them around on our bikes and we made it a point to ride through the fog. As near as I can tell I am not dead (with the possible exception of Sunday afternoons).

Ellie May 6, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I don’t know how they do it, via truck or helicopter but Long Island and Massachusetts both spray for mosquitos. I think it’s a town by town decision in Mass. It’s usually prompted by West Nile or EEE fears.

Deefburger May 5, 2011 at 11:09 am

You know, if you are running a “green” grey-water system in your home, AND you put the phosphates back into your cleaning, then you get the added benefit of phosphates for your garden.

I tried putting a tablespoon of TSP in our so-called dishwasher that used to work. EVERYTHING in the machine got clean and all I did was run the rinse cycle! I did run the full cycle with the “new” detergent any way. The new detergent is mostly Baking Soda. I can get that for much less than I’m paying for the brand-name “Dishwashing Detergent”.

Borax (Sodium Tetraborate Decahydrate) is another one that is cheap and effective in combination with TSP and Baking Soda. It’s the hard grains in Boraxo hand soap. It too occurs naturally. It is also a very safe way to kill ants. Powdered and mixed with syrup and lard as bait, and the ants dehydrate the whole colony when they bring the goodies back home! Best non-toxic ant baits on the market use a syrup like this and the killing ingredient is Borax!

I believe we have been duped into thinking chemistry is unnatural and therefore anti-environmental. It’s a stupid assumption that most tree-huggers buy into without thought. (I’m a tree hugger with an active brain). Tell them about the horrors of Dihydrogen Monoxide and watch em squirm!

Martial Artist May 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm


Your “unnatural and anti-environmental” construction called immediately to mind my reaction to so much of the “natural” and “organic” propaganda to which we are increasingly exposed in the media. I regularly lie in wait for anyone in my presence to tout some item as “organic” in order to ask them to show me “an inorganic” item of the same type. I can hardly wait for the next opportunity to flummox the next true believer.

Keith Töpfer

Deefburger May 6, 2011 at 9:56 am

I could show you some of those, in a way. Go to your local grocery store and get some potatoes of various kinds. Chill them in the dark for two weeks, and then put them in a warm well-lit space and watch them sprout….OR NOT! The “in-organic” rather unnatural ones, the ones that are not organic or naturally bred, will not sprout and grow.

It’s a play on words to use organic versus engineered, but it is also a play for your wealth and well-being when you can’t grow them yourself. You can always grow an organic yourself.

Bryan Björnson May 5, 2011 at 11:34 am

Government regulatory agencies or freedom, that is our choice. I choose freedom!

Liquer May 5, 2011 at 11:51 am


I am curious if anyone here, especially Jeffrey Tucker, has a response to Student in this thread on the Mises forum.

Dan May 5, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Student from forum you linked to:

“nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus are huge problems in many water systems. specifically, they foster algae blooms that can lead to massive fish kills. its a big chunk of why there is a massive deadzone forming the gulf of mexico and elsewhere like the chesapeake bay. we’re talking about destroying ecosystems and commercial fishing in these areas.”

This person is laboring under an assumption, much like the current global “warming” hype. While it known that phophates cause algae blooms, it is not known if the algae blooms seen in certain areas are caused by man-made phosphates or natural ones (they exist in nature as well). In terms of ecosystem damage, that’s debatable.


“In a natural system, these nutrients aren’t significant factors in algae growth because they are depleted in the soil by plants. However, with anthropogenically increased nitrogen and phosphorus input, algae growth is no longer limited.”

This is the sticking point, algae blooms have and will continue to occur in areas where there is no man-made phosphate input. We have small lakes and ponds in the southern tier area like this: they literally have no man-made runoff, yet have algae blooms (which the DEC has to treat now and again).

The study focuses on the so called “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, a dead zone they attribute (without providing evidence) to phosphate runoff. It may be true, but they to need provide evidence, not assumptions.

However, let us concede for the sake of argument that the greens are right and have actually produced facts and not assumptions to back up their claims. Let’s say that phosphates are all man made and that mankind is destroying huge habitats. Is a few fish being killed really justification for taking more freedoms from people?

Additionally, no one in the environmental movement ever addresses the crux of these environmental problems: property. The fact that water and air are in the “commons” (but are de facto owned by the government) is precisely the reason why these areas are polluted and abused by people. The solution, which is merely the application of property rights to these scarce resources, is simple to implement and would make the EPA more useless and irrelevant then it already is.

Have to do calc hw now.



Anthony Sinclair May 5, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I don’t think the issue is as clear cut as you make it out to be. Giving people the freedom to use TSP in bulk may have the effect of preventing people from having the freedom to go fishing. If phosphates from my neighbor’s property leach into my property, is it not a violation of my property rights?

While I think you’re right that this is a problem inherent to commons, I don’t think its feasible to extend property rights to air and water. Unlike land, which is easily privatized, water and air can flow from place to place. In lieu of Star Trek-like force fields, privatization is not really possible. While using government agencies to regulate the environment is regrettable, I have yet to see a non-governmental alternative that deals with the externalities of pollution.

Jeffrey Tucker May 5, 2011 at 4:26 pm

It causes plants to grow. So what. The Washington State case shows that it is at best inconclusive that plant growth has a bad effect on fish anyway. People are always exaggerating this stuff. And as I pointed out in the article, the cleaning-produced contribution to phosphate in lakes and rivers is negligible.

Mark O'Leary May 9, 2011 at 5:23 am

Bit of circular argument! the cleaning-produced phosphate load is currently low *because it was eliminated from cleaning products* due to the harm it did. You want to add it back in, which will make it high again. You cant argue its safe because the levels are low *and* demand the freedom to add cupfuls of it back into your outflow.

Phosphate is typically the limiting nutrient, and it doesnt take much of it to have massive growth consequences for algae. Those algae strangle pretty much everything including other aquatic plants.

Jim P. May 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Phosphates leaching into your yard is no more an invasion of property rights than the grass or tree roots that grow under your fence line. It does not diminish your use or enjoyment of your property, so you have not been violated. On the other hand, if the fish in your pond had been killed, or algae was out of control, or your garden died, you’d have a legitimate case. That is a violation.

Also, the phosphate in the sewage (ie, grey water, storm drain) pollution issue may be considered on a property rights basis as well. Every municipality that I know of uses a socialized (city owned) or semi-socialized (city contracted) sewage disposal system. If it were truly private, and did not have any legislative advantage (ie, immunity or limitations from lawsuits), it would have the incentive to care about somebody’s fish. Provided, of course, that the fish were the private concern of, say, a few dozen fishing companies or recreational fishermen.

Note also the private waste disposal option: septic systems/pit latrines/composting, etc. There are pros and cons to each method, but they end up being the responsibility of a household – not of all households. Even this is more sensible than the social sewer that, bizarrely, dumps it right back into the drinking water.

Deefburger May 6, 2011 at 10:25 am

If I take an inventory of phosphates in my home, I find I have the following:

1 bottle of TSP (12oz)
1 Gallon + of wood ash – Potassium Hydroxide, Potassium Chloride, Phosphates and phosphoric compounds.
1 5lb bag of fertilizer. (Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Potassium)
1 200lb compost heap – More fertilizer.

I have a pond with live fish and live algae in it too. One form of algae interferes but the others do not. The fish don’t care. Algae does not deplete the oxygen when it is consuming the phosphates. It depletes the oxygen at the bottom when it dies and sinks to the bottom. That depleted mud feeds my Lilies!

I find many environmentalists are happy to have a cause in their fight for right, but fail to question themselves and their cause with any scepticism because they don’t want to harm their cause. Science and reason go out the window because they are a threat to the cause.

I have more phosphates in my yard at any given time (along with potassium and other “horrible chemicals”), from my natural organic gardening and recycling efforts, then I have in use in my house. I am very aware of the impact my home can have on the environment. I live next to the largest water and bird sanctuary in the state of California and my wife sits on the board of directors for the foundation that protects it.

My town is the Organic Gardening capital of the world, probably, as it’s the biggest hippy town north of San Fransisco! I love it here!

But Jeffrey and the others are right. The regulations are causing us to waste more, not less, and to effect the environment in ways that are unseen.

The algae in my pond, at first, was choking the life out of the water circulation system. That is until I introduced some of the wild varieties from the Laguna. Those have a different growing habit and controlled the first one and solved the problem, naturally. The phosphates, unlike potassium and sodium, form precipitates that fall to the bottom and stay there. Water clears, fish are happy, pump is happy, I’m happy, lilies bloom.

Ellie May 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm

“Every municipality that I know of uses a socialized (city owned) or semi-socialized (city contracted) sewage disposal system.”

Well, we don’t. I have a private well and septic system. It is my responsibility to test my water and maintain my septic. If I had to replace either, it would be tens of thousands of dollars.

However, some folks just over the border in the other town are not going to have this responsibility anymore. It seems some pig farmer allowed massive dumping of industrial waste on his farm throughout the 1970′s and the area was declared a Superfund site.

Federal tax money paid for soil to be removed and put in testing wells. Almost everyone’s private wells were saved. However, no laws prevented developers from drilling for water on nearby parcels of land and ultimately the bedrock cracked allowing toxic waste to contaminate the well water of several homes.

Now the town is tasked with the job of hooking up a far flung neighborhood to the water line. Old trees lining the main road will be town down and the town will lose some of the picturesque appeal that the tourists really like.

Multiple people profited here. The pig farmer, the metal company doing the dumping on the cheap, the company hired to install the new water lines and of course the guy who caused the bedrock to fracture. The losers include federal taxpayers, most of whom will not benefit directly from the main and the residents who pay local property tax in addition to their federal burden. The town loses twice, not only do they have to put in the water main, but also tourist season will probably be somewhat of a bust for them.

Jim P. May 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm

“The study focuses on the so called “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, a dead zone they attribute (without providing evidence) to phosphate runoff. It may be true, but they to need provide evidence, not assumptions.”

I almost entirely agree with Dan here, but I must admit, libertarian-ish folks would have the better end of the argument with environmental socialists, if they would only avoid this sort of cycle: 1) Demand more proof. 2) Demand better proof. 3) Cite article that allegedly disproves environmentalist theory. 4) Repeat cycle.

The better question, in my opinion, is this: why is the municipal (ie, socialized) sewer system dumping phosphates into the oceans and watersheds? Without rewriting what so many others already have, property rights and liability just about solves this problem. Only with government bureaucrats in charge of things, do billions around the world poop where they drink. I think this is the better argument track with environmentalism. Essentially, they prescribe more socialism where it has already failed; they don’t know socialism when they see it.

This is not to argue that every square yard of ocean or air be “owned” (air and ocean is not really “ownable,” like a cow that wanders into the neighbors yard – you can’t get your air back). It is simply that those who utilize the oceans either directly or indirectly, have a concern that is either being preserved or destroyed by another’s willingness to respect their property rights.

Inquisitor May 9, 2011 at 9:37 am

I agree but some environmental socialists – like GMnightmare – are only here to preach and condemn. And where envirosocialists are wrong on the facts, they should be challenged on the basis of their dubious arguments. Not everything that masquerades as “science” is really worthy of the accolade. What pisses me off most is that they will take a problem exacerbated by – as you pointed out – a “publicly” controlled body (like sewer systems) and then engage long rants about how the market destroys the environment etc, as if they lack ANY critical thinking faculties whatsoever.

Martial Artist May 9, 2011 at 11:43 am

@Inquisitor,I don’t necessarily think that “they lack ANY critical thinking faculties whatsoever.” Rather, I think it more likely that they haven’t been educated to use what critical thinking facilities they may have. Look at the electorate, in general. The current incumbent of the White House got elected on “Can we change? Yes we can!”

Think about that formulation for a minute. Just because one can change, or change other things, doesn’t mean that it is a good idea to do so. Nor does it mean that any proposal that might be offered will make conditions better, rather than leaving them unchanged, or even making them worse. A rather large segment of the electorate think that everyone should think (if they are Myers-Briggs Thinking Types, as am I) or “feel” (if they are Myers-Briggs Feeling Types), as they do. “Can’t we all agree that X is wrong, and should be prohibited?” They never stop to ask themselves if anyone might have a legitimate reason for wanting to do/have X, and that so long as doing or having X does not initiate the use of force, fraud or coercion and likewise does not preclude their fellows from also having X, no harm is done to children or to unwilling, or unwitting, adults. It also simplifies life for a person to be freed from the obligation to spend significant amounts of time engaged in the intellectual work of critical thinking.

Let’s face it, most of us are lazy about something. It just happens that for a fair portion of that “most of us,” the laziness is in the intellectual arena.Also, don’t forget how easy it is to convince the average reasonably intelligent person of an utter falsehood in almost any specialized area with which he or she is not intimately familiar.

Pax et bonum,

Keith Töpfer

fructose May 6, 2011 at 2:53 am

Most of the phosphates that wind up in the oceans come from agriculture, not consumer soaps. Run-off from chemical fertilizers is a genuine environmental problem, but then again, producing food is pretty important for civilization. Until we can grow all our food hydroponically, the fishes are just gonna have to take one for the team.

billwald May 5, 2011 at 11:52 am

Now that all the good people have been alerted maybe we should keep it quiet lest the government starts requiring a doctor’s prescription to buy TSP.

P T Bull May 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm

More like a permit from the EPA.

M E Hoffer May 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Home Depot seems to carry Trisodium Phosphate, and TSP ‘alternative’..

link above results from a simple Search (for Trisodium Phosphate) on the Home Depot main webpage..

or, you know, your ‘local’ Hardware store, as Jeff points out in the Story, may carry it..~

bedwere May 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I bought it at Home Depot in San Diego last Saturday: $10 for a 2.2 lb box.

G8R HED May 10, 2011 at 9:06 am

I bought a 4.4 lb. box of trisodium phosphate at Lowe’s last night for $10.98
We have been using a mix of borax and baking soda in our dishwasher for a while. The mix has been working fine but it does leave a cloudy film on glass. Trying out our first load of dishes this morning with TSP in the mix.

jg May 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm


I did the same thing… bought a 4 lb box of TSP at the local Lowe’s for about $11, brought it home to try out. I’ve been using a homemade mix of borax and washing soda for dishwashing detergent for at least a year with the same results (however, my dishes were cloudy using the purchased soap as well, so can’t blame it on the homemade mix). I only added 1/2 tsp. TSP to my rounded tsp of homemade mixture (I thought a tablespoon sounded like too much) and have been amazed at the results after only two dishwasher loads… much cleaner, no filmy residue… especially noticable on flatware, glassware and plastic measuring spoons.

I also use a homemade laundry soap and am planning to try it out as well. Again, I’m thinking 1/4 cup is too much since I only need about a rounded tablespoon of my soap mixture for the load currently. I’m going to start with a scant tablespoon of TSP added to my laundry and see how it works, adjusting as I see the results.

P T Bull May 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I don’t think I am alone in seeing yet another reason for being disappointed with the statist republican party that rubber stamps any request from envronmental nuts. Yes, they are part of the problem, and one laments the lack of any elected representitives, but the Pauls, who have the slightest inclination to reduce government regulation. I am starting to wonder if the environmentalists are worse than the marxists when it comes to attacking our way of live.

I have one of those high efficiency side loading washers now. Wonder if I can put tsp in that? Maybe toss a spoonful on the clothes before shutting the door.
I have heretofore only used TSP as a strong floor scrubbing compound.

Martial Artist May 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

P T BullI am starting to wonder if the environmentalists are worse than the marxists when it comes to attacking our way of live.”

They aren’t any worse than the Marxists, but they aren’t, in any systematic way, a great deal better, either. The overwhelming majority of elected representatives in modern democracies are primarily focused on maintaining their seat in office, whether for good or ill. Doing the moral thing (and I am here assuming an Austro-libertarian sense of morality) has become for them secondary to their ambition to remain in their elected position, a position of power. Whether that power is real or simply imagined is almost irrelevant to them. Ron Paul (I haven’t yet seen enough of Rand to evaluate him) is among the sole exceptions currently in power—there may be others, but I have no idea who they are.

The best aspect of Austro-libertarianism from my perspective is that it requires the government solely to defend against the initiation of force, fraud, coercion or negligence of one citizen against another, and against any foreign enemy. This allows us all to be free to pursue our own sense of what is good, provided we avoid initiating those four classes of actions against our fellows. political progressives and many political conservatives do not fully share that as a fundamental premise of how society ought to be organized.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

Peter May 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Thank you for the very interesting article.

A key link in your argument is the TSP does not actually harm the environment. If you believed that it did harm the environment, would you support the govt prohibiting it?

Also, could you comment on the govt motivation to regulate away helpful things with no legitimate reason? Just curious.

Daniel May 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm

A key link in your argument is the TSP does not actually harm the environment. If you believed that it did harm the environment, would you support the govt prohibiting it?


But here’s the rub: the fact that the prohibition doesn’t help the environment in any significant way means that it fails at its own ends.

Art Carden had a good blog post on this the other day: http://blog.mises.org/16717/on-government-and-robust-political-economy/

Shay May 6, 2011 at 8:37 am

Define “harming the environment” in a non-subjective way. You’ll find that everything harms the environment in sufficient quantity; it’s a question of the tradeoff between the benefit we get and the harm it does. To eliminate all harm, regardless of benefit, you’d have to cease to exist.

Nuke Gray May 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

All of you should rear, or read again, a great book called, “the death of Common Sense”. an American lawyer not only lists some of the newer restrictions on all of us- he shows how they came about! Most of them are based on good intentions, such as Civil rights. But people define words differently, so unfair dismissal laws make it impossible to actually fire someone without years of litigation, etc. i bet that these laws about laundry powders were all based on good ideas that have simply grown topsy-turvy- or with litigation lawyers in mind!

Dave May 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I am very familiar with the degradation of soap over the last decade. Soap without phosphate ruins your septic system after a few years. The weeping tile in the field plugs up after a few years. I ended up unpluging my system with a 50 pound sack of phosphate I bought at the bulk fertilizer store.

Our dishwasher is useless now. My wife conned me into buying a front loading washmachine 3 years ago. After hauling our perfectly good top loader to the dump I installed the #%#@& front loader. Within a month of the warranty expiring it broke down!

It broke down three times in all…once the computer went, then the pump, then the door latch. In all I spent over $400 in parts. You can buy a new top loader for under $400. Oh…I forgot to mention, it is useless as far as getting clothes clean.

Martial Artist May 6, 2011 at 10:22 am

Is anyone commenting here able to provide good information on whether it is safe (with regard to the machine) to use TSP in a current model High Efficiency front loading washer? Or, on how one can determine whether or not it is safe?

Keith Töpfer

Deefburger May 6, 2011 at 10:41 am

Well, the only thing the TSP will do is etch the surface of the material it comes into contact with. The etching is very low grade, not like using acid on metal, but rather mechanical etching of microscopic surface features.

If the seals are silicone rubber, and the drum is stainless steel, and the plastic parts inside are nylon, then TSP will do nothing but dull the surface of the nylon.

The new formulas are Calcium and Silicon compounds….abrasives! I’ll take the TSP!

Martial Artist May 6, 2011 at 10:47 am


That is a big help. I’m not interested in the “alternative” products to TSP. We already use Oxi-Clean instead of Chlorine bleach, etc., and it helps brighten clothing colors, but sounds like the TSP is the answer.

Deefburger May 6, 2011 at 10:57 am

I was watching an oxyclean commercial just a couple of days ago, and I noticed that when it comes into contact with “red” wine stains, it turns blue, just like what TSP does! I would bet that oxyclean contains TSP….

Deefburger May 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

I live in wine country, and we do make our own. All of our gear is cleaned with TSP. Red wine turns blue, on your hands, gear, everything. Bleach and soap then remove the stains.

Thom Brogan May 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Wiki says OxiClean contains sodium percarbonate.

Thom Brogan May 10, 2011 at 7:23 am


Thanks for that info. I’ve tried TSP three times in the dishwasher and it has etched/frosted my plasticware every time (leading me to not be a TSP fan) while only barely rinsing my dishes cleaner. I’m sure the plasticware was cleaner, too, but I’d like it to be that way without changing colors and needing 4-5 handwashings to remove the etch.

In the meantime, TSP in warm water cleaned my cooking grill like nobody’s business, so that was very good and in hand-washing, it helped get dishes cleaner than ever without etching (though it did hunger for human flesh).

Would you know how to prevent TSP from etching plasticware?

Deefburger May 10, 2011 at 9:00 am

@Thom Brogan

Honestly I don’t know how to prevent it from messing up your plastic ware! The Cascade company did, until they were banned from selling it.

I use hardwood ashes for grill cleaning, they are caustic so wear gloves, but they are also basic and will remove the grease through the process of saponification (forms soap).

Plastics are tough to clean. TSP is a small molecule and it fits down into every nook and cranny on the surface and even can break the hydrocarbon chains. That surface dulling is also why it’s so useful in prep for painting. Plastics are best washed by hand with soap and a base. Lye soap is probably the best, and if it’s made with potassium hydroxide instead of sodium hydroxide, then it’s much milder to the skin too. The best mild soaps are made with potassium hydroxide. That’s the base in wood ashes.

I mention wood ashes several times in this discussion because they are readily available to everyone, always have been, and are the source of our discovery of bases, and soap making, pozolans (mortar and cement) and many other uses. You can clean glass and grills with it nicely! Just let the precipitates settle before using on glass, they are abrasive.

Thom Brogan May 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

Thanks, Deefburger!

I’m assuming high heats or the difference in formulation between dishwashing soap and dishwashing detergent had to have played a factor. The handwashed plasticware was nice and clean and as translucent when new; so were the ones washed with neutered detergent – detergent + TSP just wasn’t working the way I hoped. My last bit of mad scientist approach for that will be to use TSP without detergent in the washer.

If that pwns my plasticware yet again, I still own some superlative grill cleaner and have experiments with laundry and the deck to commence.

Thanks, also, for the info on wood ash. We have enough poison ivy in and around our trees that I don’t like playing with the firepit, but they definitely have a George Washington Carver appeal to them. How does one precipitate the abrasive crystals from wood ash to make a glass-safe cleaner?

Deefburger May 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm

@Thom Brogan

Just add ashes to water and stir, then let it settle. That’s “precipitation”! The non solubles fall to the bottom…

marina May 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm

why wouldnt govt allow laundry services to clean our shirts? im still unclear. theres some sort of missing link for me. great post by the way!

Thom Brogan May 6, 2011 at 8:33 am

They’ll still allow those companies to do something to your laundry and charge you a fee, but any and every convenience that puts private citizens into a lifestyle more comfortable than a 15th century ascetic monk wearing a lice-ridden hair shirt is bad for ‘the environment.’

Stutz May 7, 2011 at 1:10 am

And those making the recommendations to government about what’s unnecessarily harmful would be…scientists, yes? Are scientists socialists? Or don’t they mostly just deal with, you know, facts, experiments, and peer-reviewed studies?

J. Murray May 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

The word “scientist” is a catch-all term these days. It doesn’t mean a whole lot. There are tons of degrees in the “sciences”, most of them are on the level of throw-away courses. All it takes to get that label is to have the government pay you money for a study.

Thom Brogan May 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm

The definitions of scientist, alarmist fearmonger, and animist witchdoctor must be very similar for some people. They’re not the same in my lexicon.

Thom Brogan May 6, 2011 at 9:05 am

Here’s my TSP story:

Last night was a great example of the psychological make-up of a heartless Austrian School anarcho-capitalist bent on creating a world ruled only by profit-motive.

I was measuring out less than a tablespoon of TSP for my dishwasher in case my previous two attempts (which were disasters at least for plastic storage containers) were due to my generous nature. Right as I was placing the caustic cure-all into the device, the telephone rang. My wife answered the phone and told me it was a call from Jeffrey Tucker!

Dr. Tucker was checking in to see if he could help me have the same luck with TSP in the dishwasher that he had experienced! He gets no remuneration from Savogran (my TSP supplier) or Home Depot (my Savogran vendor) so far as I’m aware and he, as a cold, emotionless, and ever-calculating speculator of profits just wanted to make sure he could offer a helping hand before his choir practice started.

Well, Dr. Tucker, the handwashing with TSP (not so diluted until we install a double sink) was a bit rough on my hands, but helped make my greasy frying pan much cleaner and added a squeaky clean to a wineglass I hadn’t seen in a while (also, it was tough on my hands). Other than the squeak, I wasn’t sure that the sparkling quality was from the TSP or the handwashing, so another wineglass; one spotted from a previous go in the dishwasher; is swishing away right now with soap and TSP.

There are some who believe that the social organization and exchange of values amongst people whom associate freely is so much more than dollars and cents – that whether trading goods and services for monies or other goods and services or even freely sharing tips on how to increase each others’ standard of living for selfish satisfaction of helping out other people – is somehow better than living under the thumb of soul-numbing beauracracy in that it allows solving problems of scarcity to happen more efficiently and increases in material progress to serve people as desired. It’s a bit crazy, but there may be something to it.

Deefburger May 10, 2011 at 9:13 am

Sometime long ago in our past we were progressing just fine by talking to each other and trading with each other. Then at some point some big club wielding grunt realized he didn’t have to do anything so long as everyone else did, for him.

Tyranny was born on that day. Central Planning and bureaucracy followed. After all, he needed brains and friends and lackeys, to come up with ideas, support, and dirty work.

Freedom Fighter May 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

You know, aside from being called an idiot by one of the poster, I find that most people on this board are caring, educated, civilized, self-controlled, polite, insightful, entertaining and compassionate.

Yes, I indeed suffered scars throughout life but the responses I get on this board is really acting like balm on my wounds. And that the mises blog is so free that it lets me post my ramblings, rants and sometimes inappropriate language is quite astonishing.

I see that it’s time I voluntarily focus my posts around the subject of the articles and forget about my problems with God and women. I will clean my postings with TSP from now on, output more diamonds for the rough, I found that comment about diamonds to be a real gem. Not to mention that I was quite pleased by Collin Philips empathy and Shay’s wit and Jeffrey Tucker’s usual good job and response.

What I learn from this post is that we can advance freedom one little detail at a time, like teaching others how to have cleaner clothes or dishes.

Thanks you guys are doing me good.

Deefburger May 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm

When people really listen, consider, and think when they talk, they find there are not any fundamental differences so much as there are simply differences in perspective and language.

We can be Free and be Property owners, and be environmentally conscious, and be tree-hugging registered Republicans, and be members of Democratic action groups, and be members of Libertarian action groups, and have children in the military, and so on and so on and so on.

We are separated only by our differences, or at least the appearance of them. We are universally bound to each other in every fundamental way. Freedom, when practiced properly, is inclusive.

Shay May 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Regarding my critique of you above, just so you know, I often type a whole paragraph posting to some forum, re-read it, but decide it’s not worth posting after all. I rarely regret doing this, either.

Ellie May 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Is this the second article on laundry that I have seen at mises.org in as many days.

I think I’m going to get some of that laundry stuff from the paint store. I haven’t yet replaced my dishwasher that got completely trashed when I switched to a “designed for the environment” detergent.

GMNightmare May 7, 2011 at 1:23 am

Are you banned from personally doing it? No? Then what are you complaining about then?

The complete selfish self-centered attitude of this post is absolutely… sad. Terribly sad. Frustrating yes, but overwhelmingly and absolutely pitiable that you have not a single thought for anybody but yourself.

It absolutely holds danger for the environment and even ourselves. It pollutes water, and quite frankly, I don’t want to drink the stuff just because you can’t stand not having spotless clothes. It’s safe for moderate amounts of consumption, so is every poison known to man, but that doesn’t mean I want to continually drink it just for the sake of having polished white clothes. Oh, and yes, even though it is “safe” to digest in limited amounts, people still get sick and develop chronic problems from it.

For that matter, we KNOW it causes environmental damage, there is no question, and you crying about how well it might not be so bad is the common problem with society today. You won’t be satisfied until this planet is completely dead before you give in and even admit that hey, there are environmental consequences for our capitalistic society. Where does your freedom stop and others’ begin?

By the way, it’s part of the clean water act, and every day you get to see those benefits. Every day you turn on your water, and maybe even clean yourself, in nice refreshingly clean water unlike most of the rest of the world. The moment you stop getting access to clean water is the moment you’d start whining the exact opposite. Of course, none of that even phased your thought process in this little rant, you want your cake and eat it too.

But let’s forget all that.

Why are you so obsessed with “clean”? Your obsession with clean is deadly. Our societies obsession with “clean” is deadly. Yes, to an certain extent, cleanness is good. But you know all about this right? And the truth is, it’s actually worse then this. These substitutes still get the clothes clean in that effect…

They just aren’t as visually clean. It’s not DIRTIER. It’s just doesn’t look as polished. And I just can’t fathom it, I really can’t fathom it, that you would rather risk the health of not only the environment but us including yourself, just because you can’t handle your white shirt not being perfectly white.

This is the epitome of greed. There is absolutely no real benefit outside of fulfilling your psychological obsession of your junk stuff being spotless, and plenty of tangible and potentially deadly consequences. Yet which one do you pick? Zero care about the future, as long as it satisfies your ego now.

Retep May 7, 2011 at 7:13 am

I don’t really think that the author is this much upset about the whiteness of his or her clothes. It’s more that he or she is unhappy with the way in which the corporations take away our right to choose how we achieve tasks that we value. Personal responsibility is something you believe in, the author believes in freedom of choice. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact the second without the first can be destructive. So instead of irately pointing out every personal flaw that you (mistakenly) see with the author, why not relate personal responsibility with freedom of choice. You say that the author is self-centered. Personally insulting people who express themselves plays into everything that you’re claiming to be against. If you have a differing opinion or some evidence, then post it. Re-read the original post… and then yours… Who did you say was ranting?

Deefburger May 7, 2011 at 9:25 am

The problem here is not just using less or no TSP. It is the unseen consequences of not using it in machines that were designed to use it. I ran my machine with a tablespoon of TSP last night, (dishes), and I was able, for the first time in months, to run the machine on the most energy efficient mode and I still got clean dishes, thanks to TSP.

There is TSP in the wood ashes in your fire pit.
There is Phosphorus (the “P” in TSP) in your compost.

With TSP gone from our cleaning compounds, we are using more water and more energy to do the same job, and getting worse results. So the companies are making new formulas with a different and more unknown combination of chemicals with consequences that we do not know.

People here are not unconcerned with the environment, just the opposite. But unlike you, they are looking at the whole picture, not just the current scare.

Do you use anti-bacterial cleaners? Have you considered the health risks of using such cleaners? Anti-biotics? What are the long term effects of using these chemicals? I can tell you that the microbial environment is not going to go away. The microbes are evolving to survive these chemicals and also evolving to re invade your home, stronger. What do these product do to the water supply? Algae have always consumed Phosphates. Microbes have not always dealt with antibacterials. Which do you suppose has the most impact on the environment? Is mostly clean really better than polished clean?

I’m going back to soap and TSP thank you very much. My environment will be better off for it.


Martial Artist May 7, 2011 at 9:59 am

@GMNightmare, To give yet another example from those which Deefburger cites, consider the Deepwater Horizon (also referred to as the Macondo) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, and what can only be termed hyperbolic, or hysterical, comments that were made publicly about its effects and their long-term consequences. Although there were short term negative effects on local populations (birds, fish and humans whose livelihood was impacted), the public pronouncements were at least somewhat hysterical. The very tone of your comment demonstrates that you are likely unaware of a number of facts about “oil spills” in general, and about the Macondo spill in particular, to wit:• Crude oil is “spilling” into the ocean continuously, even excluding human activities that include seafloor drilling. Southern California has a number of offshore oil platforms that have been there for since about the 1920s or 1930s. How did the geologists know to look there for oil? Very simply it was from the presence of “tar balls” on the beaches near the Channel Islands. Almost everywhere under the ocean where there are large deposits of crude petroleum, there is leakage upward through fractures in the overlying rocks through which crude escapes and evidences itself as “tar balls.”• Following the onset of the Macondo spill a dispersant was continuously pumped into the plume at the point where it exited from the broken well head. We knew the general direction in which the currents were carrying the oil, which ceased rising to the surface in any quantity because the dispersant had broken it into tiny droplets, from local current models of the Gulf. Vessels were able to systmatically sample throughout the area and track the oil. In general, they did not find concentrations of the relevant hydrocarbons, but they could determine at what depths and in what areas the oil was. How were they able to do so if they couldn’t find the hydrocarbons? The answer to that is simple, but it has interesting implications. While hydrocarbons were not generally detected, nor were the small droplets detected by fuorometry, a relatively thin layer of water was consistently detected in which the concentration of oxygen was notably lower than the waters directly above or below. What caused that? The oxygen was consumed by the growth (a bloom) of petroleum eating microorganisms (bacteria, if I remember correctly). Do you suppose that those bacteria were spontaneously generated ex nihilo? No, they live, at least in small concentrations, in every region of the world’s oceans where petroleum slowly leaks into the sea from underlying deposits.From that observation alone, we can accurately deduce that petroleum leakage has been a constant feature of the earth’s seafloor for much longer than man has existed on the planet.Your facile response, parrotting of the sorts of dismissive comments typical of eco-ideologues, and apparent simple acceptance of matters that are not settled science (although they are matters of settled political ideology), betrays your lack of understanding of the complexity of nature and of the problems that complexity causes for those who want simple bans of anything of which they are frightened.I will be glad to pray for your enlightement and increased maturity.Pax et bonum,
Keith T&ojml;pfer

Deefburger May 7, 2011 at 11:39 am

Yes indeed. In fact, the dispersants may have caused more trouble than the naturally occurring oil! I still think the spill was a bad thing. But the use of dispersants, I think, made a bad thing worse.

I read recently that exposing your skin to the bacteria and microbes in healthy soil enhances and strengthens your immune system. I was happy to hear this since I very rarely get sick and I also spend a lot of my time with my bare hands in my clean organic soil. I garden and I’m healthy and I eat what I grow. I also don’t have any antibacterial cleaners in my house any more. Everyone is healthier since we got rid of that stuff.

Sometimes, even if you are environmentally minded, you have to step back and take another look at what is going on. Not every chemical is harmful. Not every apparent problem in the environment is really a problem. Sometimes, we do things that are not good. But as long as what we are doing is conscious, and aware, then we can change our behavior and change our impact. But knee-jerk reactions and subsequent “environmentally sound” legislation and solutions, have unseen consequences.

I compost as much paper and food waste as possible. The only waste that goes down the drain contains only naturally derived cleaners. The garden lives with no pesticides and no fertilizers that are not naturally derived. TSP is as natural as wood ash. Borax is mined from a dry lake bed. Potassium Hydroxide is derived from wood ash and is the curing agent for my olives. Chemistry is not the enemy of the environment so much as misunderstanding the environment.

We must study the environment thoroughly and act accordingly. But we must not be forced to act. We must be free to choose our own actions.

I lived on a creek for a time in the Redwoods. We had bulldozed the mostly dry creek every year to form water collection pools for fire fighting if the need arose. An environmental researcher complained that the pools were harming the fish population, claiming they had no access to food. We knew the fish were feeding like crazy on something, but the researchers couldn’t figure out what that was, so they assumed they knew something the fish didn’t and had the rock dam making come to an end.

We discovered the fish population fell after that. It turned out that the creek had small pockets of still water in some areas and these pools were the home of a clear bodied fresh water shrimp the researchers never knew were there. The dams raised the shrimp population, and that raised the fish population. Everyone, fish, shrimp, and humans all benefited from the dams.

The dams were constructed so that the larger fry could get downstream, and the steelhead and salmon could get upstream. Most of the creek abouve the dam sites was shallow and rocky and good breeding ground for the salmonids. The dam sites good feeding areas for the newly hatched fry.

The dams are still gone, because it’s easier to get an environmental “law” passed, than it is to un-pass it. As an environmentalist, a tree-hugging hippy conservative, I think we should save the environment from the “law” and leave the choices up to the environmentally dependent people who live in it!

Martial Artist May 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm


• “I still think the spill was a bad thing.” — I wholeheartedly agree, but I believe that the media and the government officials discussing it should provide factual information, including putting data in perspective, rather than stating facts without any context to indicate the scale of a problem.

• “knee-jerk reactions and subsequent ‘environmentally sound’ legislation and solutions, have unseen consequences.” — Again, I wholeheartedly agree. We shouldn’t be reacting like Chicken Little, we should be attempting to understand the affected systems as thoroughly as is humanly possible before we take actions (whether in remediation or in permitting) which have unforeseen and unintended consequences. One example pertinent to the Macondo spill would have been for the relevant agency to have assured itself that forcing BP to drill in 5,000 feet of water might well have been forcing them to drill in water deeper than the range of proven technology would justify. The example of your personal experience with the rock dam illustrates the point as well as does the Macondo licensure.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

GMNightmare May 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Completely irrelevant. You assume ignorance of mine on a completely random topic, and give absolutely no reason why it has any relevance at all, even assuming you were completely right. You fail to analyze the problem from other viewpoints, that just because ultimately microorganisms can eat it doesn’t mean it will cause enough environmental damage to other species as to cause us great harm.

See, the problem is with you, is that you correctly identify yes, that ultimately the environment will live on. But if it’s going to be habitable by humans continually is another matter entirely.

For that matter, I didn’t support dispersal dumps either. Finally, all of you are acting like TSP isn’t a chemical. It is.

Deefburger May 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I never assume ignorance in someone else, unless they take a stand on an issue without discussing the ramifications. Thoughout this post you have insisted that TSP and it’s use in washing is the culprit of the dead zones all over the globe.

The facts are these according to the studies of those zones:

Phosphates and Nitrates that run off the land and into the waterways without being filtered first by the soil and the plants are the cause of the dead zone areas in oceans just beyond the river deltas that source the nutrients.

The increase of the size of these zones has been happening since the introduction of large scale industrial farming.

Much of that large scale industrial farming was encouraged by the use of phosphates and nitrates provided by Monsanto.

This form of food production and farming was introduced because this company and others had grown during WWII and the Korean War as chemical supply companies for nitrates and other war related chemicals.

These companies needed peace time consumption to maintain their profit margins and their stock prices.

The only benefit that came from them was the cheap access to TSP as a simple and effective cleaning compond for household use. It’s still the best thing going.

What needs to happen is for the industrial uses over large areas of land must be reduced in order to stop or reduce the growth of the dead zones.

The dead zones themselves are natural. The reason there is oil under the bottom of the oceans is because the nitrates and phosphates have been washing down streams for millions of years.

We have been adding to that effluent for at least one hundred years, but the contribution of agriculture, once industrialized, is the most significant contributor, second only to the removal of trees and plant barriers between the fertile land and the waterways.

Household use is not a significant factor because the quantities are not great enough, and the households do not drain directly into the watershed. Instead, the phosphates and nitrates are precipitated in the public sewer treatment plants.

It is run off from the land areas that has the major impact, not the dishwasher.

TSP is used to wash chickens prior to shipment.
TSP is used to sterilize food processing equipment.
Phospates and Nitrates are applied directly to crops on large scale farming.
Nitrates run off mainly from Animal farm waste.

There is no study to show the effects of silicates and calcium compounds used as replacements for the TSP in the household cleaners. The consequences of those chemicals is still largley unknown.

So do rational environmentalists continue to use, carefully, TSP? Or do we use the new untested chemicals instead?

So far, and this is the gist of Jeffrey’s article, the use of the new formulas is causing an over use of energy and water, and the impact of the removal of TSP from the cleaners is not being felt by the dead zones. Those zones are still expanding, and the only reason for this that is possible is that agriculture and urban development are still increasing the run off.

The environment is emmencly cyclical and resilient. Real environmentalism isn’t a political stand and a lobbyist. It’s leaning about the biology and chemo-biological interaction between the land and the oceans and the atmosphere and then acting to reduce the negative impacts while still being able to live as a human being in this modern world.

GMNightmare May 9, 2011 at 7:40 pm

“I never assume ignorance in someone else”

BS. Every single argument you’ve made assumed I didn’t know anything at all.

Plus, incredibly, you didn’t even notice the post you replied to… is not a reply to you.

“without discussing the ramifications”

You’re the only one. What are the ramifications of not using TSP? Harder to spotless visual clean things. The ramifications of using TSP? Poisoning the water supply. The only one ignoring the ramifications is you. Period. And you’ve brought none of these so-called “ramifications” up.

“Thoughout this post you have insisted that TSP and it’s use in washing is the culprit of the dead zones all over the globe.”

NEVER ONCE have I said it’s the culprit behind dead zones all over the globe. That is your pathetic assumption. And quite frankly, NOBODY has EVER argued that… instead of arguing against what you’ve made up about what the opponents arguments are, how about you try listening to them before you just decide that your right and everybody else who doesn’t agree with you is wrong. TSP is poisonous, next time you clean with it clean without gloves and find out how poisonous it is.

“Phosphates and Nitrates”

Shut the hell up. We aren’t talking about phosphates and nitrates, we are specifically talking about trisodium phosphate, and nothing else. They are not the same, so quite acting like a whole specification of chemicals as a whole means anything.

“The dead zones themselves are natural”

Natural, they’re natural! Bla bla bla… Like you just don’t get it. Just because it’s natural to have forest fires doesn’t mean Johnny over there didn’t burn it down with his bonfire. There is this thing called cause and effect, just because it’s been happening naturally doesn’t mean that it’s safe for us to multiply the effect millions of times over directly. Again, what part of sure, the environment will persist, but it won’t be habitable by humans did you not get?

“It is run off from the land areas that has the major impact, not the dishwasher.”

You REALLY don’t get this concept. Just because YOU use a little, doesn’t mean ANYTHING. There are HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of people. Do you understand this? HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS. Anything “little” in the face of that is multiplied directly by that number! AND, this is a continual process, done multiple times a week. NOTHING in this process is little! NOTHING!

And you talk industry like we don’t highly regulate it! You see the difference with industry regulation is you, is that we STOP the industries from being able to wash TSP down the drain. There is no such regulations for individual consumers, where you guys put it in your washers and it goes straight into the water sewer! The fact that even though it’s an industry, that it actually causes less than hundreds of millions of daily users seems to not even graze you.

“Or do we use the new untested chemicals instead?”

Stop with the BS. We’ve already covered this, that’s is nothing but BULL. Zeolites and other alternatives have been tested and are nonpoisonous as well as nonpolluting.

“use of the new formulas is causing an over use of energy and water”

Bull, only for people who can’t suffice with spotless dishes and laundry who attempt to repeat or turn on heavy washing more… but that number is in the minority. Washers don’t just “use” more water and energy when you put in different detergents in, they use the same amount no matter what.

“The environment is emmencly cyclical and resilient.”

Like I’ve already repeatably said, yes it is. However, we are not.

GMNightmare May 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Fantastic, you got spotless glasses, great. I’m glad that’s all that matters.

“we are using more water and more energy to do the same job”

I think not. The problem is you are still trying to get visual cleanliness instead of actual cleanliness. The problem is you value that visual effect that ultimately does nothing but gratify your ego.

“unconcerned with the environment, just the opposite”

Bull. The “I’m not racist but…” You’re only concerned about the environment so long as it doesn’t hinder you in any way. That isn’t concern. After all, you’d rather trade visually clean dishes for environmental safety.

“Do you use anti-bacterial cleaners?”

Hell no. Assumptions assumptions…

GMNightmare May 7, 2011 at 11:57 am

“corporations take away our right to choose how we achieve tasks that we value”

Corporations aren’t taking any right away. Again, you can personally go to the store and make your own detergent. The concept has eluded you, you meant to say government right? But again, what do you think of the clean water act? It really doesn’t come through to how much you benefit from things like this until it all goes away.

“personal responsibility with freedom of choice”

The great lack of knowledge that you and the author seem to have is that your choices have consequences on others. That’s right. And society, in general every society, stops your freedom at the point it invades the safety as others. You cannot be oblivious to this.

Stutz May 7, 2011 at 2:01 am

I’ll trade a little spotless cleanliness for an environmental benefit any day. Is that insane? My dishes get plenty clean with whatever detergent is on the shelves. Besides, what laissez-faire solution to an environmental problem has there ever been? This whole issue seems odd to a non-like-minded person such as myself. I should think that a healthier planet would be an end-in-itself, yet I come on this site and find folks who decry environmentalism essentially just because the government encourages it. I would have thought to find arguments about how free enterprise could do a better job than the state to keep the planet healthy, but instead I find skepticism of science, of environmentalism, of climate change, and I read an article about how my whites not being as white as they used to be is some kind of harbinger of the end of the world. Algae blooms that kill off fish, well, that’s just unfortunate, but less-than-squeaky-clean dishes? Absolutely unacceptable! We’re going back to the Dark Ages! Does it really not come off that way to anybody else? You’d consider me the liberal here, but the wine-sipping dandy in the room I am not.

Look, I have plenty of to quibble about with government overreaching, inefficiency, and intrusion, but the fact that it’s far from perfect doesn’t mean that it can’t get some things done that the free market has little incentive to address; not every problem is reducible to an economic issue! I see the state as, ideally, a way to achieve certain goals and solve certain problems that the economy won’t, and to be an expression of our values as a society by holding us accountable to ourselves (civil rights, social safety net, etc). To the extent that it stifles us with red tape and bureaucracy and excessive taxation, it sucks. To the extent that it gets us off our asses to deal with environmental issues, fight wars, regulate corporations, encourage art and science, maintain our infrastructure, educate our kids, establish the rule of law, and so on, it’s essential. It does many of these things poorly, sure, but otherwise many of these things would not get done.

Retep May 7, 2011 at 7:42 am

Wow. Where to start with this. Fight wars? Regulate corporations? Educate? Establish law? The government does all of these things based on the interest of promoting itself, not to benefit humanity. How do you think that it is possible that out of 300,000,000 people we had a father and a son as our “leader?” Why would you for one second think that our government gives a shit about the environment? Have you seen Gasland? Have you seen Food, Inc? Maintain our infrastructure? Seriously…? Which one? The economic infrastructure? The roads? Our current government does everything in its power to curb our civil rights and to make sure that power stays within a certain group of people. I agree that a governing body that makes decisions for the people who live within it can serve a very valuable purpose; but that is precisely the problem, our governing body makes decisions for the people who live within IT. They don’t make decisions for the people who are not part of it (e.g. all of us). Take a closer look. The government has done nothing but deregulate corporations over the past 30 years. Our United States government today in no way seeks to achieve goals outside of economics. You are naive if you think that one single decision that the government makes is not heavily reliant on how it will promote the distribution of money and or resources in its own favor.

Shay May 7, 2011 at 8:23 am

I should think that a healthier planet would be an end-in-itself, yet I come on this site and find folks who decry environmentalism essentially just because the government encourages it.

Where encourages is your euphemism for forces under the threat of imprisonment. If you’re concerned about the environment, you can first start by cleaning up your integrity and honesty.

Stutz May 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Clever. Remind me, who was ever imprisoned for polluting, by the way?

Stutz May 7, 2011 at 10:27 am

Then in that sense, the government is just looking out for itself like every other agent in a free market. In the meantime, some things get accomplished, some things we want the state to do get taken care of. Isn’t capitalism about how everyone working in their own interest can solve problems organically? I was careful to point out how much the government sucks at its job and could be better, but I’m not convinced there’s a better solution for certain issues.

Inquisitor May 9, 2011 at 9:30 am

” In the meantime, some things get accomplished, some things we want the state to do get taken care of.”

Whose “we”?

” Isn’t capitalism about how everyone working in their own interest can solve problems organically? ”

Not by any and all means, no.

“I was careful to point out how much the government sucks at its job and could be better, but I’m not convinced there’s a better solution for certain issues.”

So because you – one individual – lacks the creativity to find better solutions to problems than institutiong a violent monopoly of force, you would deny countless others the opportunity to do so? Must be that “ego” GMNightmare spoke of.

Jim P. May 7, 2011 at 8:40 am

“Less-than-squeaky-clean dishes? Absolutely unacceptable! We’re going back to the Dark Ages!”

Oh, such hyperbole. I get your point, but it doesn’t do you any favors to assume pettiness, ill-will, or insanity as the motivations of people around here. It seems clear, based on your last couple of sentences, you’re a bit new to the Austrian perspective in general. Let’s just keep it short by saying your last two sentences are a good summary of the dubious government “services” that this site opposes completely.

You said,
“… yet I come on this site and find folks who decry environmentalism essentially just because the government encourages it.”

That’s not really how it is viewed around here. You’ve got it backwards. Environmentalism encourages government. Secondly, it is not “essentially just because.” You’re jumping to the conclusion that we have no good principle reason for opposing government interventions. (see the links I provided below)

“but the fact that it’s far from perfect doesn’t mean that it can’t get some things done that the free market has little incentive to address; not every problem is reducible to an economic issue!”

Austrianism is essentially claiming the direct opposite. Everything IS an economic issue. And all human desires (security, a clean environment, education, a meaningful job, etc) are provided for by markets, or what is the same thing, people working together voluntarily to solve the problems of life.

Not to be a jerk here by handing you a stack of books, but a skim here and there might give you some insight into why we’re just so damn wrongheaded. These books are a good intro to what you might call Austro-Libertarianism (these are all free):

Probably the best intro to Austro-Lib that exists (very short book):

To get a quick view of why I claim that economics encompasses all human issues, I recommend the first chapter of this book:

Finally, I can’t recommend this book enough! see the Introduction (property issues) and Chapter 8: Property and the Environment:

Keep an open mind, challenge your ideas a bit, and see what you think.

Stutz May 7, 2011 at 10:45 am

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I’ll challenge you on one point: I’m not jumping to the conclusion that you have no good reason to oppose government intervention, because obviously you have plenty of good reasons. I’m jumping to the conclusion that you’re letting your judgment of environmentalism be clouded by the fact that the government and distasteful politicians (Al Gore) promote it. Now, you’ve said that environmentalism promotes government, which I’ll grant you, although I find it an odd and slightly dubious claim. My point is that putting aside whatever its relationship with government is, the scientific facts remain, and a healthier, cleaner planet is an end-in-itself that has not been and is not currently well addressed by private enterprise. And it seems to me that you should want markets to address these problems, but instead I’m sensing an anti-environmental, skeptical-of-science vibe here, which I think is, if nothing else, bad PR for your philosophy.

I need to read up on the “every problem is an economic one” stuff, so thanks. One thing I would ask you: why can’t government be one of the ways of “people working together voluntarily to solve the problems of life”? Do you throw out the idea of the social contract altogether?

Jim P. May 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Libertarians are not anti-environmental per se. Like any human being, nobody enjoys pollution or destruction. But they are often anti-environmental-ist because enviro types like to look to government power as a solution to things they perceive are problems. “Can’t understand it – ban it.” seems to be the mentality.

But force can’t save the environment because force can’t change minds (see: prohibition). As Mises wrote, “Only ideas can overcome ideas.” Libertarians reject the use of force as a means to solve societal problems as both a) immoral and, b) ineffective. Even if it could be viewed as moral, experience and theory shows that it just doesn’t work.

Government cannot be considered a voluntary association, because it ultimately has to back up everything it does with jail, fines, and sometimes death. This isn’t like a club or an association or a company, where jail isn’t possible and you can’t kill anybody. As Lew Rockwell noted, “freedom is not a public policy.” You can’t choose your government, only its rulers.

For more on that, see Karl Hess’ “The Death of Politics”:

Also, see Rose Wilder Lane’s “Discovery of Freedom” starting pg. 27:

Libertarians focus on market solutions rather than government on the same no-force basis. For example, a business cannot force you to buy its services, unless it has the force of government behind it. A company that makes bombs forces us all to be customers, because if we don’t fund it with taxes, we go to jail.

Jim P. May 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

As for skepticism of science… We all have to be skeptical of science, especially as we are all laymen. For example, I am not a climate scientist, and I am not a particle physicist. As a layman, to some extent I do have to rely on the judgment of experts to decide what to do in my own ordinary life. As a layman, I suspect that the earth is indeed a ball of rock floating around a burning ball of gasses, surrounded by a lot of nothing. But I can’t prove it and I’ve never been to the moon to see it.

The difference is that in particle physics, there is robust, honest, non-political debate. In climate science (and many other enviro issues), there is little or no debate. Dissent is absolutely crushed, and it is career suicide to question climate change in even minor ways. Consensus means science has stopped, which rarely happens and usually takes many decades – like Newton’s Laws of Motion. Even Einstein or Darwin’s theories, well established as they are, are still debated and questioned. The integrity of science can be judged on how well it encourages dissent and recognizes its vital usefulness. The difference in the discussion between quarks and carbon seems to be how useful the outcome could be to politicians. Pol’s are powerful transients, and want the results now. It could be said that climate change is of more urgency, but again, what politician doesn’t love panic, mayhem, and emergency?

So there is much reason for skepticism. I suspect we’ve got some political rushing to judgment going on with most environmental science. Carbon-control fans don’t care much whether they’re right or not, but whether they get power for their ideas. Again, force.

So is the market better than politics? Property rights is the key here. That Butler Shaffer book I linked to has a great chapter on how property rights solves environmental problems. I also commented way up above in this thread on my take on that as well.

Stutz May 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm

“The difference is that in particle physics, there is robust, honest, non-political debate. In climate science (and many other enviro issues), there is little or no debate. Dissent is absolutely crushed, and it is career suicide to question climate change in even minor ways. Consensus means science has stopped, which rarely happens and usually takes many decades – like Newton’s Laws of Motion.”

As reasonable as that sounds, you’re missing a vital point. Within the scientific community there is little debate about what is already clearly established in particle physics, and there is similarly little debate in climate science about what is already clearly established by countless peer-reviewed studies and mountains of evidence. And whatever uncertainty there exists amongst scientists on climate is over the 5% they don’t know, not over the 95% they do, just the same as in evolutionary biology or Einsteinian physics. It sounds like you’re assuming some kind of grand conspiracy theory amongst scientists on this point, for which there is far less evidence than there is for climate change itself. Consensus does not mean science has stopped, it means that we’ve generally decided what is well established and have moved on into the territory of what’s still left to learn. The only real debate ongoing about the basic facts of climate change is the political/media one, because people who think they know better than scientists who spend their lives studying these things keep questioning what is already established. It’s very similar to evolution in that way, and in the way that it’s almost invariably a political or theological agenda that’s driving their “skepticism”. Carbon control fans are no more blinded by their lust for power than the lobbyists and pseudo-scientists funded by energy companies create the illusion of uncertainty are. Meanwhile, the scientific facts remain.

My worry is that if we leave environmental problems to a market solution, it will be far too late. At least with politics we have the opportunity to make ourselves change now, because we can see the problem coming down the road long before there will be any economic incentives to do something about it. It’s about foresight.

Martial Artist May 8, 2011 at 9:39 pm

@Stutz,I regret to inform you that your assertion that “The only real debate ongoing about the basic facts of climate change is the political/media one, because people who think they know better than scientists who spend their lives studying these things keep questioning what is already established” is seriously in error. As recently as November 17, 2010, in a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Science and Technology Prof. Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testified on what the science actually has to say about the theory of anthropogenic global warming. A copy of the PDF of his presentation is available here. A PDF of the slides themselves is available on request to Professor Lindzen (rlindzen@mit.edu). It is not at all supportive of the researcher proponents, all of whom are numerical modelers. The models attemp to approximate a solution to a system of partial differential equations for which no known analytical solution exists. Professor Lindzen’s testimony is a devastating critique of those who insist that the models are accurate. If Professor Lindzen is, as your comment would seem to imply, not a scientist who is qualified to testify on this subject, then neither you nor I are human beings.Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

Inquisitor May 9, 2011 at 9:27 am

“Meanwhile, the scientific facts remain.”

It’s all about the “facts”, eh? Those unshakeable, irrefutable, good-as-gold “facts. What facts? :)

“My worry is that if we leave environmental problems to a market solution, it will be far too late. At least with politics we have the opportunity to make ourselves change now, because we can see the problem coming down the road long before there will be any economic incentives to do something about it. It’s about foresight.”

How do you think the market works, exactly…? So you basically want, on the flimsy basis of ‘climate science’ or whatever other garbage the government employs to justify its programmes – with no proper assessment of damages, risks, costs etc. – to get a solution “now” because the market would not endorse the same heavy-handed chicken-little-ism as the political means could bring about (without even conceding it is one bit justified)? The market is future-oriented. If you think ecological disaster X is a problem, you’re free to take your money – and anyone else’s who agrees to give it to you – and work on it. If you think someone is damaging others through e.g. pollution, you can try prove causality and get them to pay damages. If you think a given substance is “bad”, you’re free to campaign against its use and try CONVINCE others not to use it.

Ban it? No.

Jim P. May 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm

(And finally) … yes, I do reject the idea of a social contract. I do not think a social contract is actually possible, either, because the General Will must always be interpreted by rulers. And the Austrian alternative is the usual: markets allow for people to work together without rulers.

This does indeed imply a rejection of democracy as a political system also. Rejecting democracy is a sort of heresy to most, but the question constantly arising is: does democracy de-civilize us? It might sound odd, but the following from Michael S. Rozeff illustrates what I mean in context (I edited this to make it concise, original is here: (http://www.lewrockwell.com/rozeff/rozeff334.html):

Why should anyone be fighting with his neighbor over his neighbor’s choice of health care? At present, no one has a choice of national government. The government claims the right to regulate health care. Therefore, everyone fights and tries to get his own way. Everyone tries to make everyone else pay for what he gets.

Those who, given a choice, still insist on making everyone kowtow to his system under one government are advocating an evil thing. They do not think it’s evil, however. They think it’s good to make everyone do the same thing because the government tells them to. Their reasoning usually comes down to some notion that “society” would fall apart unless everyone is made to obey. They have some notion of a collective or a unitary society or a single nation or one people, and they place this notion above that of any individual person. To my way of thinking, these ideas are all wrong.

It’s not a good thing for the government to tell everyone what to do. They abuse the power. They don’t know what’s right for everyone. They prevent people from bettering themselves. This notion of one “society” is deeply ingrained among persons of most all political persuasions. Even the Libertarians frequently use it without even realizing it. I’ve no doubt used it myself. It’s a dangerous idea because all people, supposedly in one society, are not united and uniform in their social and political preferences. In that sense, society is a mythical construction. It serves to support the idea of a single government for that single society. That’s what makes it so insidiously dangerous.

Finally, the idea that the collective is above the individual person is wrong too. The collective invariably comes right back to an elite few who speak for the group, and that’s nothing more than government again with all its attendant ills.

The fact of the matter is that any national government that purports to speak and act for a unitary society is actually a small group of persons who claim to be deputed to act on behalf of another group of unidentifiable persons. Any claim of government to act on behalf of everyone cannot be verified by any open and freely-made agreements. I know of no government that is endorsed and chosen freely by those who want to have it. All governments impose on those persons under their rule. None are instruments that arise from consent. They all lack the legitimacy of open consent by persons who voluntarily make known their choices and agree to stick by them.

Daniel May 9, 2011 at 9:12 am

This is an excellent post

Thank you

Stutz May 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

Oh, and sorry about the “wine-sipping dandy” thing, couldn’t resist. My point was that the subject of this article seemed petty, not that your ideas are. I don’t think folks here are insane or petty, but just like everyone else, myself very much included, you can let your favorite beliefs lead you into the realm of silliness from time to time.

Thom Brogan May 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm


In a freed market; you’d likely see a greater reduction in pollution than in the current and increasingly regulated market. Why? Increased competition; the problems of scarcity; and the profit motive. In a freed market, the race to win new or retain existing customers by offering goods and services at better values than one’s rivals involves an ongoing struggle to reduce expenses while improving quality and that channels into being less wasteful and being less wasteful channels into polluting less.

You’re not seeing anti-science here – only opposition to people using their occupation as scientists to substitute for proof of their arguments for greater government controls. If you look up Climategate, you’ll find that many scientific papers questioning and debunking Anthropogenic Climate Change were blocked from entering the peer-reviewed process because they opposed the status quo and not for any inherent weakness in the papers (which would’ve been found during actual peer review). People who worship science do not worship scientists nor take their statements at face value (it would be unscientific).

Best wishes,


Deefburger May 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm

It’s true that when science is done right, there is healthy skepticism as the process of disproving theory takes place.

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is for the most part considered proven because every attempt to disprove it produced results that the theory predicted. If nobody was trying to prove it wrong, all we would have is a theory and the dogma of that theory.

Environmentalists are often guilty of dogmatic rather than scientific analysis. What bothers me about GMNightmare is not the concern, but the lack of questioning.

The benefactors of the removal of TSP from household cleaning products is not the environment, since the household contribution is microscopic compared to the tonnage used on farmland of phosphates and nitrates, but is instead the chemical companies, who have cleared the market by force of law of the presence of non-patentable TSP, and they can now replace that ingredient with a patented version of their own formulation.

This new formula, whatever it might be, is limited to manufacture by the patent holding company, and is only known in it’s entirety by that company’s scientists. There is no study nor can there be yet, on the effects of the new chemicals on our health and on the environment.

What we have learned so far is that the new formulas stick to the machines, the plumbing, and our dishes and clothes. We are coming into direct contact with these substances much more so than we ever did with TSP, and we don’t know what they are or what they do to us or our environment.

But profits at those chemical companies are probably safe from the removal of the non-patentable substance we know. Same type of bait and switch was the means to getting Cannabis outlawed. The scare tactic was implemented by William Randolf Hearst and DuPont. Why? Hemp. DuPont had invented Nylon and other plastic fibers but couldn’t get them to market because anybody could produce the superior strength Hemp.

It took us nearly 100 years to realize the mistake, and recover the health benefits of the cannabis plant in general. No body profited more from the hype than the industrial complex!

In a free market system without government regulatory force, this kind of thing doesn’t happen. TSP cleaners are being used as a scapegoat for the creation of a ready market for newer patented products.

The next step of course is to force the farmers to stop using phosphates and nitrates. What will they be offered as an alternative? Probably Monsanto GE crops that have been engineered to take up some new formula of Monsanto produced nutrient. That scares the c**p out of me!

Organic farming depends upon the use and re-use of natural forms of nitrates and phosphorus. That new (old) farming style will be killed by the legislation that outlaws or severely regulates the natural forms of these chemicals. But the media hype will undoubtedly fire up more people like GMNightmare and they will lead us all down the royal road to GM foods and Industrial “Green” foods and farming products.

I expect the new products will be legally labeled “Green” and “Organic” in order to replace the real heirloom old school products in our grocery stores. Look at the labels on the new formulas for the unknown new cleaners as an example. Green bottles, green boxes, environmentally friendly labels and text. The only thing environmentally friendly about them is that they have improved the environment on Wall Street for the companies that make them! We don’t know what they do the the biosphere!

Martial Artist May 9, 2011 at 6:06 pm


I actually suspect that GMNightmare has chosen that nom de blog because he is an opponent of Genetically Modified foodstuffs, not that he is a supporter. OCICBW.

Pax et bonum,

Keith Töpfer

Inquisitor May 9, 2011 at 9:22 am

“I should think that a healthier planet would be an end-in-itself”

But it isn’t. Go figure.

Big Ugly, Wyoming May 7, 2011 at 8:27 am

I remember “the government” eliminating the use of CarbonTetraChloride for use in DryCleaning – for our own good, of course.
The new stuff, perchloroethylene, was supposed to be so much safer and “environmentally friendly” than carbon-tet.
Kind of reminds me of the ‘freon’ thing and the ozone hole – that’s still there, sometimes, depending on whether the cold is destroying the ozone, or the high atmospheric temperatures are destroying the ozone, or whether or not the ‘new freon’ is destroying the ozone …… and ‘creating’ the “hole” that closed even before the ‘old freon’ was completely eliminated from modern society.

Like we need a ‘government’ that intrudes into every orifice of our lives?

Don’t forget, they have our best interest at heart – now that Osama is dead, and the compound (with no internet, phone, tv, satellite) raided and all the computers and storage media retrieved – we now KNOW that Al Qaeda was planning to hi-jack trains ……. TSA will be groping their way into safer rail transportation, too.

Daniel May 9, 2011 at 9:18 am

They were going to run a train into the White House! :o

Knox May 7, 2011 at 9:34 am

If you want to see how badly a new front-load washer works, try this experiment.

Wash a load of laundry as you normally do. Then, wash it a second time without detergent – just to give it a couple of extra rinse cycles. Then, fill your kitchen sink with clear water and dunk a few freshly washed items into the water. You will be shocked at how much crap rinses into the clear water.

So, you think your clothes are really clean?

Austin Fitzhenry May 7, 2011 at 11:04 am

The following is a letter sent to Gary North after he spoke of trisodium phosphate in his ‘Tip of the Week’ and linked to this article. Since it pertains as much to this article as it does to Mr. North’s tip, I am posting it here as well.

Dear Mr. North,

Dissent often goes unspoken and thus unknown. I believe you are sincere and willing to consider difference of opinion in an intellectually honest way. That is why I want to make known my opinion and why I formed it.

Upon reading your tip and Mr. Tucker’s Mises article I googled trisodium phosphate (TSP) and came upon this page:

Three major reasons why being so casual about this chemical is unwise come to mind.

A substance that is toxic by mere contact with skin or inhalation of its dust has no business being in our clothes, much less our water. And something that can kill you as long as a month after exposure is not, in my opinion, something to “buy as much as you want” of. Residue in our clothes or left on our dishes may or may not be a health threat, but I know this: cancer comes from somewhere, and there is much evidence that the continual barrage of chemicals of every description that we are daily exposed to at low levels is a cancer contributor. You may be endangering readers who are willing to accept chemicals as safe at face value.

More concerning than direct exposure, however, is where TSP goes after rinsing down the drain. A good measure of something’s toxicity to other organisms is if it is toxic to humans, and vise versa. Would you want to drink water contaminated with a substance that can kill when ingested? Sending a chemical downstream to places you don’t even know of and into systems you do not understand is the ultimate display of being un-neighborly. Mr. Tucker’s statement that “there is no solid evidence that plant growth in rivers and lakes is a harm at all” shows a complete disregard for biological systems and an ignorance of the science of ecology – the science of how nature works. If algae growth is a man-made component in the system, it is foreign to the natural components and invariably harmful. Clear testament to this is found in the scientifically well-documented dead zone the size of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. The zone is caused by unnatural blooms of algae nourished by substances like TSP, and has cost Gulf fishermen millions in annual revenue – not to mention the cost to Americans in general in reduced marine resources. Mr. Tucker’s assertion that “the household contribution to algae creation is negligible, and the scientific evidence on the issue of algae’s effect on fish runs in all directions” shows a willful ignorance of the most well documented aspect of his subject. Furthermore, his argument seems to be that just because other sources of toxins – like industrial farming – are greater than the household contribution, then you and I shouldn’t worry about our part in the destruction. Those ethics are downright scary.

Something tells me that Mr. Tucker would not be so dismissive of concerns over TSP if he thought it was in HIS water instead of just in the water of those that are downstream from him.

A third reason for my opinion that TSP is unethical to promote and use is simple. Whatever you think about government regulation of toxins, property rights are still an issue. Even a strict small-government enthusiast like myself quickly sees that property rights, at the very least, are affected by using a chemical in water. When an individual mixes a foreign and unnatural substance with water and dumps it into a river, lake, the groundwater, or other uncontained and uncontainable elements, it is a clear and cruel overstep of boundaries. Whatever someone wants to do with their own property, water, or body is their business. But when spread into the hydrological system, it cannot be taken back and it is others who are affected. As we have sent, year after year, pollutants to a place called ‘away’ that is often much closer than expected, we have reaped the results. The hundreds of substances we thought we had got rid of after using that are now found in our groundwater, lakes, soil, air, the fish we eat and even our own babies before they are born, are testament to the fact that dilution is not, in fact, the solution to pollution. Once mixed with water, it IS uncontainable, and unavoidably a horrible infringement upon not only others’ real estate, but also their most valuable property – their own bodies.

Personal health, neighborly consideration, and property rights are just three issues that come to mind. More would be evident with some thought. I hope you will consider a more cautious and balanced view of the costs and benefits of man-made chemicals in the future.

Best regards,
Austin Fitzhenry

Jeffrey Tucker May 7, 2011 at 11:22 am

oh brother.

Nitrogen May 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

“oh brother.”

Yes, how unfortunate that the negative externalities elephant in the room must sooner or later be pointed out.

“Clear testament to this is found in the scientifically well-documented dead zone the size of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. The zone is caused by unnatural blooms of algae nourished by substances like TSP, and has cost Gulf fishermen millions in annual revenue – not to mention the cost to Americans in general in reduced marine resources.”

Nonetheless, we’ll all sleep well knowing we have a spotless glass in our photo album.

Dan May 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Rubbish. Phosphates exist in the environment naturally, including in waterways. Algae blooms occur in nature, in areas without phosphate input. Sounds like another “hockey stick” curve to me, from a government website no less.

Fewer and fewer people are buying into your environmental propaganda you people keep beating us over the head with.

Stutz May 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm

It’s not about whether they DO occur, it’s about in what concentration. I thought that was clear to everyone. Phosphates that are mined from the ground in massive quantities were never going to have ended up in waterways without our help.

Deefburger May 10, 2011 at 8:31 am

@ Stutz

This is true. And for the purposes of this argument, the amount delivered by households is negligible compared to the amount delivered by Industrial Agriculture. The Ag contribution is by several tons, the household contribution is by the pound.

Perspective and relative quantity are the important factors to consider.
Also, the path. In the studies of the dead zone, urban development increased the natural amounts by increasing run off. Same with Ag. The trees and plants between the source and the watershed are missing, and have been replaced with pavement and drainage ditches and storm drains, so the water is not filtered by the soil and roots of plants.

Flooding, even in an undeveloped area does the same thing, so our impact is felt this way all the time, and we can expect the flooding of the Mississippi to create much larger blooms this year.

Deefburger May 8, 2011 at 11:04 am

The dead zone you speak of has only recently been discovered! How do they KNOW this phenomenon is “unnatural”? There is a “dead zone” at the bottom of my fish pond too. It’s a layer of low oxygen water just above the mud at the bottom that is feeding anaerobic bacteria. The fish stay out of it because they can’t breath there. But this layer forms naturally from the decay of bio material that precipitates out of the upper layers.

Layering in water systems is nothing new. I remember back several years ago an entire village in Cameroon was wiped out because of a layer inversion, a natural phenomenon, belched a massive cloud of CO2 from the lake and killed everything oxygen breathing around the lake.

Layering occurs because of salt and mineral content differences. Layering occurs because of temperature differences. In fact, layering in water systems is always happening because the water itself is not homogeneous. The scientists discovered the layer because they were looking at the layers. Just because there is one with no oxygen doesn’t automatically mean it was caused by something unnatural. And even if that layer were caused by algae that are consuming phosphates means nothing. Algae are plants and all plants consume phosphates!

And then, to assume that the layer is unnatural and to then project the loss of revenue that this phenomenon represents is a wild and crazy ride down the speculative causal roller-coaster from the giant mountain of assumption. At the bottom you can get your picture taken of you screaming in horror at the injustices and selfish cravings of people with no environmental sense…Right?

So maybe the Earth is changing. Maybe the layer has some causal connection to human activity. Probably so. But Humanity, as big and bad as it is, is not the be-all and end-all of the Earth’s changes and chemistry. And assuming every unexpected scientific find that seems to run counter to the intuitive sense of how the biosphere works is a human made phenomenon is the height of arrogance. We do have an impact, sometimes severe, but we are not always to blame.

The oceans are less understood than the vast space outside our solar system. How can the scientists know the cause of the dead zone? They don’t. What happened was they formed a theory, and a hypothesis, and the media and the enviro-nazis took those ideas as gospel and freaked out.

‘I live in California. We pretty much agree here that we need to be conscious of our impact on the environment. We had a mandate to reduce our energy usage by 40% and VOLUNTARILY reduced it by 80%, over and above the mandate. We did not need the mandate! But being environmentally conscious does not mean taking every theory or discovery as gospel!

Deefburger May 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm

@Austin Fitzhenry
“A substance that is toxic by mere contact with skin or inhalation of its dust has no business being in our clothes, much less our water.”

That TSP is toxic in concentrated form or when in direct concentrated contact with your skin is not an issue unless you are freaking out.

From Wikipedia:
“…Food additive
Trisodium phosphate is approved as a food additive in the EU[7] and other countries. It has the E number E339 and is used as an acidity regulators in a variety of food products.
[edit]Exercise performance enhancement
TSP has gained a following as a nutritional supplement that can improve certain parameters of exercise performance.[8] The basis of this belief is the fact that phosphate is required for the energy-producing Krebs cycle central to aerobic metabolism. However, it is generally considered to be a bad idea to ingest compounds that are sufficiently caustic to dissolve cell membranes. Phosphates are available from a number of other sources that are much milder than TSP. While trisodium phosphate is not toxic per se, it is severely irritating to gastric mucosa unless used as part of a buffered solution.”

If you take the wood ashes from your fireplace, add water, and soak your hands in that natural compound, you will have similar effects and for similar reasons. What will you do to keep the ashes from wood fires from polluting the environment? Oh, wait, those chemicals ARE part of the environment and they are still DANGEROUS! OMG! What will we do?

We’ll stop freaking out and passing laws, that’s what.

nate-m May 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm


People with obviously no concept of chemistry or their natural environment shouldn’t be told that they are wrong and have no idea what they are talking about. They should be just allowed to tra-la-la across the internet and flaming everybody who dares to contradict their irrational fears and bad guesses at what is good and bad for the environment. Then they should be allowed to pore millions of dollars into fraudsters’ and hucksters’ organizations. Lend their support to corrupt and power hungry government officials who are using their stupidity against them and our freedom.

Oh… wait… lets not allow them to get away with this crap anymore. Nevermind.

J. Murray May 9, 2011 at 7:04 am

Name a nutrient and it’ll be deadly in high doses. Vitamin C will kill you. Salt will kill you. Cholesterol will kill you. Yet all of these are critical to healthy living. It’s all in the quantities, finding the right balance. Too much, and too little, is bad.

Deefburger May 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Phosphates are mined directly from the environment. If they are not a natural part of the chemistry of the environment, they why are they so essencial to the proper growth of plants in general? One of the earliest forms of phosphates came from guano and manure.

What about potassium nitrate? Isn’t that bad too? It’s poisonous and caustic to your skin. It’s also used in gunpowder. It’s primary source in England was protected by law for a couple of hundred years. That source was Pidgeon Poop! What if that is washing down the drain?

Sending brake fluid down the drain or 111-tri-clor would be negligent. Using TSP, Sodium Nitrate, and other naturally occurring chemicals in small quantities is not.

There are people who want to reduce the exposure to radiation too. I say stay indoors in a Faraday cage with the lights off. That will cause you to loose bone mass and die of a lack of exposure to radiation.

What kind of radiation and at what frequencies is what is important to know, not just that there is radiation. You can’t survive without radiation, and you yourself are a source of it.

Hype without understanding leads to unfounded fear and anxiety. Go freak out alone and stop trying to save the world from your own unfounded and unsubstantiated fears.

Dan May 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm

LOL. Well said.

Andy May 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Great article. I posted on my Facebook page for the edification of others…

Really enjoyed the article. With our advances, we’ve become less creative as a whole. When the family and I ran a commercial chicken farm in West GA, I quickly learned how sharp the farmers were in our little town. We had a very productive water well, 75kw generator to power the farm, air systems, heating systems, computer and digital control units, mechanical feed systems, etc. Running the farm proved challenging and exciting all in one.

The local farmers who assisted me figuring out problems here and there were amazing. Now…a simple thing like TSP and sunshine to clean the clothes…fantastic. The Amish have a few things down pat.


CCG May 8, 2011 at 2:10 am

Continues to amaze me just how accurately Ayn Rand nailed the mentality of these people, decades ago.

“‘We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen,’ says Obama. It’s clear that the rest of the world will not be brought up to U.S. standards; on the contrary, the standards of the U.S. must diminish.”


“If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose–because it contains all the others–the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to make money.’ No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity–to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor.”

- Atlas Shrugged

op May 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm

We should start creating products packaged the way the government creates policies, i.e. a product that is called, “This is Not a Laundry Detergent,” but in reality it is the really the good stuff with TSP.

Deefburger May 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm


Everything you are, touch, taste, eat, drink, etc. etc. etc. is a chemical. It’s called matter in this universe.

Other points of view are considered. Other theories, other data, other ideas….if you are thinking and not just freaking out.

Think about this:

There is an acid that was discovered 60 years ago that has been found to be responsible for 100% of all genetic disorders. It is highly toxic in some forms and can lead to terrible disfiguring diseases and even the collapse of entire species when it goes unchecked. It mutates readily into other forms and can be spread by animals, plants, water, or by air.

Should it be outlawed? Restricted? Anybody? Do you know the name of this terrible scourge? This chemical bombshell?

I’ll give you another clue, it’s a hydrocarbon…and it is responsible for the formation of all other hydrocarbon deposits, and those deposits are highly toxic.

Scared enough to declare a war on this chemical? This terrible acid?
Everything I told you about it is an absolute fact. It is also one of the most significant factors in climate change. Scary?

Any environmentalists out there care to examine this remark and take a stab at justifying it’s being outlawed for the good of the planet?

GMNightmare May 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Stop making childish arguments. If you have the gall, deal with what I said instead of making BS false analogies.

I’m not the one differentiating and saying bad stuff is considered a chemical and everything else isn’t. That was you guys, acting like alternatives to TSP are chemicals and thus bad and TSP isn’t. That’s the BS that YOU were doing. By the way, I didn’t fully deal with those moronic remarks, about how since we don’t know fully what they do it’s bad (that’s not even true, but let’s roll with it for a moment)… we KNOW TSP is poisonous and harms the environment. Case closed. The common substitute zeolites break down in water and are nonpolluting. They are also nonpoisonous by themselves.

Look up trisodium phosphate poisoning. You really need a wake up call. The absolute ignorance is astounding. IT’S POISONOUS. What do you not get about that?

Something you quite frankly don’t understand. ALL poisonous and dangerous chemicals are “naturally” occurring. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe. All alternatives, *shock*, naturally occur too. You seem to be able to make such an argument when you think it supports you, but can’t seem to incorporate it into your thought when it doesn’t work out for your argument.

Finally, you just don’t seem to understand that a few people using stuff occasionally isn’t a problem. It’s when it’s mass produced, given to hundreds of millions of people doing loads of laundry and dishes every other day that it’s poisonous nature to us becomes relevant and the environmental harm potentially devastating. Your lack of foresight and even care is alarming. You earlier remarked how tsp wouldn’t harm fishes in your pond… ever put some in there to try it out? You’d kill them. tsp IS POISONOUS TO FISH TOO. No, not just through algae blooms, but directly poisonous.

But even after all this, my original arguments still hold:
“…absolutely pitiable that you have not a single thought for anybody but yourself. [...] I don’t want to drink the stuff just because you can’t stand not having spotless clothes. [...] people still get sick and develop chronic problems from it. [...] we KNOW it causes environmental damage, there is no question, and you crying about how well it might not be so bad is the common problem with society today. You won’t be satisfied until this planet is completely dead before you give in and even admit that hey, there are environmental consequences for our capitalistic society. Where does your freedom stop and others’ begin?

By the way, it’s part of the clean water act, and every day you get to see those benefits. Every day you turn on your water, and maybe even clean yourself, in nice refreshingly clean water unlike most of the rest of the world. The moment you stop getting access to clean water is the moment you’d start whining the exact opposite. Of course, none of that even phased your thought process in this little rant, you want your cake and eat it too.

[...] They just aren’t as visually clean. It’s not DIRTIER. It’s just doesn’t look as polished. And I just can’t fathom it, I really can’t fathom it, that you would rather risk the health of not only the environment but us including yourself, just because you can’t handle your white shirt not being perfectly white.

This is the epitome of greed. There is absolutely no real benefit outside of fulfilling your psychological obsession of your junk stuff being spotless, and plenty of tangible and potentially deadly consequences. Yet which one do you pick? Zero care about the future, as long as it satisfies your ego now.”

J. Murray May 9, 2011 at 7:10 am

Water is a chemical. Salt is a chemical. Sugar is a chemical. Anything that is not a free atom is a chemical. The only thing childish here is the fear of chemicals.

GMNightmare May 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Somebody isn’t reading anything…

Inquisitor May 9, 2011 at 9:16 am

What an awful lot of bitching for one post.

“Look up trisodium phosphate poisoning. You really need a wake up call. The absolute ignorance is astounding. IT’S POISONOUS. What do you not get about that?”

I guess we need you to tell us what we can or cannot consume? In your own absolute liberal ignorance of economics? Bitch, please. What astounding ignorance and arrogance.

““…absolutely pitiable that you have not a single thought for anybody but yourself. [...]”

Please stop masking your authoritarian impulses under “altruistic” concerns, it’s sad.

“I don’t want to drink the stuff just because you can’t stand not having spotless clothes. [...] ”

Who said you have to?

“people still get sick and develop chronic problems from it.”

OH NOES! People get SICK from it.

” [...] we KNOW it causes environmental damage, there is no question”

So. What. ? .

“and you crying about how well it might not be so bad is the common problem with society today. You won’t be satisfied until this planet is completely dead”

Hilarious histrionic alarmism.

” before you give in and even admit that hey, there are environmental consequences for our capitalistic society. Where does your freedom stop and others’ begin?”

Any society – capitalistic or otherwise – has an impact on its surroundings. You need to clearly demonstrate: whose person or property is damaged. Otherwise: you have no leg to stand on. BTW: the “planet” and the “environment” have no rights.

“By the way, it’s part of the clean water act,”

Yeah, because the government decreed we must have “clean” water, we do. Otherwise we’d all be dying and drinking sewage water. Again: bitch, please. PROVE IT.

“[...] They just aren’t as visually clean. It’s not DIRTIER. It’s just doesn’t look as polished. And I just can’t fathom it, I really can’t fathom it, that you would rather risk the health of not only the environment but us including yourself, just because you can’t handle your white shirt not being perfectly white.”

What is this “environment”? One’s surroundings? Big deal. Up to me how much of my “health” I risk or not, k?

“This is the epitome of greed.”

The epitome of a normal human impulse that drives all action. OK. Whatever.

“There is absolutely no real benefit outside of fulfilling your psychological obsession of your junk stuff being spotless, and plenty of tangible and potentially deadly consequences. Yet which one do you pick? Zero care about the future, as long as it satisfies your ego now.””

1) You contradict yourself. There is a real benefit, to the user.
2) Calling it an “Obsession” doesn’t nullify this value.
3) “Junk” is a subjective term. Up to the consumer to determine what is “Junk”.
4) You seem to place an inordinate value about preaching about the “future”. As if this “future” should take precedence over “now” due to some ego-driven future-fetishism you seem to have (see? I can also apply loaded terms to your own preferences.)

You have the sort of self-righteous “moral” condemnation coupled with authoritarian, elitist impulses that makes my jaw drop. You’d belong better in a church preaching to fellow enviro-zealots.

GMNightmare May 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm

“I guess we need you to tell us what we can or cannot consume?”

No, I’m telling you that you don’t have a right to poison the water supply and force everybody else to consume it just because you want pure white clothes. Like the bazillionith time, where does your freedom stop and others’ begin? And for pete’s sake, it’s like the notion doesn’t get through to you, but YOUR right to clean water is protected by this. This country is not anarchy. Complete freedom doesn’t mean you’re free.

“Who said you have to?”

If you don’t know anything about the issue, why are you even speaking? We have these thing, call sewers. I know this is advanced stuff here but try and pay attention. When the water goes down the sink in your house, that’s where it goes. It’s complicated, but eventually after attempts to clean it this water it will return to other households or will reach the end of it’s location into the ocean. Its fascinating, look it up sometime.

Vanmind May 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Would it not be better to start by banning a much more prevalent and toxic chemical compound known as alcohol?

Pierre May 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

There is another issue here: phosphorus (the “phosphate” in TSP) is an essential ingredient for agriculture and life. We are consuming phosphorus at an accelerating rate, and it is irreplaceable. Unlike other elements, it is not recyclable, as all waste phosphorus washes into the sea.

When, not if, we run out of phosphorus, it will be the end of civilization. So all measures to conserve it are important.

Deefburger May 9, 2011 at 10:07 am


The danger here is not your fear. The danger is what you do with that fear. There is no question TSP effects the environment. There is no question TSP effects algae blooms and forms layers of oxygen poor water. There is no question that TSP is poisonous in concentration. There is no question that oxygen free layers of water will not support fish. There is no question that this poison is used to wash your food before you buy it. There is no question that these properties of TSP cause you to fear for your life.

But your fear is not based upon any knowledge of the workings of the environment itself. That requires a great deal of study, and theory, and the testing of those theories, before there is any proof of the theory. Evidence of various aspects of the influence and consequence of Phosphates in an environment that was built with phosphates is a study of biology as a whole. That is a very very big study that takes years to accomplish.

Without the proof, there is no knowledge. Fear is not a reason to regulate the actions of individuals. Knowledge is. Until that knowledge exists because of the large body of study of the environment, there is no motivation to regulate.

And beyond that point, there is no justifiable means available other than education to effect regulation in a civil and free society. I don;t give a rat’s patootie how scared you are. I do care what is really happening in my environment. When that environment includes you and a body of legislated theory, I am afraid for MY life and the lives of every human effected by your legislation.

I do not send anything down the drain unless it is a naturally derived substance. Do you?

Tell me what you do, YOU, at home, to mitigate YOUR impact on the environment. Tell me what your theories are and I will do you the same and try, like a proper scientist, to disprove your work. My failure to disprove your theory is a gain to both of us in KNOWLEDGE. Act on that and change your own behavior. But NEVER, EVER, force me or anyone else to change in any way. You do not have the right, even if you have a law in your hands.

Read the Bastiat collection and pay special attention to “The Law”, and the means you have chosen to allay your own fears.

You might be right, but until the study of biology on Earth is complete enough to show cause and effect with indisputable evidence, you are only guessing and theorizing. And even if you are right, you still have no right to force change on anybody. You do have a right to try and educate them. But you better have real proof or you are only indoctrinating them into your own theoretical fear.

Your moniker is GMNightmare. I concur. If GM is Genetically Modified then I am your compatriot in fear. What I do not condone is legislating that fear away. I simply don’t buy GM food, period. Consequently, I don’t have nightmares over it. I would if I were forced by legislation to eat the stuff.

Control yourself.

GMNightmare May 9, 2011 at 8:01 pm

“I do not send anything down the drain unless it is a naturally derived substance.”

NATURAL DOES NOT MEAN IT’S SAFE. And everything is a “naturally derived substance”, what did you not get about that?

This is not anarchy. Freedom is not where everybody can do what they want.

You need to look up what you are fighting against, the Clean Water Act. Again, you BENEFIT GREATLY from the implementation of this “legislature”, but you seem to ignore that every single day you depend upon thousands of laws that make this country a developed country. You argue for anarchy, that you wish to do whatever you want with absolutely no consideration of my rights or my safety. You do not have such a right here, stop trying to act like you do.

You just don’t get where that water that magically comes from your faucet appears from. It’s not magic. It doesn’t magically be clean.

And just like we prevent industries from dumping sludge and poisons down the drain, so do we do it to you.

“I simply don’t buy GM food, period. Consequently, I don’t have nightmares over it. I would if I were forced by legislation to eat the stuff.”

And this is the most amazing part… How do you know what is GM food? Here, this fits you perfectly (ignore that it’s mainly against the tea party, but you need to hear it too):

“This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy (DOE). I then took a shower and made my coffee with the clean water provided by the municipal water utility regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

While in my morning shower, I reach for my shampoo. The bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient because some crybaby liberal fought for my right to know what I was putting on my body and how much it contained.

After that I turned on the TV to one of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service (NWS) of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

I watched this while eating my breakfast of US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected food and taking my daily medicine which have been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because some stupid socialist liberal fought to ensure the safety of the food and medication.

All but $10 of my medications are paid for by my employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now I get it too.

I walk outside and take a deep breath. The air I breathe is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation (DOT), possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the EPA, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door, I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at public school.

I begin my work day. I have a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays, and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. My employer pays these standards because my employer doesn’t want our employees to call the union.

If I am hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, I’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think I should lose my home because of my temporary misfortune.

After work I drive my NHTSA automobile back home on the DOT roads because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads and to a house that has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it’s valuables thanks to the local police department.

During my drive to and from work, I listen to my favorite talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit I enjoy throughout my day. I agree: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made person who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have.”

I then log onto the internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and then post on Freedom works and Fox News forums about how this socialist government wants to take away my liberties.

This shows how ridiculous Libertarians, Tea Party Members and anyone who drank the FOX NEWS/Republican Party Kool-aid really are!
In a free society with Capitalism driving its economic engine, social laws and programs are a necessity for the needs of the many. Without well thought out social programs, we have no society.”

Thom Brogan May 10, 2011 at 8:09 am

All food’s been genetically modified. If you can eat it and digest it (and even if you can’t), it’s been genetically modified. Humans have been doing genetic modification of plants, animals, and fungi for over 10,000 years and those same foodstuffs have been genetically modifying themselves without human intervention since well before humans ever existed.Phosphates have been naturally leaching into surface water and some subterranean water well before humans were around either.Guess what the climate’s been doing since before humanity also. C’mon, take a guess!Just because statist is spelled similarly to stasis doesn’t mean one’s hatred for his fellow man has to take the form of stopping evolution, stopping minerals from travelling back and forth between the Earth’s crust and mantle, and stopping the weather.Hate on, little hater!

Deefburger May 10, 2011 at 12:24 am


You are absolutely right there partner. I’m just trolling for the Corporatacracy and promoting wide spread poisoning of the planet because I’m ignorant and evil. I only read the studies so I can pick them apart to further my agenda.

My Bad. Sorry to put you off your meds there Pal. Really Sorry.

Hey, have a nice Government provided and safe day there OK Buddy?

Thom Brogan May 11, 2011 at 8:50 am

The reply button disappeared in an earlier sub-thread, so thanks for the explanation on removing wood ash precipitates. Having known other precipitates that need things other than gravity to do their thing (thermal regulation needed to precipitate carbide compounds in steel for instance), the idea of mixing it in water and waiting seemed too easy.

aaron May 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I would like to transcribe the GMNightmare’s back and forth with Deefburger as a conversation with substance. It really mimics those that I see on mainstream media in a lot of ways in this two party system of ours.
Deefburger, you have lost this debate. Your original arguments do address any real problems. Not only that but you have shown complete lack of humility by not acknowledging that the root of your argument is simply your own judgments about cleanliness.
In an earlier comment you made mention of ‘simply differences in perspective’ but you don’t practice what you preach you come off as an egomaniac full of fear that’s not at all at peace with you insignificance in the universe.

Thom Brogan May 11, 2011 at 8:43 am

Happy Opposites Day?

By opposing genetically modified organisms; which are highly regulated and screened by the FDA and USDA before being allowed to be commercially produced; GMnightmare garners instant fail by saying only his distrust of the federales is rational while anyone else’s distrust is picayune.

Worse than his unintentional hypocrisy and inability to perform risk assessments without falling into alarmist diatribes, he’s almost as pompous as I can get.

Deefburger May 11, 2011 at 9:56 am


Be my guest. GMNightmare never did anything but make personal attacks and regurgitate the fear mongering and insistence on prohibition. That’s not an argument, it’s an insistence on the truth of a single point, namely “TSP is poisonous and it’s destroying the planet.” and then concludes with, “The government is my saviour.” (I’m paraphrasing).
I agree that TSP, a phosphate, is a contributing factor to what are known as “dead zones” just outside the mouths of major waterways around the world. This is a fact. But what is not admitted by GMNightmare is that these zones are naturally occurring and that Phosphates and Nitrates, naturally sourced, have been creating this condition for millions of years.

The dead zones are thought to be expanding in recent decades because of what is known about them now. What is known is that Nitrates and Phosphates cause the blooms and human activity has increased the load of Nitrates and Phosphates in these ways:
1 – By the action of development around the waterways, causing the water run off to reach the waterway before the plants and soil can take the nutrients up.
2 – By the direct application of larger amounts of the nutrients on the surface of large industrial farms.
3 – Household use, which has two factors:
3a – Yard application of fertilizers (Potassium, Nitrates, and Phosphates)
3b – Household cleaners.

The household cleaners are the only source that passes through water treatment of some kind prior to entering the waterway! It’s the only “threat” that is not a significant threat!

Furthermore, the replacement chemicals are new formulations with unknown effects on both health and waterways. They leave residue that is visible and therefore finding its way into our food right from our own dishes and plates. What is it and what does it do?

GMNightmare claims the divine infallibility of the government regulators to protect us from the dangers. How nice of them to do that, since it has never been done without a lobbyist from a well-heeled corporation backing the play. Phosphate got banned from household products ONLY. Why ban it by the cap-full, when it could have been banned by the ton? What did that protect?

It protected the corporations much more than it protected our health or well-being of you and me and the waterways. New patented compounds, and new profits for Wall Street to trade.

GMNightmare attached himself to one phosphate and one source of phosphate and one Gulf dead zone.

The dead zones are expanding. True. But the solution is not to be found in the household. It is to be found in the industrial complex that birthed the move away from natural fertilizers and biodynamic and organic growing to factory farms and aircraft delivered fertilizers.

I would like to know what GMNightmare thinks of the new lightbulbs? We traded lower energy use for more mercury in our landfills. I hate this! There is was no clear warning from our great overseers about that now was there? And now mercury is being added to our run off where it wasn’t a problem before. Not only do we have to contend with mercury, there are PHOSPHATES inside those fluorescent bulbs with the mercury! That’s what makes the light. Before it was tungsten. Now it’s mercury vapor and phosphates!

So go ahead aaron, make my day.

GMNightmare May 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Are you going to actual cover any points or are you going to keep plugging your hands in your ears? This is nothing but willful ignorance. You’re not even reading what I’m putting down so quit acting like you are.

“But what is not admitted by GMNightmare is that these zones are naturally occurring and that Phosphates and Nitrates”

For the fourth time, I’m NOT TALKING ABOUT THE ZONES. Your stubbornly refusing to even acknowledge that FACT.

“Phosphates and Nitrates, naturally sourced, have been creating this condition for millions of years.”

Just because it happens naturally doesn’t mean it can happen industrially with consumer use. There is a huge difference, stop acting like there is none.

For that matter, I’ve told you now three times, we aren’t talking about phosphates and nitrates, we are talking SPECIFICALLY about TSP. AND THAT ALONE. Stop making generalizations to try and support your argument. It is completely irrelevant what other phosphates do, because we aren’t talking about other phosphates. What do you not get about that? I know why you do it too… so you can make up arguments like phosphate poisoning doesn’t exist, when the reality is that things like trisodium phosphate poisoning are absolutely real.

“new formulations with unknown effects on both health and waterways”

For the fourth time, you are wrong. They are not UNKNOWN, what part of that do you not get? These are not mysterious chemicals that we know nothing about. Zeolites are not poisonous, and they are safe for the environment… VS WE KNOW TSP IS POISONOUS AND UNSAFE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. You keep saying unknown, but that’s a lie every single time. Every time. Especially after I’ve told you that several times already.

“GMNightmare claims the divine infallibility of the government regulators to protect us from the dangers.”

No, as you haven’t got it by now… what is this, the sixth? It protects me from selfish greedy people like you, who would trade spotless dishes (not in any way cleaner) for clean water. I’ve said this several, several times, where do your rights end and mine begin? And furthermore, THE CLEAN WATER ACT. You consistently fail to cover the fact that you depend upon that for your survival…

Which was the point. YOU RELY UPON things like the clean water act on a daily basis. It was against your little rant on how you should be free to do whatever you want with no consideration to anybody else… well no, as I said, this isn’t an anarchy, anarchy doesn’t work, and your just lying anyways. You want to force everyone else to obey say, the clean water act, you just don’t want to yourself.

The moment your water comes dirty and polluted and suddenly you would be up in arms. Hypocrite is the term for it. You are nothing but a big hypocrite.

“Phosphate got banned from household products ONLY”

ERRRRR. See, you’re not listening! The clean water act applies TO ALL. What is the ban targeting? BUSINESSES! They aren’t allowed to put it in their detergents because it’s use leads directly to a water source! Industries have absolutely tons of regulations, far more strict than any you will ever face.

“GMNightmare attached himself to one phosphate and one source of phosphate and one Gulf dead zone.”

Let’s repeat… I never said anything about dead ones, or the Gulf. It was not in my original argument. It’s not a part of my argument. What do you not get about that? Can’t conceptualize what I’m saying can you?

“We traded lower energy use for more mercury in our landfills.”

Because stupid consumers can’t recycle things. It’s under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Universal Waste Rule (UWR) and Subtitle C hazardous waste regulations, and in the next few years it will be illegal to throw away such products. This includes pretty much all electronics.

Deefburger May 13, 2011 at 9:57 am


We know what TSP is. Na3Po4. It is a phosphate that the environment, plants in particular, can process.

What is in the new government mandated clean water act compliant magic formulas in the new products? What is it GMNightmare? Let’s start there.

What is the new mandated composition of the new product?
What regulation in what act determined what that will be?
What studies were conducted by the EPA to show these chemicals are safe for you and me and the Environment?
Why does the FDA require TSP to be used, industrially, to wash chicken and food handling equipment? Doesn’t the FDA KNOW what you told us all so many times is true?
Does the FDA know that they are working against the EPA and the CLEAN WATER ACT that I apparently depend upon to get through my day?

Are the new formulas poisonous? Yes. Says so on the package. (Better get that poison out of there too or we’re all gonna die!)

So what exactly IS your point? That consumers are stupid sheeple and the government regulations are saving the world from its own stupidity? That without all these wonderful and amazing Acts of Congress we would all be doubled up in pain from poisoning? Or is it that without some these stupendous feats of effort to define and redefine our world we would all go to hell in hand basket?

GMNightmare May 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

“Na3Po4. It is a phosphate that the environment, plants in particular, can process.”

Oh, yay, it doesn’t harm plants. Again, you ignore the point, you sidestep the issue, and you just plain don’t listen. IT’S POISONOUS TO ANIMALS. What about that do you not get? Are you just acting stupid or feigning ignorance? Keep spouting irrelevant BS enough until the problems go away?

“What is in the new government mandated clean water act compliant magic formulas in the new products?”

It’s not new. Geez, c’mon already, you don’t even know what the clean water act is? You can’t POISON the water supply, what part about that do you not get?

“What is the new mandated composition of the new product?”

No mandated composition, just that it cannot contain a substance that will lead to poison the water supply.

“What regulation in what act determined what that will be?”

YOU JUST SAID IT. We’re talking about it, how many times do I have to say it? It’s the clean water act. You really obviously have no clue at anything remotely concerning the process of the water supply, seriously, look it up.

“What studies were conducted by the EPA to show these chemicals are safe for you and me and the Environment?”

You don’t really care. Why? Because you are trying to fight for a substance that’s been proven by such studies to be poisonous, and potentially environmentally hazardous. You keep spouting they aren’t evidence, that they aren’t true, so why suddenly the change of heart? Why suddenly do you care what the studies say? You don’t. What BS.

“Why does the FDA require TSP to be used, industrially, to wash chicken and food handling equipment? Doesn’t the FDA KNOW what you told us all so many times is true?”

What are you repeating this BS when you didn’t even comment on what I said about it before? What are you, a child? Stop plugging your ears screaming la la la, and read what is put down instead of replying with the exact same BS that’s already been refuted. They don’t dump it into the water supply, it’s a completely different issue. For that matter, the FDA does NOT require TSP itself to be used industrially, you’re making BS up and just baldfaced lying. Enough is enough. I would point you to studies on it, but as we already mentioned, you don’t actually read studies unless they already agree with what you want them to.

“Does the FDA know that they are working against the EPA and the CLEAN WATER ACT that I apparently depend upon to get through my day?”

No, they aren’t. You’ve even admitted that TSP is a poison and has an effect on the environment (you just think that’s a moot point). They banned it, specifically for that reason, and quite frankly, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to go. You’re just crying about it because now you can’t have your garbage stuff sparkly.

“Are the new formulas poisonous? Yes. Says so on the package. (Better get that poison out of there too or we’re all gonna die!)”

You know the funny thing? These “compounds” and “unknown” chemicals have been around for hundreds of years and are also naturally occurring. But of course, that only matters when it is your argument doesn’t it? And you really can’t google for a study? Thousands of results. But then again, tons of them often compare the impact of tsp vs zeolites, and unanimously zeolites win hands down, so again, it’s not like you’ll listen to any study, because there are none that agree with you. Oh, and no, zeolites are not poisonous, but they attract heavy metals that are, and is biodegradable when it is exposed to water.

Not that you really care, again, after all, since TSP is poisonous but you’ll use it anyway. Your argument defeats itself.

Deefburger May 13, 2011 at 6:34 pm


Thank you for proving my point. Have a nice life.

aaron May 11, 2011 at 11:36 am

dude look at what you’re writing… you are arguing for the sake of arguing and using talking points hammered into your brain by the Austrian school and really just sound like the republicans on ‘the deficit’ or ‘abortion’ – totally void of substance. a much more compelling article would have been to write about the gov banning tsp by the cupful when they should be banning it by the ton. my problem with the original article, which I presume you wrote, is that your shirt needs to be so damn clean. who gives a poop about you or your need for a clean shirt? if necessity is the mother of invention why don’t you go out and figure a way to make shirts cleaner… yes within the construct of the government’s environmental policy… i bet you can come up with something – see if anybody else shares this peeve of yours. my understanding is that nothing is good for our environment because of the unsustainable way in which our over populated species lives. makes all of this a bit of a moot point. but to claim that we should get our household tsp back – dude – more important things to focus on than that booger stain

Thom Brogan May 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

What did Deefburger write that aaron finds void of substance? Seeing that aaron can’t tell California (Deefburger’s residence) from Alabama (Jeffrey Tucker’s residence), does aaron have a credible definition of substance or is aaron merely engaging in substance abuse?

Deefburger May 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm


You missed the point entirely. What impact does the new formula have? What is it doing to our water and our food when we eat it? We were eating some TSP before with no ill effects. And the TSP was in the ecosystem before we started using more of it. TSP is only one phosphate out of hundreds that we use.

Perspective is everything in environmentalism, not just hammering at one perceived threat and forming legislation.

A case in point is the 100yrs of firefighting in the National Forests. It was perceived, that the fires were a destruction of the ecosystem and so were legislated protection. The results of this were devastating to the ecosystem. Less fires for years led to much greater fires later, and the lack of periodic fire was killing the cycle of re-germination. The trees had evolved to sustain, and then utilize the fires that were a natural part of their life cycle.

Picking one substance or viewpoint and using it to justify government action is not environmentalism. The whole system must be followed and understood. We do have an impact on it. But banning one phosphate from consumer use is a red herring. Phosphates are the basic building blocks of proteins. They are everywhere there is life. TSP is only one simple form, and the environment does deal with it. That happens in the dead zones. Those zones are the source of the hydrocarbons that pile up to produce the fossil fuels that are there under the ocean floor.

Environmentalism isn’t a stand and a law. It is the coming to grips with the entire life cycle and adjusting the way we act within it. The removal of TSP only removes a substance the environment already knows what to do with, with new man-made substances and compounds that the biosphere does not know how to deal with. That is the point.

Jeffery was complaining in his article about the cleanliness. This is a significant point when considering human health. We eat that film when we eat our dinner. We didn’t have a film before, and what little there was, was a phosphate that our bodies can deal with in minute quantities. TSP is the best cleaner there is for food and food handling equipment. It contributes to the algae blooms because the algae can eat it! The algae CAN’T eat ZEOLITE!!!

The dead zones are the last line in the nitrate/phosphate cycle. Those chemicals form when plant matter decays. That is why industrial pig farms and cattle farms produce so much of it. I said PRODUCE. The animals themselves, and you and me, are pooping and peeing Nitrates and Phosphates every day of our lives.

You MUST look at the whole picture to understand the environment.

Study Biodynamics. Study Organic and sustainable agriculture. Then you may begin to understand why this issue is so damned important. The TSP was a known and relatively benign factor in the big picture surrounding the dead zones and human health. The new replacements are not known to the environment or scientific studies of human health or microbiological health. TSP is known to be NON TOXIC to plants. Yes, if YOU eat enough plant food, it will kill YOU, but not the plants.

I was at a bio-dynamic winery yesterday, and all of their cleaning products go into their own holding ponds. The phosphates are converted by the algae in those ponds, and then, the water is recycled back to the vineyards and vegetable gardens. TSP is not a problem there. They may even do what I do with my pond, and occasionally dredge the bottom and recycle the mud back into the compost. They compost everything, like I do. It never leaves the property! This is an example of rational environmentalism.

They use NO herbicides, NO pesticides, and NO commercial fertilizers. They plant companion plant areas that sustain “good” insects instead. They have Bat houses and Owl Houses and Bird houses scattered all around the property. Sheep are allowed to graze between the rows and are the primary weeders of the vineyard. This is what is needed. Looking at the whole picture, not just one piece and one fact.

People like you and GMNightmare are the kind of people who are dangerous to environmentalism. You think that just by taking a stand against mankind and for the environment is all that is needed to be right. Thoughtless perversion of an otherwise righteous and necessary study. You both should be ashamed of yourselves!

MLJ May 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Thanks Deefburger! Was there ever a connection, between trisodium phosphate or any phosphate, and foaming, soapy streams? If phosphates were allowed once more, would there be a problem again?

ANYONE, what amount or ratio of TSP would one need for laundry? One Tbsp per load? One part T.S.P. to four parts detergent?

Deefburger May 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm


Foam could be anything. I don’t know specifically the chemical/physical makeup of the foam. It is probably related to phosphates in some way because all life is related to the elements Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Sodium and Potassium. This is why Nitrogen Phosphorus and Potassium are in fertilizer. The presence of these compounds in the waterways is a problem when they are too high. Run-off from the land from the removal of trees and plants, and the replacement of those plants with streets and storm drains is the primary cause of larger quantities of nutrients in the waterways. Add to this the application of commercial fertilizers to farm land and you have the majority reason for excessive algae blooms and possibly foam.

As for the TSP for your wash, It depends upon the concentration. I wouldn’t use more than a tablespoon of powder or a shot glass of liquid at any time. The stuff is effective. Supplement it with Borax, or simple soap if you need more clean.

beetrim October 24, 2011 at 10:20 pm

The facts on your article are thrilling! After reading some of the comments i will definitely start to wash my laundry with TSP. This information should be spread!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: