Thursday, January 03, 2008

Joe promised to hold hearings on toilets

Wow, this is going to be more fun than I thought. The more I look into the scandal surrounding low-flush toilets, the more serious a problem this looks like. After introducing legislation to repeal the low-flush toilet requirement, Joe, through his legislative director, Craig Albright, promised to hold hearings looking into this serious matter facing the nation.

I feel better already knowing that Joe was on the case and holding hearings. I wonder who the witnesses were. I'll report back in another post.

Even the New York Times weighed in on Poopgate. Click here.
Click here to read the full article.
Early last year, Knollenberg introduced H.R. 859, the Plumbing Standards Improvement Act of 1997, which would repeal the low-flow mandate. The bill has generated substantial public support. "The mail has just been tremendous," says Craig Albright, a legislative assistant to Knollenberg. Most complain about the performance of the new toilets, and about a government that would do such a thing to them. For example, Bill Lynn of Davenport, Iowa, said his new toilets "clog easily, and I find that I sometimes must flush them five or six times," and that "this is just another case of government intrusion, and we have plenty of that." A few have also come to realize that the law's means for conserving water may be a bit misdirected. "It is especially frustrating when I'm plunging my toilet for the third time in one day, to gaze out my window and see my neighbor's sprinkling system," noted Kurt Topel of Riverwoods, Ill. The congressman has promised to hold a hearing after the fall elections.


Chet said...

Your quote proves what I noted on the OakPress comments section - the low-flow issue was a real issue of the time, and the environmental regulation probably harmed the environment more than it helped it.

Joe did the right thing at least by investigating the issue and being both responsive to the people and checking into whether the regulation was counterproductive.

Despite you're obsession with spinning the word toilet to your whims, you've proven the point that Joe is deliberative and doing his job, and that sometimes environmental regulation has counter-productive effects despite its well-intentioned goals. Thank you, Bruce.

Bruce Fealk said...

Chet, I read the testimony of the experts and they confirm that the low-flow toilets of that time were working fine and Joe was flushing precious time down the toilet by holding these hearings.

Joe is anything but responsive to the people, at least when it comes to important issues, like war, torture, criminal behavior in the White House, and on and on and on.

MIKE said...

Hey Chet - you ignored an important factor. The concept of water conservation was legitimate, but perhaps the engineering of the new toilets left much to be desired. I have one of those new toilets - just installed within the past 6 months - works fine. Rather then repeal the law, Knollenberg would have better served the public had he investigated the design of the new toilets.
We have to recognize that it is a legitimate roll of government to regulate things to serve the common good. That is where progressives and conservatives disagree. The market place is seldom the venue by which we - the commons - achieve value, health & safety to the people of our country. Rather it is only concerned with one thing - profit. Unregulated, capitalism is like a run away train - destined to crash at some curve and kill the riders within.

Chet said...

Hey, Mike,
I didn't ignore anything. First, you criticize Joe for a 10 year old action on nascent technology based on your singular sampling of a technology 6 months ago. If the technology didn't work 10 years ago, but works today - Joe was right 10 years ago. I remember the technology then - I remember family members of mine in the construction business (union member, on the working end) talk about the stuff. One had experience in southwestern construction - to the point of building a his own home here in Michigan using some R30 techniques developed for air-conditioning cost control. They all said the flushing tech was premature and stunk (no pun i.).

I didn't dispute the issue of whether the regulation was well motivated or not. Indeed, I suggested specifically "its well-intentioned goals".

Water conservation is a goal we agree on!!!! Indeed, even the "market" agrees on conservation - there is considerable demand for low water consumption technology driving innovation since places like Arizona have high water prices. If government could declare the speed of light no longer to be a constant, it would. But that doesn't mean we'll suddenly be traveling to the stars tomorrow by fiat.

Ironically, the marketplace agrees with you on value (and is much less about "profit" than value, since ideal marketplaces evolve to profitless equilibriums). It values everything, including water. Modern conservatives generally accept that valuation, with little interference (where the line of interference is drawn is an ongoing debate even among us) - modern progressives, as you note, "seldom" accept that valuation, and seek to impose their personal valuations on everyone else.

And your pigeon-holing of conservatives to equal "unregulated ... capitalism" simply doesn't capture either the breadth of views on the right or the truth. I'm nowhere near an advocate of unregulated markets. I simply set the default - the standard of innocence until proven guilty - at not regulating unless there is a compelling reason.

For example, we all agree on regulations of the laissez-faire system against stealing. Against fraud. Against breach of contract. We take these for granted because they are non-controversial regulations.

Regulating pollution is easy. Pollution is a violation of other persons property rights. Identifying what to regulate however is often technically difficult. That I set the default to actually require a standard of evidence against the accused is quite traditional and in line with the Constitution.

Over-regulated, capitalism grinds to a halt just like a train with no tracks or fuel.

If you've got a legitimate "bottleneck" to adoption of a proven water conservation technique - for example, a supplier or suppliers behaving monopolistically or collusively to prevent adoption of the technology, I'm all for regulation enforcing anti-trust in that situation, or even legislation moving the market toward it. But if you leap at legislation without such, your likely to see side effects.

I'm sure Joe was merely, as he is supposed to do as a Congressman, exploring those side effects. Surely you'll admit that legislation, or government action, just like corporate action - can have side-effects, be motivated for improper reasons, or simply result in error? All Bruce has is Joe investigating whether this was good or bad legislation - I don't know to this day what the outcome of the hearings were.

And speaking of regulation, Joe has been an advocate for several years of regulation seeking to make it more difficult for Chinese and other foreign "product counterfeiters" to push knowingly inferior or defective products here under the guise reputable trademarks. A difficult venue to regulate because its an underground economy, and by definition, hard to identify.

Bruce Fealk said...

Chet, I highly recommend you read Naomi Klein's new book, The Shock Doctrine. It convincingly outlines the disastrous effects of unfettered capitalism, which was the Milton Friedman school of economic theory out of the University of Chicago.

The ultimate experiment was carried out in Iraq and is the ultimate causation of the civil war taking place there now.

MIKE said...

Chet - you make some valid points BUT the "half full/half empty" argument can be very misleading. I submit that regulation virtually in all cases, came as a result of "injury" to the commons. Government has almost always been a reactive rather then a proactive entity. So it can fairly be assumed that a need came before the regulation.
And as you allude to judicial review or intervention, I submit that since the Reagan era, laws have severely favored the corporations. That dispite the Rights clamoring for an end to "activist" judges - we have gotten just that. Only in favor of unfettered capitalism. To declare that a corporation has "personhood" is absurb.
To defend Knollenberg on this very narror issue of "toiletgate" may be fair - from your perspective. But I submit that you do not see the forest for the trees. Joe represents an ideology that supports none of the ideals that America stands for. He supports a man whom I contend will go down in history as the worst President this country ever had. He belongs to a Party as corrupt as the Mafia. He has helped enable this country's corporations to achieve a fascist control over the lives of its people.
Given the overwhelming evidence I have observed these past several years; nothing you have said has convinced me that Knollenberg should remain in office. Time for change.