The Relentless Misery of 1.6 Gallons

Mises Institute | 1/26/2019 | Staff
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My order at my favorite Chinese takeout was taking too long. I stopped into the men's room. There I witnessed a common scene: the modern toilet disaster. An otherwise clean business had a restroom calamity on its hands, one so grim that I hesitate to describe it.

The conjectural history is not difficult to reconstruct. The toilet apparently had trouble flushing. There was a plunger by the toilet, of course, as we see everywhere today. The toilet was plunged to get rid of the obstruction, while the obstruction itself spilled all over the floor and stuck to the plunger too.

Customer - Scene - Rush - Management - Nothing

The customer probably left the ghastly scene in a rush. Management knew nothing. But now customers were coming and going into this bathroom, surely losing all inspiration to eat or order food.

It would be easy to blame the restaurant owners. What is with these people and why can't they at least have a clean restroom? But reacting this way would be unjust. The hidden hand behind this unsanitary calamity is the US government. The true origin of the mess was not in the hour before I arrived but back in 1994, after Congress passed the Energy Policy Act (passed in 1992).

Act - Environmentalist - Hysteria - Toilets - United

This act, passed during an environmentalist hysteria, mandated that all toilets sold in the United States use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. This was a devastating setback in the progress of civilization. The conventional toilet in the US ranges from 3.5 gallons to 5 gallons. The new law was enforced with fines and imprisonment.

For years, there was a vibrant black market for Canadian toilet tanks and a profitable smuggling operation in effect. This seems either to have subsided or to have gone so far underground that it doesn't make the news. I've searched the web in vain for...
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