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Death Of A Thousand "Buts"

I'm a man of simple pleasures and desires and wants. It doesn't take much to make me happy. A new gadget, for example -- it doesn't have to be the newest and greatest. My computer uses a 2-generation-old CPU (AMD Phenom X4 9850) and older graphics card (GeForce 8300 that runs as an 8500, thanks to onboard graphics and hybrid SLI). I drive a 12-year-old SUV. My latest toy is a very low-end tablet that I got on the cheap.

But of the simple things I like, it seems that over the past few years, the government is conspiring to take those away from me.

I have a lamp that has a bit of sentimental value for me. It cost five bucks, new. It's perched on the headboard of my bed. I would like to keep using it until it breaks.

But I'll probably have to retire it soon, because its shade clamps directly to the bulb. The round bulb that has been outlawed. And the shade won't fit on those stupid curly-fry bulbs that cost several times as much, give off crappy light, shouldn't be just tossed in the trash, and create a toxic spill should they break.

I don't care if others like those compact flourescent bulbs. Let them buy and use all they like. All I want is to keep my old bulbs and my old lamp. But that's not allowed.

I, like most men, enjoy my time in the bathroom. I'll spare you the details, but I'll just say this: a key element of that enjoyment is knowing that when I push the little handle, the contents of the toilet will go away in a dramatic whoosh.

Well, I can't have that much longer, either. The perfectly-working toilets are on the way out, replaced with "low-flow" toilets that are legendary in the need to take two or more flushes to... well, "do their duty." Further, they're apparently causing problems for sewer systems not designed for them.

I don't want them banned. I don't want to deprive people of them should they prefer them. I just want a toilet that works like a toilet. Consistently. Every time. I don't want to have to "quality check" one every time I... well, you know.

I drive an old (20th century) SUV. I got Mongo cheap, because it has negligible resale value (who the hell would WANT a 4-door Explorer with a stick shift?) and I intend to run it into the ground. I find I like the confidence of having all-wheel drive and a sturdy frame. But when I do run Mongo into the ground, my choices in replacing him will be limited -- as the government keeps jacking up the mileage standards and banning vehicles like Mongo in all but name.

I don't want to drive a little tin can. I have -- I've owned an Escort, a Tempo, and a Cavalier -- and I didn't care for them too much. I don't mind the poor gas mileage; it's an acceptable tradeoff to me. If you want to drive a small car, or a hybrid, or an electric car, more power to you. I won't even complain too much about how I am compelled to subsidize your choice, through tax breaks. All I ask is the option to exercise my own choice.

I have a friend who is rather short. She has a car she loves, too. But every time she gets behind the wheel, she has to acknowledge that her beloved car could kill her. She has to sit so close to the steering wheel, it would almost certainly break her neck should it deploy. She'd like to have it deactivated so she will have a better chance of not being killed by her car, but the government says it would be illegal for a mechanic to turn it off. They would rather have her killed than let her take her own chances.

I don't like taking medication. I'm kind of stubborn that way. But right now I have a rather nasty cough, caused by a postnasal drip (essentially, my nose is running down my throat, irritating the hell out of it.) I'd like to just buy a pill to dry up my nasal passages and stop spending a fortune on cough drops -- especially the sugar-free ones that have their own rather unpleasant side effects. (Don't ask.) But the best pills have been either taken off the market, or demand that I show a pharmacist my ID for a single box of frigging COLD MEDICINE.

In the big picture, these are trivial matters. A lightbulb, a toilet, a vehicle, a cold capsule. None of them really mean much. But added together, they paint a very ugly picture -- of a society and a government that denies me the right to make my own choices, to weigh my options and make a decision that I deem in my best interests. I want a round lightbulb that I can clamp my shade to. I want a toilet that doesn't demand a double-shot or a plunger every other day. I want to drive something that makes me feel secure and safe. I want my friend to not be killed by her car. And I would like to get rid of this goddamned cough with a minimum of fuss.

But I can't. And just to add insult to injury, the most vocal proponents of these policies to deny me the right to make my own choices are the ones who insist that they are the champions of "choice," but only in specific areas.

I'm far more attached to flourescent incandescent light bulbs than I am in my right to obtain an abortion, though. I'll give up that "choice" if I can have it in areas of my life that actually matter to me.

But I don't get that choice, either.


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Comments (27)

It's all about power, the p... (Below threshold)

It's all about power, the power to control and limit your choices.

Incremental socialism...or statism, your choice.

Who is John Galt.

Wizbangers! Jay Tea has... (Below threshold)
gaius piconius:

Wizbangers! Jay Tea has a crappy computer, drives a junk heep, parks his personals on an aging throne, lives in fear of squinting to read, courts an endangered species....but you must admit....he spins a great yarn...and in a noble cause.

gaius, they all do what I a... (Below threshold)

gaius, they all do what I ask of them.

All I ask of you is a modicum of decorum and intelligence... which is a test you fail on a regular basis.


"All I want is to keep my o... (Below threshold)

"All I want is to keep my old bulbs and my old lamp. But that's not allowed."

There is nothing that says you can't stockpile your own supply. You just need to store them where you won't forget where they are.

Until they make it illegal ... (Below threshold)

Until they make it illegal for you to possess any of the old bulbs at all.

I have to admit, I was a do... (Below threshold)

I have to admit, I was a doubter. But a few months ago, I replaced a burned out round bulb with a curly que bulb in my front porch light. The next day started the worst cold snap around these parts in decades. It works.

Well, Jay Tea, don't forget... (Below threshold)

Well, Jay Tea, don't forget mercury batteries too. I have a camera that use a single mercury battery (PX-628 type - about the size of a nickel). A battery lasts 8-22 years in that camera. The "replacements" do not provide the correct voltage/reading and last 6 months (many times less) from when you take the paper off. (I stockpiled a few of the PX-628s before the law went into effect).

Chandelier in the family room takes 5 bulbs and has a dimmer switch - compact florescents don't work in the light (I've tried the ones that are "supposed" to work, no dice.) Last year I ordered a case of regular 100 watt incadescents for that lamp (that's 120 bulbs).

I wrote my new congress critter, who is talking about introducing a law to repeal the curly bulb as a required item.

We are down to 1 "old" toilet and one low flow in the house now.....

Jay,If you lived i... (Below threshold)


If you lived in the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia, you would have fun with the idea that the state could control your thermostat. And in times of electricity shortage, could 'adjust' your thermostat for you to reduce energy usage.

Luckily, enough hue and cry was raised that that plan was killed, but you gotta keep watch on those people 'helping' you.

You're right, they only want to allow you the 'right' choices, Can't be allowed to make your own choice on important matters!

As I scrape by (barely) at ... (Below threshold)

As I scrape by (barely) at 5' I too worry about the airbag in the steering wheel as I need to be closer than suggested just to drive. I really don't mind a few things but I too wish to have my choice acknowledged in more areas than just my body my choice.

I would also prefer to drive my F250 diesel truck until it dies as it hauls the horse trailer which is needed for my farm.

I'm with ya Jay Tea!! I cou... (Below threshold)

I'm with ya Jay Tea!! I couldn't agree more.

One of the greatest episode... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

One of the greatest episodes of "King of the Hill" is when Hank runs for office in Arlen to repeal an ordinance to install low-flow toilets. Once on the board, he reads all of Peggy's newspaper columns into the record, which makes a meeting drag on for hours and forces the board's other members to use the lousy low-flow can in city hall. After repeated flushes, they finally give in and rescind the low-flow rule. And Hank, mission accomplished, promptly resigns.

For last couple of years, I... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

For last couple of years, I've been stockpiling incandescent bulbs, from 60W-100W. I buy them every other week at Targét. I figure I'm good for about 10 years, really.

On low-flow toilets, I think your objections are a little unfounded. We just had one installed after our crapper failed, and honestly, it does the job quite well. I shit you not.*

Here in WA state, I'm no longer allowed to play online poker in my own home—a legal act in 49 other states–because some local legislator wanted to "protect the children."** But hey, want to play the lottery? Not a problem, go for it! Yeah, move along, there's no double standard here to see.

*See what I did there?
** Oh, and protect the Indian tribes' profits.

Well,well, Jay Tea. My s... (Below threshold)
gaius piconius:

Well,well, Jay Tea. My sincere apologies to you, and I mean sincere apologies. I have ruffled your feathers with a succinct summary of your post which was completely counter to any attempt to mock. There was nothing you wrote with which I disagree, and my last ten words were meant solely as agreement to your last two short paragraphs. You gave me two quick jabs with which I also agree. Both qualities have eluded me since 'dot', I have, however, wits enough to offer this treatment for your irritating sinus backflow; dump your cough drops...bronchial irritation is not easily treated, that's why coughs endure for weeks...do try Alka Selzer for it's anti-inflamatory effect, or alternately the common aspirin. Oh..and thanks for not calling me an @sshole..i've just come off the highway and two blokes indicated that to me just coming home and I could become quite sensitive.

Rance, are you selling <a h... (Below threshold)

Rance, are you selling mugs?

Let me see if I have this, ... (Below threshold)

Let me see if I have this, gaius. You agreed with every point I made. But when it came to comment, you felt obligated not to say so, but engage in pointless personal attacks?

Fuck, dude. I thought I had issues, but you make me look like a piker.

(Sorry, just finished reading some Jeff Goldstein, and he rubs off sometimes.)


I'm far more attac... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:
I'm far more attached to flourescent light bulbs than I am in my right to obtain an abortion, though.

Did you mean to say incandescent? A bit of a non-sequitur as it's written...

Jay, I have read your p... (Below threshold)
gaius piconius:

Jay, I have read your points @ 15 and for the sake of smoothing things over I shall again apologize in this way. Your article presented a series of well understood woes to which I made a sardonic response. The word sardonic can mean, as you know, 'grimly jocular'. To my credit I correctly identified the intent of the article and refered to it as a 'noble cause'. Any misapprehension of my intent centres on the jocular. Please let that satisfy your first paragraph. As for your second, and the term 'issues', I never use it myself as it seems to me to be too indirect. But even then, since my entire life has unravelled as an almost unbroken series of personal blessings, not wholly unearned, anything that I stub my toe on is almost always small enough to get brushed aside and put out of mind. Thus the emotional equilibrium remains unsullied and the need to identify 'issues' is unnecessary. So your 'fuck', 'dude and 'piker' I have stubbed my toe on but they are already swept under the carpet. As a rather conservative alpha male though, my combativeness can become intense, usually when I come face to face with arch- liberalism that insists on eschewing common sense...and here of course I admit to being 'mean', or a piker.

So there Jay...I have made my peace and must now answer the call of my lovely lady of so many years, to "come to dinner", always a wonderful experience...and one that's far too good for an insensitive bum such as I.

I'm planning on financing t... (Below threshold)

I'm planning on financing the rest of my retirement with bootleg incandescents.

If caught and imprisoned, they'd have to feed and clothe me and give me medical attention and shelter.

I'd still be ahead of the game.

You know, I kinda like libe... (Below threshold)

You know, I kinda like libertarians. I think they have different views on certain issues than I do, but at least I can find somethings in common with them. Jay Tea seems to lean more to that wing of your party than than say the socially conservative side, which I think is commendable.

However, we on the left feel the pain of government intrusion as well. I know some gay individuals who would, for example, love to to tie the knot, but the meddling government won't let them. I personally like the idea of calling a friend in europe and feeling I am talking to them instead of them and my prying uncle sammy who listens in on phone calls abroad, I'd like to buy a book, or have a medical procedure as well, all without uncle sammy looking in on me.

I know a woman suffering glaucoma, who smokes pot to prevent the worst of the disease, who feels the govermnet should mind it's own damn business and leave her and her eyesight alone. And let's not get started on women's issues.

These are just a few things, where Republicans have brought more government into my lives and the lives of friends than I wish they would.

I disagree with some of what Jay tea, wrote and think he is right in places too, but the right certainly is fine with government intrusion if it is an issue to their liking.

Hear hear, Jay! I'm doing a... (Below threshold)

Hear hear, Jay! I'm doing a house remodel, and I'm so pissed that I can't use lead paint or asbestos anymore. Isn't it my choice? My neighbor read a medical book once, and I can't believe the government tells him he needs some sort of "license" to write me a prescription! I could really save money by buying meat from diseased cattle, but once again the nanny state steps in. My eggs would also cost less if the farmers just left the salmonella testing to me. And what's with the requirement for pharmaceutical companies to prove their products are safe and effective? Sometimes snake oil is better. Shouldn't it be my choice?

(By the way, I've had low-flow toilets for 10 years and never had a problem. Perhaps you'll need to reexamine your diet.)

gaius, here's the flaw in y... (Below threshold)

gaius, here's the flaw in your reasoning: you don't have a pool of goodwill with me that you can draw upon for such japes. What I will take from others who routinely disagree or quibble with me -- such as ryan a or James H -- I will not let slide with you. I don't particularly like you, and that's entirely of your own doing.

warchild, try to elaborate on that last point. More particularly, please reconcile "we don't want the government to meddle in our private lives" with "we want the government to sanction our relationships, and accord us privileges herewith we have been denied." 'Cuz I'm seeing a bit of a contradiction there.

john -- you almost grab the libertarian concept, but you fail. If you want to use products the government says are hazardous, or hire professionals who have not obtained a certification from the government, in full knowledge of the risks inherent in that, why shouldn't you be able to?

Back when I got regular haircuts, I went to a licensed barber. He had taken his classes and served his apprenticeship, but still had to pass a state test and pay his license fee to the state. All in order to trim my thinning locks. Why? Why shouldn't the licensing procedure for most professions be optional, and let the consumer decide if they want a government-certified expert or not?

And you really betray your authoritarian leanings at the end, with your recommendation that I adapt my diet to suit your ideals and government regulations. That, pretty much more than anything, defines my whole point -- how you're depriving me of my choices to comply with your ideals.

Well done, "john." Never have you so deserved your name.


A well designed low flow to... (Below threshold)

A well designed low flow toilet works - even in old sewer systems. Too many of the low flow toilets are just old toilets with lower capacities. I've had an American Standard Champion for several years - never had it clog (and I have a son who can clog anything...). Buy quality - it works. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be frugal.

Gmac asks: Who is ... (Below threshold)

Gmac asks:

Who is John Galt?

I am a Laissez-Faire Capitalist and am just as successful as I have chosen to be.

I am John Galt!

J. Galt, Galt's Gulch, CO.

"A well designed low flo... (Below threshold)

"A well designed low flow toilet works - even in old sewer systems..." Except they don't. Or perhaps there are WAY too many poorly designed toilets in use. Either way, they are having a real, measurable, and extremely negative impact (you did follow Jay's link, right?)

Given the choice - 'waste' 20 million gallons of water (ultimately cleaned and recovered), or dump 4-7 million gallons of sodium hypochlorite into the system annually - which would be better for the environment?

THIS point alone illustrates the problems with liberalism; Facts never have any relevance in a discussion.

Excellent point, Clancy.</p... (Below threshold)

Excellent point, Clancy.

I note the EPA is after mercury emissions and polutants while at the same time, new laws are mandating we put more mercury in our homes with the CFL lighting.

Ah, but you don't understan... (Below threshold)

Ah, but you don't understand.
It is for our own good.
Electric incandescent light bulbs waste energy. We must conserve energy. The mercury in the fluorescent helixes will not harm us, because everyone will safely dispose of them, and none will be accidentaly broken [yeah, right].
Low-flow toilets conserve water. We must conserve water. Just ask San Francisco, where it is reported that sodium hypochlorite must be flushed down the drains to alleviate the odor.
We are too dumb to look out for ourselves. So a benevolent (?) despot must look out for us.
Just forget about anything you have that works. It will have to be replaced by a non-working substitute. You will be better off living in a tree, anyway.

It's not so much the mercur... (Below threshold)
John S:

It's not so much the mercury in our homes, it's the additional tons of mercury entering our landfills each year. But the most galling part of the lightbulb fiasco is that it directly closed the last lightbulb factory in the U.S. So we're on the hook for some $4 trillion to China to replace all the lightbulbs in America.

As for choice: It's easy to fix a Democratic toilet using Chinese internals from Home Depot. Fixing 52 million dead babies? Not so much.






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