A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

05 February 2007

The Conservative in My Shower

As I have said elsewhere in this blog, I am a conservative. I believe in small government, fiscal and financial responsibility, and good old Canadian values.

Most self-styled "Conservatives" aren't. Just the opposite; they don't want to conserve anything. What they want is to be permitted to go on wasting stuff. "Don't change anything." "I'm all right Jack." "It was good enough for my grandfather ..." These are the chants of cultural Conservatives. And this attitude permeates the smallest details of everyday life.

In witness, I present you "The Bureaucrat in Your Shower."
You might have some vague memory from childhood, and perhaps it returns when visiting someone who lives in an old home. You turn on the shower and the water washes over your whole self as if you are standing under a warm-spring waterfall. It is generous and therapeutic. The spray is heavy and hard, enough even to work muscle cramps out of your back, enough to wash the conditioner out of your hair, enough to leave you feeling wholly renewed — enough to get you completely clean.
Jeffrey Tucker is unhappy with modern showerheads, apparently because he's not wet enough; and unclean. I have no idea how dirty he may be. But he's certainly all wet.

This man thinks 2.5 gallons--just under ten litres--of water per minute is not enough for a reasonable shower. Never mind that the US army in Iraq makes do with one gallon per minute to get clean the sweaty bods that spend their days humping packs in 45 degree heat and dust; He thinks it's his right to hack his shower to evade US water-conservation law. In the revolutionary spirit of Patrick Henry he will bathe himself in 12.7 damn gallons per minute if he feels so inclined because that's his right.

My favourite quotes:
As with all regulations, the restriction on how much water can pour over at once while standing in a shower is ultimately enforced at the point of a gun. [...]

One can see federal S.W.A.T. Teams screeching up to your house, black-clad men pouring out, securing the perimeter, and shouting through a bull horn: "Drop the soap and come out of the shower with your hands up!"
The mind boggles.

He implies that some bureaucrat will soon insist on installing timers on shower heads; because as he says "there is no way to regulate how much water we use (and pay for)". But he's wrong.

More importantly, he is being disingenuous. I will happily allow him his 3-gallon, 4-gallon, or 50-gallon-per-minute shower if and only if he pays for its consumption.

You see, most places in North America don't meter water use. You pay a flat rate for the service, no matter how much you actually use. That's because traditionally water was regarded as a resource without limit. How quaint.

But living in the desert as I do, I pay for a basic cubic volume of water, and a per-litre surcharge if I go over it. And it's measured by a water meter affixed to my intake pipe.

If we install a meter and charge not a base rate and surcharge, but a per-litre fee, every consumer would pay for what s/he consumed. Assuming Mr. Tucker is willing to abide by the reading on his meter and pay for every litre he uses, I think he should be allowed whatever form of shower he likes.

Of course water is a finite resource. And as Mr. Tucker himself observes, finite resources need to be conserved. So simply pricing a good at a flat cost does not account for overconsumption, because as Mr. Tucker drains the reservoir, the resource becomes scarcer and the price climbs to the benefit of no-one but Mr. Tucker. So there has to be a conspicuous consumption charge to account for any disproportionate strain one is placing on that resource.

Doubtless Mr. Tucker would then complain about bureaucrats in his wallet. I privately feel that it's the bees in his bonnet that are the problem. Or possibly the bats in his belfrey.

For myself, I am seeking a store that will sell me a one-gallon-per-minute navy-style showerhead, and looking for a dual-flush equipped six-litre toilet.

Because as a conservative, I seek to conserve.


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