Photo via 123rf.com – manipulated by PT
Think again! The planet needs saving, even if that means we must destroy the achievements of human civilization, bit by bit. Or, as it were, one slice at a time. Another round of regulatory monstrosities is about to hit the long-suffering EU citizenry, as the EU nannycracy now wants to make virtually every home appliance less useful than it once was. Among the proposals: making one slot of the classical two-slot toaster nonfunctional by decree, so as to “save energy”.
The emasculation of household appliances continues with a verve that betrays the utter tone-deafness of the EU bureaucracy, a neo-feudal administrative apparatus that taxes its citizens into penury and is seemingly dead set on regulating all fun and convenience out of their daily lives.
“Campaigners last night rallied round to vent their fury as Brussels bureaucrats unveiled their latest plan to erode the “lifestyles and choices of ordinary people”. It follows the banning this week of vacuum cleaners which have motors above the new EU limit of 1,600 watts in a bid to cut energy usage. The permitted wattage will be almost halved again from September 2017 as the limit is reduced to 900 watts.
Dozens of other everyday appliances could have the power sucked out of them too and some scrapped altogether if new rules around climate change are brought in. A report published by Deloitte and commissioned by the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, sets out plans to look at the energy usage of a range of items and whether they could be made more efficient.
As well the staples of the kitchen the kettle and the toaster, the list of around 30 appliance categories in the EU’s sights includes heated greenhouses, power tools, aquarium lights and filters and gym equipment. Mixers, rice cookers, blenders and deep fat fryers are also under threat although meat slicers and popcorn machines are to be spared the chop as they are “niche markets”.
It forms part of an energy efficiency drive – Ecodesign directive – to reduce consumption by 30 per cent by 2030. A European Commission spokeswoman yesterday confirmed the report and its bid to assess power consumption of household products but said it is not yet an official proposal.
She said: “The European Commission will only consider proposing measures for other appliances if the scientific evidence demonstrates significant energy savings can be made without leading to poor performance. “The final decision on any such measures would be taken by the Member States ie government ministers working in the Council of the EU and MEPs.”
However campaigners last night reacted with fury at the report and reiterated calls for the EU not to mess around with Britain’s household appliances. Ukip spokeswoman Louise Bours said: “This is more unnecessary interference in the lifestyles and choices of ordinary people.
“Who in the UK asked the EU to make up a list of banned electrical goods? People should be able to choose whichever toaster, juicer and hair dryer they like. It is the EU we need to take power from, not our hairdryers.”
Alan Murad, of campaign group Get Britain Out, accused the EU of robbing Britons of basic choices. He said:
“These proposals are astonishing. The Luddites who dreamed them up only reveal their economic illiteracy, as most high-wattage devices are often more energy efficient than what they’ll be replaced with. The meddling in our affairs by unelected bureaucrats, the relentless stifling of consumer choice, prove the EU have no democratic credentials to speak of.”
Amen, brothers from the UK. Indeed, the last comment is hitting the nail on the head: these regulations fail to deliver the very thing that is cited as their aim. If a vacuum cleaner is only half as powerful as before, carpets will be vacuumed twice or three times instead of just once. More energy will be wasted than before. Reducing the water pressure of shower heads and the capacity of toilet tanks has had a similar effect: once toilets were flushed once – now they need to be flushed three or four times, and the plunger which used to be a device for emergencies has become an absolute daily necessity for many. It has also turned out that drains and pipes all over Europe are becoming clogged with what is euphemistically referred to as “deposits” in plumber lingo (in this case, literally crap) as a result of the lack of water pressure. This creates a lot of business for plumbers and sewerage workers and there has been a an explosion of “frequently asked plumping questions” related to clogged pipes on Google, but these jobs are make-work programs to which the “broken window fallacy” applies 100%.
All these “energy saving” regulations are children of the same type of mental confusion. Not only do they fail to save even one iota of energy, they lower the standard of living. The achievements of civilization are dismantled by a bunch of unelected bureaucrats who either do the bidding of shameless lobbyists (this is what applies in the light bulb case) or are trying to “save the planet”.
A Prophetic Article
We urge readers to check out this article that appeared in German magazine “Der Spiegel” after the light bulb ban went through. We were not in the least surprised that apart from German socialist Sigmar Gabriel, Mr. Oettinger, the EU’s new digital commissar, was also deeply involved with the so-called “Ecodesign Directive”. Frankly, looking at this man and listening to him, we’re not quite sure if he’s a malfunctioning android or one of the living dead. We will let you know once we’ve made up our mind.
In this picture he looks more like a zombie actually….
Photo via DPA
Here are a few excerpts from the above mentioned article, some of which have proved to be prophetic in the meantime. First on the absolute madness of the light bulb ban. Always keep in mind that there has been no global warming in more than 18 years, so the entire premise on which this is based is extremely dubious to say the least. Even if you are irrationally worried about the climate maybe getting ever so slightly warmer over the next umpteen hundred years (although we don’t see why anyone would be, it would be great) this is yet another example of the so-called “unintended consequences” of bureaucratic meddling proving far worse than the problem that it was originally supposed to tackle:
“The proposed light-bulb ban had come along at just the right time, and it was up to the Commission to develop the necessary directives. The complicated EU process known as comitology, whereby its legislative bodies delegate detailed implementing measures to the executive, had begun. Since then, the issue has been an ongoing topic in back-room meetings in Brussels.
In a preliminary study, experts working with representatives from both industry and environmental groups developed a working document. In March 2008, the document was submitted to the Ecodesign Consultation Forum, which includes representatives of the member states as well as lobbyists for industry and NGOs. In the end, a win-win situation seemed to have been created for (almost) everyone. The industry could sell its expensive energy-saving light bulbs, bulb designers would receive new commissions for the necessary light bulbs and environmental organizations and politicians could claim credit for a success in the fight against climate change.
The regulatory committee approved the proposal on Dec. 8, 2008, and none of the member states raised any objections. At this point, while lawmakers seemed to have been asleep at the wheel, the general public still had no idea about what was being cooked up for them.
But for chemist Michael Braungart, the new products are “a crime” owing to the highly toxic mercury they contain. “In the name of protecting the environment, the EU is forcing its citizens to bring toxic waste into their homes,” says Braungart, who calls the legislation “perverse.”
In a 2010 study, the German Federal Environment Agency (BMU) concluded that if one of the bulbs is accidentally broken, it is sufficient to simply open the windows and air out the space. But even if the bulbs are not broken, disposal is problematic. Since the EU does not require retailers to take back the bulbs, 80 percent end up in household garbage, leaving the mercury to ultimately seep into the soil or groundwater.
We haven’t had poisoned groundwater in some time, so maybe it is time to bring it back? Next a few words on the increasingly undemocratic nature of EU decision making, which of course has already become noticeable rather glaringly in the course of the debt crisis:
“The EU’s two legislative bodies, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, had actually meant to use the 2009 Lisbon Treaty to wrestle back some authority from the European Commission, its executive body. But, instead, the bureaucracy has become even more powerful.
After a tough battle, the following solution was eventually rubber-stamped: The Commission can adopt laws via either a “delegated act” or an “implementing act.” In the former case, it is no longer necessary to involve an expert committee or engage in any consultations. The European Parliament merely has a right of revocation and a deadline for objections.
In the case of implementation authority, the Commission must consult with a committee consisting of representatives of the member states. Depending on the procedure, this committee can obstruct Commission proposals or merely provide consultation — but it doesn’t have a veto. Lawmakers decide on which procedure will apply in a given case.
For Holger Krahmer, a member of the European Parliament for Germany’s business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), the reform is a complete failure. “We are heading for a dictatorship of bureaucrats,” he says.
Memo to Mr. Krahmer: we’re already there. And now to the prophetic part:
“[…] plans call for mandating that the heating plates of coffee makers are designed to only stay on for a specific amount of time. Vacuum cleaners are supposed to become more efficient with the additional of moveable suction mouths. Laundry detergent could be reformulated so that it dissolves fats at only 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). And laundry itself could soon be cleaned using microwave or vacuum technology.
A debate over the shower head of the future is also causing a certain amount of stress. Germany opposes water-saving shower heads. The country’s sewage pipes already threaten to dry up today because water-saving plumbing devices are making it so that not enough water is being flushed through the system. Everything from stoves to heating systems, ovens, windows and insulation is being tested and made more efficient by the EU.
When a refrigerator makes a beeping noise because the door has been left open too long, it’s probably because of the efforts of people working for EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. It might not even be long before bureaucrats will be telling Europeans how brown their toast and how hot their showers can be.
Most of these “could happens” have either already become reality or are very close to getting there. Seeing Mr. Oettinger’s name in this context may explain the economic ignorance that is generally on display in the context of these efforts.
The EU is moving ever further away from what it once was intended to be, namely an organization that would bring back free trade and the free movement of capital and people to Europe, as was perfectly normal before the world was poisoned by the ideologies of socialism and fascism (we have in the past written about the original “European Idea” and how it has been perverted in the meantime). It never was supposed to be about regulating every nook and cranny of people’s daily lives. Note though that the regulatory State is growing like a weed everywhere in the nominally still “capitalist” West – it is the same in the US, the EU is merely a little further along in the process (see “The Parabolic Expansion of the Regulatory State” for some more color on this).
This is a serious danger for civilization itself, as is the inflationary debt money system on which it all runs. What is discussed above may only be about small, seemingly relatively inconsequential things, but these regulatory interventions are symptomatic of a general problem – and that problem is that the Leviathan State keeps growing and individual liberty accordingly keeps shrinking.