On Jan. 1, 2004, you will no longer be able to buy a washing machine that works—at least not like the one you currently use. Stores will only be able to sell government-mandated washing machines that will be 22 percent more "efficient" than the archaic washers of today. Instead of being angry that your freedom of choice is being taken away, you should be grateful. For you see, the government washing machine will not only "save" you money, it will also be good for the environment.

But for those of you who can't wait to save both money and the environment, there is good news. Those "efficient" washers are available right now.  They use 25 percent less water and 40 percent less energy. This translates into lower water, gas, and electric utility bills.

Unfortunately, there is a very serious disconnect here. If these new "efficient" washers are so wonderful, why does the federal government need to outlaw the inefficient old washing machines?  Shouldn't these fantastic new washers be selling like hot cakes? Yes, they should. The problem is, they aren't. They make up less than 10 percent of new washer sales.

Why don't consumers like these new "efficient" washing machines that are so strongly endorsed by the federal government and by environmentalists? Well, for starters the washing machine that is advertised to "save" consumers so much money will cost them about $249 more. Many would-be customers are also less than enthused about the front-loading (as opposed to top-loading) design. This leads to some awkward questions: "Can children open that front door while the machine is running? Will water go all over the floor if they do open it? If I find a lone sock after the machine has started, can I open the door to throw it in?"

To achieve the "big savings" espoused by former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, there would need to be a phenomenal savings in water and energy usage to offset the steep price increase. To realize any kind of savings (let alone "big savings"), the Department of Energy had to present a scenario where the government washer is used 392 times a year (7½ loads each and every single week) over a period of 14 years. According to the Mercatus Center, less than 15 percent of the washers get such heavy usage. Those of us with six wash loads or less may not be able to recoup the higher purchase price when you factor in higher finance costs, more maintenance costs stemming from the radical design change, and the additional cost for "special" detergents.

A few years ago, Congress passed a law mandating smaller volume toilet tanks.  Many of us are still scouring the Constitution, looking for the clause that gives the federal government authority to regulate our toilet water.  Meantime, if you like the government toilet and washing machine, you will be happy to know that the government air conditioner, heat pump, water heater, and refrigerator are already in the works.  Who needs a Constitution when we have members of Congress imbued with both good intentions for our personal lives and infinite wisdom about how we can live them better?

"A few years ago, Congress passed a law mandating smaller volume toilet tanks. Many of us are still scouring the Constitution, looking for the clause that gives the federal government authority to regulate our toilet water."

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