Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Shadow of Big Brother in your Shower

You notice it more in the winter months. You test the water with your index finger and it's hot! Your naked body trembles as you take that first step into what promises to be at least 10 minutes of steamy, muscle-relaxing, skin-, hair- and soul-cleansing ecstasy. With a second step you are fully engulfed.

Only you aren't. There doesn't seem to be quite enough coverage. Something's amiss.

Big government has gotcha!

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.

Somehow, these days, it seems nearly impossible to recreate this in your new home. You go to the hardware store to find dozens and dozens of choices of shower heads. They have 3, 5, 7, even 9 settings from spray to massage to rainfall. Some have long necks. Some you can hold in your hand. Some are huge like the lid to a pot and promise buckets of rainfall. The options seem endless.

But you buy and buy, and in the end, they disappoint. It's just water, and it never seems like enough.

Why? As with most things in life that fall short of their promise, the government is involved. There are local regulations. Here is one example of a government regulation on the matter, from the Santa Cruz City Water Conservation Office: "If you purchased and installed a new showerhead in the last ten years, it will be a 2.5 gpm [gallons-per-minute] model, since all showerheads sold in California were low consumption models beginning in 1992."

You mean they regulate how much my shower sprays? Yes indeed they do. Government believes that it has an interest in your shower? Yes it does.

And it is not just crazy California. The Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandates that "all faucet fixtures manufactured in the United States restrict maximum water flow at or below 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi."

Writer Jerry Tucker goes on to explain that this regulation has essentially whipped most hardware manufacturers into submission except for a spunky company in Arizona that believes America is the land of the satisfying shower.
As for Zoe Industries, they set out to address this strange problem that has made our showers less functional than they ought to be.

They are not water anarchists; we aren't talking about shower-reg secessionists here. But the company did insightfully observe that the restriction applies on a per-shower-head basis.

So Zoe sells full units that have three full heads per shower! What a solution — truly in the spirit of American enterprise in the best sense. These remarkable units are both brilliant and beautiful, and they comply with the letter of the law.
The bureaucrats are unhappy, which means some useful idiot in Congress will be introducing legislation soon to limit showers to one head per enclosure, thus choking off, perhaps for all time, American innovation and the ultimate pursuit of happiness.

Tucker has much more to say, and you have much more to read. Some of it is very subversive, and that, too, is quite American. Enjoy.


Post a Comment

<< Home