There was a time in this country when things worked. No, really, they did.
And now they don’t.
If you’re young enough, you might not even be aware of this. But I am old now, and I remember.
I remember a time when light bulbs were bright enough to be able to read a paper book by, without a backlighted screen.
I remember a time when dishwashers actually cleaned dishes. You didn’t have to clean the dishes first. And they cleaned them so well you could use them to sterilize baby bottles.
I remember a time when clothes washers got clothes clean. When white things came out white, not gray, and colors came out vibrant and glowing, not subdued and dim. And when you set the water to Hot or the water level to High, it actually did that.
I remember a time when toilets flushed properly, and didn’t spray their contents up onto the toilet seat. And they held enough water that your stool slid into the water where it’s odor was neutralized. Now when you use the toilet, the whole bathroom smells like you gutted a raccoon in there.
I remember a time when you could set an oven to a specific temperature, and it would actually heat up to the exact temperature you specified, not twenty-five, or thirty, or thirty-five degrees less.
I remember a time when you could fill a pot with water for pasta without needing to stand at the faucet for several minutes while a flow-constricted faucet took it’s damn time about it.
I remember a time when you could rinse off in your shower. Completely rinse off, in seconds, not spend minutes under a flow-restricted shower head trying to get the soap off so you didn’t suffer eczema, rash, or worse.
None of those things I remember so well happen now, and we did it to ourselves.
We cut back on water use for everyone, across the entire United States, because twenty million people decided to live in a desert called Los Angeles, and because California decided not to carry through on the California Water Plan, which would have built sufficient reservoirs to capture the plentiful rainfall in the Sierra Nevada. We live a mile from a reservoir, from which our water comes. Water that goes down the drain goes into the septic system, where it leaches out of the septic field into the valley, where the stream carries it right back to the reservoir.
We cut the strength and effectiveness of our detergents.
We killed incandescent light bulbs, and replaced them with immature technologies that couldn’t replace them at the same level of effectiveness, and still can’t.
We cut back on electricity use by simply lying about things. Lying about the temperature of the oven — which saves electricity by not heating up to the temperature it’s set to. Calling LED light bulbs “60W equivalent” or “100W equivalent” when they weren’t. Calling the water level in the clothes washer High, or the water temperature Hot, when it isn’t.
And we’re paying for it. Toilet seats, believe it or not, used to be relatively free of disease. Researchers were shocked when they grew cultures from swabs of toilet seats and found that they were more free of disease than, say, a pay phone. That’s no longer true. Toilet seats now teem with all the diseases the human body casts off in its eliminations, splashed up onto the seat by the high-pressure flush required by our laws.
Sewers now clog up with congealed fats, which used to be swept away with everything else. There’s not enough water flowing in the sewers to do that anymore, so we end up spending millions digging up streets and rebuilding and replacing sewers. Water falls out of the damn sky, for crying out loud, and we don’t catch enough of it to be able to keep from destroying our public health infrastructure.
In the most advanced country in the world, we wear dirty clothes while we eat poorly cooked food from dirty plates in badly lit kitchens. We use smelly and diseased toilets that have trouble flushing and draining through deteriorating and clogged pipes.
One interesting sidelight of this is that the regulators know that none of this stuff works. How do I know that? Because restaurants, cafeterias, and hospitals are not allowed to use consumer dishwashers and dishwasher soap. They’re unsafe. They’re a public health hazard. They have to use commercial dishwashers and commercial dishwasher detergents. What are those commercial dishwashers and commercial dishwasher detergents? They are the ones we used to have in our homes, and now can’t.
Similarly, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals, and hotels are not allowed to use consumer laundry machines and consumer laundry detergents. They’re unsafe. They’re a public health hazard. They have to use commercial laundry machines and commercial laundry detergents. What are those commercial laundry machines and commercial laundry detergents? They are the ones we used to have in our homes, and now can’t.
Operating rooms, construction sites, factories, and the like must maintain proper light levels for their workers per OSHA and FDA rules. It would be bad for the workers’ eyes to work under reduced light levels. How do they do get those high light levels? By using commercial fixtures and bulbs that we can’t get for our homes. They’re the ones we used to have, but now we can’t.
And do you think that restaurant cooks stand there for minutes at a time waiting to fill a damn pot? No, they don’t. They aren’t required to use flow-restricted faucets. Because their time is valuable. Clearly yours isn’t.
I’m getting pretty damned tired of this nonsense. How about you?