Fedgov "Flushes" Bigger
by Clifford F. Thies
It seems that another
black market is developing: in large-size toilet bowl
reservoirs. In the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of
1994, the federal government banned the 3.5 gallon toilet
bowl reservoir and mandated 1.6 gallon toilet bowl
reservoirs in all new construction. But, many people
don't want the smaller toilet bowl reservoirs, because
they don't work so well, and have been illegally
installing the old, larger toilet bowl reservoirs in
their place. Concern has been growing for enforcement of
the law. In other words, for federal inspection of our
bathrooms. Is nothing sacred?
First of all, where, in the Constitution, does
the federal government get the power to regulate toilet
bowl reservoirs? Mind you, they didn't even have indoor
plumbing back in 1787. Do you think they passed an
amendment covering toilet bowl reservoirs when we weren't
looking? Or, do you think the inter-state commerce clause
is so elastic, nowadays, that it can be stretched to
At the time of the founding, things like
building codes were considered to be among the small
"p" police powers of the state, which powers
resided in local government. This understanding continued
into this century. Thus, when the prohibitionists
conducted their "noble experiment" to outlaw
alcohol nationwide, they needed to pass a Constitutional
amendment. (And, thanks to President Franklin D.
Roosevelt, we got rid of that amendment.)
But, with the New Deal, and the packing of the
Supreme Court, the federal government got the power to do
almost anything it wanted, simply by saying it effected
inter-state commerce. Therefore, when the feds made
marijuana illegal, in 1934, they didn't bother with a
Constitutional amendment. Same thing with gold bullion,
which was made illegal in 1934, and which was made legal
again in 1977. Nowadays, the prohibitionists want to make
Maybe I'm a bit unusual, but I figure as long
as I can decide if I want to use things like alcohol,
marijuana, and tobacco, or how big my toilet bowl
reservoir is, or even if it's made out of gold, then it
really must be a free country.
And I notice that the same people who want to
take away our big toilet bowl reservoirs also want to
amend our 1st Amendment in order to regulate political
speech, and want to amend our 2nd Amendment in order to
take away our guns, and want to amend all the other
amendments of the Bill of Rights so social services can
take away our children without due process.
This is why, for me, a big toilet bowl
reservoir is a symbol of freedom.
It's not that I want to go overboard on this
issue. Since my water supply is metered, I know that
every time I flush, my water bill goes up. Not that I
know why it costs what it does. That's for the City of
Winchester to figure out, since it supplies water to me
and accepts responsibility for my waste water. All I know
is that it costs me a certain amount of money to have my
symbol of freedom in the bathroom.
Based just on the economics, I suppose I would
be inclined to have an efficient-sized toilet bowl
reservoir. How small or big that would be would depend.
I'd want it to be big enough to work, but not any bigger.
We're Americans after all, we can afford it.
But now that my toilet bowl reservoir has
become a symbol of freedom, I want a really big one. It's
almost like owning a 1967 Chevy Impala. (But, just so I
don't run up the water bill, I'll some plastic soda
bottles filled with water into it.)
If a man's home is his castle, keep your hands
off my throne.
CLIFFORD F. THIES is
the Durell Professor of Money, Banking and Finance at
Shenandoah University, in Winchester, VA.
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