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Dirty Politics: Housewives of the World, Unite!

Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Sam Kazman, tells of the demise of effective top-loader washing machines due to the push from enviros for tough energy efficiency standards.  This story reminded me of another housekeeping dilemma that is driving me bonkers:  ineffective dishwasher detergent.  This, too, is in response to a push from enviros.  When it came to the detergent, they didn't like phosphorus and so demanded (and got) its elimination in the available formulas.  As we bravely march ahead into a 21st century of "progress," eating off of dirty plates with dirty forks while wearing dirty clothes, might it not have been of some comfort to do these things in the soft glow provided by an incandescent light bulb?  But, of course, it is not enough for these folks that we suffer these miseries in blissful ignorance.  They must be illuminated . . . in stark fluorescent hues.  And that may be where the enviros crossed their Rubicon.
Categories > Environment

Discussions - 15 Comments

I hear you Julie, and some of this is all complex Admnistrative Law. But no one has any idea how complicated this is. Or how exageratted the dishwasher crisis is. We just don't know. Sometimes they come out clean, othertimes they come out dirty.

It could be political sensationalism on both the right and left driving radical changes in legistlation when none is really necessary.

Also we don't know why this is the case:

the industry giants agreed among themselves to move to phosphate-free detergents nationwide by July 2010. “We recognize that the train has stopped. We can’t fight this anymore in the United States.”

They didn't have to fight it, but maybe they figured they had substitutes(or a glut of bi-products from other chemical processes with which to make detergent) or maybe they wanted to drive down speculators in the phosphate market.

Basically the world food supply is heavily dependent upon Phosphate. It wasn't just oil that went into a bubble in 2008.

From 2000 to 2007 a ton of phosphate cost about 33-35 dollars, the low end of the range comming in 2002-2003, certainly not sexy speculation. But if you had only bought phosphate in 2007 at $35 a ton and sold it in late 2008 for $430 a ton, you would have a hefty profit.

No one really knows what is driving all the sexiness in phosphate. But it could be that a flat stock market and the belief that the U.S. dollar is a fiat currency and that gold is overpriced.... You know POT and MON are sexy stocks now, and not just because both Gleen Beck and George Soros like them.

Why did all the industry giants really agree to move out of Phosphate? I don't know but that is a brilliant question.

My question for the Ohio Farmer: What is going on in Phosphate?
Did the Togolese hit peak-phosphate?(yes/maybe) Did China decide to buy massive quantities and ban exports (Yes, I think)

This NPR article -- http://www.npr.org/2010/12/15/132072122/it-s-not-your-fault-your-dishes-are-still-dirty --suggests buying trisodium phosphate at your hardware store and adding in to your laundry detergent and dishwasher. It's cheap. I use for cleaning walls and in other housecleaning applications when household funds are low. Not all the time; it's murder on the hands which ought to be mitigated by using rubber gloves. If only I remembered to buy them.

However, a tsp. of TSP ought to make up your phosphate needs.

In some areas of the country phosphates wreck havoc in the streams. Not everywhere, but as in the case of low-flush toilets, to federally mandate them only where water is scarce is to discriminate and we wouldn't want the EPA being discriminatory, would we?

That anon. was me.

I will take a lead from newly elected Rand Paul:

You can tell me what car drive, what light bulb to use, what toliets to use, what food to eat, what washing machine to use, etc. etc, but when it comes to abortion (murdering an unborn child) then you have a choice.

If you support abortion all bets are off the table.

One cannot run around about saving the planet and people's lives from pollution when it is OKAY to murder unborn children. Period. End of Discussion.

I don't have any chips on the table in the abortion game. The Last word of the Supreme Court was Gonzales v. Carhart. When politicians come around and tell grandma or others that they are pro-choice or pro-life I think, there is someone manipulating american ignorance with false expectations. Also politicians can't tell you any of those things, those are basically decided by administrative law, and even then you can still buy a Ford, Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet and more brands of lightbulbs and toilet paper than you can shake a stick at.

You can do what Kate suggests for phosphate. Laundry detergent isn't a main cause of algae blooms. Fertilizer run off probably is(Nitrogen, Amonia, Phosphate).

Then again maybe we can figure out a way to harvest the algae blooms and convert them into biodisel?

Also algae isn't bad for water in all cases, just in certain levels it harms fish. But a lot of farm ponds have pretty serious blooms and still manage to keep bass alive.

Actually Kate, the EPA is somewhat discriminatory. Not everything is notice and comment rule making. The thing is in my opinion that large corporations don't like making different products for different markets, so often times they will adapt themselves to the dominant most regulated market. The big players create a lot of barriers to entry, and often times capitulate out of nowhere.

This is where Texas school textbooks come in, or a host of California regs, this is the saying "As goes California, so goes the nation." A lot of what you might think is banned isn't, and vice versa.

You did not get it - Democrats/Liberals/Progressives, including the bus driver in the white house and his wife want to tell you want to drive, eat, etc.etc. There is no choice only with Abortion is there a choice.

Killing an unborn child is a choice but what car I drive is to be dictated by the bus driver in the white house and what I eat is to be dictated by his wife. Funny thing about it is that neither feels it appropriate to heed their own warnings. Your response is that one trying desperately to disregard the elephant in the room - hyprocisy or more blantantly what is good for the goose is obviously not good for the gander.


I have no complaints about laundry soap - it is not a big deal in my life - I drive diesel vehicles because they last longer than gas cars/trucks. I have a twenty year ford F250 diesel that runs like a charm and gets 23 miles to the gallon - engine broke in.

Please do not educate me about algea - I have a 3,500 gallon natural pond on my property. I have lots of algea right now and do lilttle to mess with it. My aglea pond is so healthy that I have frogs, dragonflys, birds of all breeds, and tons of water lilies and society garlic along with Flax and shamrock vines growing all over the place in the middle of winter here in California. Two of the goldfish in the pond were .10 from Walmart - they went from living in a algea filled stock tank to my pond - they are now 11 years old. The four Koi are 14.00 fish from Pet Smart and are now about 3 pounds each and growing daily. Algae is very good and I have lots of experience with it.

In addition to Kate's link under her nom de plume "anonymous" in a previous post, read http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/another-triumph-greens_536862.html.

The removal of phosphates from dishwashing detergents applied lousy science to address a local problem with the Spokane River flowing through Spokane, WA. Then, under pressure from enviornmentalists and without any link to show that dishwasher detergent phosophates contributed to a larger phosphate in the environment problem (or even the one in Spokane), detergent manufacturers caved in the face of a growing body of ill considered legislation at the State level that was metastisizing into national law.

Oh that one of the companies would re introduce their photophate-laden product - the one that actually cleans dishes. Their press release would relate how, having discovered no scientifically verifiable adverse affect on the environment, they were reintroducing "classic" whatever. Of course, for those still burdened by phosphatobia, the more enviornmentally correct (if not benign) phosphate-free formual would still be available.

If the results of the sale of both products reflects the intial public outcry when phosphates were originally removed, then within a few months only one product - the one that actually cleans dishes - would remain on the supermarket shelf.

What an utterly pathetic spectacle. I think it's time for some people to "man up," roll up their sleeves, and start washing their dishes by hand. Cry me a river, Big (state?) Gummint is robbing me of my effortlessly spotless dishes.

This one is a dilemma for you, Craig. It's not just right-wingers like me decrying these developments. Have a look at this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/12/france-feminism-elisabeth-badinter

It's an interesting turn in the argument, isn't it? Elements of the left now want women barefoot and chained in the kitchen for the sake of Mother Earth or what they call Nature? But they resisted the natural call of motherhood and housewife when it was for the sake of human nature . . . The right tends, for the sake of human nature, to prefer a wife and mom at home (though only in certain quarters, dogmatically so) but does not resist improvements that free up a woman's life from drudgery . . .

It's a weird spectacle, this.

But I know which side looks more attractive all around.

I like Jim's proposal. And thank you, Jim for the supportive article from a more reputable source.

Craig, I do wash the dishes by hand, unless someone else in the family is smitten by conscience and does it for me. One of them is no better than a dishwasher run on phosphate-free detergent and thinks it is the thought that counts.

The real problem would be doing the laundry by hand. Even then, a good detergent would make a difference. I think the laundry problem would lead people to dispose of more clothing as items become stained and more difficult to clean thoroughly. This will exacerbate the solid waste problem and reduce the second-hand clothing market since the recycled items would be less appealing when pre-spotty. We would just be trading one waste problem for another.

I've been trying to work out if the majority here are

a. just simply stupid

b. ill-informed

c. bigoted

d. some combination of all of the above

Just worked it out.

Julie - I don't see the dilemma, at all. You're conflating two different issues, and hoping nobody will notice; that article is irrelevant. The availability of certain kinds of washing machines or laundry or dishwashing detergents, or lack thereof, in no way determines who must operate the machines or who cleans the dishes otherwise. There are plenty of married men who operate both machines and plenty of single people of both sexes who do, as well. The issue is - or should be - do the technologies at issue have a detrimental impact? And to answer those questions, the right has various conservative/conservative-libertarian think tanks to provide them with the answers that will give them the answers they want, that will not suggest even the most trivial infringements on their spoiled lifestyles.

I saw nothing in the article (about the French philosopher) about dishwashers or washing machines; and I don't see how whatever this philosopher said (or the many who disregard her) can be interpreted as "women should do the laundry and wash the dishes."

I'm mostly amazed at what is considered to be "miseries" and "drudgery" by some.

Kate - What exactly makes the Weekly Standard a "more reputable source" than NPR on this issue (or any)? Because you haven't received any e-mails from NewsMax that Weekly Standard is liberal (and thus evil and illegitimate)? It's good for you to look out for your conservative dishwasher-owning brethren, though.

Funny, we were wondering the same thing about you too. At least we have something in common.

Maybe you have to be a woman to see the relationship between those two pieces. I am sure Julie has her own take on it, but as I see it, washing dishes by hand as an aspect of taking care to get housework done well, which gets in the way of self-fulfillment. Therefore anything that increases labor in housework is opposed to the feminist ethos.

"Thanks to a new coalition of ecologists, breastfeeding advocates and behavioural specialists, she argued, young women are facing increasing pressure to be perfect mothers who adhere to strict guidelines for how to care for their babies...." This includes the rejection of "disposable nappies" and this good motherhood, so disruptive of feminism, requires the use of cloth diapers. Those cannot just be somewhat clean. This is an instance where phosphates that will break down organic matter could come in handy.

Men can do housework, but please, Google me the reputable study that shows that men do as much housework as women do.

Anyway, the "good motherhood" movement argues that staying home and being housewifely is the right thing to do. Feminism argues that it isn't. Anything that gets a woman into "real" work is good, so dishwashers and clothes washers and dryers and efficient detergent are not simply a matter of a "spoiled lifestyle" but enable people (women) to spend their lives doing other things besides housework. Actually, even when I was a stay-at-home-mom, there were plenty of other things to do with the kids so that things like worrying about stains in the clothes or hygienically washing the dishes for eight of us were not the main attractions of motherhood. I would have loved to be "spoiled" with a dishwasher.

There. I have a more appropriately serious tone now. Can you tell? I wrote all that without smiling...much. I'll try to see dishwasher use as a serious moral issue. But I cannot help but wonder, if it is a moral issue, why doesn't the federal government ban the machines? It is absurd to have machines that we cannot use effectively. Isn't this a consumer protection issue? We are being sold ineffective cleaning products that render our cleaning machines defective in use. What a waste of water and energy! Can I demand a recall of those products?

Finally, is NPR more reputable than The Weekly Standard? I listen to the one and read the other. NPR's news is often wrong. I know it keeps telling me how smart it is, heck, how smart I am for listening to it, since it is for intelligent people, but it is often flat-out wrong. It tells me it has no political bias, which is a lie. Weekly Standard is upfront about that and I find it not only honest, but more often correct. And on NLT, it is going to be more reputable. But in this case, the two articles were not at odds about the facts, though TWS offered more facts.

(I'll have to find out about NewsMax. If you don't like it, it must be good. )

"(I'll have to find out about NewsMax. If you don't like it, it must be good. )"

Conservative logic at its finest.

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