Fedgov "Flushes" Bigger Toilets
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 cover anything?
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
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.