Arbitrary government mandates are arbitrary.

Do you know how much water each toilet used per flush before 1994? Just enough to make them function reliably. Toilet, like other appliances, were designed by people who understand how such things work.

Since 1994, US toilets were restricted to 1.6 gallons per flush. Why such a specific number was picked by government officials who were not experts in toilet design? My best guess is that they merely picked an arbitrary number. That’s what they did when designating minimum barrel length for shotguns.

Governments are good at setting up arbitrary restrictions and then enforcing them viciously. Remember that any time you think that “there ought to be a law about this”.

This entry was posted in civil rights and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Arbitrary government mandates are arbitrary.

  1. maxomai says:

    Arbitrary or not, my post-1994 1.6 gpf toilet works just fine….

    • Flint says:

      It may. But it screws up a lot of houses with older pipes – particularly cast iron. The toilet has enough water to evacuate itself, but if there’s a long run in older pipe (less smooth internally than new pipes), the water may pass some of the waste. After a few hundred flushes, a substantial amount of waste has built up, and the pipe clogs.

      • Timmeehh says:

        In 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that, while low-flow toilets are estimated to have saved the city of San Francisco 20 million gallons of water per year, the reduction in water volume has caused waste sludge to back up in the city sewer pipes. The city is attempting to solve this by adding chlorine bleach to the pipes, a proposal that has raised environmental objections.

  2. junyo says:

    It also created a black market for toilets from Canada.

  3. Timmeehh says:

    It’s because 1.6 gal = 6 liters, so it’s a European standard.

  4. anonymous says:

    “Since 1994, US toilets were restricted to 1.6 gallons per flush”

    Didn’t that regulation expired in 2004?

  5. Pingback: SayUncle » Arbitrary

  6. Justthisguy says:

    NFA at first required 18″ rifle barrels until it dawned on somebody that all those M1 carbines which lots of people already had were illegally short in the barrel, so they changed the required length to 16″.

    • Mike V. says:

      The NFA was enacted in 1934, the M1 carbine wasn’t designed and adopted until 1941. The amendment changing barrel length to 16″ for centerfire rifles didn’t happen until 1960

  7. Nick says:

    In order to be labeled “vanilla extract”, it must be the extractives of 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans in one gallon of aqueous alcohol solution of not less than 35%. Arbitrary indeed.

  8. Flint says:

    The lead laws are similarly nonsensical.

    I just bought a toilet supply tube, and it was marked as being certified lead-free for sale in Vermont or California. In case I decided to take a nice, deep drink out of my toilet?

    But the law says that all plumbing components must be lead-free, with no nod to common sense.

    • Paul Rain says:

      Better watch out though.. ‘lead-free’ means something like <8% lead. If you really want to avoid getting scary near-homeopathic levels of lead in your toilet drinking water, you had better flush continually for at least a minute. Also, don't run hot water into your toilet!

      • Flint says:

        It’s also based upon total wetted surface. So a water heater with a brass pressure relief valve is okay, because the majority of the water heater is a steel tank, making the lead percentage of the inner surface area very small. But a replacement relief valve, being almost totally brass, might contain too much lead to be legal. So you can replace the whole water heater, but not simply replace a leaking relief valve.

        At least, that’s how the mess in Vermont has been explained to me, by wholesalers who have branches both there and here in NH.

  9. MattK says:

    I don’t think many of them are arbitrary.

    I would bet if you were a fly on the wall in many of those bill or regulation meetings you would find someone that did meet those standards and was the one lobbying the hardest for the change.

    You want a market share boost, get an exclusive on a license or new product design and lobby the government to restrict the market to allow only your new design complies with.

    You sometimes see it publicly, one company comes up with a way to microstamp shells with a serial number, patents it, and then lobbies to have it mandated that all firearms must include such a feature.

  10. slawson01 says:

    They may have had help from a company that was producing a 1.6 GPF toiplet that wasn’t selling well.

  11. Rivrdog says:

    If you don’t like your standard 1.6gpf toilet, wait until all the papers are signed off by the inspectors, then change out that toilet for a marine-type macerating one. The toidy has a little food-chopper blade in it’s base that hacks all solids into mush so that they can be flushed with about a quart of water, and though a 1″ pipe to boot. This is all necessary aboard cabin boats because you have to store your black water in a holding tank until you can pump it ashore to a sewage treatment facility.

    Other marine models include vacuum-flushing ones, and even the Incolet, which uses no plumbing connection, but incinerates the waste using 17 amps of 110-volt A/C current. It does require a vent stack, though.

    There are a lot more ways to handle poo than you would believe.

  12. Dann in Ohio says:

    The funny thing is… around here… seems like we flush twice to get the job done… which is 3.2 gallons… a fair bit more than the old 2.5 gallon toilet we had in the old days…

    Dann in Ohio

  13. Lyle says:

    We’re all forgetting the worst arbitrary decision– The one that puts government in control of your decision-making instead of you.

    Get rid of that one and all the others are moot. Then you decide on the length of your shotgun and the flush capacity of your own toilet. Scary, huh?


  14. J. Cook says:

    All I have to say is that this was the crappiest thread ever. It just bowls me over and makes me flush.

    *runs away*

  15. T.Stahl says:

    I’ll have to take dimensions of a European toilet water tank. But my best guess is >6L.

  16. WildsOfPortland says:

    If you are stuck with a small-flush toilet, say in an apartment owned by someone else, a partial solution to clogging is to re-use warm/hot shower/bath water as a post-flush. A few gallons of warm water poured into the bowl does a pretty good job of preventatively dislodging adhering build-up that you can’t see or reach without a snake.

    Incinolet was an option on 1960’s Dodge Travco motorhomes. Having no blackwater tank is a good space/weight advantage in an RV (bigger fuel tanks!), and you are running a 6.5KW genset anyway that might as well have an electrical load on to avoid carbon deposits building up on valves or pistons. You can still buy Incinolet toilets, with USCG marine rating, for about $2K. 5-gallon bucket (with sealing lid!) is no-power backup.

    If you use a macerator system on your sewage, you need reliable power, just like with an Incinolet, but not quite so many KW/Hours. This is also RV and Marine technology that is mature and installable by local technicians wherever you like.

    The history of ban on short-shotgun sales in the USA is an interesting read. It’s common knowledge that they were/are useful in trench warfare, storing under car seat/trunk, as well as blasting hinges from doors for quick entry, carrying conveniently for use on wild dogs or re-introduced wolf-packs, thus have a non-criminal use for American Citizens. Just another tool. Short-barrel rifles, too. Given space/weight, I prefer 22″ of barrel for the reduced flash and increased speed, but compact can be needed. Arbitrary overall-length minimum is another innovation-destroying rule.

    Companies (or even individual tinkerers!) who push the envelope of size/weight/usability (Kel-Tec made SU-16) complying with the current oppressive regulation regime, could dazzle us with what would today be Tax Stamp Only models (permission from County Sheriff, delay, tax stamp, forever registered person and weapon), Class-3 sales-sample models (Class-3 Dealers can “hold” post-1986 units but not actually sell to US Citizens), in a truly free market. Here is part of the solution to the need for “good jobs at good wages for free people”.


Comments are closed.