The Befuddled Technocrat

I am a big fan of Consumer Reports the magazine.  However, Alex Tobarrok identifies a priceless quote highlighting the befuddled technocrat:

Not so long ago you could count on most washers to get your clothes
very clean. Not anymore. Our latest tests found huge performance
differences among machines. Some left our stain-soaked swatches nearly
as dirty as they were before washing. For best results, you'll have to
spend $900 or more.

happened? As of January, the U.S. Department of Energy has required
washers to use 21 percent less energy, a goal we wholeheartedly
. But our tests have found that traditional top-loaders, those
with the familiar center-post agitators, are having a tough time
wringing out those savings without sacrificing cleaning ability, the
main reason you buy a washer.

How can they "wholeheartedly support" such a goal when they themselves have demonstrated it effectively castrates an important consumer appliance?  How can they support a goal that effectively raises the price of a washing machine that actually cleans clothes to $900 or more?


  1. Max:

    Because they are stupid and do not know how to use logic, even it were for their own lives?

  2. Kevin:

    I wholeheartedly support that goal, too. I also wholeheartedly support the goal of using 95% less energy.

    In engineering talk, though, "goals" are very much not the same thing as "requirements".

  3. Tregonsee:

    I also find CR useful, though when they finally publish a review, as many as a third of the models are no longer in production. However, they have always had a very quirky view of the world. For literally decades, they castigated foreign cars, usually deeming them as unacceptable, for their lack of a soft "cloud none" ride. Finally, the importance of control and handling to safety sank in, 15-20 years after everybody else figured it out.

  4. jsalvati:

    As max pointed out, everyone supports using less energy (if only because it's expensive). CR doesn't neccessarily support legislating that reduction.

  5. Ian Random:

    FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm not nuts. I noticed several years ago that snoring disrupted my sleep. So I switched to a allergy free detergent. Then our old top loader died, so I bought a front loader. Everything came back, took months to iron it out. Our front loader doesn't clean any thick fabrics like towels. The day it dies, I'm buying a rebuilt older top loader from St. Vincents that guzzles water.

  6. Steve:

    Ah...wonderful. In addition to my toilets that won't flush, I'll also have a washer that does'nt clean. Thanks, government!

  7. Bob Smith:

    As max pointed out, everyone supports using less energy (if only because it's expensive)

    Usually the extra capital costs swamp any energy savings. This is no exception. Adding in the loss of functionality makes these new washers a terrible buy.

  8. la petite chou chou:

    Great. Glad to know that one can never be really clean.

  9. TJIT:

    Don't forget the feds also regulate how much water your shower is allowed to flow.

  10. Bob Smith:

    I'm told some of those $#$*# low-flow shower heads limit flow by using removable washers. I'm sure nobody here would stoop to something illegal like removing said washer.

  11. Arkady:

    Reading that thread at Marginal Revolution reminds me why I don't like that blog as much as I used to. I almost always agree with Alex and I usually enjoy the things Tyler writes, even though he often makes an idol out of economic efficiency. But it seems like fully half of the comment threads there get hijacked by whiney, controlling statists. Case in point: Alex's post says "lay off my washing machine", and three quarters of the responses quibble over his half-sentence CAFE standard lead-in. I just wish he hadn't encouraged them by responding.

    It's like they think that if only they can show that the decrease in deaths from SUV rollovers is larger than the increase in deaths from people flattened in lightweight CAFE-compliant cars, then the government's unending quest to control the volume of water in my toilet, shower, and washing machine will be demonstrably Right and Just.

  12. Matt:

    No one has yet pointed out that this 'green' law hurts exclusively the lower classes by putting effective washing machines far out of their price range.