January 17, 2020 Reading Time: 4 minutes

The more Donald Trump does these extemporaneous speeches at rallies, the better he gets at perfecting their sheer entertainment value. He has a comedic sense of timing. He connects with people like a great entertainer. He speaks to regular problems that people confront in their lives, the way the show Seinfeld did. You could say his is a presidency about nothing but it surely is a great show. 

His latest bit  – and it gets funnier each time – concerns how government regulations have wrecked our home appliances and bathroom experiences. This is a serious matter that fundamentally threatens the quality of our lives and health. 

The toilets don’t flush. There is precious little water coming out of faucets. The dishwasher doesn’t clean dishes. The clothes washers use as little water as possible so clothing comes out dirty. Our showers are unsatisfying because the flow is artificially restricted. 

We could go on to mention two other terrible things. The water pressure in our homes is awful so that pipes get full of lime and muck and you have to call the plumber. The hot water heater only warms the water to a temperature that delights bacteria and fungi. Blech! And we keep having to replace things because warm, slow-moving bits of water break down rather than clean the operations of our drains and toilet tanks. 

Many households have to work to fight back the stink. Whole cities have dealt with sewer problems because not enough water flows through to keep the place clean. 

It’s a huge mess! 

The nation that perfected indoor plumbing and emancipated women from household toil has forced a reversion to a time when we had to hand wash everything, keep basins for washing hands, and slog to the outhouse. This is not hyperbole: the pro-misery crowd has turned against all flushing in favor of the composting toilet

We thought these bad old days of dirt, filth, and disease were gone forever. Now they are coming back, gradually, regulation by regulation. 

Trump is exactly right that this all traces to preposterous government regulations designed to save water that actually end up using more, and not dealing with the real problem which has nothing to do with domestic water use. 

There is a reason his stand-up routine on this connects with people. We all know it’s true. He is the first big-time U.S. public figure that has mentioned any of this in public.

What’s most fascinating to me is how Trump intuits that he shouldn’t really be talking about this subject, even though he clearly enjoys it. He repeatedly says that the elite media say that he shouldn’t be doing this. He says that he can’t, for example, talk about this in his State of the Union address, which is scheduled for February 4. Clearly it is on his mind. He loves good reviews, which means that he has to be “presidential” and speak to a big vision of the place of America in history and the world order and so on. 

But I would like to suggest that we have this all wrong. The State of the Union strictly considered should truly be about the quality of life of the American people. The mandated changes in water and energy use has dramatically diminished the quality of American life in every home and business in this country. It has affected appliances and plumbing fixtures that are essential to our daily lives. 

This is why a genuine State of the Union should speak to issues of dishwashers, hot-water heaters, water pressure, washing machines, refrigerators, and – yes – even toilets. For goodness sake, this is a generation that dares not fit every single bathroom with a ready-to-use plunger, else house guests finds themselves in a mortifying position of having to ask for one. This is a generation that buys vast numbers of laundry products simply to make clothes look as clean as all clothes looked 20 years ago. We keep buying dishwashers, and they grind away for hours and hours, but never quite get the dishes clean much less free of spots. 

That we can’t even get a hot bath anymore should cause every American to curse every bureaucrat involved in forcing hot-water heaters to ship such as they only heat to a tepid 110 degrees. 

We should not be condemned by government agencies to have dirty clothes, dirty dishes, tepid baths, pathetic flow in our sinks and showers, and filthy toilets that have to be plunged and plunged until we have to replace the tank’s gears because not even water flows through them to keep them clean and functioning. 

This whole thing is a bloody outrage, please excuse my language. 

Trump knows well from the cheers he gets from the crowds how well this connects with people. He knows that he has tapped into a hugely important dimension of life in America. He complains that he can’t even get a good shampoo in his hair. He is right. That’s true for 300 million others. 

Let Trump act on these issues and act now. He could work for a repeal of all the restrictions that are wrecking our lives. Government controls have spread vast misery. This misery can come to an end. 

Then Chinese producers can get busy making new showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and everything else. American consumers will be happy to shell out for a good shower and an effective flush. Now if only we can also get rid of Trump’s own favorite form of government control – taxes on imports – we’ll really be onto something.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker served as Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research from 2017 to 2021.

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