My apartment manager recently left a note hanging on my doorknob informing me of an upcoming "Going Green Project." The note pointed out that Southern California is facing a water crisis, so the management company is going to be proactive rather than reactive by "providing efficiency before it is mandated by the state." It is going to be "part of the solution rather than part of the problem" by installing new "energy efficient" toilets at no charge to the tenants.
It's official: Shit has just gone green.
First, I'll just point out the note's interesting usage of the term "energy efficient" in reference to the new toilets. Until now, the toilets I've used have been plumbing fixtures hooked up only to water and sewage pipes, not electrical outlets. If these new toilets use AC power, I can't wait to try one out!
All sarcasm aside, this "going green" fad has gone way too far. It has officially joined the politically correct lexicon of overused euphemisms. Secretaries are now "administrative assistants." Trash men are now "sanitation engineers." And now, businesses no longer cut costs -- they "conserve resources" or "increase energy efficiency."
But isn't conservation of resources (energy, water, labor, materials, etc.) relative to produced output the most basic way in which a business increases its profits? Haven't businesses been pursuing increased profits -- and therefore increased efficiency -- since capitalism first came on the scene? Am I missing something here? When has waste ever been rewarded in a free market? The only institution that rewards waste is government.
Regarding water and energy, the only reason we have shortages and "crises" in the first place is because water and energy are not ruled by purely free market forces. They are heavily regulated, or completely controlled, by government, which does not allow market prices for those resources to prevail. Government keeps the prices of water and energy artificially low, and the inevitable result is that shortages occur due to overuse (i.e., waste). Market prices are part of a self-rationing mechanism. A high price for a resource sends a signal to consumers and businesses to use less of that resource, and a low price sends a signal to consumers and businesses that they can use more of it. As a resource becomes more scarce, its market price will naturally rise -- unless, of course, government intervenes in the name of "fairness" or "protection against price gouging" and thereby prevents the market price from performing its rationing function.
If we really want people and businesses to conserve energy and water, we shouldn't sanctimoniously heap guilt on them about all things "non-green" while simultaneously allowing our government to keep the resource prices artificially low. We should simply get the government out of the water and energy businesses altogether -- flush them down the toilet -- so that market prices can prevail and thereby allow people to self-ration their use of those crucial resources.