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Friday, March 9, 2012

Strategic CSR - Luxury

Is the article in the url below an example of the over-regulation that leads to stifling, inefficient government, or is it an example of effective ‘nudge’ policies implemented by a government more focused on social responsibility than we give it credit?

Ever since 1992, the American showerhead has been legally constrained from delivering more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute, thanks to a federal law designed to conserve natural resources.

What rights do consumers have to purchase resource intensive products, even if we assume that the full costs associated with producing that product (i.e., including all externalities) are incorporated into its purchase price (a very big assumption)?

Then, in 2010, the Department of Energy revised its requirements to say that all sprays, nozzles and openings above an individual's head are considered to be one showerhead, and all of its combined openings were not permitted to exceed the 2.5-gallon-a-minute maximum.

On the other hand, what role should the government play in micro-managing our lives, given the blunt tools its uses to decide where to draw the lines, as well as the biased and corrupt process by which it does it (due to the role of money in determining which lines at which times)? As someone of European decent living in the U.S., I find myself torn between valuing a strong, benevolent government that can shape a progressive society in theory, but also recognizing the inefficiency and unintended outcomes associated with top-down directives in reality:

The 2010 revision affects luxury showerheads, such as the Raindance Imperial 600 AIR, which has a 24-inch spray face and once retailed for more than $5,000. The fixture, and others like it, can emit 12 gallons of water per minute, greatly exceeding regulations. To show that it meant business, the Department of Energy fined four showerhead manufacturers almost $200,000 for noncompliance in May 2010.

That being said, while there are many who feel that the environmental movement is unlikely to make headway with an argument focused on lowering living standards, it does not seem that limiting ourselves to only one showerhead per shower is exactly the ultimate sacrifice!

Have a good weekend

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Banned luxury items

Laws designed to protect endangered species, the environment or even consumers mean that some aspects of the high life are now out of reach.
By Daniel Bukszpan