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EDITORIAL: Why do dishwashers take so long? Blame efficiency

The future is supposed to look like “The Jetsons.” In the name of efficiency, it’s starting to look more like “The Flintstones.”

Shopping for new appliances these days may leave you pondering a nagging question: Didn’t your old dishwasher clean faster than the one you’re looking at now?

No, you’re not going crazy. Modern dishwashers take longer to run. A standard wash now takes two to two-and-a-half hours. Previously, dishwashers could finish a load in around an hour. Now, some have cycles that run four hours.

Companies are producing less capable products because of government regulations. In 2010, more than a dozen states banned phosphates in dishwasher soap over environmental concerns. Now, dish detergents use enzymes, which take more time to work. Plus, federal regulations allow dishwashers to use only five gallons per load. To accomplish this, machines recycle water for use multiple times. That increases the length of time it takes to run a load.

The irony is that less powerful dishwashers encourage more handwashing and pre-rinsing. That’s the most water intensive option of all.

But these new less efficient dishwashers have labels declaring them “efficient.” It’s a word choice George Orwell would appreciate. “ ‘Efficiency’ has become a euphemism to laud an appliance that uses fewer inputs relative to its outputs rather than shorthand for doing the job as effectively as possible,” Noah Rothman wrote in National Review. He noted the Biden administration wants to further restrict dishwashers, reducing their energy and water usage by around 30 percent. All in the name of efficiency, of course.

And it’s not just dishwashers. California has banned gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Low-flush toilets mandated by Washington created a smuggler’s market between Detroit and Canada. The incandescent light bulb is about to be phased out by government diktat. The left finally admits that they really are coming after gas stoves — and gas appliances. New Jersey has banned plastic shopping bags. And good luck finding a plastic straw.

In isolation, each instance might be considered a minor inconvenience. “In a mandated aggregate, they look like a society-wide assault on the dignity of personal choice,” Mr. Rothman writes. “Activists, like-minded bureaucrats and their allies in elected office are, in the name of climate change, waging war against products and conventions that make everyday life work.”

In many cases, there’s scant evidence that the rules will achieve the stated goals. But effectiveness is secondary to the larger ideological objective of remaking modern economies to empower central planners over markets. That’s how we get “efficient” dishwashers that do a poor job of cleaning dishes and toilets that must be flushed twice. Can the drago-toaster used by Fred and Wilma be far behind?

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