First, House Republicans cast aside the biodegradable cups, plates and utensils the House cafeteria stocked under Nancy Pelosi, staking out a bold preference for styrofoam and plastic. Now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants to go back to the toilets and lightbulbs of yesteryear nationwide.
Last week Paul vented over a decade of personal frustration with federal efficiency standards for toilets and lightbulbs, delivering an extended piece of his mind to hearing witness Kathleen Hogan, the deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
"You can't go around your house without being told what to buy. You restrict my purchases, you don't care about my choices, you don't care about the consumer, frankly," Paul told Hogan at an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
"Frankly, the toilets don't work in my house," Paul said. "And I blame you, and people like you who want to tell me what I can install in my house, what I can do."
It sounds off the wall, but these toilet and lightbulb regulations have bothered libertarians for years.
During the Clinton era, John Stossel lit into toilet regulations on "20/20." In 2007, Stossel recounted:
I did a segment on that for "20/20" mocking the endless rule-making process, which somehow concluded that exactly 1.6 gallons is all that every toilet needs. I interviewed people who were so unhappy with their new toilets that they were combing junkyards for old ones, or going to Canada to buy them. Homeowners and apartment managers kept telling me, "The toilets don't work!"
In 2008, the Libertarian Party's executive director at the time, Shane Cory, remarked that "If you outlaw lightbulbs, then only outlaws will have lightbulbs." A Google search will reveal some background grousing by various bloggers and columnists over the years.