Commentary

Not Even Your Gas Cans Are Safe from the Nanny State’s War on Quality of Life

Daniel Mitchell
By Daniel Mitchell | February 1, 2018 | 4:02 PM EST

Eco-friendly gas can (Screenshot)

Considering that America’s Founders created a very small central government that operated for more than 100 years without any income tax (or any other broad-based tax), it’s very disappointing that Washington is now consuming more that 20 percent of our nation’s output.

That’s bad for growth since resources are diverted from the productive sector of the economy.

But let’s also keep in mind that politicians also impose policies that may not have much impact on GDP statistics, but definitely reduce our quality of life.

I’ve written about some of these annoying bits of red tape.

Jeffrey Tucker, in a column for the Foundation for Economic Education, shares my disdain for the nanny state.

“Soap doesn’t work. Toilets don’t flush. Clothes washers don’t clean. Light bulbs don’t illuminate. Refrigerators break too soon. Paint discolors. Lawnmowers have to be hacked. It’s all caused by idiotic government regulations that are wrecking our lives one consumer product at a time, all in ways we hardly notice.”

And he points out another item to add to our list.

We now have gas cans that don’t work nearly as well as they used to because of mindless bureaucracy.

“Who would make a can without a vent unless it was done under duress? After all, everyone knows to vent anything that pours. Otherwise, it doesn’t pour right and is likely to spill. … The whole trend began in (wait for it) California. … The notion spread and was picked up by the EPA, which is always looking for new and innovative ways to spread as much human misery as possible. … So … you have not been able to buy gas cans that work properly. They are not permitted to have a separate vent. The top has to close automatically.”

Environmental zealots tell us we need these poorly functioning gas cans to save the environment from vapor.

But as Tucker explains, the policy is backfiring.

“… don’t tell me about spillage. It is far more likely to spill when the gas is gurgling out in various uneven ways, when one spout has to both pour and suck in air. … There is no possible rationale for these kinds of regulations. It can’t be about emissions really, since the new cans are more likely to result in spills.”

Amen.

This is a never-ending nightmare when I mow my lawn. When it’s time to refill the gas tank, I know gas is going to spill regardless of how careful I am.

I can’t imagine that’s good for the environment (I’m sure it releases far more vapor than would seep into the atmosphere with a vent), but I confess that my main concern is that gas dribbles onto a hot lawnmower engine. So I’m always poised to run away from my mower if the thing bursts into flame.

Oh, the joy of red tape!

Writing for Forbes, Clyde Wayne Crews also has commented on this inane and counter-productive regulation.

“… when I first tried to use these new gas cans a few months after purchase I was shocked at their new spring-loaded, Mousetrap game style … spouts. … You need three hands to operate today’s gas can spouts. You’ll start each project spilling more gas than you get into the mower, motorcycle, car or whichever. In other words, you will create more vapor emissions than you ever would have otherwise. … No gas cans available for sale anymore have vents on the opposite top-side either, so when trying to pour you get a sloshing, heaving mess, burping gasoline eruptions leaking from the complex yet flimsy spout that easily breaks.

But Wayne very helpfully proposes a solution … assuming one is willing to incur a small risk.

“… in order to harm the Earth less with a normal, non-polluting spout, I was wondering about workarounds for the inhumane, vapor-spewing trick spouts the environmentally unfriendly EPA forces you to buy to increase pollution. With a bit of searching, I found so-called EZ Pour “water” jugs. Note: You and I cannot use these alternatives to pour gasoline into vehicles or equipment, since that is an illegal non-EPA bureaucrat-approved hack, but they can be used to pour ‘liquid,’ however.”

The EPA can have our EZ Pour jugs when they pry them from our cold, dead, non-polluting fingers!

I had some fun in 2013 by pointing out that when they outlaw tanks, only outlaws will have tanks. Who could have predicted we’d be saying the same thing about well-functioning gas cans?

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy and is Chairman of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Mitchell is a strong advocate of a flat tax and international tax competition.

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