Editorial

San Franciscans discover the law of unintended consequences

Rod Pennington Author, A Family Reunion

San Francisco is full of crap — literally. A few years ago, the city fathers forced “low-flow” toilets on the populace. According to the people’s enlightened representatives, these things save water, are better for the environment, etc. While on the surface the concept seems straightforward and harmless enough, city officials should have heeded the words of Mark Twain: “No good deed goes unpunished.”

These water-saving devices are not producing enough flow with each flush to keep the solid waste pipes under the streets of San Francisco from becoming constipated. Places like AT&T Park now have a new fragrance, “Eau de Port-o-let.” It has gotten so bad in some spots that even the homeless are complaining about the odor.

To summarize, in order to save 20 million gallons of water, the city — in typical liberal fashion — imposed replacements costs on the private sector. When enough citizens had knuckled under and replaced their perfectly good toilets with the new, improved Al Gore signature model, the problems started. For the past five years, the city has been spending around $20 million annually to upgrade their sewers. So, after bludgeoning their citizens and paying a buck for each gallon of water they are “saving,” they have an odor problem.

To address this problem, the city just ordered $13 million worth of Clorox to pour down the drains to kill the smell. Imagine if a private business wanted to pour that much bleach into the Bay Area’s water system. The protest marches would dwarf those of Gay Pride Week.

Next up for punishment in Frisco is the “energy-saving” light bulb. To reduce the city’s “carbon footprint” and prove San Franciscans are better than the rest of us, city officials are encouraging businesses and home owners to convert to the new bulbs. The problem is that the new bulbs contain mercury and other nasty stuff. Read the package warning. If you break one of these babies, you pretty much need a Hazmat suit and a 40-hour course on the proper disposal of hazardous materials before even starting your cleanup. What will happen when they have millions of these things in fixtures and the “Big One” hits? There could be enough mercury spilled from broken light bulbs during a 7.5 earthquake for the EPA to have to declare the entire area a biohazard and ban the local seafood for decades.

While those with a nanny-state mentality usually have pure hearts and good intentions, the unexpected consequences of their actions often leave normal people scratching their heads.

I’m all for the Americans with Disabilities Act, but some of the rules net hilarious results. For example, please explain why the law requires Braille bumps for the blind on the ATM touch pads at my bank drive-thru? If someone is “vision challenged” enough to need Braille to get $20 from the ATM drive-thru, why are they behind the wheel of a car?

Another case in point: There is a local stand-alone retailer in my neighborhood with a huge parking lot used exclusively by the store’s customers. The first four parking spots in the four rows closest to the door are for “handicapped” parking. The retailer is “Dick’s Sporting Goods.” A place that sells golf clubs, running shoes and soccer balls doesn’t strike me as being a hotspot destination for the average disabled person. I drive by this store all the time and I’ve never seen a single car in any of the reserved spots, much less all 16 of them.

Rules are rules and common sense has never been in the average government bureaucrat’s lexicon. I can’t wait to see what kind of mischief Obamacare brings.

Rod Pennington’s seventh novel will be out later this year and he has also sold two screenplays. In addition he is a prolific “ghostwriter” whose work has appeared under other people’s bylines in many major publications. He would tell who and where but then he would have to kill you.