Monday, January 07, 2008

California: Big Brother Will Control Your Thermostat

Via Dad29, the American Thinker documents another giant step toward 1984.

(And just because it didn’t happen by 1984 doesn’t mean it isn’t going to.)
A new revision to Title 24 is in the works for 2008[2] and it includes a number of improvements and enhancements that are largely good sense items and should be non-controversial. . . .

What should be controversial in the proposed revisions to Title 24 is the requirement for what is called a “programmable communicating thermostat” or PCT. Every new home and every change to existing homes’ central heating and air conditioning systems will required to be fitted with a PCT beginning next year following the issuance of the revision. Each PCT will be fitted with a “non-removable” FM receiver that will allow the power authorities to increase your air conditioning temperature setpoint or decrease your heater temperature setpoint to any value they chose. During “price events” those changes are limited to +/- four degrees F and you would be able to manually override the changes. During “emergency events” the new setpoints can be whatever the power authority desires and you would not be able to alter them.

In other words, the temperature of your home will no longer be yours to control. Your desires and needs can and will be overridden by the state of California through its public and private utility organizations. All this is for the common good, of course.
“But surely,” somebody who likes the nanny state might say, “sometimes there are power emergencies that require people to conserve?”

In the first place, problems with the power supply in California are mostly the result of misguided government regulation, and especially the unwillingness of environmentalists to allow adequate energy supplies.

We all know the acronym NIMBY, meaning “not in my back yard.” If it’s prisons, or landfills or a nuclear plant, everybody wants it put it somewhere else.

We know a fellow who says that in California, the rule is BANANA, meaning “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything.”

So we have the usual downward spiral: government regulates something, and messes up the market. And this becomes an excuse for even more regulation. We see this with things like rent control, which gives landlords an incentive to let their apartments run down. How does government respond? With stricter regulation.

But even given real scarcity, the proper policy is to increase prices, and let people decide whether energy means so much to them that they are willing to pay the higher price. A lot won’t be willing to, and the demand will decrease. And the higher price will encourage more production, making scarcity rare.

Thus increasing prices when energy is in short supply is a good idea, but that can be done without the Big Brother apparatus.

Of course, there are loopholes.
EXCEPTION 1 to Section 112(c): Gravity gas wall heaters, gravity floor heaters, gravity room heaters, non-central electric heaters, fireplaces or decorative gas appliances, wood stoves, room air conditioners, and room air-conditioner heat pumps need not comply with this requirement.
So just as people who want a large vehicle to drive can get around Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards by buying an SUV, people who want to be warmer need only buy a heater.

But the problem is that these ways of evading the energy Nazis tend to be rather expensive. Which is part of the reason we see poor people driving old junker cars, and affluent people driving SUVs.

But the real problem comes when the infrastructure of control is put in place, and public attitudes have come to accept that government can regulate peoples lives in minute detail.

At that point, the Nazis have won.

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Anonymous Joe said...

It's funny that for all the worry about "1984" becoming a reality in this country, I have not seen one post on this blog--not one--about the erosion of civil liberties and privacy in this country, and the increase in the government's ability and willingness to carry out surveillance on its own citizens.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Perhaps it's because those policies are *not* Orwellian and rather designed to keep us safe, Joe.

Pray tell, how have your civil liberties and privacy been violated by measures of national security (I'm assuming here that's what your reference is to)?

And how is the issue in question - government controlling the temperature in *your* home - not an erosion of privacy?

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

One of the behaviors referred to by the term "Orwellian" is the invasion of personal privacy by surveillance. It is not the only behavior, but it is one. And doing something in the name of national security does not make it any less an invasion of privacy. It certainly does not make it less Orwellian; in fact as I'm sure you know the justification of Orwell's Brave New World was safety and security.

When the government can data-mine millions of emails and phone records, that is an invasion of personal privacy. (And by the way, the lawfulness of the President's actions and those of the Telecoms has not been determined. That's why the Bush administration is pushing for retroactive immunity as we speak.) When the government is unlawfully (by going around FISA) listening to conversations between people in the U.S. and people outside the U.S., that is an invasion of privacy. When the U.S. can lock up an American citizen for three years without charging them or giving them access to an attorney, that is an attack on civil liberties.

Now, pray tell, why do you think I need to show that I have been a victim of these practices to show that there has been an erosion of privacy and civil liberty in this country? Given that I have several friends with whom I communicate over seas, it is very likely that I have been a victim. But I don't need to prove that to make the already well-documented case that there has been an enormous increase in government mining and surveillance of communications in this country.

So let me make this simple for you. I was pointing to the hypocrisy of this blog's ranting about some invasions of privacy, while being completely silent about others. I did not offer a defense of government control of home temperature, nor did I argue that it should not be referred to as Orwellian.

If you want to have a conversation about whether state-mandated rationing of finite goods is ever appropriate or permissible, that would be fine. But that has nothing to do with my first comment. You know what they say about people who make ASSumptions.

Oh, and by the way, you're obviously okay with violations of privacy so long is they are in the name of national security. Do you really think there is no connection at all between our energy policies (and consumption) and what is going on in the middle east right now, especially with respect to terrorism? Just something to think about.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's keep our dystopias straight.

"1984" was by George Orwell

"Brave New World" was by Aldous Huxley.

Completely different life styles....

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

Oops. Of course. Thanks, Anonymous.

12:32 PM  

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