So today's eye candy is via Dan Mitchell who documents Another Bureaucratic Attack on Lifestyle Quality (and Freedom of Choice).
And (you may have heard) Comissioner Richard Trumka Jr. of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) called gas stoves a "hidden hazard", and went on to explicate CPSC policy: "any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned."
Charles C. W. Cooke's critique is devastating: Ban Electric Ranges! A Progressive Freakout from an Alternative Universe. He notes that the "dangers" of gas stoves are simply an excuse to scratch the progressive itch to Do Something:
On Twitter, John Hasson serves up a nice little example of exactly this point. Hasson notes that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has found that, when it comes to fires, electric ranges are considerably more dangerous than are gas stoves. Here’s the data:
Households that use electric ranges have a higher risk of cooking fires and associated losses than those using gas ranges. Although 60 percent of households cook with electricity four out of five (80 percent) ranges or cooktops involved in reported cooking fires were powered by electricity. Population-based risks are shown below,
• The rate of reported fires per million households was 2.6 times higher with electric ranges.
• The civilian fire death rate per million households was 3.4 times higher with electric ranges.
• The civilian fire injury rate per million households was 4.8 times higher with electric ranges than in households using gas ranges.
• The average fire dollar loss per household was 3.8 times higher in households with electric ranges.
Do not misunderstand me: I do not wish to ban or limit the sale of electric ranges. Nor do I think the federal government has the power to do so. I merely wish to point out that, if the hyperactive progressives who are currently going after gas stoves wished instead to make the case against electric ranges, they could instead use these stats as their pretext, and they could do so with exactly the same level of stridency as they are currently exhibiting.
How long before we get to the endgame? Food preparation is simply too dangerous to be undertaken by home do-it-yourselfers. We need to ban home cooking entirely! Meals should be prepared by government-licensed chefs, and delivered to homes—or, better yet, communal eating areas.
And of course, the meals will be properly balanced with stuff that's good for you and environmentally sustainable.
And a little while later, a different set of government bureaucrats will point to new highs in deaths of despair.
Briefly noted (but on the same topic):
Liz Wolfe at Reason: Gas Stoves May Soon Be Banned To Protect the Children.
Some lawmakers, like Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) and Rep. Don Beyer (D–Va.), have pressured regulators to act, couching their concerns in the claim that gas stoves create a "cumulative burden" on black and Latino households already disproportionately harmed by air pollution. Other Democratic lawmakers, like New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, have proposed statewide bans on putting gas hookups in new buildings out of environmental concern.
All this ignores that gas stoves are popular precisely because they're superior to electric and induction. Most home chefs—and pretty much all professional chefs—will tell you that electric stoves take a long time to heat up and are far less responsive when changing heat levels. Induction stoves, which are actually quite fast to heat up, require different types of cookware and kitchen thermometers, in addition to being a lot more expensive than electric stoves. (Oddly, the Inflation Reduction Act, passed in 2022, included incentives for people to transition from gas to induction and electric—something that has literally nothing to do with inflation.)
David Harsanyi at the Federalist wonders, as do we all: Why Won't Dems Save Us From Stoves That Want To Murder Us?.
Suddenly, progressives, sensing the state might be prohibiting some modern convenience, opened their Google searches and transformed into a throng of gas experts. As Charles Cooke points out, leftists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who had never once typed the word “stove” in a tweet or uttered the word in a congressional speech, took on a “tone of weary condescension toward the bitter-enders whom she’s been trying to inform for years.” Not even in her Green New Deal — which banned cars and planes and promised every American a state-sponsored salubrious diet — was there a single mention of prohibiting gas stoves.
“Did you know,” she informed Rep. Ronny Jackson, a doctor, yesterday, “that ongoing exposure to NO2 from gas stoves is linked to reduced cognitive performance?” And, as of this writing, nearly 90,000 feeble-minded, lockstepping numbskulls, not one of whom had ever concerned themselves with “NO2” a day in their lives, liked her tweet.
And Megan McArdle points out: Environmentalists have a blind spot in the debate over gas stoves.
Americans can breathe a sigh of relief: The government is not coming for our gas stoves.
There was a moment, a couple days ago, when it seemed as though they might. In an interview with Bloomberg, Richard Trumka Jr., a commissioner at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, hinted that the days of cooking over an open flame might be numbered because it pollutes the air inside your house.
“Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” Trumka said
Conservatives, predictably, went to Defcon 1, questioning the agency’s constitutional authority, the quality of the research saying gas stoves are unhealthy, and the motives of the researchers. Liberals rolled their eyes and demanded to know why conservatives wanted to hold on to such a dangerous technology when induction stoves are awesome? I mean, do they like childhood asthma?
In a way, it was refreshing, because these are the sorts of policy debates we used to have before everything became a referendum on The Future of Democracy. Also, it was tiresome, because we spent two days debating a moronic idea before the head of the CPSC belatedly intervened to walk it back.
“I am not looking to ban gas stoves, and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so,” Alexander Hoehn-Saric said.
Megan is relieved. But what needs to be questioned is the coercive reflex impulse Trumka cited. To repeat: “Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”
What we need is a government that says: "Safety is relative, and different people have different needs, situations, and tolerances for risk. Mature and rational adults should be able to purchase goods and services based on the best possible information, without the government making such decisions for them."
But we are a long way from there.