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Energy Star Program Certifies 15 Out of 20 Bogus Products

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the so-have-no-fears-about-govt-insurance dept.

Government 275

longacre writes "A Gasoline-Powered Alarm Clock was among 15 bogus products granted the coveted Energy Star seal of approval by the US Environmental Protection Agency during a secret evaluation conducted by the Government Accountability Office. In addition, four fictional manufacturers run by fake people and marketed with crummy websites — Cool Rapport (HVAC equipment), Futurizon Solar Innovations (lighting), Spartan Digital Electronics, and Tropical Thunder Appliances — were granted Energy Star partnerships. The root of the problem: Manufacturers need only submit photos and not actual examples of their products, and they submit their own efficiency ratings, which are not independently verified by the EPA."

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Like patents (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634208)

The sheer volume of applicants makes it infeasible for a single bureaucracy to effectively test physical hardware.

Re:Like patents (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634246)

God damn, BadAnalogyGuy. You deserve to no longer be at -1 if you keep your posts up like this one. That really was a good analogy.

Re:Like patents (4, Funny)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634252)

Neh that's totally different. I'm pretty sure there are no bogus patents.

Re:Like patents (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634614)

My game crashed, so here I am. How 'bout them niggers?

And, when you first load a Slashdot story and make a post, clicking Preview takes FAR too long before anything happens. Luckily the browser caches subsequent uses. Still, if I tried to write JS that took that long I couldn't do it if I weren't allowed to use sleep() functions. How the fuck is it so slow?

Re:Like patents (3, Funny)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634280)

You'd think that they wouldn't default to giving away their (supposedly) valuable seal of approval, though. Most bureaucracies I've dealt with personally just ignored you if too many applications meant they would have to stay past 4pm.

Anyway, way to go GAO. It sounds like somebody in there has a fun job-- "Johnson, I need you to create some idiotic-sounding products and set up fake companies to go with them."

Re:Like patents (3, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634444)

"You'd think that they wouldn't default to giving away their (supposedly) valuable seal of approval, though."

Actually, I can't think of a single seal of approval, or certification, that means anything. The longer the "standard" has been around, the worse it is. It's all nonsense, IMHO. Reading reviews that real customers have written has proved more effective than looking for some certification which no one understands, and was likely paid for with cash money anyway.

Re:Like patents (5, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635338)

Actually, I can't think of a single seal of approval, or certification, that means anything.

I'll expand your mind then. Try the UL [ul.com] and the NFPA [nfpa.org] seals and listings.

Of course if something is not up to spec (lets say a manufacturer certified with one material and used another in production), then most people have a right to sue the manufacturers for not following the standards they were certified under as well as it being known that the problem wasn't the certification but the production afterward.

Re:Like patents (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634580)

I suspect one of three things(or conceivably some combination):

Regulatory capture: Regulatory entities frequently(out of a mixture of lobbying and the human social processes that come with working together), frequently start to identify with the entities they regulate. It's like Stockholm Syndrome for bureaucracies. Either because you fear the lobbying clout of people upset with your decisions, or because you really don't want to be "not a team player", you start getting really softball regulation.

Bad incentive structure: Defining good metrics for productivity is hard. Defining bad ones is easy. It would be totally believable that, either by design or in practice, the guy who approves 10 products in a day gets more brownie points than the guy who denies 10, or carefully researches 5.

Intentional brokenness: A common(and quite sensible) defensive mechanism used by entities or industries that fear they will face conditions harmful to their interests(either regulation, consumer backlash, or both) is to pre-emptively "show their cooperation" by collaborating with their friends in legislature, or in "objective 3rd party" organizations produced for the purpose, to establish carefully broken softball standards that strongly resemble whatever reform they feared; but have little or none of the punch.

Re:Like patents (-1, Offtopic)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634652)

So point three is like the healthcare bill.

Re:Like patents (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635402)

Not really. That's more like points 1, 2 and 3.

With a sprinkle of voodoo economics and just plain ordinary stupidity.

Regulatory capture refinement (2, Informative)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634902)

One of the main mechanisms in "Regulatory capture" is that in order to have competent regulators, they must be hired from the same skill pool as the people working in the industry.

So the main career path for those working at the watchdog agency is to work for one of the companies they're overseeing, or less commonly, the other direction. This will at least breed an atmosphere of "being on the same team", and also gives strong incentives to outright corruption.

Re:Like patents (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634290)

who said the bureacracy tests hardware? certification labs are supposed to do the testing. it sounds like they aren't.

Re:Like patents (3, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634418)

Well the article claims that they just accept the manufacturers test data. It's fine for a certification agency to accept testing from trusted labs but they should still be both inspecting/testing those labs procedures AND verifying that results really come from the lab they claim to come from. If they don't it renders the agencies badges far less trustworthy.

Re:Like patents (3, Interesting)

thogard (43403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635238)

I've been trying to figure out how they came up with the CFL saves 80% nonsense. The best bulb I've found was 64% when it was new and I have some that are past their useful life and are less efficient than incandescent bulbs. I'm not even sure how to measure the lumens from a non-point source like a spiral CFL in an accurate way. It appears that most of the bulbs that have useful ratings use the point that is the brightest and then use that light level to guess at the total lumens which will overstate the total light output. I've been thinking a better way to compare modern lights would be to look at a number more like EIRP used in radios.

Re:Like patents (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634294)

They need... two! Two beurocrazies!

*evil laugh*

Re:Like patents (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634380)

There's a simple solution to this.... the applicants pay a lot to get the certification already. Use some of that money to hire more people to actually inspect the production line, pull hardware, and test.

Re:Like patents (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634402)

The sheer volume of applicants makes it infeasible for a single bureaucracy to effectively test physical hardware.

True, but it does not stop them from establishing independent testing guidelines, and allowing bidding from companies who can perform the certification (and who are accountable when something receives certification incorrectly.)

Re:Like patents (2, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634466)

The only problem is that they pretend to do so.

Re:Like patents (2, Interesting)

iroll (717924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634584)

Bullshit. If the EPA can't

  • afford

to test them all, then the EPA should accredit private labs to do the testing and the manufacturer should pay the labs to produce certified results that meet EPA requirements.

The accreditation doesn't even have to cost the taxpayer anything, because the EPA can charge the labs for it.

Re:Like patents (1)

iroll (717924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634612)

Sigh... looks like I need to l2preview =(

Re:Like patents (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634704)

The FCC manages. Hell, they manage to test and leak pictures of upcoming sweet ass phones.

Re:Like patents (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634752)

The sheer volume of applicants makes it infeasible for a single bureaucracy to effectively test physical hardware.

Why?

Somebody has to do the testing, What does it matter who pays their pay check?

If the Testing firm had to be a regulated by the EPA perhaps we wouldn't have to pay for all of it.

Re:Like patents (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634852)

Simple solution: You set the stakes higher, until you can process them, and thereby become more exclusive. Let them do the work, if they want a certification. In way that makes it very easy and quick for you to verify it. (But don’t use money as a blocker, as that harms small companies who are great but can’t afford it yet.)

Re:Like patents (4, Interesting)

dynamo52 (890601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635038)

The sheer volume of applicants makes it infeasible for a single bureaucracy to effectively test physical hardware.

No, the problem is that this was a program written by industry lobbyists. It is completely voluntary and the test results are self reported.

From TFA:

In the instance of a bogus dehumidifier granted certification (an appliance also billed as 20 percent more efficient than the category leader), the EPA did request an e-mail confirmation on the bogus test data. To get the Energy Star stamp, the GAO spies simply had to stick to the story.

On the plus side though,this was discovered by the GAO making it an excellent example of what well reasoned regulation and oversight can accomplish. Now if we can get a few Republicans to vote for the new Consumer Protection Agency that Obama wants in the Financial Regulation Reform bill we would start to see more of these abuses brought to light.

Re:Like patents (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635150)

Which is one of the reasons for UL, FM, and other "independent" laboratories to exist. The government can do some random sampling of their tests, and have some confidence that the others were conducted in a similar manner.

So, its a marketing label only (3, Informative)

bfmorgan (839462) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634220)

I have long thought that some of the devices with the energy star label were not that energy saving. Now I know.

Re:So, its a marketing label only (3, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634278)

Pretty much. I for one cannot wait to see what they do with Carbon caps and labels for that one...

Re:So, its a marketing label only (3, Interesting)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634360)

That's why many people are calling for a simple carbon tax. We already tax gasoline. Just also tax coal and natural gas to encourage efficient use of fossil fuels or use of non-fossil fuels. Of course, we should also tax goods from countries based on the carbon intensity of their industry so we don't simply shift fossil fuel use to other countries.

Re:So, its a marketing label only (4, Insightful)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634542)

That is a political non-starter. Cap and trade will come because it creates a vast new speculative market. Look forward to iterative securitization, credit default swaps and other wacky derivatives, market cornering, toxic assets, etc. etc. etc.

The people who will make the money in that market will be both the driving force and the authors of the legislation.

Re:So, its a marketing label only (4, Funny)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634578)

They should tax having sex. After all, babies are made of carbon.

Re:So, its a marketing label only (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634730)

Unless you get cremated at death you at least sequester carbon, maybe you should get a tax credit. By 'you' of course I mean a non-/.er that actually has sex.

Re:So, its a marketing label only (2, Funny)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635452)

Hey, you insensitive clod, I'm a /.er that has had sex!

Re:So, its a marketing label only (5, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634308)

Ah, but they are energy efficient.............. compared to a short circuit, or a 100 ohm resistor in parallel with the device.

Re:So, its a marketing label only (3, Funny)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634314)

Especially because it amounts to turning down the radio in a hummer to save gas.

Re:So, its a marketing label only (2, Informative)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634336)

IIRC there was a front page story a long time ago about this; it was about some HDTVs that got this label which used obscene amounts of power even when they were turned "off".

Re:So, its a marketing label only (3, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634446)

That one was more a methodology issue than a fraud issue. Energy star only set standards for when the TV was in regular standby and when it was running, not for when it was "in standby but trying to update the EPG and so the tuner is on". Furthermore it turned out that some TVs could spend a LOT of time in this state.

Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634340)

An Energy Star purchase can also get you some tax credits and rebates [energysavers.gov] .

Re:So, its a marketing label only (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635296)

I live alone and some of the ratings are meaningless for me - the most efficient front loading washing machine a few years ago, an Energy Star model that washes efficiently but has a high standby current would have used at least twice the energy as my 14 year old top loader which uses more than twice the energy to wash a load - I don't do a lot of loads in a year and the machine draws nothing while idle. Energy Star is based on 400 loads a year.

The Government has no business endorsing any product.

Tropical Thunder Appliances? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634226)

Big Ass Titties!

Re:Tropical Thunder Appliances? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634570)

Clearly, the EPA has made the mistake of going "full retard" here.

dang (1, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634240)

I guess the secret's out about my Energy Star certified gas-guzzling SUV that gets 10mpg, which I drive a few hundred miles every day?

Tropic Thunda! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634286)

That Tropical Thunder website is fueled by awesome-sauce.

I love how all the sites were 'Spun by Sitespinner.' Makes the Energy Star evaluators^Wapprovers seem doubleplus inept

Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (4, Insightful)

Lost+Found (844289) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634298)

Bernie Madoff stole 50 billion dollars right under the SEC and FINRA's noses. Unlike private agencies like the UL that face the threat of extinction if they ruin their brand, government agencies routinely screw up, screw the people they're supposed to protect and get more money for their failures.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (-1, Flamebait)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634368)

I think they screw up on purpose just to ask for more money.

"Hey Bob, we need to screw up so we can ask for more money, think you can figure something out for us?"

*one GAO audit later*

"Great job Bob, now we're sure to get that budget increase!"

I think bureaucracies follow the following formula:

1. Claim to be important (e.g. Defending the Children/Environment/Criminals)
2. Claim to have a legitimate program that is related to point 1.
3. Screw up majorly
4. ???
5. PROFIT!

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (5, Informative)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634516)

As somebody who works for the government, I take your comment as a personal insult.

If anything, the efficiency of the government is greater than private industry, thanks to the intense level of scrutiny we're put through. (If anything, the extensive accountability measures that we have to undergo are the one thing that hinders our efficiency)

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (2, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634738)

I logged in so I could mod you funny, but my mod points are gone. So... anyway, don't take it as a personal insult. It's just the nature of the beast. There's no REASON states need to be efficient or competitive in most fields, so they aren't.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (0, Redundant)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635142)

There are plenty of services/industries that are not, and never can be simultaneously competitive and efficient.

The government is the best entity to regulate or directly run these services in order to prevent abuses from occurring in these industries (examples: transportation, healthcare, "last-mile" telecoms, and other utilities).

Governments have a poor track record of anticipating demand and controlling means of production -- this was the chief failure of communism. On the other hand, governments have an excellent track record of providing essential services and utilities. Take a look at Thatcher's domestic legacy in the UK for a nice comparison of private vs. government-managed services.

Politicians have a fire lit under their ass to make sure that taxes are spent efficiently. The Republicans got their asses handed to them in 2006 and 2008 because of it, and the Democrats will likely see the same thing happen to them this year.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634750)

You disgust me.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (0, Troll)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634766)

Sorry you are insulted, but the government is not more efficient than private industry. Never has been, never will be.

Also, cite your sources. Specious claims like the above without any source material to back it up are just plain silly.

I can claim that government employees make more money than their private-sector counterparts doing the same or similar job, but unless I can back up that claim (CATO Tax and Budget Bulletin [cato.org] , issue number 59 [cato.org] (74KB PDF)), it's a ridiculous claim.

You must be very nimble (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634818)

To blow smoke up your own ass like that.

Of course you don't think you're being efficient. You can only see your small piece of the puzzle. Just because your'e not loafing and your co-workers appear to be doing the same doesn't mean that you're actually efficient about whatever it is your agency is supposed to be responsible for. And that doesn't even get into the possibility that you could be very efficiently accomplishing tasks that themselves are not actually beneficial to society.

Never underestimate the ability for a bureaucracy to appear busy, no matter how any resources it wastes. The reason people focus on government inefficiency more than corporate inefficiency (other than the obvious size difference) is that you can end your relationship with any corporation at will, whereas government has the ability to compel you under threat of life and limb, to continue to comply. You can't simply "do without" government services, the only way dissolve your involuntary obligation is emigration.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (1, Flamebait)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634846)

HA HA HA HA HA!!!

The AMOUNT of scrutiny? You mean those people that get paid by the hour to pretend like they know what they are talking about? Just because you get slammed with endless over sight and it takes often dozens of people to sign off on something before anything gets done only makes it very expensive, not improve quality or efficiency. In any business you get 0, 1 or 2 of 3 things: Good, Fast, Cheap. I will give credit to our military: their toys are really really good, but at the same time much of that technology comes from private industry, but paid for with tax dollars, so effectively the same thing. Halliburton is amazing as the good and fast thing, like when someone has a need for a refugee camp with food, water, and shelter some random place in the world for 10,000 people, and we need it tomorrow... Well considering that Halliburton is the only company that provides that type of service, not much to compare it to. Does no competition due to lack of capital qualify as cheap? anyway...

Government is "amazing" in many respects. Good managers of our money? Hmm... I don't think so. And those are just the nice things I can say.

Efficiency is consumer choice. They either buy it because you did something right, or they do not, and in any way that is a fallacious argument the case for government is far worse. If you are Nolan's definition of a Statist such that the governments goal is to self empower with no greater purpose than itself, then yeah, I concede government is quite efficient. Just look at the progressiveness of the Wilson administration.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (2, Interesting)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635034)

In all fairness to this civil servant, there are entities more inefficient than the Federal Government. For example, there are the United Nations, the World Bank, and NATO. Most companies fail when they become this inefficient. It take a lot more to fail a larger company, and it takes a whole lot more to fail a nation, especially one of this size. There is a price to pay for efficiency. As Truman said, "the most efficient government is a tyranny."

Stop flying off the deep end. (3, Interesting)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634432)

Of course the GAO is a government office, so if I'm not supposed to trust the government...

I'd rather not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I can think of plenty of places where the government is trustworthy: I trust them to bend over for corporate power in a heartbeat. Corporations no doubt benefit from a sham stamp of approval like "Energy Star" to help sell products. Private organizations do plenty of harm (Dow Chemical and Bhopal, war profiteering, financing campaigns that weaken consumer protections, the movie "The Corporation" is filled with more examples) and that harm is (by design) beyond any democratic relief or judicial oversight; we don't need more of that. On issues of life and death, war and peace, it's clear that the US government is plenty willing to keep wars, banks, and now HMOs financed with taxpayer dollars while its citizens suffer; plenty of examples of government-corporate working against the people. People need to fix this not think government is something to throw away. The power of government can be turned to benefit its people.

Re:Stop flying off the deep end. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634538)

I think you're both right.

The fix might not be to throw the government away, but it may be to throw *this* government away. The whole notion that people can keep playing "games as usual" is a bit problematic. There is no way to lawfully force a collective "vote of no confidence" in the entire executive branch and fire *all of them* at once and immediately have new elections. Every two years we can at most turn over about half the system--and that lets the last batch of people get corrupted and gain seniority and get broken in.

But I think that's exactly what it would take to get rid of "business as usual". Most of the laws are good--but the people working on them..not so much.

I honestly do believe that a *mass* firing of most of the political branches would send a nice little shockwave through things and possibly get us some meaningful progress again. It'd also be nice to start at organisations that are inefficient and ran by...well...asshole workers. A mass firing at a couple of state DMV's and post offices would probably do wonders for *public* morale for example, even if it would seriously disrupt daily life for a bit.

Re:Stop flying off the deep end. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634722)

Then the answer is revolution. It will come, because it always does. So the question becomes: When? How bad do things have to get before people are willing to shed blood? And how come we can't come up with a way to do it without shedding blood? Government should have an expiration date where everything must be redesigned. And anyone who held a role of any sort in the previous government is barred from contributing. Of course, to enforce that you'd have to kill them (in reality) so it still wouldn't be blood-free (unless you do it with smotherings and use a literal meaning of bloody I guess). My guess is things will have to get much worse before people take up arms. It may not even occur within my lifetime (I'm not 100% sure if that's a good or a bad thing yet).

Re:Stop flying off the deep end. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634860)

There is no way to lawfully force a collective "vote of no confidence" in the entire executive branch and fire *all of them* at once and immediately have new elections. Every two years we can at most turn over about half the system--and that lets the last batch of people get corrupted and gain seniority and get broken in.

If you're in that seat today you're gone. I don't care who you are. Demonstrably, you have failed. Let's try someone new.
Repeat in 2 years.
Granted, the 2-4-6 year crossover will corrupt some. But they will get it eventually.

If you are in that seat today, you are gone. Period. No excuses.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634494)

I wonder what you might have to say about a more relevant example of private bond rating agencies (such as Standard & Poors and Moodys).

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (5, Insightful)

PineGreen (446635) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634514)

This kind of comments make me want to return to Europe. I've been living in US for a couple of years now, I have a 6 figure salary and you know what: I hate paying so little in taxes. Because you get what you pay for. In USA you have small government, no taxes and hence everyone gets routinely screwed up by private sector: I have never paid so much in telecommunications, so much in healthcare costs for the shittiest service ever and I just punctured tire on my audi last week because of a massive pothole on a *freeway*. But as long as you get screwed by private sector everyone is happy. And then because one gov service is bad, everybody starts screaming big government is the root of all evil. For fuck sake, have you people ever tried trains in germany or healthcare in UK? USA could have been such a good country, food can be so amazing in NY and multiculturalism beats everybody else, but if people were just a little bit more sensible brained....

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (4, Interesting)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634726)

I don't think it is necessarily a question of HOW MUCH in taxes, but what it is spent on. Why do we even have a government agency to put a damn energy star sticker on the side of an appliance? Simply make all manufacturers print the power draw of their item on the side of the package. Done. Anyone who gives two craps about how much power something uses can look on the package. Anyone who doesn't bother to probably wouldn't care about the whole energy star thing anyways.

That money wasted on the 'energy star' bureaucracy could have been used to fill the pothole that you hit.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634858)

Why are you in the US, if the EU is so much better? The US is different. It isn't Germany or the UK. That traditional distrust of government may well be one of the fundamental reasons why you have a job here. And to be honest, if the government can't fix potholes in freeways, then it's going to screw up any trains or health care that it gets near.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (2, Interesting)

dynamo52 (890601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635350)

You are missing the point. The reason government here can't fix potholes is because conservative business leaders have consistently pushed just the idea you expressed and managed to successfully disguise it as a populist, libertarian movement. Over time this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Government is increasingly under resourced making it more ineffectual. This combined with horrible campaign finance legislation has allowed industry lobbyists to essentially control the agencies which are supposed to regulate them.

The fact that this was discovered by the GAO, also a government agency, shows that regulation and oversight can and does have beneficial results. Now just imagine what a new Consumer Protection Agency as envisioned by the Democrats could do.

The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.
P.J. O'Rourke

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634916)

It's too bad you haven't enjoyed our semi-socialized healthcare system, where half the costs have been fronted by the government, and the other half obscured from the real purchasers by government intervention (limiting what states insurers can compete in and promoting employer-purchases insurance in lieu of insuree purchased insurance). Unfortunately, however much it may suck in your personal experience, it's not a good example for you to cite of American capitalism failing. Fyi, freeways are paid for entirely by the government, although if you are complaining simply about too little money being spent, you should be aware that more money (at least as I've heard it reported) is spent on American healthcare.

I have to wonder what your beef is with the telecoms--do you have a landline? Deregulation of the cellphone market is a rather famous example of where deregulation worked really well--it's an awful lot cheaper now than it used to be.

I would like to point out that a single pothole does not a bad road make. There are going to be anomalous potholes in the highway whether in America or Europe simply because they layout so much road (America has the largest highway system in the world, which is also the largest public works project in history). In addition there may simply be a bad region (did you drive on every highway in Europe before making your comparison?) and certain areas are much more vulnerable to the formation of potholes due to local climate/terrain. America is much less densely populated than Europe, which means we have to layout a lot more road per citizen, and so we may well be making greater expenditures with inferior results.

The point being that you take a tremendously complex multitude of factors and simplify them all into an entirely unrepresentative anecdote. Fyi my own experience with roads, healthcare, and phone bills has all been generally positive.

P.S. IANAL, but if you really "hate paying so little in taxes," I am inclined to think that the IRS would not have a problem with you writing them a bigger check.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31635276)

"This kind of comments make me want to return to Europe."

Please feel free to do just that. I do agree that you get what you pay for, but that's the beauty of this country; you can pick how much you wish to spend on any particular aspect. If you want total coverage healthcare, you buy it. If you get "shitty" service at a hospital, you can (drumroll please) GO TO A DIFFERENT HOSPITAL! Wotta concept. You seem to have an uber-simplistic view of how public services and/or government works, but then, most Europeans do. I just have to add two more things: 1. NYC is a complete toilet: filthy, overcrowded, crime-ridden, gridlocked, and useless, with the exception of a few places like the Carnegie Deli and Little Italy, and 2. Regarding your comment on healthcare in the UK...ah, I'm guessing you weren't referring to dental care, right?

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31635342)

Woah woah woah there, slow down! Your talking to Americans here, please remember to use words that are no longer than 6 letters or contain no more than two or three syllables. Besides, what the hell is this talk of sensible thinking, you really must still be adjusting :P

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (2, Insightful)

psiogen (262130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634650)

After everything that's happened in the last 3 years...all the Wall Street flimflammers who wrecked the economy and got away with millions...you still think it's only government offices that are filled with shoddy work and bad incentives?

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (5, Insightful)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634764)

Bernie Madoff stole 50 billion dollars right under the SEC and FINRA's noses. Unlike private agencies like the UL that face the threat of extinction if they ruin their brand, government agencies routinely screw up, screw the people they're supposed to protect and get more money for their failures.

That's because the free market Republicans and Libertarians want to make sure the government can't do anything; because the market is self regulating.

When the head of the SEC doesn't believe in regulation, you can be certain that very little will be regulated.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634784)

"a secret evaluation conducted by the Government Accountability Office."

From that I take it that you just closed your eyes and fled from this story? Government busting government doing bad things. BTW, there was nothing stopping a private company from trying this, but government did it. I guess it isn't all bad? They are improving or does that anger you? I don't know these days with anti-government types.

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634882)

And it’s your fault. They are your employees! Fire them, or shut the fuck up!
If you don’t stand by your rules, but put up with shit, obviously others will walk all over you.
(If voting isn’t effective anymore, there are other ways.)

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634932)

Oh, and “but what can one person do?” is not an excuse but the cause of its own problem, because it’s circular reasoning. Others wouldn’t be the only ones, if someone started it. Someone — as in you (or in my case me). Not as in “Anyone but me, so I can continue to use it as an excuse, just like everybody else.”

(Yep, I’m working hard on changing what I can in this world, so what I think is better for us all, has a bigger chance of coming true.)

Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31635270)

The problem with firing the elected officials is that it takes a majority of voters to do that. I don't know if you've noticed, but a large portion of the American voting public is a bunch of FUCKING IDIOTS. They are led around by the nose and believe whatever rhetoric is spoon fed to them. As a result, real government reform is an uphill battle.

Just more proof (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634318)

Centralized control is not efficient nor effective.

Re:Just more proof (2, Interesting)

sunspot42 (455706) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634504)

Except this isn't an example of either the efficiency or effectiveness of "centralized control". Centralized control would be if the government operated its own testing labs and certified itself whether products are Energy Star compliant or not. Instead, they're relying on the private sector producers of the products themselves to supply their own data, with entirely predictable results.

More of that waste, fraud and abuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634326)

The government is the very definition of waste, fraud and abuse, not the answer to it.

Lawl. (4, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634354)

It is a sad state of affairs that our government has to set up a separate agency to analyze the (in)efficiency of a government organization that is setup to analyze the (in)efficiencys of other organizations. The U.S government is becoming a conglomerate of Department of Redundancy Departments, whose productivity is measured in how much money is thrown down the chasm. Glad to see my tax dollars at work.

Re:Lawl. (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634414)

Only sad in that non-governmental citizens aren't really free to do the same thing -- for them it would be "fraud" once they made their findings public.

Re:Lawl. (5, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634478)

Pretty much every company bigger than 10-20 employees has some sort of auditing system in place. Auditing is a good practice, and catches things such as this -- the only difference with the government is that audits are made public.

Re:Lawl. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634620)

Unless you have an organization that is stellar in its honesty and efficiency, or auditors that really suck at both, it is routine for auditors to save substantially more money than they cost.

Would you prefer that the government adopt a "see no evil" approach to auditing its operations?

Re:Lawl. (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634796)

Expectedly, my post was misinterpreted, to clarify they attempted point:
Energy Star is supposed to certify products with 'good' energy efficiencies.
They were audited by an organization that analyzes organizational efficiencies.
Energy Star was efficient in terms of being able to certify many products, but from the audit standpoint, they are not an exercising the quality of a should-be efficiently organization.

I-R-O-N-Y.

Plus, if they were to adopt a see-no-evil approach, instead of eliminating audits, they would create another organization to build walls of bureaucracy and red tape to mask the operations of the other inefficient organizations. Oh wait...

Re:Lawl. (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634744)

I don't mind that one government agency is checking up on another. My big question (that I already know the answer to) is: What will happen to those people who let these bogus products get through the system?

***spoiler alert***
answer: nothing

So what is the point of checking on them if no one is fired/jailed?

Gas-Powered Alarm Clock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634374)

"Spartan Digital Electronics is proud to announce its latest line of home electronics. The gas-powered Black-Gold model clock radio is sleek, durable, easy on your electric bill and surprisingly quiet. The newly Energy Star-qualified product is safe for indoor use and easy on the environment. This product approximates the size of a small portable generator for increased ease while traveling."

The question is, (4, Funny)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634470)

Where the hell can I buy the gasoline powered alarm clock? That's an awesome idea and I don't care how many energy stars it gets, I just want it right now.

Re:The question is, (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634770)

If price is no object, I am willing to deliver one in a month or two.

Cool! (2, Funny)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634476)

Now I can get an Energy Star rating for my line of fusion energy powered penis implants and Clean Coal powered lawn mowers.

Re:Cool! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634954)

But I want a dirty coal lawn mower penis implant / knife-wrench! I like hot and steamy and dirty! ;)

Lazy naming is the same as inspired naming (1)

VocationalZero (1306233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634484)

"Whats that? We still need another fake company name? Crap. What was that movie you just bought on Blu-ray, Bob?"
Bob: "Uhh.. Tropic Thunder?"
"Tropical Thunder Appliances it is then!"

Timing is everything ... (1)

godel_56 (1287256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634496)

If only the GAO had thought to hold back the report a few more days, they could have released it on April 1.

heh! gas powered clock (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634508)

everyone knows those gasoline powered alarm clocks are no good, i always go for the diesel powered alarm clocks the work much better, i tried the nitro-methane clock but it would blow a gasket every time it updated to NTP

Re:heh! gas powered clock (1)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634628)

The diesel model suffered from wet stacking.

Re:heh! gas powered clock (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634904)

There's talk of a new coal/steam hybrid alarm clock that could leave all these for dead, its both more efficient (per ton of fossil fuels needed to run per hour) and it has a 100% wake up rate, even among the deaf! (heat generated by the device exceeds that of a reasonably comfortable oven).

Now our engineers are working on the next version, a fusion based alarm clock, it uses a lot less raw materiel than ANY similar units and has the added benefit of a small nigh light you can read by!

For a sticker? (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634520)

I've just been printing my own EnergyStar stickers. Why waste time with bogus product tests?

One benefit of those stupid stickers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31634562)

is it reminds consumers that conserving energy is a good idea in general. Computer monitor has fraudulent sticker because its power consumption is too high to be eligible for certification, but seeing the sticker all the time gets me to drive the car less often. Result is net energy savings.

Obviously the above is not an excuse for false certification, but if done a bit differently and more honestly, could amount to an ad campaign for conservation, not necessarily a bad thing.

Wait, what? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634610)

In addition, four fictional manufacturers run by fake people

How can fake people run a company? I'd seriously like to know, because it could save my company a lot of money in labor costs, if I could get non-existent people to do the work.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634630)

Hi, my name is Bob shitswhenhewalks. I hear you have a job opening?

if i could curse (here) I would (0, Offtopic)

Sagelinka (1427313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634618)

There is no reason why that should be allowed and Marijuana be illegal. To completely different things but both impact America so much. Why is this ENERGY STAR???

root of the problem: government run (1)

tomohawk (1187855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634634)

Like many things run by the government, there's probably more incentive to do the job poorly than well. Giving a company or a product a pass probably requires less justification and hassle than turning one down.

That scrapping sound you hear ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634832)

... is the sound of thousands of spurned perpetual motion machine inventors dragging their creations out of the closet for their Energy Star photo op.

"Hey hon'. Have you seen my two hundred mile per gallon carburetor prototype anywhere?"
"You weren't using it dear. And it makes a beatiful flower pot."

UL never had this issue. (1)

cluge (114877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31634880)

This is another well documented case of where government, especially big government fails (no matter how well intentioned). I'd urge readers to do some research on underwriters laboratories. A UL listing is de-rigeur for anything in new construction and has been for decades, yet UL certification is voluntary and the testing and listing of certified products is undertaken by a totally private entity. From the UL web site "Underwriters Laboratories® is an independent product safety certification organization that has been testing products and writing standards for safety for more than a century. UL evaluates more than 19,000 types of products, components, materials and systems annually with 20 billion UL Marks appearing on 66,000 manufacturers' products each year. UL's worldwide family of companies and network of service providers includes 68 laboratory, testing and certification facilities serving customers in 102 countries." Energy Star Compliance should be handled by UL, not the EPA. Considering recent scandals the EPA simply isn't credible and this is but one more example.

gasoline alarm clock (5, Funny)

gomatt (1064232) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635098)

i had a friend with a gasoline powered alarm clock. he started it up when we went to sleep. guess its no good, because no matter how loud it was, he never woke up.

Computers and Energy Star Label (1)

jobst (955157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31635418)

I never understood how and why there is an energy star label on a computer ..... when you shut it down (and do not turn off the power at the powerpoint) it still uses power?

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