The frog in the soup pot.
I believe the average Off Grid Ham reader has above-average intelligence. They also have a good grasp of what’s going on in the world. While this blog does not often delve into amateur radio politics (and even then we tread lightly), every now and then the planets line up and…DING! A big fat turd plops into the punch bowl of our otherwise understated avocation. amateur radio politics
But what can we do when they (“they” meaning the government) won’t operate within any reasonable boundaries? Unfortunately, by time “they” do something to screw us over, it’s already too late. Big government works that way, and they’re quite skilled at it. Like the parable of the frog in the boiling water, most people, even pretty smart people, don’t realize what’s happening to them until they are already cooked. What does this have to do with off grid amateur radio and why should you care? Stay with me for a bit. We’ll get to that.
The small engine mafia is born. amateur radio politics
By now you’ve probably heard that the state of California has enacted a law that will ban all small gas engines. The rule will be effective in 2024 or “as soon as feasible”. If you’re from one of the 49 other states and like to make fun of the goofy junk California is so famous for, don’t get too smug. These policies have a way of slowly building behind the scenes. One day you’ll realize you’re a frog in the pot too. And by then the water will be on a rolling boil.
I have no doubt that enterprising Californians (or those in neighboring states) will jump on a lucrative small engine black market. While the sale of new engines will be prohibited, existing machines can remain in service. There is nothing stopping anyone from importing gas engines from elsewhere. Any half-witted capitalist with modest seed money could make a run to Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, or even Mexico, load up with gas power tools, and run them back to Cali to be sold at a handsome profit. They could still undercut comparable battery power tools. Small engine retailers just over the California border are going to get rich off this. I would not be surprised if organized crime got involved. Someone, somewhere, could be to small gas engines what Al Capone was to booze. amateur radio politics
At the same time, if you’re in California and own gas power tools, you better keep them locked up tight. They’re soon going to be a favorite target of thieves. The days of leaving your lawnmower unattended in the yard and not thinking much of it will be over.
More awesomeness from our heroes in the media.
A breathless expose´ from that citadel of legitimate journalism, NBC News, brings us the shocking revelation that gas generators emit carbon monoxide! Wow, who knew? The story drew a straight line between between people killed by carbon monoxide and the money-grubbing manufacturers who “regulate themselves” and “dragged out the (regulatory process) at the mercy of profits.” amateur radio politics
The article came out in mid-December 2021 but I did not respond to it at that time because I already had a nearly-completed blog post in the pipeline. But it is so insufferable, intellectually dishonest, and pointless that I could not let it slide. I urge you not to assault your brain cells by reading this astonishing pile of dribbling shit, but if you dare here is the link.
Doing the dirty work for my readers.
I read the article so you don’t have to. Oh, how I sacrifice for the benefit of my readers! It starts off in a familiar way: A tragic story about a sympathetic victim whose life was altered by an accident. Co-starring is the cold hearted, profit-hungry industry that failed to protect them. The deaths and injuries are indeed heartbreaking and preventable. On that part, I absolutely agree. Where the story went off the rails is how the blame was placed. amateur radio politics
The article went on at great length about how gas generators produce poisonous exhaust. It continued with people being killed and injured due to the manufacturers’ “failure” to make generators safer. In the entirety of the article they never mention that gas generators are not inherently flawed. When used as directed, gas generators are perfectly safe & effective products. It is also never once mentioned that, maybe, just maybe, the victims died as a result of their own disregard for safety rules.
Saying the quiet part out loud.
I understand “blaming the victim” can be perceived as insensitive in these situations. Still, we have to be unbiased enough to call it what it is. These people did not die because an evil corporation sold them a fundamentally hazardous device with a known engineering defect. They died because of their own negligence. How far should manufacturers be expected to go to protect consumers from their own stupidity? There, I said it.
The cherry of irony on top this not exactly funny cake is that it was co-written by five people from three well known media agencies. It took that many “professionals” to produce a journalistic dumpster fire that would not cut it as a middle school term paper. I think my cat could have authored something more objective. As an aside, I’m very surprised climate change was not mentioned.
Why should you care? How is this related to ham radio?
Every off grid radio enthusiast, EMCOMM operator, survivalist, and prepper should be paying attention. If you live in California and have not yet purchased a gas generator, hurry up and get one before the ban begins. If you live in California and already have a generator, you better take damn good care of it and make sure it’s stored in a secure location. For everyone else, well, 2022 is an election year. While small gas engines are a mundane topic to most people, to off grid hams they’re a pretty big deal. Read the writing on the wall. Draw your own conclusions and vote accordingly. Don’t let yourself be the frog in the soup pot or you might be just an election or two away from having a flame lit under your ass.