Saturday, May 23, 2020

Government Licensing and Regulatory Handicaps

My friend Joe had an AC problem.
He called an HVAC company.
They told him he needed a new furnace, that his was unsafe and they locked it out.
If he hadn't called them, he would at least have the same amount of heat he did the day before.
Then they quoted a new furnace/AC unit as if they had him over a barrel.
And I'll bet that he could not buy the simple heating system (less than 95% efficient) but instead was quoted the new fuel saving, global warming preventing unit the regulatory agencies approve.
The ones that never recover the cost increase of purchase and installation.

I'll be frank. I am not a licensed HVAC tech.

I have installed a number of furnaces and repaired a number of AC units.
I have been a maintenance tech and maintenance manager.

It's sad the way it works.
Say you have a cracked heat exchanger.
Your AC is probably good.
They always sell a new AC with the new furnace because they refuse to just replace the heat exchanger.

My heat exchanger went bad a couple years ago.
The way I knew was because a sensor that detects that condition kept shutting my furnace off.
It's called a flame roll-out sensor.
I plugged the gas orifice to that portion of the heat exchanger and had heat the rest of the winter.
I pulled the heat exchanger out in the summer.
The part was still under warranty, but no one would do the labor! They had no interest in the work!

I paid a guy under the table $100 to exchange my heat exchanger because you need a license to do so.

I pulled it out and I put it in. It wasn't particularly hard. Or dangerous.

"But your furnace is 20 years old!"

So's my truck, What's your point?

So the State of Michigan under the dictatorship of Governess Whitmer has yanked the license of a 77 year old barber who refused to stay closed under the Chinese-style lockdown.

Why is he licensed? Is it to guarantee his skill level?
Or to gather revenue and keep him in line? That was a rhetorical question.

When I interviewed Michigan State Rep Karen Whitsett, it turned out that a large number of her constituents had no appliances.

You hear often of families dying of carbon monoxide poisoning or even of burning to death because they rigged heating systems (including fire barrels) trying to get through the winter.
They can't afford a new furnace! So they make do as best they can until they die.

Why do you have to prove proficiency in cooling systems in Michigan to repair heating systems?
Why do you have to upgrade from a lower cost furnace to the next generation?
The new 95%+ efficiency furnaces are a nightmare to maintain and keep families from the heating systems they need. They are not simple to maintain.

Why do we let our government do this to us?


  1. Conditioning, mainly. If you go to public school you're taught what the government wants you to learn. Most parents have no idea what their children are being taught, or what they're actually learning.

    Licensing and regulatory law is never seen by the people who are blissfully unaffected by the law. Even when a new regulation puts someone out of business (and I've seen this happen), no one knows about the new regulation or the damage it's done. Even if the public did know, they wouldn't care. And, taking things a step further, even if the general public did care, what would they do? Threaten to vote the idiots out of office? Our elected officials have been through that scenario many times, and they've seen others go through it, and they know it's nothing to worry about. Check the criminal records of a few office holders sometime - and those are just the crimes thy got busted for.

    Sadly, until people organize into a large group that's willing to take action and has the commercial news media supporting them - not much will happen.

    1. "people organize into a large group that's willing to take action"
      Armed to the teeth, I trust.

    2. I completely agree with Mad Jack. The group ... we do have them. We call them councils villages and townships, sometimes precincts within larger cities. They are supposed to “serve us.” More often, they serve themselves. It is the nature of American politics.

      The problem is that democracy is the most difficult form of government in the world and becomes more so with increases in population. Everyone has an opinion; it is hard to find consensus among so many people. It’s hard to let go of what we think is true in order to move an issue forward. Some people refuse to compromise on anything. It’s too complicated. Moreover, most people with a grievance can tell you what they are feeling, but they cannot tell you about the regulation that addresses it, cannot tell you the history behind it, cannot say much about any regulation’s impact on anyone but themselves, and they have no idea who to contact to even discuss the matter. So they just get angry and stay that way ... and nothing ever changes.

      Don’t get me wrong ... I fully understand how this happens. People have jobs; people have families; they have church. Who has the time to become an expert in this or that? What about so-called advocacy groups? Good luck finding one that actually does anything for “the people.”

      Here’s an interesting point ... people complain about crappy schools, too much football and not enough academic preparation, or too much academics and not enough sports, or too much homework, or horrible teachers, or good coaches that are also the worst teachers, or teachers who can’t keep their hands of students, or come to class drunk. The list of complaints is long. Have you ever attended a school board meeting? I have. If you’re able to count more than five or ten concerned parents at these board meetings, you’re living in a school district whose parent base is 100 times more involved than most. By the way, school board meetings are horribly boring —and intentionally so. The school board doesn’t want parents to attend. They prefer not to have input from the community. And yet, the same school board members get voted into office time after time. How is that possible? I don’t have the answer ... which I suppose makes me part of the problem.

  2. Money. I'd be happier if all the HVAC people that showed up were competent. We just spent 6k on a new Bryant Furnace and AC system. Same price as e paid in our last house 14 years ago. Feeling Ok about that given these days.

  3. Years ago, at another home, my central air compressor died. In a perfect world, I could have bought another, installed the unit, pulled a vacuum to check for leaks, and placed the right amount of refrigerant.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a license to buy anything that holds the refrigerant, or the refrigerant. What would have been less than two thousands dollars for a repair was priced at four grand by a licensed contractor.

    My solution was a large window unit, and two smaller window units. The BTU's were the same, and the entire cost was less than two thousand dollars. To make things better, replacement was easy, there was the ability to isolate rooms, if a unit went out, and I could do all the work without a license.

    Government licensing, like all government requirements, only increases the costs of everything, contributes to lobbying for special interests, and guarantees a new bureau of paper pushers.

    1. I would buy almost empty jugs of R22 from service guys who charged our equipment. Enough to top off my system every couple years :)

  4. As Mad Jack said, conditioning. But wait, there's more.

    They bark, we cower. They get to like the response and bark all the louder about more and more -- and we cower even more.

    If you don't like the way your dog is behaving, remember you helped reinforce his misbehavior.

    So now that you recognize why and how you are responsible, what is your next step?

    1. Ig nore for the most part, where possible.

    2. Elections do have consequences, don't they? End up with crappy governors, then vote in another crappy person to replace him or her. Does anyone have an idea, when they are in the voting booth, who their preferred candidate intends to install in his or her cabinet? Probably not ... but it does seem like a good question to ask during the campaign. Ha ha ... I was just being silly.

    3. R or D. But the real choice is in the primaries.

  5. "Government is best which governs least." Henry David Thoreau

    My bet is that no one in government today even knows who Thoreau was. When your own government becomes the enemy, there is no recourse but to re-start the revolution.

  6. Unless voters keep voting for incumbents, how else can government keep growing...and growing...and growing? :-)

    1. Maybe not the incumbents, but the candidates that represent the "swamp".

    2. They are inclined to represent the swamp because voters of 1950s and 60s looked the other way as civil servants were permitted to unionize. From there they built up war chests that went to candidates that favored guess who? That's a rhetorical question.

  7. This was a response to refreshing the Tree of Liberty.

  8. We'd still end up with another war between the states, then.
    At least the lines would be clearer.