Spot on here

Along with dishwashers and tumble driers, microwave ovens and supermarket ready meals, disposable nappies have arguably done far more to liberate women from the drudge of domestic work than any feminist campaign of recent decades. Now this progress is under attack – not from dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists, but from zero carbon zealots.

You can have that Green world where we all do more for ourselves, work more at home. Or you can have the economic liberation of women. So, which do you want?

For it is that automaton of household labour that allowed the liberation.

33 thoughts on “Spot on here”

  1. It started with the vacuum cleaner, washing machine came second.
    All the stuff you mention is relatively trivial.

  2. To Hell with greenfreaks.

    Leccy wont be reliable or stable enough to hoover and you wont have enough food to have energy for the washing copper or carpet beating.

    Smash the Green freakshow before they get started.

  3. Since I live by myself, I certainly don’t want to do anything I can get a machine to do for me instead.

    Fortunately I don’t need to worry about disposable nappies. Though maybe if I live long enough.

  4. The technological liberation of women started with electricity, no?

    Or maybe the self-trimming wick (or the spinning wheel or the windmill if you want to be pendantic).

    We take it for granted that when you flick a switch, the house is suddenly and perfectly illuminated, but for most of human history the deceptively simple task of lighting your home when it’s dark outside was a pain in the arse.

  5. the deceptively simple task of lighting your home when it’s dark outside was a pain in the arse
    And dangerous. All those naked flames.

  6. According to insurers the greatest improvement in home safety in the last thirty years has been the invention of the oven chip.

  7. @John77
    Are you sure about this?
    “It started with the vacuum cleaner, washing machine came second.
    All the stuff you mention is relatively trivial.”
    I would thought that the washing machine saves more time than the hoover.
    Or do you mean chronologically.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    We take it for granted that when you flick a switch, the house is suddenly and perfectly illuminated, but for most of human history the deceptively simple task of lighting your home when it’s dark outside was a pain in the arse.

    Not just a pain in the arse, beyond the cost of the average person up until around 1900, even then it was a luxury:

    One hour of light (referred to as the quantity of light shed by a 100 watt bulb in one hour) cost 3200 times as much in 1800 in England than it does today, amounting to 130 euros back then (or a little more than 150 dollars).
    In 1900, it still cost 4 euros (close to 5 dollars).
    In the year 2000, we arrived at a cost of 4 euro cents (5 U.S. cents).
    You can also put this into relation with the amount of time that an average worker needed to labor during different ages in order to earn enough for the 100 watt bulb to glow for an hour – just like the economist William Nordhaus has done in one of his classic essays.
    http://www.truthinourtime.com/forum/showthread.php?t=77091

    I’ve seen one estimate that its currently 1 second’s work for an hour of light.

    That Bill Nordhaus essay:

    https://www.lucept.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/william-nordhaus-the-cost-of-light.pdf

  9. So are we suddenly going to discover that toxic bachelors are really ultra-green bachelors? I’m not holding my breath!

  10. @ David
    Chronologically. But also the vacuum cleaner significantly reduced the amount of clothes washing needed because sweeping (and dusting) always caused a small cloud of dust so clothes got dirtier.

  11. Don’t forget that luxury labour-saving invention, the Filipina.

    An invention that’s kept me in magnificent ironed luxury for more than a decade.

  12. BiND, Tim Harford wrote about illumination in his 50 Things book. Taking into account brightness, quantity and duration the differences over a couple of centuries is simply vast. These days, it is cheaper, in terms of labour, to leave the light on, than to cross the room to turn it off.

  13. Before we had electricity, we lit our houses with dead whales.
    Greens should be carefull what they wish for.

  14. I’ve been trying to do a similar thing as Nordhaus’ lighting costs in relation to petrol. It’s difficult to find the figures and I have lots of gaps at the moment, but my data so far shows that in 1999 the median person had to work 8.17 minutes to buy a litre of petrol, and in 2016 the median person coincidently also had to work 8.17 minutes to buy a litre of petrol, even though the pump price went from 62p to 104p. Petrol was cheapest in 2011 when you had to work 5 minutes to buy a litre of petrol at 130p.

    The next iteration is to calculate fuel efficiency. In 1999 that one litre of petrol would have shoved my Rover 5.5 miles. Today that one litre pushes my Yaris 11 miles.

  15. Very roughly, as a first approximation, in 1999 it would take 20 seconds to earn enough to buy petrol to travel one mile, in 2016 it took 11 seconds.

    So, my 45min drive to work costs 245 miles of buyable driving.

  16. @ jgh
    The figures depend upon the amount of tax levied (offset in part by the size of car that is sold in the country – American cars are roughly twice the size of European cars for the same size family).

  17. @john77
    Sounds like nonsense to me. I live in a house without a vacuum cleaner. Haven’t had one for years. Don’t have the carpets to need one. Didn’t in France either. Didn’t have them in the UK for that matter. Wood floors throughout.
    Which is an important point. Fitted carpets are almost a uniquely British obsession. I don’t know any other European country I’ve seen them apart from in hotels. They’re not that common in the States are they? If you don’t have fitted carpets you don’t need a vacuum cleaner.

  18. I suspect home fitted carpets in the UK moved over from commercial. Where they make economic sense. You can get a simulacrum of cleanliness using minimum labour. Takes a lot longer to sweep then wash floors than it does to hoover. Having had to take them up & seen what lives under them, never again!

  19. ” American cars are roughly twice the size of European cars for the same size family).”

    Is this actually true now? Dennis? The model range for most manufacturers doesn’t differ much from European does it? The people I know, Stateside don’t seem to drive much different than we do. Sure there’s people out in the wide open spaces have big vehicles. But that’s going to be a function of what they’re using them for. I had a big Yank people carrier before the drop-top. But I was doing 1000km plus trips regularly. Doing those sort of distances in a puddle jumper is too damned tiring.

  20. Also, the difference between the actual fuel consumption of large & small vehicles isn’t nearly as much as you might think. Don’t just take the manufacturer’s figures. The big Yank tank did about 7.5lt/100km on a long run. The SEAT Ibiza bit under 6. Round town in traffic there wasn’t much difference. One’s a big engine auto hardly dipping into it’s power. Other’s being constantly sawn up & down the gearbox. Despite one weighing close to twice the other.

  21. “carpets are uniquely British”
    I would have thought that draughty floors were far from uniquely British.

    “cars… amount of tax levied”
    Yes, part of my next iteration is to figure total cost of usage. I have figures for my own usage, purchase, tax, mot, repairs, maintainance, etc. but that only goes back about seven years. After about three years my TCO for a car works out at twice the spend on petrol, so 15p per mile for petrol works out at 30p per mile total cost of car usage.

  22. ‘What did socialists use before candles?

    Electricity.’

    Thank you, BiNK (GP).

    As for fuel costs, does anyone know the relative cost of a hansom cab or a horse compared to present day petrol power? Given that using anything rather than shanks mare was a luxury, I’d guess the cost would be pretty high.

  23. jgh – looks interesting, the 15p fuel/30p TCO looks about the same as the numbers I had about seven years ago.

    “So, my 45min drive to work costs 245 miles of buyable driving” – looks a bit mangled in the units for comparison with other transport modes.

    Something of a guess – the value of the motor vehicle is in the flexibility of routing. Trains are great at shifting large numbers of people from B to C, but the passenger journey is actually A to D. The mainline routes in/out of London are radial (so are the main roads), and each single route can be thought of being North-South, but there’s sod all East-West.

    Cars allow economic activity to re-configure more quickly than trains, and trains have (probably massive) switching costs. So, don’t build new train routes until there’s a serious amount of traffic on the route(s), with relatively high value added, but don’t forego building new roads. Or something.

  24. @jgh

    “I’ve been trying to do a similar thing as Nordhaus’ lighting costs in relation to petrol……” you remind me of me.

    And, another point is that the ‘tax’ should be excluded from the cost, you (or somebody else) gets that back in ‘other benefits’.

  25. “I would have thought that draughty floors were far from uniquely British.”
    More than likely. My Lille apartment was pine T&G. The French farmhouse, well fitted oak boards a foot wide & 1 1/2″ thick. The Victorian/Edwardian hovels are the pride & joy of Brits were floored with low quality poorly seasoned softwood, promptly shrunk to leave gaps you can fall through. 30’s build often used T&G. Recent is mostly particle board

  26. jgh/Bis, On draughty floors

    I note that in Italy, even in old buildings with wooden beams, the floors are solid — brick arches and tiles between the beams.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *