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Monday, July 18, 2011

Forcing us to buy what they tell us is better for us

Jeff Jacoby is exactly right
in his explanation of why the ban on incandescent light bulbs so infuriates people. First we had the "Bootleggers and Baptists" partnership of corporations wanting to sell a more expensive product and environmentalists pushing through the ban. Then we found out more about the CRLs that confirmed us in our dislike of bulbs that don't fulling light a room, don't work in many ordinary fixtures, and are difficult and dangerous to dispose of. But even more we just don't like the government telling us what we should buy. If CFLs are so wonderful and save so much money, let people make their own choices to purchase them.
But even if the case for CFLs were unassailable, since when is it the government’s job to make consumers’ choices for them? Americans have no trouble adopting a superior technology once it’s ready for prime time - no law was needed to force people to switch from vinyl records to CDs, or from landlines to cell phones. Deciding what light bulbs to buy is probably a challenge they can also handle without congressional interference.

The light bulb ban may not be the biggest issue on the nation’s agenda. But it’s intrusive and obnoxious and it sets many teeth on edge.
Jacoby thinks that the Republicans will be able to force a repeal of the ban. We'll see how many Democrats want to support forcing Americans to buy a product that many people just don't like while making it illegal for us to buy the product we prefer. Right there is the progressive mission in full bloom. They decide what is better for us peasants who are too stupid to figure it out for ourselves. Then, it is not enough to publicize the advantages of CFLs and try to persuade people to change their buying habits. Of course not. Some of us might continue in our benighted behavior. So they then pass laws to ban the purchase of the evil incandescent bulbs. And the bulbs are not the only item on the progressive agenda. Look for similar bans on food products that they know we should not be eating. Or cars we should not be buying. Who needs a free market when the elites can pass laws molding behavior to follow their preferred prescriptions.

Shame on President Bush for signing the ban into law. Think of how it would flummox President Obama's critics if he supported a repeal of the ban and stated his confidence in the American people to make their own purchasing decisions. But somehow it doesn't seem in the make up of the man who signed mandates for health insurance and forced through stimulus subsidies for green-energy pork to take such a view of the value of the free market. But I'd enjoy seeing this bulb ban come up regularly in next year's election debates because it is such a perfect distillation of what irritates so many people about the progressive mindset.


mark said...

A clarification - incandescent bulbs are not banned, rather they must be made more energy-efficient.

Bush didn't sign this bill in secret. Why no outrage in 2007? Another case of selective outrage now that the anger can be directed at Obama?

Pat Patterson said...

You must not have been paying much attention as there was an outcry against the change in 2007. Especially as some states, CA, NJ, NY etc originally banned the old bulbs which in turn increased their sales by 50%. And almost immediately Popular Mechanics published the first in a series of articles on the difficulty of getting rid of the CFLs and how ridiculous some part of the law were regarding breakage.

John A said...

And the bulbs are not the only item on the progressive agenda. Look for similar bans on food products that they know we should not be eating. Or cars we should not be buying.

We are already seeing such, especially food: e.g. while it may be worth looking into the salt in some "prepared"" foods and alternate preservatives, that is a fairly recently news-worthy idea, while for over a decade the emphasis has been on the salt we add at the table. The First Lady has said, and demonstrated, that an occasional "bad" food meal or dessert is OK - but supports government intervention that would actually ban such entirely.

Autos? Perhaps the time for at least some electric cars has come (remember, Ford and other companies were selling 100-mile-range electric cars a hundred years ago) but where is that electricity going to come from? Pinwheels?

And yes, the incandescent-bulb law is not nominally a ban - to keep selling them, all the manufacturers have to do is bypass a couple of the Laws of Thermodymamics. Actually, there are a [very] few incandescents that could work - but they do so by changing the filament with materials that make those lights even more expensive than CFLs.

tfhr said...


Is this another case of Obama following Bush in lock-step? I thought Obama banned GITMO, but now he seems to want to keep it after all. And what about that Bush Patriot Act that Obama was against before he was for it? Where's your outrage, two-face?

That bulb ban by itself was a stupid idea and I thought and said so from the get go. The fact that it was rolled into a much larger bill doesn't make it any better.

To say that the conventional bulb isn't being "banned" when it is absolutely being phased out of production - the last will be produced in 2014 on the current schedule - is just mealy mouthed liberal double speak.

CFL forced compliance is the latest dim bulb idea that environuts have foisted on The United States and it is another example of how the party of "choice", in this case Nancy Pelosi's 2007 Congress, has worked tirelessly to take yet another choice away from the American people and in doing so has sent thousands of jobs to China.

They just closed the last incandescent light bulb factory in this area - one that had provided employment in Winchester, VA, for generations. Thanks environuts! If I were one of the many put out of work by CFLs, I'd start looking at a move to Texas where the state is setting up legal protection to produce conventional light bulbs.