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.