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The war on lightbulbs

I don’t even know where to begin with this.

Light bulbs – the universal icon of a bright idea – have become for conservative politicians and activists a symbol for something much more nefarious: Big Brother.

Gov. Rick Perry writes in his new book that the federal government is “telling us what kind of light bulb we can use.” U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, says American policy on light bulbs defies “market forces.” Rush Limbaugh warns of “nannyism” and “statism.”

The source of their ire is a 3-year-old federal provision, co-sponsored by a Republican lawmaker and signed into law by President George W. Bush, that promotes energy efficiency by gradually phasing out old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs.

That may irk shoppers who prefer the look, light and lower price tag of a pear-shaped bulb over a coiled fluorescent one. But for detractors, it is something more – a “symbol of the mindless intrusion of government,” said Bill Wilson, president of the conservative think tank Americans for Limited Government.

“It isn’t just about light bulbs,” Wilson added. “It’s the mindset that says the government is going to come in and arbitrarily ban something that every single person in the United States uses.”

I guess I could start with this bit from Politifact that shows that at best (and as usual) these guys are being casual with the facts. Beyond that, I can only marvel at the mindset that there’s something sinister about the government providing incentives for socially beneficial behavior, and mandating (however slowly) the obsolescence of a technology that needs to be replaced. Basically, it all comes down to the idea that there’s no such thing as an externality. I just don’t get it.

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4 Comments

  1. blank says:

    Beyond that, I can only marvel at the mindset that there’s something sinister about the government providing incentives for socially beneficial behavior, and mandating (however slowly) the obsolescence of a technology that needs to be replaced. Basically, it all comes down to the idea that there’s no such thing as an externality. I just don’t get it.

    I don’t really get it either. That said, in general, I think taxes, instead of bans, should be used to mitigate externality costs. Taxing light bulb inefficiency would have been less draconian and probably provided the government more revenue.

  2. […] be in the Obamian socialist agenda, but is a blow against freedom of choice, and free economics.  Some people don’t seem to understand this reasoning. I guess I could start with this bit from Politifact […]

  3. Joe says:

    The juxtaposition of this post and the previous one is priceless.

    In this post, we have conservatives attacking government for “providing incentives for socially beneficial behavior” (light bulbs). In the previous post, we have conservatives using government to provide what they view as an incentive for socially beneficial behavior (marriage courses).

    Why it’s ok for government to promote marriage courses instead of light bulbs is beyond me. The cognitive dissonance these guys have to undergo in order to govern with a straight face is incredible.

  4. Brenda Helverson says:

    Several months ago I replaced all of the lights around my house with CFLs. I expected to have a period of visual transition but I really couldn’t tell the difference. As far as I am concerned, these bulbs work just fine.

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