Friday, March 23, 2007

Light Bulbs and Liberty

Congresswoman Jane Harman is one of the few Democratic politicians whom I think actually has a reasonable grasp on U.S. foreign policy. Which is probably why Nancy Pelosi robbed her of her deserved post on the House Intelligence Committee.

Unfortunately, Harman's domestic policy seems as troubling a typical Democrat's foreign policy. She has introduced a bill that would ban the sale of traditional incandescent light bulbs.

I make generous use of fluorescent blubs myself. Not really out of environmental concerns, but rather because it makes economic sense to do so. As Harmon points out on an entry on HuffPo:

Only 10% of the power used by today's incandescent bulbs is emitted as light. A full 90% is released as heat. The typical 60 watt bulb only lasts 750-1,000 hours. Most fluorescent bulbs can last 8 to 10 times longer.

You do the math, and it makes a lot more sense to use fluorescent bulbs. But I have absolutely no interest in the government dictating the kinds of light bulbs that light bulb producers can manufacture. If people want to buy inefficient light bulbs, they should have the freedom to do so. This is the United States not The Nanny State.

You let this kind of thing slide, and you run the risk of the government over stepping its bounds elsewhere.

Like maybe some day they'll start telling restaurants they can't use certain kinds of cooking oils. Oh wait.

At least it hasn't gotten to the point of the government taking away citizens' houses, right?


Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're fine with the government bans on the sale and use of asbestos insulation, lead paint, and leaded gasoline, right? How is this any different.

And I'm sure you're fine with the government setting the minimum efficiency standards for items like furnaces, air conditioners, washers, dryers, refrigerators, and microwaves, so why is it suddenly DESTROYING YOUR LIBERTY to set minimum efficiency standards for light bulbs and ban the sale of an environmentally hazardous and extremely outdated technology?

kazoolist said...

Actually, anonymous, I'm wary (note: wary is not the same as being absolutely dead-set against) of government bans on most anything.

I'd trust a free market to identify asbestos and lead products as harmful and have consumers freely choose to stop buying them. No liberty infringed, and people still make the right choice.

Likewise, I prefer the government to keep their hands off "minimum efficiency standards."

Also, there is a very strong classification difference between your asbestos and lead examples and "classic-style" light bulbs -- the light bulbs aren't killing anyone!

Even accepting that global warming is a.) a scientifically accepted trend; b.) dangerous; and c.) human-caused, the degree to light bulbs factor into that human cause, I'm sure is minuscule. -- Light bulbs aren't dangerous.

Cars certainly contribute more to global warming than light bulbs. Why don't we ban cars? Heck, cars are certainly more dangerous than light bulbs! The heck with free choice, a car ban it is!