Happy New Year! Who Turned Out the Lights?

by Jen Lade

Say goodbye to your incandescent light bulbs and their warm, comforting glow. As of Jan. 1 of this year, standards implemented with the 2007 Energy Bill make it illegal to manufacture or import incandescent light bulbs, because they do not meet the brightness standard at a given energy input.

There are a bunch of reasons why laws like this, that ban a consumer product, drive me crazy. It’s annoying that a cheap choice is being taken away in the name of “energy efficiency,” or, as this article suggests, because of crony capitalism — industry pressure to outlaw the low-profit-margin bulbs.

But I especially can’t stand it when something is legislated for my own good.

Because of course, CFLs last so much longer. And they use so much less energy. They’re just better. So it’s good that you can’t get incandescent bulbs anymore.

Thank you, government, for saving me from myself and my possible inferior choice of buying an incandescent bulb! That was a close one. Please note the sarcasm.

Just because something is good for you doesn’t mean the government should force it upon you. You should be allowed to make a different choice, even if by all objective measures, it’s a bad choice.

I’m not convinced that using incandescent bulbs is always a bad choice. They’re a good choice if you want to avoid UV rays or mercury gas, or if you want a cheap bulb in a place where it’s very likely to get broken, or if you just like the way the light looks, or if you have a lampshade that won’t fit on one of those curly fluorescent bulbs.

But even if there were no benefits to an incandescent bulb over a CFL or LED bulb, it’s still not the government’s problem. The market would eventually sort it out as consumers realized this and stopped buying them. Or dumb consumers would keep buying them and, Oh Well.

This “for your own good” attitude is the same reason we have seatbelt laws and bike helmet laws. Is it wise to wear a seatbelt? Have countless studies and crash tests shown the benefits of wearing a seat belt? Do they save lives? Yes, yes, and yes. I always wear my seatbelt. But not because the government says I should. Because I have made an independent decision that it is a good idea. And before cars came with seat belts, I am told, my grandfather installed some in his car because he thought they were a good idea.

Just back off, government. Just back off. There is enough “awareness” out there about how wonderful seat belts are. If someone is going to refuse to wear one, just shrug your shoulders, call him a dummy, and move on. Don’t tell him to “Click it or Ticket.” If the threat of a lethal head injury isn’t going to make him wear a seatbelt, then neither is a fine. So now you’re just using the poor dumb guy to make some money.

Maybe it seems ridiculous to spend time arguing against laws that enforce behavior I was doing anyway. But I think it’s worth mentioning. Because something being a good idea is NEVER a good reason to be forced to do it, and people need to be reminded of that.

Joe (the author of this blog) has talked about having a consistent world view, and this is so important so we don’t pass a zillion laws based on individual whims and preferences. Refocus on whatever the government is forcing us to do and don’t think: Is this thing good for people? Instead, think: Should this be in the government’s purview? Is this Constitutional? Is there a way their alleged goal can be accomplished without a law?

OK, enough ranting for today or it’s going to raise my blood pressure. I’m going to stop. For my own good.

8 thoughts on “Happy New Year! Who Turned Out the Lights?

  1. This progressive administration and democratics promote CHOICE when it comes to abortion. But the rest of us DO NT have a CHOICE when it comes to light bulbs, seat belts, helmits, health care, ete…etc. This is NOT freedom, it is tyranny.

    • Exactly, most people want to pick and choose where the government uses force and where they don’t, but the only consistent approach is to only allow the government to use force in response to force.

  2. I remembered this light bulb crap just in time to stock up on bulbs just days before the law took effect. I was in Wat-mart and had just loaded my basket with several cases (all they had) when the editor of the local newspaper happened to pass and asked me what I was going to do with the large supply of bulbs. I informed him of what was going to happen and he admitted that he didn’t know about it. The next day there was a story on the front page of the newspaper about the light bulb law. The local stores later reported that there were many people trying to buy bulbs but there were none as I had got them all.!!

      • They still actually have loads of them in Wal-Mart here. I guess they’re trying to deplete whatever’s left of their stock. I’ve been getting loads of those for now. But yeah they’re hard to find at most places.

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