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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The New Energy Law Sucks!

I read this summary of the new energy law. Aside from the usual corporate subsidies, there's one provision that has me particularly outraged.

"The cost of appliances is going to go up because of all the new efficiency standards we're putting in for appliances. And even the cost of light bulbs is going to go up. The light bulbs that light this chamber right now will be illegal when this bill becomes totally implemented. The incandescent light bulb that you can get for 90 cents or 50 cents at Wal-Mart is going to be outlawed," said Barton. "That's a cause for recession."

This provision is NUTS. What right does Congress have to tell me what kind of light bulbs I can and cannot use?

Those "energy saver" light bulbs are compact fluorescent bulbs. They give light at different frequencies than regular light bulbs. It is much harder to read under fluorescent light than under incandescent light.

If the "energy saver" bulbs are so much better, why can't the free market decide? Why can't people decide for themselves what kind of light bulbs they want to buy?

The patents for compact fluorescent light bulbs are owned by Sylvania corporation and a handful of other large corporations. Congress just handed them a monopoly on manufacturing light bulbs!

The compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury! They aren't safer from an environmental standpoint! If you break a compact fluorescent light bulb, you have a mercury spill! Do you really think people are going to dispose of them properly? How many of them are going to wind up mixed with the regular garbage?

Does anyone have an agorist business making grey market incandescent light bulbs? I'd be a buyer! Seriously, I NEED INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULBS! Why should I sacrifice my vision for Congress?

Does anyone out there know how to manufacture light bulbs? How hard is it to make light bulbs in your basement? I'll put up the capital to help you get your agorist business started!

Why aren't the mainstream news outlets screaming bloody murder? They're all applauding this legislation like it's brilliant! Don't we pretend to have a free market in the USA?

On the other hand, I like it when Congress passes stupid laws. I want it to be obvious to everyone that the US government has no legitimacy whatsoever. People who want to buy good light bulbs should be forced to buy them on the grey market.

The average person doesn't follow legislation like this. In a couple of years, they'll notice that all of a sudden they can't buy light bulbs anymore.

I might buy a couple thousand light bulbs before the ban takes effect. They'll probably be a better investment than gold!



gilliganscorner said...

I don't disagree with the bulk of your posting. Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL's) are being touted as energy efficient, but are they really? For example, what are:

* the environmental costs of producing a CFLs? They are much more intricate and involve more materials (and hazardous ones - i.e. mercury), like the ceramic base etc.

* the environmental impact of shipping these bulbs? I don't know if incandescent bulbs are still produced within the United States or Canada, but since CFL's clearly have a higher cost of production, you can bet that off-shoring production of CFL's will take place, adding to overall carbon footprint these bulbs imprint.

* the health impacts on people as they statistically be exposed to several breakages of CFLs over the human lifespan. CFLs contain lovely chemicals like mercury and other exotic gases that are a joy to inhale.

* The economic and environmental costs of setting up and operating safe environmental disposal processes for these bulbs, assuming consumers actually dispose of them properly - my faith in my amoral, hedonistic neighbors doing that is precisely zero. They will end up in the trash, just like their spent batteries and other hazardous household waste they are not supposed to put in regular trash.

I agree with your assessment of CFLs, however, your post begs a general question:

Should the government ever legislate policy to prevent people from making choices that hurt the environment?

Before you answer the question, let's make the ridiculous assumption that the government legislation isn't surreptitiously creating monopolies, new tax bases, and fleecing the taxpayer in anyway.

You might want to compare it to anti-smoking legislation. If we know second-hand smoke is bad for you, should we rely on the amoral consumer to ban it? Should legislation be introduced to ban smoking in a car with a minor in it? Don't laugh. It is actually being considered in Ontario, Canada. Yes, it is pretty much unenforceable. The police would have to (a) see the person smoking, (b) determine if others are in the car, (c) guesstimate how old they are all while traveling at 60 to 70 miles an hour.

Should legislation be introduced to ban talking on cell phones while driving being banned? You have seen the village idiots causing accidents.

Relying on people to make the
correct ethical choice is futile sometimes.

I look forward to your response.


toothdoc said...


First, be clear on the purpose of the crackpot Canadian law "no smoking with minors in the car."
It is simply a 'fineable' law, an additional fine to be tacked on after a routine pull-over for speeding or anything else (just like seatbelt laws, cell phone while driving laws, proof of insurance laws, etc).

Second, when you bring up issues of where to draw the line on governmental paternalism, you must challenge and analyze your starting assumptions: What is the source of whatever you "know" about the environment or health? If it's from a lobbying body or a government institution, then it's credibility is immensely suspect. In fact, any primary or even secondary ties to a legislative force (this could be either a regulatory entity or an effort aimed at directing voters / propaganda) should be cause enough for skepticism if not outright rejection. Examples would be the CDC, the IPCC, Greenpeace, EPA, Kyoto Protocol, your family physician, Time magazine, and even the journal Nature to name a few.

Specifically, how do you know second-hand smoke is bad for you? Is it because you trust people with more credentials than you on the subject? OK, now where did those credentials come from? Ah, from a State authorizing institution. Their conclusions are often biased and aimed at controlling the population; discard your fond notion of white coat purity. Instead of relying on "scientists" to make conclusions for you, go to the research articles and make the conclusions yourself!

FSK said...

Actually, I know that secondhand smoke is bad for me because it makes me cough and feel uncomfortable.

However, every business owner should be allowed to decide if they want to allow smoking or not.

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