A Bright Idea in Congress



Perhaps if I only blog about the positive developments in politics it will save time. Well, here we go. House Republicans are pushing to preclude the government from banning incandescent light bulbs.

This is an idea I can get behind. Incandescent bulbs are a glorious thing. They bring light, the essence of civilization, into our homes at all hours of the day and night. This light is cheap, bright, and, most important, clear and easy on the eyes.

I know I’m not the only one for whom fluorescent light is a bit of a downer. It doesn’t seem to light up the room the way the old-fashioned bulbs do. Reading under the politically correct light gives me a headache after a few hours. And since I often spend eight or so hours a day reading, this can be a problem.

My travails are minor compared to those of others. Some eye drops and a break from reading and I’m fine. A friend of mine stocks up on the classic bulbs because the fluorescent ones give him migraines even after a short time.

There is something soothingly proper about the traditional bulbs. Something that seems to connect us to the past as well as the future. The fluorescent bulbs are not more space-age—that would be cool—but rather seem a bit dystopian, like a historical accident that defines our era but, if social progress is real at all, will eventually fade out of memory.

Of course, those who enjoy fluorescent light should be free to buy the product. But so should those who wish to buy the older variety. In a free society, that’s how it would work. But energy is not dictated purely by the market. The politicians see energy as a national resource, not an economic good to be bought and sold, but one ultimately to be rationed by the central state. This is the problem. In few other cases are we chastised for using too much of a product, for if we pay for it, everyone is happy. With electricity, although we pay for it, the government constantly hectors us for using less. This is a sign that we don’t live with energy liberty and electrical free enterprise. All the energy fallacies we hear about today—war for oil, energy independence, the need to ban glorious incandescent light—spring from the fact that energy is far too socialized and the implicit premise that it should be socialized completely.

How many bad ideas does it take to screw up our light bulbs? Just one. The idea that government knows best.

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