Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A dim-witted idea

Like your incandescent light bulbs? Better stock up. Soon, the incandescent light bulb will become a thing of the past, thanks to Congress. In 2007, the Congress passed and President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This 822-page monster accomplished many things, but no energy independence. The law addresses average mileage standards for automobile makers, sets unachievable and costly energy reduction requirements for federal facilities, and bans the incandescent light bulb.

This piece of legislation contains enough fodder for pages of blogging, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll confine our ranting to light bulbs. In case you’re wondering, here’s the phase-out schedule:

· the 100 watt bulb on 1/1/2012;

· the 75 watt bulb on 1/1/2013; and

· the 60 watt and 40 watt bulbs on 1/1/2014.

What about your oven, you say? That light is exempt. What about your refrigerator, you say? That light is also exempt. So are your 3-way lamp light, dryer light, colored light, and trouble light. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?

I’m not going to delve into the financial costs of outfitting your home with CFLs, or the safety procedures you are urged to follow should you break a CFL (they contain mercury). This is about preference. I prefer the soft, natural light only an incandescent can provide. I prefer being able to dim my dining room lights, creating ambience for a meal. I prefer the freedom to peruse the lighting aisle at Lowes and marvel at all the wonderful, different types of lights provided by our free enterprise system. That liberty will soon be gone, and like a good citizen, I will eventually outfit my home with the lights my government says I should use. I have no other choice.

In a free society, the preference of the individual is supreme. No government standard can (nor should try!) hope to meet the many different desires, tastes, and wants of the individual. Hayek said it best, in the Road to Serfdom, “From this the individualist concludes that the individuals should be allowed, within defined limits, to follow their own values and preferences rather than somebody else’s…the individual’s system of ends should be supreme and not subject to any dictation by others.”

So, head out to your favorite lighting store and stock up on incandescent before Congress turns the lights out for good.



  1. Who defines the limits?

  2. I believe the limits Hayek refers to derive from natural rights, such as trespass and the like. Man can employ his property for any purpose he likes, so long as he chooses non-violent means and doesn't trespass on another. Outside of this, he is free to choose as he wishes.