Monday, March 7, 2011

Soliciting for laws

Just the other night, a cheerful young lady knocked on my door.  After quickly introducing herself, she shoved a clipboard at me and asked (told) me sign up to save the earth from CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs).  I calmly asked her to slow down, as she seemed a little nervous.  I needed more information. 

She then explained, in her perfectly sound bite fashion, that CFLs, thrown carelessly into landfills, were leaking mercury into the soil and the groundwater.  And this must be stopped.  My signature would help secure new legislation aimed at manufacturers of these dangerous and poisonous little bulbs, compelling them to accept used/old/non-working CFLs, thus diverting them from landfills.  She explained this was the right thing to do.  She wasn’t expecting my reply.

First, I told her I wasn’t inclined to force manufacturers to do anything through coercion (legislation).  Second, I asked her if she knew why incandescent bulbs were being phased out.  She knew they were outlawed but wasn’t familiar with the legislation (Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007).  I asked her to instead consider repealing the law banning the incandescent bulb, but she wasn’t interested.

I then told her that her new law would serve only to increase the cost of the CFL, which were already quite expensive.  She flatly rejected this and gladly reported that her law would actually save manufactures money.  Really?!  I then quizzed her, and asked if recycling old CFLs was so profitable, why weren’t companies clamoring for my old CFLs now.  She couldn’t answer. 
After a few minutes of arguing, I kindly apologized and sent her away without my signature.  I can only hope that in time she considers our encounter and acknowledges that fixing bad legislation with more bad legislation is just bad policy.  The answer is quite often – get rid of the original bad legislation, which is exactly what Congress should do.


  1. Dammit man! You're not supposed to make them think! How can the youngsters be good little automatons if people like you keep filling their heads with "ideas" like "freedom" and "rescinding legislation" and so forth? Gah, you're ruining the whole statist enterprise.

    Nice economics, though.

  2. Yes, I know. I should resort to being a conformist. Perhaps I should have told her I couldn't read or write.

    David over at MacroMania had a nice little post yesterday on free banking. He has quite the fan base.

  3. Yeah - actually I'm very disappointed in most of the commentary both on his blog and elsewhere. I consider myself libertarian, and I find alot of Austrian econ very valuable, but most of these commentators are giving the whole enterprise a very poor sheen.

  4. This is a perfect example of why you aren't in sales. :)