Not a bright idea

Published 10:47 am Monday, August 8, 2011

To the Editor:

One hundred and thirty years ago, Thomas Edison gave the world a gift that literally transformed night into day. The incandescent light bulb made it possible for us to easily see in the dark.

On Jan. 1, 2012, the sale and manufacture of the standard 100 watt incandescent light bulb will be illegal in America, the nation in which it was invented.  This is just another example of why idiots shouldn’t be politicians.

In 2007, a Democrat controlled Congress passed legislation that was signed by President Bush that placed efficiency requirements on incandescent light bulbs in order to ban them beginning in 2012. Standard bulbs will be replaced by more energy-efficient, but also more expensive bulbs, the most popular currently being CFL’s (compact fluorescent light), and LED’s (light emitting diodes).

Politicians used distorted global warming concerns to sell the regulation, saying it would create jobs, save consumers money, increase domestic security, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The politicians, as they typically do, failed to see the unintended consequences of their actions. Jobs were created, in China. And CFL’s contain mercury, which is very toxic and hazardous to your health. If you drop one and break it, the EPA has three pages of instructions to follow for cleanup. There are even reports of facial skin damage from the ultraviolet radiation. And if you’re in a romantic mood, forget it. Regular CFL’s don’t work well with dimmers.

Consider the costs. A standard 100 watt bulb costs about $.32 each.  After they’re gone, you’ll have to buy a CFL costing $5 or more or a LED bulb which uses even less electricity for about $40 each. The newer bulbs are more energy efficient. Conservation is a noble goal, but we don’t need nanny politicians telling us which light bulbs to buy in order to satisfy an ideological agenda. The free market, not the government should decide what consumers want. Whether someone wants to spend 32 cents, $5 or $40 for a light bulb, that choice should be left up to the consumer.

The US Department of Energy states: “Upgrading 15 of the inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home could save you about $50per year.” They fail to mention it will cost $100 or more to buy them.

The real story here is that large manufacturers weren’t making money on the cheaper bulbs, so they got them banned. GE just closed its last factory in America that made 100 watt incandescent bulbs. So, who did the President name as his jobs czar? Jeffery Immelt, CEO of GE, the company that benefits the most from banning incandescent light bulbs.

This legislation hurts poor people, but there may be hope for those of us that don’t want to buy expensive light bulbs. The US House of Representatives just passed legislation to block the ban. Believe it or not, even that vote was largely along party lines. Why does common sense have to be partisan?

Garry Terry