You’d better go snatch up all the incandescent light bulbs you can get before the end of the year. After the new year comes, it will be illegal to have them produced or imported.
The ban isn’t for all incandescent bulbs – at least, not yet. For now, the ban is for 100-watt bulbs only. Others will be phased out over the next couple of years.
If you’re thinking that the government shouldn’t be telling people what light bulbs they can produce or purchase, you’re absolutely right.
This law, designed to promote innovation with more efficient light bulbs, is, like most limitations on freedom, well intentioned. But like we have seen so many times before, good intentions don’t always make for good ideas.
On top of not being able to buy the incandescent bulbs, the new CF bulbs contain harmful chemicals and must be disposed of differently than the incandescent bulbs. Plus, there are the nagging facts that CF bulbs don’t last as long as they’re supposed to, get dimmer with age, and don’t produce warm light.
I’m completely in favor of encouraging innovation that uses less energy and saves people money, but the way to encourage that innovation is not to have government step in, make the purchase decision for everyone, and ban the old solution.
The right solution is, ironically enough, the exact opposite. Get Washington out of the business of picking winners and losers in this market and let consumers make their own choices about what products they want to use. Conservation is a good thing. This forced conservation, however, is an assault on freedom and innovation.
This light bulb issue is minor, I know. The world won’t end on January 2nd because we can’t buy a 100-watt bulb at Wal-Mart. But keep in mind that freedom is rarely taken from America in large chunks. Instead, it’s eroded little by little be bureaucrats who think they know better than we do.
There is no assault on liberty so small that it’s not worth standing up against. If we let the little issues slip past us without noticing, we’ll find that over time the little issues will bring us far more government intervention that we ever thought we’d be willing to tolerate.