Lights Out On the Free Market

Dear Liberty;

I need your help. I read that the economist Fredric Bastiat said the following: 

“Economies don’t create jobs and wealth on net by destroying things that are working well or with unproductive busy work.  All these jobs have costs, costs that could pay for jobs producing something new rather than complying with regulatory mandates. 

So, why then is my government turning out the lights?  As of New Year’s Day,  our  federal government has forbidden the production of the incandescent lightbulb.  FORBIDDEN because THEY feel that it is in our own best interest to force us to purchase a new alternative.  I don’t want people to be so quick to blame President Obama for this one though because he can truly pin this one on his predecessor.  George Bush signed this act into law in 2007…yes, I was as outraged then as I am now.

This is a classic example of why the “green movement” is so ill regarded by those who harbor free market principles. The fact is that the light bulb that we use to light up our closet will now cost us up to $36.00…yes, the decimal is in the right place; but the good side is that instead of having to change the closet light bulb every 5 years or so we will now be able to put that daunting task off for 20 or 25 years.  WOW, what a relief! And it only costs us $36.00! Remember though that that’s just the closet…I counted 88 lightbulbs in my house…ya, that’s almost $3200.00…Hmmm, this has got me thinking.

The federal government says that it’s a better product and say that they are doing us a favor.  I’ve even heard some supporters refer to it as an “investment” because these bulbs consume about 80%+- less energy, so we will save money over time.  How can I thank them for mandating where I invest my hard earned money?  Here are some questions that I have for the “Socialist Green Investment Advisors”: What if I’m not very well off and can’t afford a $36.00 light bulb to illuminate the light in my infant’s bedroom? What if I am forced into making the choice between purchasing a lightbulb or making my child’s copay on the inflated Obamacare plan that I got scammed into buying?  Oh Liberty, please don’t tell me that the Feds will be offering a subsidy like they did with cell phones! 

Here’s a question; What if the federal government made everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, whether they needed one or not, buy a Mercedes Benz because they’re a safer alternative than lets say…a Yugo?  Even better,  lets make it a classic Mercedes because its more of an “investment” since it will not only hold its value but will most likely increase in value.  Would they care who could afford it or would they justify it because in ten years one will be able to sell it for more money?  Would they tell us that they get better gas mileage than an old Yugo and that we would save there too? Would they remind us of the wonderful things that we would be doing for the environment as we used less fuel? 

Here’s another question: Why don’t they ban all “economy brand” products like those paper towel rolls that are smaller and that are made with 1/2 as much paper (sorry trees!), yes, the ones that we have to use twice as many because they are half as efficient. Many people don’t buy those products because they are substandard but you know, Dear Liberty, that there those who have to buy them because they’re on a tight budget and can’t afford the name brand items but at least they have an alternative.  

On another end of the spectrum, many of the companies that manufacture these new CFL and LED bulbs are located in countries like China and from what I hear, there are no plans to open up plants in the US to manufacture them because of the environmental concerns with producing these products.  Fear not though because all of the plants producing the evil incandescent bulbs will be shut down and their employees sent home…ya, more Americans in the unemployment line!

Here’s something interesting for the green crowd.  A study by UC Irvine showed that there are high levels of arsenic, lead, nickel and other carcinogens that are used in the production of LED bulbs.  So, number one, and this is funny, the same people who lobbied for the LED mandate will most likely be the same ones who will soon be lobbying against their domestic production.  Then the kicker; because of the high level of environmentally unfriendly ingredients, the disposal of these bulbs will soon be regulated under hazardous waste restrictions.  The UC Irvine report also mentioned that HAZMAT suits should be required for people who clean up after car accidents or broken traffic lights where LED bulbs are involved.  Hmmm, it makes me think twice about “investing” in one of these “environmentally safe” bulbs for my infants bedroom.  

The incandescent lightbulb is sounding better and better to me all the time but sadly, our government has outlawed them.  Liberty, help us convince them to let the free market decide what will and will not be sold? You know as well as I do that if a product is good enough, people will buy it; if it isn’t good enough then they won’t buy it.  Can you tell me why a free society is being forced to buy something to begin with? First, healthcare now lightbulbs…then what? LIghtbulbs aren’t a tax, are they ? And They are as necessary to society as Health Care.  Heck, the surgeons couldn’t perform without lightbulbs.  Dr.’s couldn’t practice without lightbulbs. Hmmmm, this is exhausting.  

The fact is, that if a product is environmentally friendly, cheaper to produce, more profitable to sell and superior in quality to the alternative product then the free market will automatically move to that product.  Why let the federal government force a product down our throats before the free market has an opportunity to work out the kinks?

Dear Liberty, please help us to find a way to convince those in power to keep the incandescent lightbulb in production until there is an affordable and more acceptable alternative.  It just makes good common sense.  American Exceptionalism will always help us succeed and a large part of that exceptionalism hinges on your presence in our lives. Liberty, give us the ability to choose, for ourselves, those products that best fit our needs and budgets.

How on earth is it Constitutional for our government to decide which products and industries are acceptable or not?  

On January 1, 2014, marijuana  became legal for recreational use in Colorado signaling the birth of a newly legalized industry on the same day the incandescent light bulb was banned for …….   What was the reason again ? 


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3 comments on “Lights Out On the Free Market
  1. Dan says:

    It reminds me of the time when President George W. Bush said; “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system”. I agree Mr. McKee that the people should decide not government. I hope President Obama doesn’t abandon the principles of the U. S. Constitution … Oh wait.

  2. Doug McKee says:

    Oh Dan! I too remember that dark day when Pres. Bush uttered those words. I believe I received a scar on my chin from when my jaw dropped and it hit the ground.

    Love your remark on Pres. Obama! Thanks for the giggle!

    In all seriousness, I have always thought that part of the magic of our system was the involvement of the people; not only in the legislative process but in the market system as well. Products are improved, production goes up, prices come down…it’s amazing how little government is actually required to spur, grow and maintain a healthy economy.

    Thanks a bunch for your comments Dan

  3. Laurel Mason says:

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    Dear Liberty

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