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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/17291/dim-bulbs-indeed/

Dim Bulbs Indeed

June 14, 2011 by

It’s hard to be insulting and patronizing to individuals on a daily basis, yet somehow King Jon and his merry band of thieves persevere:

The Federal Trade Commission is making two new resources available to consumers to help them shop for light bulbs in a market with increasingly more efficient options, including compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and new incandescent halogen bulbs. Beginning in 2012, consumers will see new packaging and labeling on most household bulbs that will help them save money by selecting the most efficient bulbs that fit their lighting needs.

At ftc.gov/lightbulbs, a video and flyer explain how understanding lumens and the new Lighting Facts label will help shoppers compare bulbs. For example, lumens, not watts, tell you how bright a light bulb is, no matter the type of bulb. The more lumens, the brighter the light. Beginning in 2012, labels on the front of light bulb packages will emphasize a bulb’s brightness in lumens, instead of the bulb’s energy usage in watts.

The website also previews the new Lighting Facts label that will appear on most light bulb packages by the beginning of 2012, listing a bulb’s brightness (in lumens), its estimated energy cost and life span, whether the bulb provides “warm” or “cool” light, the wattage, and whether the bulb contains mercury. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will phase out low-efficiency incandescent bulbs beginning in 2012, and directed the FTC’s new bulb packaging and label initiative, which will make it easier to compare bulbs as traditional incandescents are eliminated from the market.

Lest we need reminding, the FTC’s motto is “Protecting America’s Consumers.” In this case, the FTC is trying to protect us from rational thought. The “market with increasingly more efficient options” is a nice euphemism for “market restricted to government-approved options.” The FTC literally throws a temper tantrum anytime a private business takes any action — consistent with its own property rights — that might temporarily impact consumer choice, yet when the government decides to permanently abolish competition in a given industry, the same FTC lawyers are there to put on a happy face and tell consumers what’s good for them.

There are many consumers who don’t want “more efficient options,” as they were perfectly happy with the soon-to-be-banned incandescent light bulbs. The FTC doesn’t recognize the existence of these individuals:

Light bulbs are getting better. Newer bulbs — like halogen incandescents, CFLs and LEDs — last longer and use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, saving you money on your energy bills. In fact, beginning in 2012, everyday light bulbs have to meet new Department of Energy standards for how much energy they use. Bulbs that don’t will be phased out over the next couple of years.

Despite the FTC’s condescending assurances that everything will be better without free-market competition, independent thinkers like Karen De Coster are acting now while they still have a real choice:

I admit to hoarding 100-watt incandescent light bulbs for some time now. I get them at Meijer’s for $1.23 per 4-pack, and I pay about twice as much for the beautiful GE Reveal bulb. My basement root cellar, which is earmarked for food, has become the unfortunate landing spot for this pile of soon-to-be contraband, so I am building a special corner storage area for these types of non-food reserve items. So clearly, I am not ecstatic about the government’s attack on human comfort with its upcoming ban on one of civilization’s stellar inventions.

Reading this article (“LED Bulbs Hit 100 Watts as Federal Ban Looms”) is a bit like waking up to a slapstick comedy playing backwards. There is no alternative to the 100-watt incandescent bulb. Compact fluorescents contain toxic mercury vapor (but they save us energy!) and the bulbs with large watts are too big for most existing fixtures. OLEDs have not yet been successfully produced for the mass market, and LEDs are not affordable for the masses at …… $50? Here’s one on Amazon for $59.99.

Indeed, the FTC’s materials never disclose the real costs of LED bulbs. Nor do they discuss the environmental dangers of CFLs. These kinds of “omissions” would earn a private business a visit from the FTC’s “consumer protection” division. But of course, the FTC itself is not subject to the Federal Trade Commission Act.


Daniel June 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm

More like King Jon-il

Stefano June 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Except in North Korea, no one can afford to turn the lights on at night…oh crap.

Shay June 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I guess I had better stock up on incandescents before my benevolent caretakers remove them from the market (for my own good). I use CCFL in fixtures that run for hours a day, but not in ones that are turned on and off often or used only occasionally, and definitely not when I’m moving out of a rental house (the landlord can pay to put CCFLs in all the fixtures, not me). Glad I picked up a box of 100W incandescent bulbs recently. Hold on, there’s a knock at the door…

Virginia Llorca June 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I bought a halogen bulb at Menard’s for $2.99. It is the shape of a regular bulb. It is faceted and very pretty. It gives off a fairly whitish colored light as near as I can tell. I put it in a basement ceiling fixture for an experiment. It is quite bright. It is 100 Watts, 1600 Lumens, and is guaranteed for 3,000 hours. I saved the receipt and the package and I put them in the closet where I am hoarding my conventional 100 Watt incandescent bulbs. I may buy another. We shall see how it works out.

I have had terrrible luck with the Reveal bulb, finding they burn out very quickly as do those curly cue (poison gas emitting) fluorescents. Seriously, anyone who pays 60 bucks for a single bulb for whatever reason, has to be a few bricks short of a load, a half-bubble off plumb, etc.

El Tonno June 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

It’s “Lumen” and “Watt”, not “lumens” and “watts”, FFS.

Virginia Llorca June 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm

The “S” is on the freaking package, A–H—!!!!

Shay June 15, 2011 at 10:39 am

Maybe a TSA agent took El Tonno’s hammer away at the airport.

RTB June 14, 2011 at 8:54 pm

It’s not enough the “big picture” guys are forcing this at the point of their lackeys guns, but the low level guys, the bureaucrats, need to justify their existence with lies and justifications.

Gil June 14, 2011 at 9:27 pm

There’s probably plenty of old-school Libertarians who have long stockpiled kerosene and lamps.

Old Mexican June 14, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Re: Gil,

There’s probably plenty of old-school Libertarians who have long stockpiled kerosene and lamps.

They will become very handy items to have for barter when the SHTF.

Gil June 15, 2011 at 12:10 am

Incandescent bulbs have their drawbacks too – they’re fragile and shatter into dangerously sharp shards if dropped. Heck, they have nothing over the light and warmth from a fireplace or campfire.

nate-m June 15, 2011 at 2:49 am

That is why the government needs to make fireplaces illegal. The amount of carbon released into the atmosphere per lumens makes incandescent almost seem reasonable!

Since wood is free (you can pick it off the ground) and it’s organic the average person may be confused that using burning wood is a effective and economical means to light their homes. The amount of heat released by a fireplace though will increase the cost of running the air conditioner to keep the house cold and the risk of fire due to the build up of flammable soot means that burning things for light is a false economy.

Plus the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by burning wood means that we are seeing a obvious market failure. The costs of pollution and global warming caused by people using light from fireplaces means that while it may be inexpensive for that person the costs will need to be absorbed by society and we cannot allow people to do what they want since we need to be a responsible member of the global community.

So it’s obvious that to prevent this gross injustice against gaia from occurring we need to have the government stand in.

When people have a real need for burning wood, such as religious rituals like the Yule log or human sacrifice, then they can get licensing and as long as they purchase the proper atmosphere scrubbers and carbon offset credit then it can be allowed, but there is no reason why a average person should need to have a fireplace at all. So they should be banned except for government buildings and registered religious institutions.

We need to subsidize LED fireplaces so that we can build the consumer base up to the point were economy of scale becomes a significant factor and prices drop naturally due to greater demand.

Virginia Llorca June 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

If I plant enough trees, ala Al Gore, to offset the carbon emitted by the fireplace, in fifty years, or maybe less if I plant black locust, I will have my own self-perpetuating, zero carbon energy loop. Everyone who lives on ten acres or more should be ordered to do this. And they could SELL their excess carbon emission cancelling energy credits to the guys in the high rises. And eventually we could plow under the high rises to plant more trees, and . . .

Think of that rolling prairie and the thundering herds of buffalo. I think I’m onto something. Or on something.

noah June 15, 2011 at 12:59 am

“Reading this article (‘LED Bulbs Hit 100 Watts as Federal Ban Looms) is a bit like waking up to a slapstick comedy playing backwards. ”

Especially this one-liner:
“To encourage energy efficiency, Congress passed a law…”
Hmmm… as a means of “encouragement” you will outlaw, ban, and remove from the market all of our viable options?

Well, Congress, as a means of “encouragement” to pass no stupid laws, I have a suggestion on the not-so-gentle placement of exactly 435 extra large CFL bulbs (you know, the ones that look like giant screws instead of like bright ideas).

May you long fart mercury vapor in each others’ general direction!

Shay June 15, 2011 at 10:44 am

I’d love to use this method of “encouragement” on the people who use the euphemism. “Why are so angry at me? I was just encouraging you to help me on this project by pointing a gun at you and threating imprisonment if you didn’t help.”

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