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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6593/say-no-to-the-hideous-light-bulbs/

Say No to the Hideous Light Bulbs

May 4, 2007 by

The environmentalists are pushing hideous looking fluorescent light bulbs of the kind shown here as a way to save electricity and thus reduce the need for power plants and resulting carbon emissions. The bulbs will thus allegedly help to save the planet from global warming and, therefore, the environmentalists argue, everyone should use them instead of the customary, incandescent bulbs.

Australia and Canada have already enacted laws or regulations that will make these bulbs mandatory within a few years. Efforts are underway to do the same thing here in the United States.

In fact, my local power company is currently subsidizing the sale of these bulbs in Southern California supermarkets. Normally, $7.99 apiece, my local power company makes it possible to buy them in packs of three for just $1.

I confess. At that low price my curiosity got the better of me and I bought a pack. I even temporarily installed one of the bulbs in my garage, to see what kind of light it provided.

I concluded that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing any sustained reading under it, simply because the light it gives off doesn’t seem quite right. Otherwise though, the bulb clearly does have some uses, at least in situations in which appearance is not an important consideration. For example, it might be used in commercial storage facilities and locations in business offices given over to holding old files. Homeowners with unfinished garages that display bare studs and flex and perhaps an occasional indelible oil stain on the floor, who regard their garages merely as storage areas and/or workplaces, may find that they too are an appropriate setting for the bulb. In such garages, the bulb doesn’t need to express the owner’s normal aesthetic preferences. It would probably fit in perfectly with such things as steel storage shelves, assorted tools, boxes and crates, old rags, and stray items hanging from hooks and nails banged into a wall.

My question is, though, how could anyone want such a thing in his home, in his living room, bedroom, or dining room, or anywhere else that one is supposed to live rather than change oil or make repairs or, of course, just leave one’s car.

My point here is that to bring these bulbs inside one’s house, as the environmentalists are urging everyone to do, requires that people be prepared to give up the aesthetic qualities of their homes and, in effect, spend their lives living in the equivalent of their garages (or the garages that many others have).

If you wouldn’t mind an oil stain in the middle of your living room carpet, wall studs visible through gaps in your home’s drywall, steel storage shelves in your bedroom, and tools, boxes, and crates lying here and there—or if this is the way you already live—then these bulbs are for you. You should buy them. Over the years, they’ll save you some money on your electric bills and you won’t need to change them as often as you have to change conventional light bulbs.

But if you don’t want to live in the equivalent of a garage, if the extra cost of living in a normal home is worth it to you, then you should definitely not bring these bulbs into your home. Indeed, you should react with outrage at any suggestion that you should. Because what you’re being asked to do is turn your home into a dump.

The environmentalists want you to turn your home into a dump “for the sake of the planet” by helping to “avoid global warming.” That’s supposed to justify it. Tell them it doesn’t.

They want you to agree to live in a dump, because if they can do that, they will have succeeded in making you define yourself as not worthy of anything better. And once, they’ve accomplished that, they can go on to demand any further sacrifice they may want to impose on you.

Not so long ago, people were being told throughout the length and breadth of the former Soviet Union that they had to live in dumps and sacrifice any hope of material prosperity for themselves because it was necessary to build up the means of production of their socialist society, from which their grandchildren would benefit. And then, when the grandchildren came of age, they in turn were told that they needed to sacrifice for the sake of their grandchildren.

People finally got tired of this orgy of unending sacrifice and overthrew the Communists.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t taken very long for the concept of human sacrifice to revive and come back stronger than ever. The light bulbs are a profoundly important symbolic first step. They are an entering wedge for the environmentalists’ demand that we sacrifice our entire standard of living—variously, for the sake of the “planet,” for the sake of the countries of the Third World, and for the sake of assorted species of animals and plants. And unlike with the Communists, the sacrifice is now presented not as temporary but explicitly as a new, permanent way of life.

So tell them again: No sacrifice. Not for “the planet,” not for the Third World, not for other species. Tell them your life belongs to you and you mean to enjoy it. Tell them that the planet exists for you, not you for the planet, and that you intend to use it for your benefit.

This article is copyright © 2007, by George Reisman. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute it electronically and in print, other than as part of a book and provided that mention of the author’s web site www.capitalism.net is included. (Email notification is requested.) All other rights reserved. George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics.

Thanks to Chad Parish of the Mises Institute for the graphic.


Hadassa May 24, 2007 at 10:24 am

Over the past few years I have bought a variety of these CFL’s. Some are ugly, some give off pathetic light, some burn out quicker than the incandescent variety BUT there are CFL’s that are attractive, efficient and give off good light. My rule of thumb is don’t by the cheapest ones. There’s a reason why they’re so cheap. If we refuse to buy junk the companies will stop producing junk.

Charlie Peters July 10, 2007 at 5:08 am

—– Original Message —–



Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 4:04 PM

Subject: Re:”Conservation may limit global warming”(LA) Times / February 28, 2007

Thank you for your letter on an issue I take to heart – fighting global climate change. I appreciate that you took the time to share your concern about the impact global climate change has on California.

I’m committed to addressing this issue – we know the science, we see the threat and the time for action is now. That’s why I worked with members of our Legislature to pass the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). AB 32 established California as a national leader in the fight against climate change. We established a program for the capping and reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and California is set to reduce GHG emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

While California leads the way, we must work with our neighbors in the fight. I’ve partnered with the governors of Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona to create the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, a joint strategy to combat global climate change. Like AB 32, the agreement establishes a regional cap and reduction program for GHG emissions, as well as a framework for developing a similar national program.

To reduce GHG emissions and also decrease California’s reliance on foreign oil, I have established the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) for transportation. By 2020, the LCFS will reduce the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by at least 10 percent – the same as removing 3 million cars from the road.

Through our efforts to fight climate change, we can secure both a stronger economy and a cleaner environment for future generations. Our programs foster economic growth by promoting the development of green technology. As the computer industry and the Internet built the economy of Silicon Valley, green-clean technology can be the next great economic wave for California.

Thanks again for your interest in climate change and for writing to share your thoughts. I truly appreciate your personal commitment to the future of our great state.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

Dameocrat February 10, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Pretty ignorant article. The person doesn’t know the difference between a cool light and warm light florescent.

Sounds like the person is living in the 70s or something. I have been using compact florescent since the late 80s and have no problem with the quality of light so long as I buy the warm light florescent.

scott t February 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm

color temprature has a lot to do with the ‘light’ ‘quality’ in a sense.
i have purchased high Kelvin cfls for for a garage and attic. ~6500K as indicated on the packaging. it is a helpful task light
this is a very whitish light – like what is seen in terrariums

i have seen some cfls at 2700K, 3000k 3500K that emit light very much like a standard incandescent.

i have purchased name brand cfls which are ‘covered’ meant for ceiling fan fixtures and recessed fixtures – and these do seem to take about 45 seconds to reach full luminance. that is my only issue with the cfls

additionally, i have placed some in a garage door motor light which is flicked on and off regularly and then the lights are timed to turn off after about a minute and a half….6 months and no bulb failure there.

i dont know if the incandescent light bulb ban is true…people should be able to buy the light bulbs they wish.

Roberta M October 12, 2009 at 8:32 am

Mr. Reisman, do you work for a utility company; an incandescent bulb manufacturer? I inadvertently found your rant because I am looking for full spectrum CFL bulbs which are now being touted to give you a healthier lighting environment (especially useful if you live north of Atlanta!) for the winter months when you get less than optimum sun exposure to activate vitamin D in your body. And they certainly do help lower my utility bill!

TheTeflonHeretic March 23, 2010 at 11:15 pm

In response to Roberta, above – though I doubt she’ll have the guts to show up here again:
Any bright first-semester logic student can spot a Poisoning The Well ad hominem variant with one arm tied behind his back, blindfolded, and stone drunk. I don’t know Dr. Reisman personally, but I think his employment is a matter of public record. Which prompts me to wonder whether there remains a single recidivistic collectivist ideologue on the planet who is capable of mounting a rebuttal argument that is not an instance of the ad hominem fallacy.

The bedrock issue you are deftly sidestepping here, Roberta, is this: Nobody is saying you ought to be forcibly prevented from buying CFL bulbs if they’re what appeal to you for whatever reason. Yet you, and the entire ideological clique that shares your love of these things, are shoving a gun up my nose and forbidding me, by brute force, from exercising my right to choose the type of lighting product that appeals to me.

Roberta, here’s a simple test, inspired by something Dr. Reisman said in a debate in Irvine several years ago. Consider this question: If you saw a frothing maniac with a gun strut up to a corporate CEO on a street, stick a gun to his head and demand “You’re going to run things MY way from now on,” you would properly consider the assailant to be a dangerous criminal and call the police immediately to haul him away for trial.

How then, does precisely the same act suddenly become A-OK when YOU do it, only using a government bureaucracy as your proxy trigger-man? Hmm?

The core issue you are strenuously evading here is ethical: The conflict between inalienable rights (i.e., to trade value-for-value freely,) vs. the brute thuggery of a gun muzzle. To paraphrase Dr. Reisman, if “gun muzzle” sounds like hyperbole to you, ask yourself what would happen, were this bulb ban not repealed, if you were to start selling incandescent bulbs made in a friend’s small factory. Eventually armed sheriff’s deputies would show up at your door, lead you away to appear before a judge who would have the power to lock you in a cage for a “crime.”

That is what you’re evading; that is the rotten eventuality that this article is attempting to avert; that is what you’re defending with the cheap ad hominems and the epithet “rant.” Capische?

Tyler March 3, 2010 at 2:34 am

Some of this is just frightening, the government is continuing to diminish the power of our fundamental rights that our forefathers worked so hard to establish.

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