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The End of the Light Bulb as We Know It

Why Americans are hoarding incandescent bulbs before darkness envelops us all on January 1, 2012.

by
Belladonna Rogers

Bio

November 13, 2011 - 12:49 am
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As the pale, weak sun rose beyond a charcoal gray cloud bank on Sunday, November 6th, the first day of the country’s dismal return to Standard Time, it was clear that the moment had come to lighten up.

Soon I was at Home Depot making a beeline for the light bulb aisle.  Why? Because the end of days is drawing nigh.  Not in the Biblical sense, but in the Environmental Protection Agency sense: there were only a scant eight weeks (now only seven) before the end of the light bulb as we know it.  As of January 1, 2012, Americans will have their freedom of light bulb choice snuffed out by an omnibus 2007 law requiring that general-purpose bulbs be 25% more energy-efficient than the current, justly-beloved, incandescent bulb.

There are a few exceptions, but the next 49 days are the last for the sale of 100-watt incandescent bulbs.

An excellent summary of this disaster-in-the-making and the grim options that will follow in its wake is here.

In July, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  As the House debated the ultimately failed repeal, Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who had introduced the doomed measure, argued:

The 2010 elections demonstrated that Americans are fed up with government intrusion. The federal government has crept so deep into our lives that federal agencies now determine what kind of light bulbs the American people are allowed to purchase.

This vivid report from England in 2009 on the last days of the sale of incandescent bulbs there — ordained by a similar European Union ban on traditional bulbs — is a cautionary tale of what we can expect at lighting retailers in the United States on New Year’s Eve 2011. There could be more people at Manhattan’s two Home Depot stores than in Times Square.

As I’ve written here before, part of the meaning of freedom is freedom of choice.  Every green American who wants to read by mercury-ignited compact fluorescent bulbs is free to do so. Every environmentally-motivated citizen who desires energy-efficient halogen bulbs should enjoy that choice, too.  But many of us desire incandescent bulbs, just the way Thomas A. Edison invented them.

You know something nefarious is afoot when the Obama administration trundles out its own personal Nobel laureate (other than the incumbent himself), Energy Secretary Steven Chu, to lecture us — us, the pathetic, scientifically uneducated, financially ignorant, unwashed, energy-profligate, unable-to-balance-our-own-checkbooks fools he takes us to be — on light bulbs:

“Right now many families around the country are struggling to pay their energy bills, and leaders in the House want to roll back these standards that will save families money.…

“You’ll still be able to buy halogen incandescent bulbs. They’ll look and feel the same, but the only difference is that they’ll save consumers money.”

Of tea partiers’s philosophical argument that the law would deprive consumers of the choice of lighting products, Chu said, these standards are not taking choices away, they are “putting money back in the pockets of American families.”

Contrary to Secretary Chu’s disingenuous statement in July, viz., “They’ll look and feel the same,” they neither look nor feel the “same.”  He may be able to fool some of the people some of the time, but I regret to inform Secretary Chu that he can’t fool me — or tens of millions like me– any of the time.

These ghastly light bulbs casting their ghoulish, glary light — all gussied up to appear to resemble the older, familiar bulbs — are the light bulb equivalent of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I, for one, did not elect President Obama, nor did I insist that he select Steven Chu to tell me how to “put money back in” my pockets. My pockets are my business, not his.  You look out for your pockets, Secretary Chu, and I’ll look out for mine.

Where do you get off telling me and my fellow Americans, “these standards are not taking choices away”?  It’s obvious you think we’re idiots, but idiots of that magnitude? These standards are unquestionably taking choices away: that’s why 100-watt incandescent bulbs are flying off the shelves at Home Depots nationwide.  Here’s a photo of my purchases from last Sunday alone — not my last foray by a long shot:

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