Please don’t think this is easy for me. I’m one of those crazed Americans who can’t walk into Home Depot, Target or my local grocery store right now without wanting to grab one of those king-sized shopping carts and stuff it to the gunwales with 100-watt incandescent light bulbs.
Maybe it’s the sheer thrill of buying bulbs that in just over a month, as of Jan. 1, 2012, will be banned for sale in America. What fun, in this incandescent twilight, to acquire legally what the federal government will soon treat as contraband, should it appear in any American marketplace. Or maybe it’s that gut sense that with the dollar teetering toward an abyss of unfathomable and inflationary government spending, those beloved old 100 watt bulbs will at least provide a decent store of value, even if all I do is use them to read by for the rest of my life — meticulously taking care never to violate federal law by offering even a single bulb for sale to some fellow citizen willing to pay for it.
Or, just possibly, this urge to stockpile incandescents is the product of simmering outrage. For decades, I have written about America as the world’s beacon of freedom, which it has been. Yet here we are, wards of the nanny state, with politicians dictating that even that prime symbol of American ingenuity, Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb, shall be regulated into oblivion. All this has been ably exposed as an act of crony capitalism, designed to enrich manufacturers who prefer to sell pricier light bulbs that a lot of Americans, if free to choose, prefer not to buy. And the actual mechanics of this ban have been greatly blurred, Washington-style, by framing this fix not as an outright prohibition, but merely as a phase-out of light bulbs that do not meet standards set by Washington in the name of “energy efficiency.” First the 100-watt incandescents vanish from the shelves. Then the 75-watt, the 60-watt and 40-watt. It is, in its way, a bipartisan dimming of choice, tacked onto an energy bill signed into law in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and –despite an attempt at repeal this past July — upheld by Democrats in Congress under President Barack Obama.