Ed Driscoll

Shine a Light — On Crony Socialism

An Investor’s Business Daily editorial explores the real story behind the 100-watt light-bulb ban:

Earlier this month, Republicans suspended the law until October by denying funds for its implementation as part of a massive spending bill. For Democrats, this move was another sign of how out of touch the GOP is.

But look who else is complaining. As Politico reported, “big companies like General Electric, Philips and Osram Sylvania (are) fuming.” Allegedly these companies are mad because they invested lots of money getting ready for the new rules.

Fact is, they were pushing for the ban all along.

In 2007, Philips urged an incandescent ban as a way to force the market toward high-efficiency bulbs, complaining that without such laws, “purchase price and functional performance often take precedence over environmental concern.” [Why it’s as if the notion that all businesses are reflexively right-wing is a folk-Marxist trope or something — Ed.]

That same year, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which represents companies making 95% of bulbs sold in the U.S., told a Senate panel that a ban was needed “to further educate consumers on the benefits of energy-efficient products.”

You can believe if you want these companies only had Mother Earth in mind with this ban. But more likely they saw it as a chance to fatten their bottom lines. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to outlaw a low-margin, 60-cent product when you’re trying to hawk a high-margin $3 alternative?

This would hardly be the first time big business teamed up with big government to enhance profits through competition-crushing regulations. Timothy Carney’s book, “The Big Ripoff,” detailed many cases where businesses “profit from big government policies that rip off consumers.”

And speaking of GE, or at least one of its most visible subsidiaries (which has also been obsessed over turning off light bulbs and jacking up consumer energy costs from time to time), as Ron Futrell writes at Big Journalism, “To Brian Williams and NBC; ever heard of Fast and Furious and Solyndra? I’m here to tell you, those two have slipped by you, of late. Actually, nobody believes they have ‘slipped by’ you. You are intentionally not reporting these two stories.”

Related: “Omission Watch: Nets, AP, Major Papers Skip Biden Saying Taliban ‘Not Our Enemy.'” It’s a big memory hole; it takes a lot of unreported news to fill it.

More: “In San Francisco the lights flickered out on Monday at the Steelers-49ers game when much of the nation was watching. The comparison to North Korea may be unfair (and too delicious to pass up), but there is a larger point to be made.”