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The Light Bulb Police
By Andrea Seffens on June 01, 2011
If one enjoys having a well-lit home at a reasonable price, one best run to the nearest hardware store and stock up on traditional incandescent light bulbs as if they were going out of style. Because due a 2007 decision by President George W. Bush, the common incandescent light bulb will be officially so last year in 2012. What is the government approved substitute? A light bulb producing over 100 watts (the equivalent of a typical incandescent light bulb) which meets the new energy efficient standards proposed in Section 301 of the “Energy and Security Act of 2007.” The government has not simply turned trend-setter, but into the light bulb police.
A popular alternative to America’s current staple are “compact fluorescent lights,” CFLs; however, these bulbs pose more health risks than a pair of towering stilettos. CFLs are composed of toxic mercury vapors, leading to possible mercury poisoning if broken. The EPA has published extensive directions on how to clean up a mercury spill from broken CFLs. The bulbs also have strong “radiation-emitting electromagnetic fields” and produce “dirty electricity”, which can increase ones risk of cancer fivefold. CFLs have been linked to “severe neurological damage”, leading to migraines and epileptic fits. The lifespan of these bulbs, once heralded as extraordinarily long lasting, have been exaggerated by over 30%.
The organic fad has gone from food, to clothes, and now to light bulbs; Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) won’t poison you like CFLs, but could bankrupt you. OLEDs are tough to produce, because unless the oxygen-sensitive chemicals used are sealed just so, they will spoil, leading to higher production costs.
The Light Emitting Diode (LEDs) is the best knockoff of the traditional light bulb so far. The strongest LED to date will hit stores later this year, from Royal Phillips Electronics NV. It produces the same amount of light as a 75 watt incandescent bulb would, and clocks in between $40 to $45. Families who struggle to pay $0.93 for a pack of four 100 watt incandescent bulbs may be out of luck when the new law takes effect next year.
America was built on a foundation of limited government, individualism, and a free market. Healthy competition has always ensured that the best product won out, so why, as Senator DeMint points out, is Washington “picking winners and losers in the marketplace and micromanaging how Americans live their lives”? Both the BULB Act by Senators DeMint and Enzi and Rep. Bachmann’s Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act would repeal the 2007 ban, but have been referred to the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, with no word since.
Has America recanted her free market ideology? If the government continues on its increasingly nanny-like path, stiletto heels could be the next to go, because they could be construed as inefficient to walk in and pose a possible safety risk. Then the government will turn into the fashion police.