Another Dumb Thing McConnell Supported: The Light-Bulb Ban

Among the many dumb and harmful things Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has voted for over the decades — and there are some doozies, for example, adding trillions to the national debt, creating the unneeded and unaffordable Medicare Part D prescription drug entitlement (2003, Roll Call Vote 457), and, even more outrageously, funding Obamacare (2013, RCV 206) — one of the dumbest has to be the light-bulb ban (2007, RCV 430).

The bill Senator McConnell voted for contained a federally mandated phase-out out of the traditional incandescent light bulb in favor of those annoying folded-tube fluorescents. Compact fluorescents, as they’re called, cost a lot more than regular bulbs, give off a pallid light, and contain hazardous mercury. Under the ban, the Energy Department is authorized to phase out incandescents, and it is doing so.

This dumb idea was tucked into a massive "omnibus" energy bill passed by the Democrats in 2007. Among other things, that bill created massive new subsidies for green energy development, severely tightened fuel mileage requirements for passenger vehicles, and created a whole new renewable fuels standard — all of which have increased the cost of our cars and our fuel.

McConnell voted for it.

Thanks, Mitch!

Wanting to reduce wasteful energy use is a fine goal. But there is a right way to do it, and a wrong way. The right way is to let markets work. The wrong way is to have the government interfere with people’s private choices.

When people have to pay the real cost of their electricity or gasoline use, or what have you, you can bet they will use only as much as makes sense to them financially and no more. When the government interferes, the result is inevitably waste and misallocation of resources. Sometimes the result is the very opposite of what the central planners had in mind.

That may be true here. The light-bulb ban probably drives up energy use by people who think they can leave energy-frugal compact fluorescents burning all the time at little cost to themselves. Certainly the ban reduces our comfort and convenience. More importantly, it reduces our freedom.

By the way. Why can’t these busybodies mind their own bee’s wax? Who gives a hoot about what kind of light-bulb other people use, or what kind of toilet they flush? Jeepers.

The light-bulb ban is one of the dumber ideas to come out of Washington in a long time. In voting for it, Mitch McConnell revealed himself to be — you’ll pardon the expression — a dim bulb.