Opinion: Dim government thinking creates silly law


By Ted Gaines

As we say hello to 2012, it is time to say goodbye to an old friend, the trusty and dependable 100-watt light bulb. It will disappear into the new, uncomfortably-bright white world of the compact fluorescent light (CFL), where green Utopianism is killing consumer choice, shipping jobs to China, and lowering the dimmer switch on freedom.

The government’s benevolent, freedom-loving message to the people regarding CFLs is this: You can use any bulb you like, as long as it’s fluorescent. That’s because CFLs are the chief replacement for the traditional incandescent light bulbs that the federal government will effectively ban in stages starting Jan. 1, 2012.

Ted Gaines

The problem with that Hobson’s choice is that people already have real choices when it comes to bulbs for their homes and they don’t need the wisdom of bureaucrats to light the way for them.

Many are getting by with the same inefficient, global-warming villain known as the incandescent bulb that has only survived more than a century without significant change. Among things it does that CFLs do not do is glow with a light people actually enjoy and does not give them headaches. Who would want that when the government says otherwise?

It also doesn’t spill Mercury – a poison – onto the linoleum when it breaks, requiring a scary list of EPA clean-up instructions that include emptying the room of people and pets, airing out the room for 10 minutes and turning off any central heating and air systems. And it’s cheap.

The CFL has its advantages over the traditional bulb. Energy efficiency is the CFL’s calling card. It uses a fraction of the incandescent’s energy. It lasts longer.

The government, though, isn’t weighing the benefits of one against the other, like consumers in a free society do day after day with product after product from candy bars to cars. No – it has made up consumers’ minds for them and put the fear of global warming above everything else.

What do consumers want? When standing in the light bulb aisle, with the bulbs sitting right next to each other on the shelves, they ignore the dictates of the green bien pensants and overwhelmingly choose incandescent bulbs.

Apparently, they are suffering from a collective delusion about what product is better.

The ban has all the hallmarks of bad government. It’s a nannyish, meddling, superior regulation that will force people to buy a product they don’t want for more money.

The green jobs that were supposed to be one of the many blessings of the forced transition were not a myth, however. They appeared – in China. Apparently, labor-intensive CFL manufacturing doesn’t pencil out in America.

As we say goodbye to the signature invention of American’s greatest inventor, let’s remember that we won’t lose our freedom all at once, but one light bulb at a time.

Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties.


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Comments (17)
  1. SmedleyButler says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    Ah TeabagTed…our own piece of the dim bulb obstructionist, anti-science, head-in-the-sand ignorant wing of the GOP. Before such luminaries as Fox news Glenn Beck and Joseph Farah of WorldNutDaily made this into an “issue”, the common sense law passed with strong bipartisan support and signed by GW Bush in 2007, was widely praised as a smart idea in energy savings. This suppposed “personal opinion” is nothing more than a basic re-write of teabagger “hate Obama” blogs, fraught with all the exaggerations and misconceptions they contain. We deserve better representation than knuckledragger,tea party partisans that pander to the low info extremist minority of our area.

  2. dogwoman says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    It was a bad idea in ’07 and it’s a bad idea now. Where in the Constitution is the Federal Government permitted to legislate what kind of lighting the citizens are able to purchase? I hate fluorescents. They give me migraines. And my old eyes need bright lighting to read by. And don’t tell me people are all actually recycling those mercury bulbs properly. I know they aren’t.

  3. SmedleyButler says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    Of course you can still buy the old light bulbs at any home improvement store. My neighbor also has a migraine problem and uses the new Sylvania 72 incandescents. The false notion that you are being forced to buy something by the evil Obama administration is BS from the usual misinformers that just endlessly repeat nonsense.

  4. dogwoman says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    You can no longer buy 100 watt incandescents. They are eliminating them over time by wattage. And no, it wasn’t the Obama admin that started this, but they aren’t stopping it, either.

  5. KnowBears says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    I’m pretty sure CFL v incandescent and the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries are separate issues.

    I’m also pretty sure the light bulb hubbub isn’t central to the global climate change hubbub.

    I’m quite sure that believing something doesn’t make it true, and when it comes to global warming and other negative impacts of humans on our one and only planet, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

    I very much hope LEDs (which the article doesn’t mention) have a real future as an every-day lighting option.

    I will grant you, however, that legislating away incandescent bulbs seems a bit much, that plenty of people cannot afford alternatives, that some find newer light sources hard on their eyes and inclined to trigger migraines, and I absolutely agree that most people do not discard CFLs responsibly.

    It would make sense, I think, to do a good job of educating people about the pros and cons of options, but also offer incentives for returning CFLs for recycling. Make it easy and convenient and offer a tangible reward, and folks will turn in old CFLs. (If people could just bag up their bottles and cans and return them to the supermarket for a refund on the spot, a lot more bottles and cans would be recycled. Likewise batteries and CFLs and whatever else I’m neglecting to mention.

  6. scadmin says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    They still sell incandescent 100 watt lightbulbs at Home Depot in Nevada. Just bought some recently.

  7. dogwoman says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    Before or after the first of the year?

  8. the conservation robot says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    This guy is so full of it.
    Here, he misrepresents the truth:
    “You can use any bulb you like, as long as it’s fluorescent.” That isn’t true, that is hyperbolic spin.
    And that is what he opens with. Why bother reading anything else after that?
    Calling it a ban is misleading too. There will not be a complete ban of incandescent bulbs.
    The truth: All bulbs outside of the range of 40-100 are exempt.
    I am sure there will be a large supply of 120w incandescent bulbs for you in the near future.
    By 2020, all bulbs will have to meet a minimum efficiency standard.
    Mr Gains leaves out all of this information and attempts to whip you conservatives up into a delusional frenzy.
    Lies and misinformation, hyperbole, opinion that ignores facts.
    That pretty much sums up the majority of what I read from conservatives.

    I am not going to even go into detail about why his mention of mercury is misleading. In short, mercury is released into the atmosphere when we burn coal, a CFL prevents many times the amount of mercury it contains over its life cycle.

    You have all been fooled again.

  9. Garry Bowen says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    As a former consultant to Philips Eindhoven (Norelco, Sylvania, Matsushita, etc.) – for over a quarter of a century, they have controlled about 90+% of the world’s light bulb business – a lot of people, including Mr. Gaines, don’t know that. . .

    Incandescents are now banned on the entire continent of Australia, for example, and other places are scheduled to follow suit. Once it was determined that the most prolific product of existing light bulbs was “heat”, and not light, energy efficiency took hold as the simplest way not to use excess (unnecessary) amounts.

    Great strides have been made in the ambient (i.e.’usual’) household light, and, true to political polemic, Mr. Gaines completely discounts the fact that LED lighting quickly “leapfrogged” the CFL, to an increase of thousands of hours per purchase, at hundreds of per cent better, for the consumer, over the long haul.

    The change is jarring, but better, and cheaper – from now on. . .

  10. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    The CFLs I’ve bought don’t last any longer than the incandescents they are replacing but they cost more. Where is the saving to the consumer?

  11. SmedleyButler says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    If you bought CFL bulbs in the last couple years they are still working…. or you have a serious electrical problem at your residence… or you’re just being obtuse.

  12. dogwoman says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    I replaced the can lights in my kitchen with cfl’s. We built the house in 2003 and had a high end electrical company wire it. The original bulbs lasted about 5 years before they started burning out, the new cfl’s started burning out within 6 months. They’ve all burned out within 2 years. The amount of use in that room hasn’t changed. Explanation?

  13. Robert Fleischer says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    I am not getting into the CFL controversy over mercury, ETC.
    The majority of CFL lamps being sold or given away by such as the power company do NOT work with common lamp dimmers. Their life can be greatly reduced if you try to use dimmers. Some CFL’s that you CAN purchase, ARE OK with common dimmers, although you may not get 100% control.
    As far as longevity goes, another problem is that CFL lamps, in general, do NOT like to be turned on and off really often. Most CFL’s should not be installed where the lamp is not going to be on for at least 15 minutes; and for most CFL’s, it is better that they are not turned on and off quite numerous times per day. The starting mechanisms, and there are two types (magnetic and electronic, some a mixture), will fail soon, and you will not get long life out of the lamp.
    A few of these types of lamps are not designed well to fit in enclosures, like some ceiling cans, where the heat generated in the start/run circuitry can build up.
    As with most things in life, the CFL’s can be useful, but are not the answer to every lighting situation.

  14. the conservation robot says - Posted: January 6, 2012

    Garry and Robert, excellent contributions.
    Another lighting technology that is on the way here, and is used in Japan, is ceramic metal halide bulbs. The spectrum is better, making them ideal for road lighting, and they are much more efficient. A 600w bulb can replace a 1000w bulb.

  15. tahoegal says - Posted: January 7, 2012

    Ted, so like you. With all of the really important issues facing the nation, this is your top priority? How about the people who can’t affored to pay their light or heating bills? Given that any thought? Get a grip.