What next? Government-mandated toilet paper?


This article announces the ban on incandescent lightbulbs which will take full effect in 2014. Wow! When I first heard this announcement I thought it had to be a joke. The government is now in control of what kind of lightbulbs we use. Before you know it they will be mandating the kind of toilet paper we use, how much, and how often.

I understand the underlying reasons for this new regulation: energy conservation. However, it seems that the approach could have been handled differently. For example, energy efficient automobiles, a.k.a. Hybrids, are on the market. There is no law requiring consumers to drive these vehicles rather people choose to drive them because of the energy-saving benefits they provide. They have increased in popularity and become more affordable since their first debut several years ago. More and more people are driving them by choice, not by government mandate.

Could the same idea be applied to the lightbulbs? Of course! The technology for a more energy-efficient bulb is already in effect: the compact fluorescent bulb. It is available on the market but apparently not being used by consumers as much as the government, power companies, and light bulb manufacturers would like.

Don't get me wrong--I am in favor of energy conservation. My issue with this new mandate is the degree of involvement the government has in our lives. It is not right for every aspect of our lives to be under government scrutiny and control. Consumers will choose compact fluorescent bulbs when the product makes sense by price as well as efficiency.


Isaac said...

While I agree that government should not control every aspect of our lives, it is sometimes justified when it benefits everyone as a whole. Having light bulbs that will conserve energy is a good thing even though it may annoy some individuals. Maybe a better alternative than banning incandescent light bulbs would be to offer a tax break if energy saving light bulbs are used. If this is done, government need not impose laws and people will start switching. It’s the same concept as energy efficient automobiles. Although not a law, people switch to improve the environment and of course the tax breaks.

Dr. Tufte said...

Ha ha, you're funny.

What you are describing is the system we've had for many years - they've just decided that it wasn't extreme enough.