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Going, Going…

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I’m an information junkie.  I’ll read a two-week-old newspaper with the same intensity someone else will watch “Dancing With the Stars.”  Sometimes a news item will reach out and slap me in the face, grabbing my attention.  An article about a factory closing in Winchester, Virginia did just that.

Factory closings have, unfortunately, been regular news for decades.  It is a blow to young workers, painful to the middle-aged, and especially cruel to those nearing retirement, as their Social Security benefits are strongly affected by their income for the previous three years.

This factory, owned by General Electric, was the last large American maker of incandescent light bulbs, the brainchild of Thomas Edison and used by the civilized world for generations.  You may or may not be aware that Congress, in its infinite wisdom, outlawed them in 2007, but pushed the effective date conveniently down the road to 2014, so as not to incur the wrath of us commoners.

The reason for outlawing the incandescent bulbs is to force Americans to use Compact Flourescent Light bulbs (CFLs), which are the squiggly bulbs that use less electricity and are supposed to save the environment.  By turning a 75 watt bulb into a 13 watt bulb, we will use less energy, create a smaller “carbon footprint”, thus creating less greenhouse gases and less global warming.  During the election cycle of 2008 and during 2009, politicians spoke glowingly about “green” legislation like cap-and-trade that would add millions of “green” jobs.  It sounded great.

Oops, it didn’t quite work out that way.  Sorry about that.

First, the bulbs contain mercury, which is very toxic and can cause all kinds of health problems, especially with children.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been strangely silent on the dangers of adding mercury to our living spaces.  I went to the website of the EPA to see how to deal with a broken CFL bulb.  There are two pages of directions; too much to print here, but here is the link to the document.  It is worth reading, as you will likely have to deal with the situation.

http://www.epa.gov/cfl/cflcleanup.pdf

My favorite way of breaking light bulbs usually involves blundering into a lamp on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I can’t imagine evacuating the premises and opening all windows at 3 a.m.

Second, people don’t like them.  Recently, I walked into the light bulb aisle at Walmart. On the left were the old-fashioned bulbs; on the right, the CFLs.  The CFL shelves were orderly, neat, organized and full. The Edison bulb shelves were somewhat disorganized and nearly empty.  The lesson here is that people are buying up the Edison bulbs and leaving the CFLs where they belong – on the shelf.

Third, as a nation, we are creating “green jobs.”  The problem is, we are creating them in China.  Most of the Edison bulbs were manufactured in the U.S.A.; none of the CFLs are.  Most are made in China.  We were promised that our economy would be revitalized with hundreds of thousands or millions of “green jobs.”  It didn’t happen, and it won’t happen.

What bothers me the most about the entire subject is the fact that some of our elected leaders actually think it is their job to issue laws that direct us to live in a way they think is best.  This is just one in a long, long line of insultingly intrusive laws, back to Prohibition, including no prayer in schools, traffic cameras, low-flush toilets, low-water laundry washing machines and countless other laws.  Hey Washington! Stop telling us how to light our homes, wash our clothes and flush our toilets! We can figure that out ourselves.  Instead, try doing the work you were hired for, like defending the country and balancing the national checkbook.

All this is not to knock being “green.”  Elsewhere on this website, Brittani Wiggins writes an excellent column called “Going Green Tips,” where she talks about using less and wasting less.  It makes sense to recycle, not to pollute, not to litter – especially not in front of my house.  It also makes sense to conserve energy, to turn off the lights when you leave the room, to keep the thermostat set for both comfort and economy.  Efficiency is good; it saves resources and is easier on the wallet.  Most people will follow common sense and the aforementioned wallet.  When gasoline prices skyrocket, sales of fuel-efficient cars go up.  When electricity rates rise, people turn down the thermostat and turn off lights.  This is natural – people making intelligent choices based on facts and needs. What is unnatural is change enforced by the iron fist of government.  That is not what our nation is about.

The light bulb is a metaphor for all that is wrong with Washington, D.C.  The Edison bulb stands for all that is right with America – ingenuity, perserverance, capitalism.  The CFL stands for all that has gone wrong – government mandates, nanny statism, fad science, and smothering government interference in our lives.  I know some people who think CFLs are a good idea to save energy; I know of no one who thinks it should be against the law to use the old standby incandescent bulbs.

And this is just one more reason millions of Americans voted this week against candidates who stand for big intrusive government.

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Larry Bertolino

Larry Bertolino

Owner at myLocalPCpro
Larry Bertolino is a 31 year old, U.S Navy Veteran and currently sitting on the board of Directors for the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, as well as Harrison County Rural Transit.
Larry Bertolino
Larry Bertolino

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Posted by on November 5, 2010, 10:24 am. Filed under Featured, John Lovejoy, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry