Posts Tagged ‘ light bulbs ’

How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Republicans have found the latest travesty perpetrated against the American people: America’s light bulb efficiency standards. Nearly every Republican in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to repeal the energy-efficiency standard put in place in 2007 which requires light bulbs to be 40% more efficient than they were in 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal. This efficiency standard has been endorsed by¬†the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, consumer and conservation groups and is expected to save the US economy $6 billion per year in reduced energy costs.

All relevant industry players are behind this law, it will save the US a not-trifling amount of money, the standard was signed into law by a Republican President and with considerable Republican support, so what is the problem? Republicans are arguing from the standpoint of consumer choice. They think that people should have the right to buy inefficient light bulbs if they so choose.

I suppose there is some amount of merit in that argument. All else equal, people should have as much choice as possible. However, the government has a legitimate interest in reducing our carbon emissions, decreasing the amount of energy we use, saving consumers money and preventing waste and promoting efficiency in the economy. But wait, I thought that using the free market was the ultimate way to promote efficiency in the economy? Well, not always. Sometimes using the free market leads to some very inefficient solutions to problems. The light bulb situation is a case-in-point. In a free market, people would choose light bulbs that waste energy. With government standards, consumers will save money and the economy works more efficiently.

When the government can make the private economy more efficient, especially when doing so will cause little or no discomfort to manufacturers, consumers and retailers, the government usually should do so.

Anyway, this will never pass the Senate or the White House, so put another futile and ideological tally mark in the “just wasting our time” column of the 112th House of Representatives’ score sheet.

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