Framing the Dialogue

Parsimony – Edison Deconstructed

In “Parse-imony” I break down current news stories with my pithy, running commentary…

First the headline:

Bill fails to overturn light bulb standards

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Tuesday failed to stop the enactment of new energy-saving standards for light bulbs they portrayed as yet another example of big government interfering in people’s lives. [“portrayed” is incorrect as the new standards are an example of government interfering in people’s lives by mandating what kind of light bulb will be available for them to use – taking choices away is interfering!]

The GOP bill to overturn the standards set to go into effect next year fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. The vote was 233-193.

For many Republicans, those newfangled [Is there any doubt that using “newfangled” is meant to disparage Republicans as bible-clinging, gun-toting idiots who don’t know progress when it runs them over? How about dramatically expensive, mercury and lead filled curly yellow-tinged light bulbs?] curly fluorescent light bulbs were the last straw, pushed by an overreaching government that’s forcing people to buy health insurance, prodding them to get more fuel-efficient cars and sticking its nose into too many places.

Their legislation would have kept the marketplace clear for the cheap, energy-wasting bulbs that have changed little since Thomas Edison invented them in 1879. [God knows that we don’t need inexpensive bulbs and many people, many many people do NOT like the light produced by those expensive foreign made bulbs. It is funny how this writer probably is all for ancient, though updated, energy producing windmill power while clean efficient nuclear energy is an anathema.]

For most Democrats, it’s an exasperating debate that, just like the old incandescent bulbs being crowded out of the market, produces more heat than light. [By the way did happen to know that the expensive energy saving bulbs are actually causing traffic problems because in the winter snow and ice buildup on the bulbs because they generate so little heat requiring deicing measures. Money saved in energy is being spent in maintenance.]

The standards in question do not specifically ban the old bulbs [No they made the standards so high that the bulbs would not meet them – “not specifically” may sound nice, but it is essentially a ban on the bulb.] but require a higher level of efficiency than the classics can produce, essentially nudging them off store shelves over the next few years. [By the way also nudging U.S. manufacturing jobs out as the cute, curly bulbs are all made overseas.] Four of Edison’s descendants said the great inventor would be mortified to see politicians trying to get the nation to hang on to an outdated technology when better bulbs are available.[Four out of five dentists also recommend Dentyne, but who cares what they think. My guess is that NONE of Edison’s descendants ever knew him nor did any of their parents. How many descendants are there? Were they all contacted? What percent like their ancestor’s bulb? These are the facts that American wants to know!]

The standards have not been particularly contentious before now. They were crafted in 2007 with GOP participation and signed into law by President George W. Bush. People seem to like the new choices and the energy savings they bring, polling finds. [Like all crappy legislation the politicians pushed the day of reckoning to after they would be out of office. Now that people like my wife realize that they will no longer be able to purchase (legally) their beloved 150 watt reading bulb or the cherished three-way bulb they are starting to make a stink and demand some action. I have friends who have begun stockpiling the classic bulbs. Funny how they like to trot out W when it suits their cause. W was a big government conservative – even though that seems like an oxymoron.]

But now they have become a symbol of a much larger divide in Washington over the size and reach of government itself. The new bulbs suggest to some conservatives that big government is running amok. [The bulbs are at best a minor issue and to suggest that they are the rallying point rather than Obamacare, EPA rules, etc. is silly. They are not a “divide in Washington” as Washington is all about big government whether you are a Democrat or Republican; it’s only a matter of degree. The divide is between Washington and the rest of the country.]

Note: My household may be the perfect example of how this should work. My wife HATES the CFL bulbs while I don’t mind them. I do like the lower energy expense and the longer life though I am not sure that they are cheaper in the long run. My wife hates the color of the light that they give off and their lack of intensity, especially for reading. We agree to disagree and some of our bulbs are CFL and some are Edison’s classic. It is telling that so many people demand Edison’s invention even though you can often get the CFLs free through government subsidized programs. Why not let the free market decide the winners and losers? Edison was a free market guy as evidenced by his battle with rival George Westinghouse over which current to use to provide electricity to the masses. Westinghouse’s AC won and it is still in use today.

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