Could the last supporter of small government turn off the lights when they leave?

So, Canada’s New Nanny™ banned light bulbs today. Today, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced that the government would force retailers to phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012.

This kind of action is actually counter productive to our progress and to the development of even greener technologies. By tying the invisible hand of the market, the Canadian government has in effect created an artificially high demand in fluorescent lights instead of letting Edison-style incandescents compete with the swirly fluorescents in the marketplace. The inefficient bulbs banned today cost seven times less than the fluorescent variety. Indeed, cost itself poses the problem. By removing incandescent bulbs from the marketplace, the government is removing competition. Now, manufacturers of fluorescent bulbs do not face competing pressure from the incandescent demand. Thus, there is less incentive to make a cheaper and even more efficient fluorescent bulb now that the government has removed its competition from the shelves. Over the long term, we may have in fact stunted the development of cheaper and more efficient means of illumination.

Some may argue that over time, due to energy savings, fluorescent bulbs have better value than incandescents. If this is the case, there is already incentive to switch over. I would rather the government give 100% tax credits on fluorescent light bulb purchases than have it ban me from making my own consumer choices.

Today, I am a little disappointed in my Conservative Party. This is also the same party that two short years ago argued that banning trans-fats was counter to the principles of consumer choice. By one extension, this light bulb decision is even counter to the government’s position on the long gun registry. In 2012, bureaucrats won’t have light bulbs to register. No, by 2012, the government will have thankfully banned harmful incandescent bulbs and the only ones that you’ll be able to find will be on the black market. This isn’t the party that favours government regulations, bans, and registrars is it?

Further, what secondary effects can are we not considering? Studies have shown that children exposed to fluorescent light were statistically more likely to develop hyperopia (far-sightedness). Children under the age of two whose rooms were lit with fluorescent lighting are more likely to develop astigmatism. Fluorescent lighting has also been shown to heighten the symptoms of agoraphobia.

So, the government has decided to ban light bulbs to appease the growing hysteria that, some might say, stems from the left-wing need for global social and economic reconfiguration. Granted, the ban will have a measured benefit in the short term. But, for reasons I’ve outlined above, it is best for the consumer to make such a decision because the market has shown a great talent for addressing consumer needs, whatever they may be.

If a lightbulb is turned on in Timmins, will a tidal wave hit Japan?

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