Writing for Bloomberg News, Virginia Postrel describes the upcoming ban on the 100 watt incandescent light bulb, a ban that was driven by Democrats with an assist from GOP senators and the usual “oh OK” from George W. Bush. The fact that the ban is not even a particularly efficient means of working towards the environmental aims that it is supposed to achieve counted for nothing; in the grand tradition of all religious offerings (as that it what it really is) its effect will be questionable but the necessary demonstration of public piety will have been made. The fact that a few manufacturers will benefit gives it a bracing new crony capitalistic twist, and the fact that it will cost American jobs is, of course, an irrelevance.
The bulb ban makes sense only one of two ways: either as an expression of cultural sanctimony, with a little technophilia thrown in for added glamour, or as a roundabout way to transfer wealth from the general public to the few businesses with the know-how to produce the light bulbs consumers don’t really want to buy.
Or, of course, as both.
Is this the biggest deal in the world? No. But sometimes symbolism counts. The congressional GOP should ban this ban, and let those who vote or veto against them explain themselves in 2012.