The Corner

Your Government at Work

The Post has a front-page story on the impending closing of GE’s last incandescent-light-bulb factory in the United States, in my old stomping grounds of Winchester, Va. The headline reads “How innovation killed the lights” — but it’s not “innovation” that caused this dislocation:

What made the plant here vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014. The law will force millions of American households to switch to more efficient bulbs.

The resulting savings in energy and greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to be immense. But the move also had unintended consequences.

Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.

As with the low-flow-toilet rules (which Dave Barry so effectively mocked) or shower-head regulation (which Seinfeld mocked), this is something people directly experience and don’t like. We can complain about this among ourselves all we want, but Republican candidates need to actually run on this sort of thing — acknowledge that it’s just a light bulb (or shower head or whatever), but that a government big enough to tell you what light bulb to use is a government big enough to take everything you have.

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