Twinkle, Twinkle, Giant Sulfur Streetlight, Consuming Energy, At My Expense

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Approximately 75 feet from my childhood bedroom window, out of which I currently gaze, stands a colossal steel pole capped with a massive sulfur light bulb encased in a dingy plastic cage. This giant streetlight has stood in the same location for nearly forty years, and has, according to my patchy childhood recollection, never failed to turn on at the first sign of dusk and burn all night until the first light of dawn. I cannot recall a single night in my entire childhood during which this streetlight failed to cast its grimy, orange colored light into my bedroom.

As a child and a teenager, I never devoted a single critical thought to this streetlight, since I took both its existence and utterly imperturbable schedule completely for granted. It was, for me, a feature of the physical world as inexorably given as the sun or the moon. As I have grown older, however, I have developed what can only be described as abject hatred for this streetlight and everything it stands for.

Lest you be inclined to think that I have become hopelessly insane since my teenage years, I hope that you will allow me to attempt to explain why I hate this streetlight with such vehemence, and why I think you should hate your own streetlight with the same passion. More importantly, I think I may even be able to convince you to loathe all the groups responsible for the continuing existence streetlights in America with even more ardor than the streetlights themselves.

In order to understand why I hate my streetlight as passionately as I do (to be fair, though, I hate all government streetlights with equal passion), it is important to first recognize that a streetlight is not just an inanimate thing. On the contrary, a streetlight is a thing created by man for a specific purpose. And, since a streetlight is an object fashioned by man’s mind and hands, it is also an object that cost men a certain amount of energy and time and valuable resources to initially create. Moreover, a streetlight is a man-made object that continues to consume man’s time, energy and resources each and every day that it serves its intended purpose, since streetlights both require maintenance and have to be fed their nightly ration of electricity in order to continue to function in the way they were designed to function. Hence, in order for there to exist streetlights on each and every street, in each and every neighborhood, in each and every city in each and every state in America, somebody has to pay both for them to be created and for the mind-boggling supply of electricity that is required to light them each and every night.

And who, do you suppose, is the party responsible for paying the never-ending costs to light the streetlight outside my bedroom window? Well, the short (and incomplete) answer would be that government pays the ongoing costs to keep this streetlight burning each and every night. The complete answer, however, would be that I (along with every other hapless taxpayer in my city) am the poor sap who is responsible for paying the endless costs to keep this streetlight burning every night. Since governments do not actually produce anything at all, except with money that they take from productive men against their will, the poor taxpayers are ultimately the parties who are compelled to pay the costs to light every streetlight on each and every street, in each and every neighborhood, in each and every city in each and every state in America.

It is for precisely these reasons that I despise the streetlight outside my childhood bedroom window with all my heart. For, no one from the city government has ever — in my entire life — asked me whether I want this streetlight, or any other streetlight, to burn each and every night of each and every year, at my expense. No agent from the city government has ever come to my home or sent me letter to inquire whether I would prefer to have X amount in my bank account to buy food, or whether I would like to burn that money on electricity to light up the raccoons in my garbage cans while I sleep. Instead, the agents of the city government simply present me with a notice every year informing me that I must pay X amount in taxes (which includes money they will spend, or already have spent, on electricity for this streetlight), and I have the unenviable choice to either pay that amount of hard-earned money or go to jail. The city government, in essence, tells me what I want and what I am going to get (and, of course, how much it will cost), and I have to either live with it or go to jail. In previous centuries, such actions would be instantaneously and unequivocally be labeled "Robbery."

Nevermind the fact that I own a car that possesses headlights for driving at night, like everyone else. Nevermind the fact that I prefer star-studded, black night skies to dingy, sulfur light. Nevermind the fact that this horrible waste of electricity drastically increases the price of oil and gasoline. (As an aside, have you ever flown over a major American city at night and thought to yourself: "Wow, that’s an amazing amount of electricity being wasted while people sleep! No wonder Americans consume so much oil, and have to pay so much at the pump! Gas prices would be radically lower now, if the government hadn’t been burning up our money on oil for streetlights for decades!") Nevermind the fact that I will have to work extra hours each and every year in order to pay for this useless nocturnal light. Nevermind the fact that we are already in the early stages of a recession, and are wasting our precious national treasure on light. Nevermind the fact that I own a .45, a .357 magnum, and an M1a to take care of criminals in the night, and thus don’t need socialized light to protect my property. Nevermind the fact that I prefer buying food to buying light while I sleep. The city will continue to light up this streetlight forever as long as they can continue to extort tax money out of men like me in order to pay for it.

In conclusion, I do not consider myself insane in the slightest degree simply because I hate the streetlight outside my childhood bedroom window with every fiber of my being. On the contrary, I simply consider myself to be a man who is tired of being a dupe, a man who is weary from being taxed into poverty, and a man who is trying with all his mortal strength to develop the courage to do something about it.

Mark R. Crovelli [send him mail] writes from Denver, Colorado.

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