We Should Do What the Government Says Is Good for Us

Recently by Karen De Coster: Ghee vs. the Government-Industrial Food Complex’Butter(s)’

This article from Gawker media, which is centered on my opinions and writings about the incandescent light bulb banishment, appeared on Gizmodo on Thursday, September 20, 2012, complete with compare-and-contrast photos. Gizmodo is one of many weblogs of the parent company, Gawker media. I took no issue with doing the interview with this particular website on why the government’s ban on incandescent light bulbs is totalitarian, even though I had a gut feeling – very early on – that the author and/or editor would attempt to slam dunk me. And the author indeed attempted to do this, and only lightly so, but the straw man argument was not very successful.

In fact, the author and story editor had googled me and they came across what they thought to be an interesting pro-gun photo of me that was in contrast to the photo – me with some light bulbs – that I had supplied to them. I had no problem with them running the other photo, knowing that the slam dunk and photo reveal on their part would actually backfire very much in my favor.

First of all – to correct a few items from the article: the shorts I am wearing are not “daisy dukes,” as several observant folks pointed out on my Facebook page. They are 1970s-style, cut-off Levi shorts. Big difference. Additionally, the rifle I am holding is a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle), not an “assault rifle.” My friend who owns the rifle notes that the BAR would not be considered an assault rifle because it fires a full-size .30-06 cartridge. The “assault rifle” designation, which is always used as a pejorative remark, is merely an old ploy to paint one as a lunatic who is doing something that is in opposition to the uninformed opinions of the compliant masses (gasp!) that prefer following the sheep over the cliff in order to be good little citizens of the state. Since my blog clearly sates, “eccentric in demeanor and opinion,” one can expect that I may have a hobby or two, along with a thought or two, which are not approved by the masses who worship the purveyors of conventional wisdom from their dutiful fiefdoms.

Also, I am not an “unofficial leader” of any movement to hoard incandescent light bulbs. I am a lone writer, with almost no “official” associations, who has stood as an independent writer/blogger/researcher for fourteen years. I write what I see, and that includes both research and facts, and my ensuing opinions and/or conclusions are presented in various formats – serious, critical, humorous, and/or satire.

The interesting tack of this Gizmodo story is that very little of what I actually said was quoted, and my thesis – on why the government’s ban is pro-special/corporate interests and anti-freedom – was never brought out, even though I spelled it out clearly in the email interview. Thus I am reprinting the questions and my responses below, in full, as I sent them off to the author of the piece.

The gist of the Gizmodo story, in fact, is kind of amusing: I am a “right-leaning” anti-Democrat in the same vein as Rush Limbaugh(!) and Michelle Bachman? Anyone who did any research, at all, in my fourteen years of archives, outside of “daisy duke” photos, would have immediately seized upon the fact that I am an anarcho-libertarian (a market anarchist) who has absolutely no allegiance to any political party, let alone the modern “conservative,” social democrat-fascist party. Here is my interview as I completed it.

1. How many bulbs have you stockpiled thus far, and how many more do you plan on getting before you’re through?

I have about 400-500 bulbs at this point. I have 60 watt, 75 watt, 100 watt, 3-way, and many of those are daylight and/or GE Reveal bulbs. I don't know if I will get a whole lot more for my own use, but if I do, it'll be because I see favorable resale prices and/or a good market for them after they become difficult for the public to find.

2. How much have you spent stockpiling these bulbs?

Many of these bulbs come at the cost of $1.25 per 4-pack for the generic brands, and .60 – .70 per bulb for some of the name brands, so they are not expensive to hoard. My favorite standard incandescent bulb, the GE Reveal, costs about $1.30 per bulb. Accordingly, I've spent less about $250 or so on my entire stockpile.

3. Why are you doing this?

This is a totalitarian green scheme on the part of massively powerful special interests that have banded together to serve their own political agendas.

It's yet another government attack on civilization. It's a condemnation of our standard of living and an attack on human comfort with the ban of one of civilization's stellar inventions.

Those who seek to deny the rights of others to choose their own light bulbs stress the notion that incandescent bulbs haven't been "banned." The law, indeed, is "technology neutral" in that it sets particular standards for bulbs that cannot be met with traditional incandescent technology. But the efficiency standards were set arbitrarily high so that the traditional bulbs could no longer meet the new requirements.

Is it so difficult to see that when government sets impossible standards to meet that will result in the phase-out (manufacturing and importing) of current products in favor of newer products that benefit certain manufacturers, industries, and special interests, this is a totalitarian, lifestyle decree in the same vein as a full-force, explicit ban on the product? Why is implicitly peddled "soft fascism" somehow kindler and gentler than explicit, acknowledged totalitarian decrees?

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who holds a Nobel Prize in physics, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying "We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money." So once again, our lofty rulers treat their lowly subjects as morons and are thus compelled to direct our private lives for us in the name of saving us from our own stupidity. Why, then, don't they force us take their compulsory "advice" on buying MP3 players, toilet paper, or computer software? Perhaps because there are not enough empowered political and special interests in these hotly contested markets?

So yes, this is partly a freedom issue. We have come to a point in America where we are under a consistent barrage of attacks on our lifestyles and our choices, and always, there is some warm-and-fuzzy scheme being peddled to the citizens (in this case, saving the planet) that makes them feel guilt-ridden if they don't buy into the blarney.

But there are other, more important reasons for my objection to this ban that are based on personal preferences. I'm an artist at my root, and I see light as something that shapes my atmosphere and influences my mood. I did much of my home interior design around my lighting, with strategic placement of lights, as well as dimmers on most of my switch plates.

Personally, I despise fluorescents lighting because they are too bright and too obnoxious. I don't want to relax in my home, reading a book on the couch, and look around and see my rooms lit up like my office environment with lights blaring at me.

CFLs just don't have the same warm glow as incandescent bulbs. CFLs also can't be dimmed as low as an incandescent light bulb, which makes them unfriendly to people who value a quality ambiance. LEDs can dim lower than CFLs, but the cost of LEDs may be high for some time. I value natural sunlight during the daytime, and very low, strategically placed lighting in the evening and at night. This helps me to shut down, unwind, and prepare for a good night of sleep. I sleep so well that if it takes me more than five minutes to fall asleep, that is akin to insomnia for me. On the contrary, sleeping problems and sleeping pill use is almost epidemic in America.

In fact, some researchers interested in the topic of how light affects human moods have noted that the bluer light from CFLs closely resembles daylight, and this will suppress our body's ability to produce required melatonin, therefore causing mood and sleep issues.

The filament bulbs emit a more pleasing yellow light that sets the tone for rest and relaxation, and your body responds positively, thus allowing for more consistent sleeping patterns.

Some recent research from scientists shows that compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs are bad for your health. They noted that CFLs release carcinogenic chemicals and toxins in addition to frying your skin and potentially causing migraine headaches.

Additionally, CFLs contain mercury, and it's drama time whenever you bust one inside the house. There's a reason that the EPA website contains three pages of consumer directions about what to do if you break a CFL bulb in your home: "Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more. Shut off the central heating and air conditioning system. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid." To me, this sounds like an environmental and human hazard.

Where is the FTC's consumer protection division when it comes to protecting people from government-approved household hazards that we are forced to buy?

Lastly, there's the issue of resale value when the popularity of incandescent bulbs exceeds the available supply. Due to the quality of incandescent lighting, there will always be a market for incandescent bulbs, even if the price structure of the new-age replacements eventually drops to current norms.

Reading my interview responses after reading the Gizmodo piece will give the reader a good indication of how deliberately the story was skewed to ignore the fact that I am an intelligent, articulate writer with facts to back up my writings and views, and instead, the story wanted to present me as one of those few nutcases in existence, hiding in the woods and wearing “daisy dukes,” shooting guns, and dissenting against the government’s superior wisdom and the good sense of the well-meaning collective establishment who need to “nudge” us toward better decisions because we are too stupid to understand how ignorant we are as individuals.

I find it funny that the author actually writes this in his piece:

Some people simply don’t want to be told what to do, regardless of how good it is for them or the world. They’d rather just hoard the outlawed bulbs.

For her part, De Coster had a lot of the same complaints as others in favor of keeping conventional incandescent bulbs around.

Can you say eyes-roll-back-into-head? Who would actually put it in writing that we should allow governments, elites, corporate interests, human-hating environmental special interests, or even our best friends “tell us what to do?” And all for a fluffy-and-warm notion such as “good for the world?” By whose definition is anything “good for the world?” General Electric’s definition? Or the definition of government cabinet appointees and czars? Or the definition of all the little generals among the masses who desire to enforce government dictates with their own opinions and chorus of agreement with their rulers? Or does my own definition suffice in terms of making my own decisions about what to do with my body, property, lifestyle, or otherwise? Who are the “victims” when I make the choice to use an incandescent bulb that I favor over other choices forced upon me?

Worse yet, the author has declared that the conventional wisdom of the politicized special interests is “good for me.” Really? Indeed, there really are people who believe that deciding what is “good for” individuals is not subjective to each individual, but rather it is up for vote amongst the masses, including strangers who have no knowledge of or relation to the individuals in question.

Lastly, the author ends with this:

But when I email her to ask her why she won’t simply buy the new, more efficient incandescent bulbs, she says she shouldn’t have to. “It is like saying that I love to eat beef, and I occasionally like to eat chicken, but prefer beef,” she writes. “Should the government ban me from eating beef – on the basis of political-special interest hogwash – and ask me if replacing all of my beef with chicken is acceptable, because government has deemed that chicken is more efficient, or politically palatable? Of course, I desire both, and banning beef and telling me that chicken should be an acceptable 100 percent replacement is still totalitarianism, and so, no, it is not acceptable.”

It is a strange world. And some people like to be kept in the dark.

If not becoming a slave to the opinions and demands of my fellow citizens based on what they think is “good for me” or “good for the world” is being “kept in the dark,” then I suppose only the yellow brick road to the government’s good-for-me gulag is well-lit with the establishment’s preferred CFLs. I’ll take the dark way that offers up bits of freedom any day, as opposed to the lighted approach that is bound in chains but paved with “good intentions” to save the planet while also saving us evil renegades from our derelict decisions.

Indeed, it is a strange world where the statist mentality of the masses has become so deeply embedded that a person cannot comprehend that unique individuals have unique preferences, and therefore, their choices are distinct. How is it possible that Americans – who are so blessed to have once been given a shot at bona fide freedom – have become so uniquely adapted to being unconditionally compliant and living in chains as slaves, while being ungrudgingly subservient to a massive government-corporatocracy-special interest complex that erodes their freedoms almost daily, while enabling the elite overlords who control and rule over them for power and profit?" Perhaps that is a question that would befuddle our author and provoke an entire new article.

Some folks wondered why I agreed to do this interview with Gawker media, knowing the potential for a sensationalist pummeling. However, I really don’t mind, and in fact, I think that good things almost always come from incidents such as this one. I received many media requests immediately after this story ran, and almost all were from media people who are sympathetic to libertarian principles, and who noted the drubbing and want to present the depth of my side in the matter. All to the good.

That said, on Wednesday, September 26th, I will do an interview with Doc Thompson on WXYT AM in Detroit, and I am also doing an interview with a journalist from the Sun Media Corporation of Canada.

I am a big believer in putting one’s thoughts out there, and learning to deal with the straw man hit-and-runs, as well as criticism and disagreement from outside of the choir. It’s a part of being a visible dissenter with unconventional ideas trying to persuade the masses. When the heat in the kitchen is cranked up, I’d like to think I can flourish because I become more focused and I channel my energies more efficiently. And that’s without the government’s “efficient” CFLs, and without my fellow citizens telling me what is good for me.