Your Light Bulbs Are Suddenly a Symbol of Freedom in Texas and Beyond

Categories: Politics

100-watt-rough-service-light-bulb-6-pack.jpg
This bulb, currently on the extinction list, has become an ideological symbol in Texas and across the nation.
Earlier this year, state Rep. Marva Beck looked up at the elegant light fixtures above the House floor in Austin and decided they would be ruined by "squiggly" energy-efficient bulbs. So she delved into the bulb issue and co-authored a bill, recently signed into law by Governor Rick Perry, that exempts incandescent bulbs manufactured and sold in Texas from the 2007 federal law that phases out certain types of bulbs by 2012.

But, somehow, thanks to a local politician, the bulb problem has become much deeper than a matter of ugly squiggles in elegant fixtures -- much, much deeper. Nationally deeper. Ideologically deeper. Like the-Tea-Party-is-way-into-this-shit deeper.

The BULB Act, introduced by Texas Congressman Joe Barton, would have repealed the 2007 law that effectively bans some types of incandescent bulbs in favor or more efficient options. But after much debate on the House floor, Barton's bill didn't garner enough votes to get through Congress. So, to comply with the 2007 law, certain old incandescent bulbs will be eliminated in favor of other options, including a newer incandescent bulb that is both more efficient and more expensive.

"The federal government ought not to be in a position to tell us what we can and cannot buy," Beck tells Unfair Park, echoing the sentiments of suddenly bulb-obsessed conservatives across the nation. "The economy that we're in -- with the price of the essential things like food and gas ... why would we put this extra burden on the consumer?"

Thus the new Texas law. It protects incandescent bulbs manufactured and sold within state borders, depending on one fairly major supposition -- that there are, in fact, incandescent bulbs that are being manufactured and sold in Texas.

Which, right now, there aren't.

"We're hopeful this bill will encourage someone to take that back up," Beck says. Much of our country's bulb supply comes from China, Mexico and other places. Beck and the bill's supporters want those jobs back here in Texas. According to the Los Angeles Times, Pennsylvania and South Carolina are making strides to follow our state's lead.

Setting up a new manufacturing plant to churn out old and inefficient, but cheap, easy, and familiar bulbs comes with its own set of issues, especially when those bulbs can only be sold in one state. (If these mythical plants turn out efficient bulbs, the law won't matter.) But let's be honest: At this point, our nation's bulbs are more of a symbolic issue. Cheap goods, more jobs, less government -- yep, we've heard these are noble ideals, maybe even good enough to sustain a presidential candidacy, assuming the accompanying hair is wavy enough.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's see the humor in our nation's bulb crisis. Jon Stewart does.

He laid out the Great Light Bulb Debate nicely on last night's Daily Show. Washington lawmakers, instead of settling our country's enormous debt crisis, have been hotly debating the bulbs. "They are refighting a light bulb standards fight that they settled in 2007," Stewart said. Here's the video:

And since we're nothing if not fair and balanced, check out this cartoon break-down of the issue:

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75 comments
RTGolden
RTGolden

I can't believe this has generated this much conversation.  On the one hand, we've got a group who wants the government to force everyone to think the way they do, to embrace the things they embrace and to do things the way they think things should be done.On the other hand, we've got a group who wants the government to butt out and let everyone do exactly as they please, no matter how stupid some of those actions might be.Like all issues the government and media put before us, this is a smoke screen.  This is a way to force the masses to quibble over something trivial, while the government (both parties), big business, and big religion carry on the usual business of fleecing the population for all it's worth.Congrats to the left and right - wingers in here, you've both managed play opposite sides of the same coin, just like the government wants you to.

pak152
pak152

I use both incandescents and CFLs where appropriate. for my office work I use incandescents which are brighter truer light. I use CFLs for my outdoor porch lights. I leave them on all the time. what grips me is that liberals talk all the time about being pro-choice, and yet they don't want to let us have our choice of bulbs

Obama's Seat
Obama's Seat

"We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.”---Energy Secretary Steven Chu

Now just shut up and eat your peas while we look for more ways to keep you from wasting your money.

You people really need a strong, fiscally savvy government to keep you in line.

Guest
Guest

Thank you for protecting our right to choose...lightbulbs.

Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek

"Suddenly bulb-obsessed conservatives".  Let's be fair, it's not those conservatives who have been 'suddenly' obsessed about bulbs when you look at the record over the past 5 years...

Phelps
Phelps

"We meddle.

"People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome."

The ban was meddlesome, and it reached into every aspect of modern life.  Every time you flip a switch, there's some know-it-all in Washington meddling with the bulb at the other end.  They want into our homes, and they haven't the right.

Mike
Mike

Where does the government telling us what to do stop?  We are so stupid and should not be able to make our own decisions.

Montemalone
Montemalone

With Barton involved, it should have been the Dim-Bulb act.

If Beck had really delved into the issue, she would have found all sorts of compact fluorescents that look just like old fashioned bulbs, and all sorts of others.

Too bad these asshats can't be bothered to actually work towards solving real problems.

Guest
Guest

"The federal government ought not to be in a position to tell us what we can and cannot buy."

She said as she downloaded some child pornography and puffed away on her crack pipe.

MJM
MJM

"The federal government ought not to be in a position to tell us what we can and cannot buy," Beck tells Unfair Park, echoing the sentiments of suddenly bulb-obsessed conservatives across the nation. "The economy that we're in -- with the price of the essential things like food and gas ... why would we put this extra burden on the consumer?"

Think Beck is a fan of legalization? Or can the federal government tell you which drugs you can and cannot buy (expensive pharm? yes. cheap pot? no.) just not light bulbs?

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Who knew that President Bush and the GOP were part of an evil freedom hating plot hatched by our Black Marxist Black Kenyan President to steal American freedoms by helping American spend less on energy and lower our dependance on foreign oil?

If it weren't so pathetic, it would be funny just watching the GOP dance to FOX News' made up pant wetting  outrage of the week.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

It's 102 outside. My CFLs don't pour out buckets of unnecessary heat that everyone's precious incandescents do. Win. And they use less electricity too? Double win.

I'm guessing the odds of the people who bitch and moan about the price of a CFL driving unnecessary SUVs and putting all their disposable income into gas, Starbucks, and donations to the Rick Perry "I think I may possibly wanna be President but ain't sure yet 'cause Jesus hasn't told me to; where's my gun?" campaign are quite high.

Honeybee
Honeybee

Lightbulb preference isn't really the issue.Consumer choice is; government overreach is.

I personally prefer the no-mercury incandescents.  I have had to pay more for CFLs and then replace them sooner than they advertised.  I also think that no CFLs are produced in the US (mercury issue maybe?).

Low-flow toilets are another didn't-quite-work-out govt mandate.  Because they often require extra flushes, more water is used.  Ethanol provides another example.  It turns out that it takes as much petroleum to make ethanol as ethanol supposed to replace.  Plus, its use has adversely affected food prices.

There are good govt. mandates (lead removal from gas and paint, for example), but they are backed up by sound scientific evidence.

By the time the govt gets around to realizing the health hazards of the mercury and the overall zero-net-gain, it will be too late.  Plants will be closed, jobs will be lost, environmental damage will be done.

We'd be better off as a global community banning fertilizers and weed-killers.  Water contamination (hello, mercury?) is the most important and yet most silent threat we actually face.

Craigley
Craigley

These bulbs are a step backwards and all of you know this.

And how naive are we (USA) to think we can change the world when Russia, China, India, et. al  will still be using the old school bulbs?

That's why liberalism is a mental disorder - they just don't think things through.

Just like Obie One trying to tax big oil, when there are 100s of other industries who get the exact same tax breaks. 

Achieva81
Achieva81

I prefer the CFLs to the incandescent bulbs.  I had one in my bedside lamp for so long that I can't even remember how long it lasted.  Beats changing incandescent bulbs every couple of months.  I feel sorry for the people that have to change them while they are burning hot.  CFLs don't generate as much heat.  CFLs for the win!

Inspector Dim
Inspector Dim

My boyfriend picked up some CFLs for our apartment back in 2004. We've picked up others along the way, a lot more when we moved into our house 4 years ago; not a one has burned out in all that time. Who cares about the politics of the thing? There was an initial outlay, but it's had a positive effect on our electric bill. Why pay  more money in the long term out of spite?

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

That is correct. Know it all in Washington! However,  Where do you draw the line?  Seat Belts? Lead in Gas? Lead in Paint? Smoke detectors? Nope. FDA for your food and drug needs?  The standards for your TV, Internet, Phone? Nope. Your toilet?  Nope. See this is why I think "freedom lovers " like you are just racists assholes. Because what you call "meddlesome" has been going on for decades, yet NO ONE SAID A DAMN THING until a black man was in the White House. And here is the ironic part. Do you know what people who railed against fluoridation and seat belts and unleaded gas back in the 60's were called?  Crackpots. Mr. Obama awakened a "sleeping giant". Unfortunately, the giant is a racist dumb ass.

Honeybee
Honeybee

I agree and would add that govt. meddling would have been okay if, like de-leading gas and paint, it had an actual measured benefit.But these bulbs do not.They cost more than incandescent, they involve mercury that will eventually seep through a landfill and into a water source, and do not deliver the electricity savings they promise.

When govt meddling is stupid, wasteful, and harmful, it is right to object to it.

Ed D.
Ed D.

Darn that commie pinko Big Government governor with his attempted mandatory shots for little girls and mandatory sonograms for adult women seeking abortions. That's the kind of crazed overreach that drove him to try and seize a big chunk of Texas through eminent domain and sell it to a Spanish company. He's just the sort of welfare queen that would demand the taxpayers of Texas pay over $10,000 per month (every month!) just so he and his "wife" can live in a private mansion. What was that guy's name again? Percy?

Montemalone
Montemalone

Rupert's got bigger problems than light bulbs.

Karma may take time, but it gets there.

FakeBillyTubbs
FakeBillyTubbs

 Like all good liberals, you think your choices should be forced on everyone else.

Honeybee
Honeybee

Generally it's only 102 during daylight hours.The really environmentally friendly thing to do would be to leave all lights off during daylight hours.That way NO electricity would be used, whether the bulb gives off heat or not.

The real but hidden cost of the CFLs is the mercury contamination--not the money spent to buy them.

One could also help the environment and use less electricity by going to bed when the sun goes down and not using any lightbulbs ever.  If one really doesn't want to be a hypocrite, of course.

Guest
Guest

You are very right. We should never elect liberals like George W. Bush again.. or the 14 Republican Senators or the however many Republican House members who voted for the change.

We should also ignore the fact that India has embarked on a plan to replace 400 million old-fashioned bulbs with CFPs because as long as we pretend it isn't happened, we can laugh about how stupid people are to think that we can change the world (and it's best to ignore Cuba, the EU, Switzerland, Australia, the Philippines, Canada, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Malaysia, so far, too. And, even though the actual numerical targets are not fixed into law, as you note, the law does call for a graduated phase out of old-fashioned bulbs in Russia. The specific time table is potentially open to question).

And, in that same vein, we can laugh at Obama for talking about eliminating tax breaks for tertiary oil exploration or specific tax deductions for oil well ownership and note that 100s of other industries that happen to search for oil and/or own oil wells could take those very same tax breaks. How stupid to try to claim that those very specific oil tax breaks are limited to oil companies.

Craigley
Craigley

Until you break one - what's winning about this?

Mercury release rates are low, new data show, but can build to toxic levels for 43 days if broken bulbs aren't cleaned up right away.

http://www.sciencenews.org/vie...

Phelps
Phelps

I was a member of the Libertarian Party back when Clinton was in office.  I've been against meddling my entire life.  You know nothing of me and have no cause whatsoever to call me a racist.  Go fuck yourself in the fattest part of your race baiting ass.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Actually - I have a friend who works on this issue for Underwriters Labs (UL), and he would disagree with you on every point except the cost. Just because you get your "data" from right wing echo chambers, without doing a modicum of actual research, does not make it "truth is truth.  Science is science.  It is what it is."

Darryl
Darryl

like when government meddles in abortion or seat belts or helmets or?????

pak152
pak152

mandatory vaccinations protect the herd. just look at the areas where vaccinations are not taking place and you are seeing resurgence in diseases like whooping cough, measles, etc. as for the mandatory sonograms Planned Parenthood provides information and counseling to patients seeking abortions. If they do provide counseling then why not do a sonogram?

anon
anon

Both sides of government use their power to overreach.It's always wrong, no matter which side does it.That's the point: government overreach is out of control.Opposing the light bulb issue doesn't automatically mean you support Perry or the GOP.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Yeah. like my choice to get married, wait, no can't.Or my choice to smoke a doob, wait, no can't.Or my choice to hear somebody say "fuck" on Glee, wait, no can't.

Yep, Liberals are controlling the world.

observist
observist

Such as your choice to have a sonogram before having an abortion?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I was unaware every single room of mine has access to natural light. I was also unaware that the temperature actually plummeted the second the sun went down to levels far below comfortable room temperature.

Did you bother to think before you typed?

Honeybee
Honeybee

Did I say "Democratic mandates"?I did not.I said "government" mandates.  That includes both the Rs and the Ds.Also, electrical energy is most often created by burning coal, not oil.

I hate pollution and environmental degradation, but the real danger is water contamination (mercury being one nasty contaminate).  Paying MORE for a less-green product doesn't seem wise to me.

Craigley
Craigley

Do you read your links Google Queen?

"As far as the second and third stages are concerned, the targets for 2013 and 2014, these will not be fixed rigidly in law," senior Kremlin economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich said at the same briefing.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

the fact that you do not see the irony in your lecture on the scientific method is pretty damn funny. Where do you get your data from?

Honeybee
Honeybee

He could disagree with me on any point, but he could not disagree with the data.Data is not right wing or left wing; you just have to carefully read what is being measured and you have to examine how the research was conducted.And that is science.Measure it, count it, let it inform you.  

Phelps
Phelps

If it said that, which it doesn't.

Would you expect to throw your children in a volcano if the scientific method said it brought rain for the crops?

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

And I expect your children do not get immunized because the scientific method says it causes autism?

Honeybee
Honeybee

I'm not wrong.Abortion is not a good scientific, medical choice for women.Freedom to choose it is a legal issue, but the scientific downsides to having an abortion are significant and well documented.Same with cosmetic surgery.  It has significant, potential downsides and few physical benefits (that's why insurance companies won't pay for cosmetic/non-medical surgeries).

I'm not judging anyone, but I would not have an abortion.For the same reason, my husband did not have a vasectomy (they are linked to higher rates of prostate cancer).  So I had a tubal instead.

Again, read the research and decide for yourself.CFLs = high cost, little to no benefit.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Oh the irony!  "Abortion, however, is scientifically linked with health hazards to women, including death, higher incidence of future infertility,  depression and alcohol usage."  I believe we could get into dueling study's here, but then you might have to admit you were wrong, you know, because truth is truth.  Science is science.  It is what it is.

Honeybee
Honeybee

Abortion=moral choice.  Benefit not scientifically measurable.  Abortion, however, is scientifically linked with health hazards to women, including death, higher incidence of future infertility,  depression and alcohol usage.Seat belts = measurable, scientific benefit to individuals and societyHelmets=measurable, scientific benefit to individuals and society

CFLs= no measurable, scientific benefit.

The Scientific Method is one of the best things to happen to humanity.  Thanks to Scientific Method, we no longer put heliocentric scientists to death.  We also would frown upon executing royal wives who only bear female children.  And don't forget cholera and yellow fever, both eradicated through careful use of Scientific Method (that's why we have the Walter Reed Army Hospital--what a hero he and his volunteer test subjects were/are).

Smell the coffee or don't, but truth is truth.  Science is science.  It is what it is.

Guest
Guest

Judging by the threat of continued rolling blackouts caused by our overconsumption of energy, mandatory expanded energy conservation might well help protect the herd (especially in dangerously hot weather).

Lolotehe
Lolotehe

That's the best response, in not only what it adds to the conversation but what it says about the poster.

Honeybee
Honeybee

My point was that maybe before you bash SUV drivers (I am not one), Starbuck's drinkers (I am occasionally one),  and Christians, you might want to look at the plank in your own eye (that's a Biblical reference dealing with hypocrisy).

You actually surmised in your post that people who object to the cost of CFLs are hypocrites who guzzle "unnecessary" gas , expensive coffee, and believe in Jesus.  Do YOU think before you type?

If you have more than the average pioneer or Native American pre-1800, you, too, could be called an excessive spender with no right to ever question a cost imposed by the government.

Craigley
Craigley

Isn't it time for you to pray East towards Obama?

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