Lucid Piece on Light bulb Bans

Blog, Environment, David Seymour

Les MacPherson at the Saskatoon Star Phoenix has a lucid piece on the creeping bans of incandescent light bulbs.

Consumers usually are quick to embrace a superior product. This is how we arrived at the incandescent bulb. It was not forced upon us by a ban on the candles and kerosene lamps that preceded it. Rather, we moved to incandescent light bulbs voluntarily because they were manifestly better than the smoky, sputtering alternatives.
… Europe has had a ban in place since last year. Cuba got the ball rolling a few years earlier. So now we’re all following Cuba. Is this what we have come to? Is Cuba to be the model for our dim, new, energy-efficient future?

Traditionally, environmental regulations have existed to correct situations where the individual incentive would harm the public good. For example pollutions quotas exist because everyone could profit by emitting more pollution themselves, but too much pollution is against the public interest. However in the case of light-bulb bans, the bulbs themselves contain mercury and may be a dangerous pollutant, but the individual inventive is to use them and save power. If anything, the role of government should be to ban fluorescent light bulbs, because it is they that allow private profit at the public expense.