A Light Bulb of an Idea

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BY PAUL JACOB – Suppose you knew that a heavily-demanded, glow-giving product, cherished for more than a century, was about to become illegal. And suppose you wished to continue being a USER (gulp) of this product and maybe even a DEALER of it (double-gulp) after the ban takes effect.

What would you do?


Stock up.

Cato Institute analyst Doug Bandow recently and publicly stated, quite bluntly, that he will “become an entrepreneur — as a black market operator.”

So why is a dignified fellow like Bandow descending to such a desperate measure?

He likes light bulbs, and, 100-watt incandescent light bulbs will be illegal in this land of the free come January 2012, with lower-wattage incandescent bulbs prohibited a year later.

Bandow prefers incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs because of the softer light they offer, among other reasons. And he dislikes the market-mangling already happening because of the impending prohibition.

Never mind which form of artificial light is better for which purposes by the lights of mere consumers. Those calculations are all individual and freedom-dependent. Meanwhile, “politicians in Washington believe they know best and are determined to inconvenience the public in the name of saving energy.”

At Townhall, back in 2007, I wrote about the government-mandated switch to fluorescents. I didn’t bring up the idea of a black market in light bulbs, but I did insist that some of us would “rather fight than . . . have them tell us how to switch.”

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge and Citizens in Charge Foundation, which sponsors both Common Sense and Paul’s weekly Townhall Column. The opinions expressed in Common Sense are Paul Jacob’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Citizens in Charge or Citizens in Charge Foundation.