Jeff Jacoby writes about the ban on the incandescent light bulb, passed by Congress in 2007 and signed into law by the wretched George W. Bush.
The use of efficiency mandates to snuff out the standard light bulb was an exercise of unadulterated crony capitalism. It came about after big bulb manufacturers, frustrated by their customers’ refusal to switch from cheap throwaway incandescents to the far more profitable compact fluorescents touted by greens, decided to play hardball.
“So some years ago,’’ The New York Times Magazine noted last month, “Philips [Electronics] formed a coalition with environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, to push for higher standards. ‘We felt that we needed to . . . show that the best-known lighting technology, the incandescent light bulb, is at the end of its lifetime,’ says Harry Verhaar, the company’s head of strategic sustainability initiatives.’’
Other corporations joined the plot, lobbying Congress to croak a product Americans overwhelmingly like and compel them to buy the more expensive substitute the industry was eager to sell them. The entire scheme, a lobbyist for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association testified candidly in 2007, was “at the industry’s initiative.’’ Unable to convince consumers to voluntarily abandon Edison’s light bulb, Big Business got the government to force the issue.
So the law was driven by America’s suicidal corporations. The combination of environmentalist moral approval and more profits must have been too much for the fools in charge.
I have one disagreement with Jacoby. This is not “crony capitalism” — there is no such thing. Capitalism is the unfettered free market. Corporations working with the government to restrict competition is crony socialism, also known as fascism. Don’t let the Orren Boyles of the world give capitalism a bad name.