Posted by: bridget | 1 February 2007

Yet Another California Ban

“California nonsense” should be its own category. Yesterday, California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine has proposed a complete ban on incandescent light bulbs in California by 2012. Ideally, this would promote environmentalism and curb greenhouse emissions. Roughly 20% of a home’s energy bill goes to lighting; compact fluorescent bulbs would save about 75% of that energy. If the ban were to pass, California would reduce its home energy bill by 15%, tops. That does not account for all the other ways in which Californians use energy: 93 hours in LA traffic per year, office buildings, stores, processing unemployment for illegals, et cetera.

At least violators of the law won’t receive spankings.



  1. I fail to understand why this should be categorized as ‘California Nonsense’. The ban was not meant as a measure to save money, rather as a means to help the environment. The pressing traffic problem in LA is one that will require much more effort and resources to fix. Simple things such as a ban on incandescent bulbs is something that can be achieved quite easily and yet will have a significant impact. Fix the smaller problems first, then go for the larger piece of the pie!!

    I hope that you are aware of the fact that California is one among the few states that care a bit about the environment. Among developed nations, the US generates the maximum amount of greenhouse gases and stand at the bottom for our lack of tighter regulations. Even countries like China have stricter rules for Christ’s sake!

  2. Thank you for visiting, Navin!

    I’m a die-hard libertarian. I do NOT believe in government micromanagement of our lives. As John Locke said, “Government exists to do for the people what people cannot do for themselves.” California residents are capable of determining whether they should buy incandescent light bulbs and pay more for energy, or by CFL bulbs. If California wants to encourage the latter choice, it has a variety of measures available to it. It could subsidise the cost of the light bulbs, increase the cost of electricity during peak hours, or put out an ad campaign about the environmental (and, by extension, cost-saving) benefits of CFLs.

    What it should NOT do is to enact a total ban. CFLs do save electricity, but, as you can see, it is a small amount of overall household electricity, which is a tiny amount of state electricity. They also contain large amounts of mercury.

    The free market will work for environmentalist measures. You seem to miss that point and think that only government BANS will work. If the government were to properly assess the cost of various activities (use of electricity, gas, etc) and allocate appropriate taxes, people would move to the most environmentally-friendly technology. Manufacturers have – and will continue to – develop new technologies. Their replacement will come about as is appropriate for the market; government interference is nothing save a move towards totalitarianism.

    If CFLs are under patent, the ban is actually a tremendous boon for the manufacturers, who are essentially given a state-granted monopoly over light bulb use. That, to me, is not just nonsensical but noxious.

    Victorian England was significantly more polluted than downtown LA. The environmental improvement did not come from government regulation so much as cleaner technology.

    Incidentally, the most energy-efficient city in the country is New York City. The “big problems” cannot wait.

  3. […] Compact Fluorescent Lights: Another Debacle in the Making Compact fluorescent light bulbs are touted as the great earth-friendly alternative to traditional incandescent light bulbs. CFLs are more expensive than traditional light bulbs and, most importantly, use about 1/5th the energy of traditional light bulbs.  Over a few years, the higher cost of a CFL is recouped roughly five times over in electricity savings.  For those reasons, California is considering a wholesale ban of the bulbs (previously blogged here). […]

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