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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Light bulb conservatism

Personal matters prevented it, but I would have loved to attend this panel discussion on the future of conservatism:

Virginia Postrel produced a small quilted hatbox on stage, then opened it to reveal… an ordinary incandescent light bulb. Surely (she said) all strains of conservatism could agree that it was wrong for government to outlaw this bulb?

As a Princeton undergraduate, Virginia had sat in the very room in which we were speaking and been taught by some of the inventors of the cap-and-trade idea. They argued then that government should get out of the business of prescribing solutions to problems - like banning light bulbs to fight global warming - and instead set general rules that enabled people to experiment with the best solutions.

1 comment:

Gil Weinreich said...

I for one really regret the lightbulb ban. My local power utility deposited a few newfangled "energy saving" CFLs on our doorstep last spring. I immediately installed it in our porch lamp. It didn't last more than a day. But worse, it shorted the whole system. No replacement bulb, either CFL or incandescent, illuminates the front of my house any more. So the "free" bulbs will end up costing a tidy sum if I ever summon the courage to hire an electrician.