Who really killed the traditional bulb, and why?

Who really killed the traditional bulb, and why?

The traditional, incandescent light bulb is going extinct this year. Environmentalists touted the fact that even the light bulb industry wanted to get rid of them. Yeah, well of course they did. Listen in to find out how this further cemented their hold on the market, using the environmentalists as useful idiots, and the government as their tool.

It has been said that voter ID laws are a solution looking for a problem, that voter fraud is so rare that it’s not worth the effort. Well, the Bureau of Investigations in New York City would take issue with that. They found fraud to be simple (with a 97% success rate) and undetectable. I detail how they did it, and how the government’s Board of Elections sprang into action to stop this. (OK, just kidding about that last part.)

Mentioned links:

Industry, not environmentalists, killed traditional light bulbs

Voter fraud: We’ve got proof it’s easy

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Show transcript

This year, the traditional incandescent light bulb is becoming extinct. There was a big push by environmentalists to force the change to higher efficiency bulbs, like Compact Fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs. The idea was that they light with less energy, and so everyone should use them. Never mind the market; coercion was necessary.

And one of the things they like to trumpet about this was that the light bulb industry supported this move. The thought is that if even they think it’s a good idea, government ought to force the issue. But not one of those environmentalists ever considered this:

Competitive markets with low costs of entry have a characteristic that consumers love and businesses lament: very low profit margins. GE, Philips and Sylvania dominated the U.S. market in incandescents, but they couldn’t convert that dominance into price hikes. Because of light bulb’s low material and manufacturing costs, any big climb in prices would have invited new competitors to undercut the giants — and that new competitor would probably have won a distribution deal with Wal-Mart.

Basically, with a low-cost light bulb, the major players in the market couldn’t just jack up the price on their wares. Someone else could step in and, with a low cost of entry into the light bulb market, build a better mousetrap, so to speak, and the world would beat a path to their door.

Unless.  Unless the light bulb companies could push government regulations that would make the bare minimum light bulb incredibly more expensive. They’d get their price hike, and they’d further their hold on the industry by keeping out competition, because start-up costs are now much higher.

Now, you may be saying, “See, Doug? Eeevil corporations are to blame for this! And you’re always defending them!” Two things. First, the law itself is the problem, and the blame for that comes, not from corporations, but from a big government with the power to pass such a law, and which is more than willing to stick its hand into your wallet. Government did this, not corporations. And I’ll reiterate that, if you don’t like a corporation, you can stop buying from them immediately. If you don’t like your government, you’ll have to wait for the next election cycle, and hope there are enough people who agree with you.

Second, I don’t blame corporations at all for trying to lobby the government for things that will benefit them. If I did blame them, then I’d have to blame every single grassroots organization that does the same sort of lobbying, even those environmentalists. Is lobbying the government an evil thing to do? Not at all! But government should know its boundaries and should stay within them. That’s why we have a constitution. But these days, the Constitution has been reinterpreted to say, for example, that you must buy a particular financial instrument. If the government can force you to buy something, I think it’s gone far beyond what the framers of the Constitution ever intended, and that power is for sale to the highest bidder.

Oh, and consider this. If anyone claims that certain government policies are required because the free market has failed, just let them know that we really haven’t had a “free market” in decades. Light bulbs and ObamaCare are only the two most recent examples.

One of the reasons used against the idea of requiring ID to vote is that there has been so little voter fraud detected, that this is a solution looking for a problem. Well, the Department of Investigations in New York City recently finished up a report that shows that voter fraud can be pretty darn easy. Worse, we would have no idea at all that it was actually happening.

Undercover agents from the DOI tried to cast ballots as felons or dead people at 63 polling places last fall. Of the 63 attempts, 61, or 97%, were successful. Now, when they voted, they did so with a write-in for a fictitious “John Test” to keep from affecting the vote count. Ultimately, the DOI published its findings a few weeks ago in a 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence, waste, nepotism, and lax procedures.

Of the two attempts that failed, in the first case, a poll worker followed the agent outside and the “voter” was advised to go to the polling place near where he used to live and “play dumb” in order to vote. In the second case, the investigator was stopped from voting only because the felon whose name he was using was the son of the election official at the polling place. So basically, we’re talking about a 100% success rate, completely undetectable, with just a few changes in circumstances.

So the Board of Elections immediately got down to business and started coming up with ways to avoid this in the future. Heh, no, of course not. This is government we’re talking about! John Fund, who wrote the article I’m referring to, put it this way. “The Board approved a resolution referring the DOI’s investigators for prosecution. It also asked the state’s attorney general to determine whether DOI had violated the civil rights of voters who had moved or are felons, and it sent a letter of complaint to Mayor Bill de Blasio.”

Yup, they pointed fingers instead of fixing the problem. That’s why the legislature needs to deal with this, so entrenched bureaucracies don’t stick us with a broken system that’s easily gamed. And, as I’ve noted before, when Georgia got its voter ID law, minority participation went up, and higher than majority participation did. A win-win situation, and one that gets around a government board that is too busy with their little fiefdom to do the right thing. Who could be against that?

Filed under: CapitalismEconomics & TaxesElectionsVoter ID