Orwell is back: Bulb ban is freedom (The Michigan View 2.2.11)

Posted by hpayne on February 2, 2011

In a leap of Orwellian logic, USA Today — America’s second-largest newspaper — argues in its lead editorial Tuesday that banning the incandescent light bulb is a victory for free markets.

“The best way for government to boost energy efficiency isn’t to micromanage by picking winners and losers, a job better suited to free-market innovation. It is to set a reasonable standard — miles per gallon or light per watt, for example — and let the market sort it out,” spins the editorial in support of picking winners and losers. “That’s what Congress did in 2007” in banning the bulb.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Banning is choice. Regulation is freedom.

One wonders if USA Today’s editors would tolerate this doublethink if applied to their own industry. Were Congress to ban newspapers in order to force them onto the more “planet-friendly” Internet, would USA Today swallow this as free market economics?

Michigan View contributor Ten Nugent quipped that “Obama slept through the election” after a State of the Union address that stubbornly plowed ahead with the hyper-regulation of carbon and Big Government spending. Obama’s MSM allies were apparently snoozing on the couch next to him.

Or perhaps Obamedia is very awake. And they realize that — given the unpopularity of their radical green agenda — the only way to move if forward is with Newspeak that would make Bib Brother blush.

Obamedia’s agenda is under direct assault in both the Senate and in Michigan U.S. Rep. Fred Upton’s House Energy and Commerce Committee. On Monday, Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, introduced legislation stripping EPA of its self-granted power to regulate greenhouse gases. And the Michigan View argued for an immediate overturn of Upton’s 2007 Energy Bill language banning the bulb.

Upton’s committee-mate, Indiana Republican Dan Burton, is listening.

“When I introduced the BULB Act (Better Use of Light Bulbs Act), it wasn’t designed as an attack on energy conservation. It was to defend personal freedom,” writes Burton in a rebuttal to USA Today’s Ministry of Truth (at least USA Today gives its opponents a forum). “People don’t want Congress dictating the lighting they can use. They are safe, cheap and reliable.”

Doublespeak is necessary, of course, to hide realities unsupportable by fact. Having established the premise that “regulation is freedom,” USA Today’s editorial descends into absurdity. “Americans are already reaping the benefits of higher-mileage vehicles,” it says. No they aren’t. Hybrid sales have been in free fall the last 12 months as SUV sales have roared back to a majority of the market. Neither has the American market embraced the incandescent alternative, compact fluorescents. They remain a small minority of bulbs sold.

The editors go on to ignore the drawbacks of the CFL bulbs — from their short life in high-use situations to the thousands of U.S. jobs that have been lost to China as factories have shut down in preparation for the 2012 federal mandate.

“The familiar incandescent bulb is a 125-year-old design that’s handy and cheap but a huge waster of electricity,” argues USA Today. By this logic, nothing is beyond the reach of government regulation: Smaller homes, smaller cars, shorter work commutes, smaller families.

“From the health insurance you’re allowed to have, to the car you can drive, to the light bulbs you can buy, Washington is making too many decisions that are better left to you and your family,” says Burton, hearing the American voter loud and clear. “We can reverse that trend starting by flipping the switch on the BULB Act.”

Ah, the light of logic.

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