Making America Dim Again

In 2007, President George W Bush signed a law that committed to energy efficiency. Among other things, it mandated efficiency levels for ordinary light bulbs that effectively would phase out traditional incandescent bulbs by 2020. By international standards this was slow and not very aggressive, and even domestically it was conservative enough to not cause much debate.

In 2008 through 2016, many liberty-minded Americans latched onto this as a symbol of government overreach. In 2011, Michele Bachmann, looking for attention as a presidential candidate, managed to get funding revoked for enforcement of this phase-out. She was partially successful. No one seemed to give her much credit for stopping it, but outrage over “Obama taking away our light bulbs” reached a fever pitch.

Seriously. My Facebook feed in 2012 was lousy with white suburbanites bemoaning that the despot Obama was exerting authority simply out of spite. Even though it was a W-era law, enforcement had been nullified, the bulb industry had already moved on, and affordable, warm-light LED bulbs were easy to find.

And still, almost 8 years later, the regulation has now been completely nullified. So anyone who wants to restore some old manufacturing equipment and start making inefficient bulbs can legally sell them. And our President gloats about it at MAGA rallies, complaining that modern lighting is not flattering for him.

I posted this in September 2019 during week 2376.

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