Saturday, June 11, 2011

Black Market Light Bulbs

You know, in the total scheme of things, a light bulb just isn't a big deal.  Right?  It's a light bulb.  In the big picture where people die of cancer from which there is no cure, where people like Casey Anthony or Susan Smith kill their children, in a world where tragedy strikes so suddenly and tornadoes wipe out whole towns or wildfires burn through massive acreage, a light bulb just isn't very important.

But it is.

Via The Corner, Andrew Stuffaford points to this Bloomberg article by Virginia Postrel about the upcoming banning of the bulb.  Well, of the incandescent bulb,  anyway.  Postrel points out that technically, it's not a ban or a mandate, but a "standard" with which we must comply.  Semantics.  She discusses the plethora of choices in the light bulb aisle at Target:

It seems to be a dazzling profusion of choice. But, at least in California, where I live, this plenitude no longer includes what most shoppers want: an inexpensive, plain-vanilla 100-watt incandescent bulb. Selling them is now illegal here. The rest of the country has until the end of the year to stock up before a federal ban kicks in. (I have a stash in storage.) Over the next two years, most lower-wattage incandescents will also disappear.
Illegal! Light bulbs are fixing to go black market.  Seriously.

I did a rant on this back in September and my position remains the same.  Why in the world, in our free market economy, is the government going to tell us what kind of light bulb to use?  It's so much more than just a light bulb.  It's all about over reach of government into the minute details of our lives.   In September I wrote:

It's not JUST a light bulb, of course.  It's the ruling class telling you how to live your life.  Krikorian is absolutely correct that before you know it, the government will be so big and so powerful they'll tell you what kind of car to drive (oh..wait....) or how much water you can use, how much gasoline you can consume, where you must buy that gasoline and the exact chemical makeup of that gasoline.  Heck, before long they'll even be telling you what doctor you can see and what you can see him for and whether or not you can have that prescription regardless of your own ability to pay for it.  They'll even be telling you we can't be innovative and search our own oil reserves.  Worse than that, they'll try to tell us we can't tap those reserves even though we know where they are because, you know, we might kill a caribou in Alaska or offshore drilling could possibly be *gasp* dangerous.

Yes, well, and here we are.  The deadline is looming. 

Stuttaford suggests:

...some stockpiling might be in order.
I'm way ahead of you on that one, buddy.  I've been stockpiling 100 watt incandescent bulbs for months.  My local Albertsons had a sale of 10 (four packs) for $10 and I wiped them out.   You can order a 24-pack for $14.21 here!

Black market light bulbs, indeed.


MikeAT said...

I've been stockpiling over the last year and I have at least 100 of each (60, 75, 100). Now I need to find bug lights and stockpile them.

Calliope Street said...

Pat, of all the assaults on personal freedom and nanny-state absurdities, this one bothers me the most. Even more shocking, it was a Bush-era initiative. Why, as a people, do we lie down and take this stuff?

Bartender Cabbie said...

I also have a "stash" and will continue to add to it.

Anonymous said...

Charlene said...

What so odd about this is the choice being made by stockpiling old tech light bulbs, it the choice to spend more to light your rooms. I'm surprised there aren't great tanks of leaded gas under your lawns!

Pat Austin said...

No, my large tanks of leaded gas are in the garage. ;)

MikeAT said...


A few months ago I posted on instructions from the State of Maine on what to do if you break a curly fry bulb. The highlights:

What if I accidentally break a fluorescent lamp in my house?
The lamp contains a small amount of mercury, but you can clean this up yourself if you do the following:

Do not use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the breakage. This will spread the mercury vapor and dust throughout the area and could potentially contaminate the vacuum.

Keep people and pets away from the breakage area until the cleanup is complete.

Ventilate the area by opening windows, and leave the area for 15 minutes before returning to begin the cleanup. Mercury vapor levels will be lower by then.

For maximum protection and if you have them, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the sharp glass.

Carefully remove the larger pieces and place them in a secure closed container, preferably a glass container with a metal screw top lid and seal like a canning jar.(1) A glass jar with a good seal works best to contain any mercury vapors inside.(2)

Next, begin collecting the smaller pieces and dust. You can use two stiff pieces of paper such as index cards or playing cards to scoop up pieces.

Pat the area with the sticky side of duct tape, packing tape or masking tape to pick up fine particles. Wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp
paper towel to pick up even finer particles.

Put all waste and materials into the glass container, including all material used in the cleanup that may have been contaminated with mercury. Label the container as “Universal Waste - broken lamp.”

Remove the container with the breakage and cleanup materials from your home. This is particularly important if you do not have a glass container.

Continue ventilating the room for several hours.

Wash your hands and face.

Take the glass container with the waste material to a facility that accepts “universal waste” for recycling. To determine where your municipality has made arrangements for recycling of this type of waste, call your municipal office or find your town in this list municipal collection sites.

When a break happens on carpeting, homeowners may consider removing throw rugs or the area of carpet where the breakage occurred as a precaution, particularly if the rug is in an area frequented by infants, small children or pregnant women.

Finally, if the carpet is not removed, open the window to the room during the next several times you vacuum the carpet to provide good ventilation.

The next time you replace a lamp, consider putting a drop cloth on the floor so that any accidental breakage can be easily cleaned up. If consumers remain concerned regarding safety, they may consider not utilizing fluorescent lamps in situations where they could easily be broken. Consumers may also consider avoiding CFL usage in bedrooms or carpeted areas frequented by infants, small children, or pregnant women. Finally, consider not storing too many used/spent lamps before recycling as that may increase your chances of breakage. Don’t forget to properly recycle your used fluorescent bulbs so they don’t break and put mercury into our environment.

(1). Other jars that can be made of glass and also work are pickle, peanut butter and applesauce jars. Not ideal but also a good choice for containing breakage is a heavy duty #2 plastic container with either a screw lid or push-on lid such as a joint compound bucket or certain kitty litter-type containers.

(2). If the only suitable jar available has food in it, you may need to empty it into another container before using it.

For a light bulb...I'll spend a few extra cent a month on electricty to avoid a HAZMAT site in my bedroom thank you very much.

Andy said...

Hey y'all! Charlene is hopeless. She would rather spend five times more for poor lighting with her curly-q's, and potentially harm her family with all that mercury.

Sigh...Charlene just can't see the forest for the trees. Sigh...

I have been stockpiling incandescent bulbs for a couple of years now. I have enough to last me until I croak, and maybe make a few bucks "helping out" the morons that fell for the GE sham. do understand that you are supporting evil corporations, and their HUGE profits by getting behind the curly-q's, don't you?

Probably not...