American Elephants

American Innovation Once Again Rides to the Rescue! by The Elephant's Child

All is not, after all, lost!  Government mandates spur innovation. “Incandescent Bulbs Return to the Cutting Edge” says the headline in the New York Times. When Congress passed a (silly) law setting tough efficiency standards that no traditional incandescent bulb could meet, it looked like our standard light bulbs were doomed.

It seemed that our light bulbs were to be imported from China, as another two American industries were destroyed — the incandescent bulb industry and their suppliers, and the lighting fixture industry and their suppliers.

Researchers across the country have been racing to breathe new life into Thomas Edison’s light bulb, a pursuit that accelerated with the new legislation. Amid that footrace, one company is already marketing limited quantities of incandescent bulbs that meet the 2012 standard, and researchers are promising a wave of innovative products in the next few years.

Indeed, the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation.

“There’s a massive misperception that incandescents are going away quickly,” said Chris Calwell, a researcher with Ecos Consulting who studies the bulb market. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.”

The first of the new bulbs are 30 percent more efficient than older incandescents, but they are also more expensive at $5 each and more. Phillips says that a 70 watt bulb gives off the same amount of light as a 100 watt bulb and lasts about three times as long.

We have ranted extensively about this government mandate, which we resent.  We don’t think the government has any business messing about with our light bulbs, and have searched for the line in the Constitution that says they do.  See here, here, and here.

The whole bit about “saving energy” is misplaced.  We are energy independent when it comes to electricity, and could easily be more so.  The usual rationale is “getting off of foreign oil.” But at present, and for the foreseeable future, oil powers our transportation, not our lights.  But that kind of good sense seldom engenders government mandates.


1 Comment so far
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This was part of the plan all along. Phillips was one of the corporations that wrote the legislation banning the original 33 cent incandescent light bulb. Why would they do that? Because when the law takes effect, instead of charging you 33 cents per light bulb, they will be able to charge you five dollars a light bulb. And while it will last longer it wont last $4.67 longer. So consumers are forced to buy a more expensive product that Phillips makes a much higher profit margin on, in order to save energy that we have plenty of, in order to make an imperceptible, insignificant reduction in greenhouse gasses that aren’t causing global warming, which doesnt exist in the first place.

Who is hurt? Everyone but Phillips, but especially the poor and those on fixed incomes who will be forced to pay more for less light.


Comment by American Elephant

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