Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post from The Husband: Get Your [Bleep]ing Hands Off My Light Bulb

Amusement ride, Ocean City, NJ
I'll probably piss off some of my readers by guest posting this from The Husband, but ... oh well.  One should know that we really do recycle our newspapers (yes, we still get a daily paper delivered), cans, bottles, and - most recently - 10 years worth of Oprah magazines. (Yes, really. Ten years.)  Light bulbs, however, are a different story.  ~ M.

Just to be clear: I really don't give a damn about my carbon footprint. My forefathers didn't, so why should I? I mean, you're telling me that they got to take advantage of all the great inventions [coal, gasoline, being able to read at night] and I can't? Screw that. Let my kids figure it out - that's why I pay taxes to pay for their public education.

Every time I see something that is 'green' - no trays in the cafeteria, silverware recycled from used toilet paper, etc - I want to vomit. Perhaps nothing sets me off more, though, than those ridiculous-looking so-called 'light bulbs' that look like something you get at Mr. Softy. I hate them. If there was a stronger word in the English language than 'hate', I'd use it. So, 'I fucking hate them' will have to do.

For one thing...well, like I said: they look like ice cream [or whatever they put in Mr. Softy]. For another, you get more illumination from a Charlie Sheen sermon than you do from these monstrosities. At my previous office, they replaced all of my lighting with these things and I ended up lighting candles and setting furniture on fire just to see at night.

Somehow, I missed something in Congress a few ago that may mean every light bulb I ever see is one of these 'green' bulbs. It'll be great for the eyeglass, contact-lens and lasik-surgery industries. Apparently, a 2007 bill - passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bush - will make the old, familiar and loveable [not to mention light-emanating] incandescent bulb subject to strict 'efficiency standards' next year. One of the causalities will be the 100-watt incandescent bulb.

Gone.

You better start hoarding them now - as, indeed, some are. If you have an Easy-Bake Oven from Hasbro, particularly, you better buy them up. Otherwise, Junior will be cooking in the dark - which is how fires get started, I think.

While the law does not outlaw incandescent bulbs or dictate that consumers must use the ridiculous-looking spiral-shaped compact 'fluorescent' lights, it does intrude into my life by limiting the amount of light allowed to be emitted per watt of power used. Thus the currently effective 100-watt bulbs must become 25% more 'efficient', meaning that its makers are forced to design new bulbs.

I never in a million years thought that I would be on the same side of an argument as one of Congress' preeminent assholes, Rep. Joe Barton [R, Tex.]. Barton is against just about everything except oil companies and making himself filthy rich. Plus, he had the audacity to oppose the 2006 Combating Autism Act and publicly apologized to British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward in 2010 for what he called President Obama's "shakedown" of the oil industry.

So, it's clear the guy is a prick. Still, on this issue, the prick and I are on the same side. Who knew it would take a light bulb to put us there? Barton has sponsored a bill to reverse the new light bulb guidelines. "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," Barton said when he introduced his bill in January.

Plus, a convenient fact dismissed by environmentalists is that the supposedly 'green' bulbs are actually health hazards because they contain mercury. So, they're 'green' unless they break. While some tree-huggers try to discount the danger by saying the mercury in a single fluorescent bulb is less than what some power plants throw into the atmosphere while generating the electricity it takes to light one incandescent bulb, I'm reminded of the great Archie Bunker line: when Gloria tells him that 60% of those murdered in the U.S. in the previous year had died of gunshot wounds, Archie says, "Would it make you feel better if they was pushed outta windows?"

I'm now not only on the same side of the issue as a bastard like Barton - I'm on the same side as the lunatic-fringe Tea Partiers! My head is spinning. One of their darlings - Rep. Michele Bachmann [R, Minn,.], introduced a bill to repeal the light bulb law in 2008, and did so again this year. I apparently missed learning about the light bulb law after the President's January State of the Union Adress...then again, I missed the Address, too. Anyway, Bachmann gave the Republican response to President Obama's Address. In her response, one of the things she blasted was the light bulb nonsense.

Another Tea Bagger - Sen. Rand Paul [R, Ky.] - said not only did he resent the light bulb standards but he also blamed the government for poorly working toilets in his house because of the regulations on how much water they should use. Once again: whoever thought I'd be on the same side as a wacko like Paul? I hate those goddamned toilets. You may as well shit on the living room floor for all the good these new toilets do.

Oh, and these light bulb regulations have already affected the American economy. Last fall, General Electric closed its last major United States plant producing the old-style incandescent bulbs, in Winchester, Virginia. I wonder if those out-of-work employees are worried about their carbon footprint. Indeed, nearly all of the compact 'green' fluorescent bulbs are made in Asia. While some United States manufacturers say they will retool former factories to make other energy-efficient bulbs, you'll forgive me if I'm a bit doubtful.

Meanwhile, the clueless Energy Department says the energy savings from these curly-Q bulbs are 'significant'. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Kathleen Hogan told a Senate committee this week that - by meeting the new lighting standards - consumers could save nearly $6 billion in 2015. I don't even know if I'm going to be alive in 2015, lady. Get your fucking hands off my light bulb.

Hogan later made a statement that makes one wonder where she pulled that $6 billion figure from anyway. Hogan told the same committee that a household that upgrades 15 current incandescent bulbs could save about $50 a year. Wow! A whole $50?!?!? How much would we save if we just went back to lighting candles?

Candles are cheaper than current halogen incandescent bulbs, which now cost about $1.50 each. Another 'green' wonder - the LED bulb - can cost $20 or more each. While it is true that the LED bulb has only recently been introduced [and, thus, one assumes they'll eventually go down in price], and that they supposedly can last ten years or more, the fact is: I like changing a light bulb. Why the hell should I have to wait ten years to do so?

So, now, in addition to the bedroom and my pocket, I want the government's paws out of my light bulbs. Amy Ridenour has the right idea. She is the president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative group, and has already hoarded about 100 old-style incandescent light bulbs in her basement. She hopes to have several hundred by the time the new standards go into effect on January 1, 2012. Her hoarding, she told the New York Times, is primarily driven by concerns about the mercury in the compact fluorescent bulbs. Her middle child, a 10-year-old son, is autistic. "He’s knocked over quite a few lamps," she said, and broken plenty of light bulbs in the process. Since I'm not convinced that mercury doesn't contribute to autism, I'm with her.

That's especially true in that the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] actually issues detailed instructions on how to clean up a broken fluorescent bulb because of the potential for spilling mercury. In fact, because of the mercury, the EPA recommends recycling used fluorescent bulbs rather than disposing of them in household garbage.

You know what? Recycling was cute when it was cans, glass and newspapers. It's just a real pain in the ass now, and the novelty - like the days of the effective light bulb - is over.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

4 comments:

Erin said...

I hate my CF bulbs. That is all.

Elizabeth said...

I'd rather stick ice picks in my eyeballs and go dark completely than be on any side with Michele Bachman, Paul Rand and, most of all, Joe Burton.

I found your post amusing, actually -- I'm sure we'll be all right once the new law takes effect. Surely, "They'll" come up with better lightbulbs, eventually.

Elisabeth said...

I am sensing some anger here! Happy to read your vent! I'm with you on the light bulb issue. How can a bulb that contains a poison if it breaks be good? And you know they are going to break - at my house if I bought them. They have already stopped making the bulbs I used in my kitchen. Am heeding your advice and stocking up on 100 watters!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I don't get the mercury thing either...I have kids...we break stuff...enough said.