Government cannot make the slow run fast; they can only force the fast to run slower. That’s how government creates equality, how it levels the playing field.


Ready to pay $50 for a single, rather dim 60 watt light bulb?

Well, get ready. The government has just awarded appliance-maker Philips $10 million for devising an “affordable” alternative to today’s standard 60-watt incandescent bulb.

Take a look at the much-touted Chevy Volt, President Obama’s choice electrical car: it looks great on paper. It does have a one small problem, however: its batteries catch on fire!

Pop start Justin Bieber just got a new $100,000-plus Fisker Karma, the “green” luxury car of choice for the well-healed, latte-and-limousine liberal. Bad news: This week, ater only 180 miles of a 2000 mile test run by Consumer Reports, the Karma died; for reasons that are still unknown. The Fisker  didn’t even make it through 10% of the test drive!

The tow truck that dragged the Fisker back to the yard used “old technology” that has the virtue of actually working: a combustion engine, using “yesterday’s fuel”, gasoline.

Milton Friedman, father of modern supply-side economics, once wrote: “I think the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem and very often makes the problem worse”. As the stories of failed or failing  government “green” projects grows larger every day; so does my esteem for Milton Friedman. Whatever government does tend to be inept, unimaginative, expensive, and often creates larger problems than it solves.

To make “green” energy and products competitive, the government barrows money from China and pumps billions into green enterprises. The problem is, environmentalist pipe-dreams aside, most of these technologies are just not ready for primetime!

These technologies are too expensive, even when they do work. To make them seem affordable, to make them competitive, the government works to drive up the costs of all other, more mundane, alternatives.

Government cannot make the slow run fast; they can only force the fast to run slower. That’s how government creates equality, how it levels the playing field.

That is the driving motive behind cap-and-trade: to make current sources of energy production so unnecessarily expensive that wind and solar, gold-standard sources for green energy, can compete.

That is why coal-powered electrical plants are being shut down by the EPA at record levels. That is why oil sources are put off limits, new pipelines are blocked, and no refinery has been built in the United States since  Marathon Ashland’s Garyville, La., plant in 1976! Between 1999 and 2002 refining capacity in the United States rose only 3 percent, while demand has risen by 300%; driving up the costs for all petroleum products. Now, yes, that’s not all or even most on Obama’s watch. But it is because of actions by “green” activists; particularly the onerous regulatory burden at the EPA and Fish and Wildlife, and the blizzard of lawsuits brought by environmental activists to slow or block all but green energy development. And Obama, a close ally of the “greens”, has certainly done nothing to improve the situation.

That is the reason they are taking standard incandescent light bulbs off the market; so that consumers have no choice but to purchase more expensive (and less illumination producing) LED bulbs. Only the U.S. Government could view a $50 bulb as “affordable”. I have eight lamps in my two-bedroom apartment. To replace just those eight bulbs with the Philips green alternative would cost me about $500! Can you imagine a world in which you go to the store and pay $500 just for light bulbs??

Stories of new green boondoggles just keep coming in.

Ener1, the parent company of a electric car battery maker that received a $118 million grant from the administration, and was visited Vice President Joe Biden last year, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. It is the third company, after Solyndra and Beacon Power, to file for bankruptcy after getting a grant, a loan, or a loan guarantee from the tax payers as part of the stimulus package. Solyndra alone received half a billion in Obama Administration approved tax-payer loans. Defenders of green energy alternatives will argue that the new technology, once the “kinks” are worked out, will be more efficient than current choices.

Take the Philips product: this is no ordinary bulb!  It uses only one-sixth the energy of an incandescent. And it lasts about 30 times as long (provided you don’t drop it, or your kids don’t knock over the lamp). 

But it costs 50 times as much, and doesn’t last 50 times longer than the average bulb, which it would have to just to break even…

I’m all for green energy, and we already have two of the least polluting sources of green energy already up and working: hydroelectric and nuclear.

Yet the “green lobby” doesn’t approve of these mundane sources of clean energy. Rather than build more of each, the Obama Administration is busy destroying hydroelectric dams in the Western States, to make new salmon runs.

Really, I kid you not! Salmon runs!

 You can’t make this stuff up.

The last time a nuclear power reactor was built in the United States, aaccording to the US Dept of Energy, was for the “River Bend” plant in Louisiana, in March of 1977!  The “Watts Bar” plant in Tennessee, which began in 1973, may be completed this year, nearly 40 years later!

Does it take 40 years to build and bring online a new nuclear power plant? Only in America.

Say you’re the President of an energy company.  Being a patriot, and wanting to help this country’s energy shortage, you attempt to build a new nuclear power plant. Once one navigates the years of study and approval by various Federal and State agencies (many of which have an ingrained, institutional  hostility to nuclear power); and then fight through the decades of lawsuits brought by various green activist groups: most of your life has passed you by and your grandchildren are planning their weddings by the time your plant comes online (if ever)!

Instead, the Obama administration pushes wind power, setting a goal to develop enough wind power to provide 20 percent of America’s energy by 2030. Sounds like a laudable goal, right? Who can argue that wind power is renewable and clean?

The problem is wind farms are the most destructive source of energy to the ecosystem of the area they are constructed in. A standard wind farm has an enormous footprint, consisting of several hundred individual wind turbines, and covering an extended area of hundreds of square miles. The construction of

 such wind farm means going into often environmentally fragile eco-systems (such as California’s Mohave Desert) with large construction crews and machinery.  These are areas that are often off-limits to off-road recreation vehicles, which do minimal damage compared to the multi-ton construction vehicles needed for wind farm construction.

The earth is dug up to lay the deep concrete foundations necessary to uphold these wind mill behemoths. Plant are destroyed, animals are driven off or killed.

Talk about killing animals: Windmills kill nearly half a million birds a year, according to a Fish and Wildlife estimate. The American Bird Conservancy projected that the number could more than double in 20 years if the administration realizes its goal for wind power. And that’s just birds.

All throughout the country, wind farms are under increasing scrutiny due to thousands of bat deaths.  A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on wind farms’ impact on wildlife, said that 2,000 bats were killed during a seven-month study at a 44-turbine site in West Virginia. In that state, a Federal Judge has halted construction on a wind farm after the Animal Welfare Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit group, sued to stop construction. An initial assessment of the project had estimated that it would annually kill 6,746 bats of all kinds: at a single site!

One of the nation’s oldest and best-known experiments in green energy is the massive wind farm atop the slope overlooking the Altamont Pass; on I-580 east of San Francisco Bay. Today, half of the wind mills are stopped, in response to threats from environmental groups. Why have environmentalists turned against this much heralded source of green energy? Catastrophic numbers of raptor deaths; particularly the endangered Golden Eagle.

A white tailed eagle killed by a Norwegian wind turbine

Even if all of the green initiatives being pushed by this Administration were to eventually bear fruit, the cost is more than our sputtering economy can bear.  And in the meantime, many appear to be embarrassing failures and an incredible waste of money.

We should reflect upon the wisdom of Milton Friedman, and get government out of the business of interfering with business; of picking winners and losers, and attempting a “command economy” directed by bureaucrats in cubicles in Washington.  Instead, we need to let the free market and consumers direct the direction innovation and technology go.

Unlike the government, they usually get it right.

Read more:–despite-owing-taxpayer-half-billion-dollars.html#ixzz1ofooNPDU–despite-owing-taxpayer-half-billion-dollars.html


  1. Great job, Barry! I love that quote.

    Milton Friedman, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens… a few guys that I have a bromance with… yes, I’m a slut.

    Link forthcoming.

  2. So much shadenfruede here, gleefully pointing out failures, and simplistically assigning blame. Laden with truth twisting snippets meant only elicit knee jerk responses, rather than intelligent consideration. for example, this statement:

    ” But it costs 50 times as much, and doesn’t last 50 times longer than the average bulb, which it would have to just to break even…”

    in fact, it wouldn’t have to run 50 times as long to break even if it is using a fraction of the energy. The operating costs are significantly lower.

    I agree there are plenty of boondoggles in green technology, this light bulb being one of them. But why make it worse than it is? Plenty more in defense department, but do we cease military spending because of them? and even more in the private sector. But there are success stories as well. (how many companies in the same program as Solyndra have NOT failed?).

    And there are plenty of questions: LED light quality is not as warm and enveloping as incandescent. (Neither is fluorescent, but that didn’t stop my Republican father from putting them in my bedroom in the 70’s. Not because they were new technology, but because the prices had finally come down to become CHEAPER to operate.) LED But fixtures with color temps below 3000 °K are just coming on the market which are affordable, and quite nice. Why? because there is now enough of a market that it was worthwhile for companies to do the R&D for the past 10 years.

    Moore’s law will take effect if only mass development can get underway. Now that solar panels are finally cost effective, why do we have to purchase them from China? Because they were willing to seed their industry (and they have cheaper labor, and lax environmental laws, etc. The problem is not black and white, and can’t be hung on “this administration.”

    The oft cited canard, repeated in this article, about banning 100w light bulbs is another distortion. the lightbulbs that are banned are the massively inefficient ones. Incandescent light bulbs will still be available. No matter that this law was implemented during the Bush administration, it’s another reason to “get rid of Obama.”

    Much like the bans on DDT, certain chloroflourcarbons, and lead paint. Does anyone think those should not have been implemented?

    Oh, and salmon runs? Not worthy of consideration? really? The dams in question (only 2 actually, here on the Olympic Penninsula) were non-functional as far as hydroelectrical power goes, built 100 years ago, on a very small scale. There was bipartisan agreement that their removal would do more good than harm, when considering ALL the factors: energy, ecosystems (yes salmon), economic costs, etc.

    Can’t we discuss these very crucial aspects of our future, and our childrens’, without retorting to snide condescending demonization, and distortions for political advantage?

  3. “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming… who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
    Teddy Roosevelt


  4. Tom, thank you for your thoughtful reply.
    The point about saving energy over the long-run as justification for $50 each bulbs is perhaps the only one. You will allow that the initial purchase cost is prohibative for most average Americans. And the savings would have to be huge to make it pay off.

    The 3 dams on Klamath River suppy hydroelectric power to the area. There is no energy replacement source being suggested at this time.
    And, no, I don’t think that dams should be destroyed to make salmon runs. The homeowners who lose property value as expensive lake and river front property find their homes or cabins now sitting on a mud basin or gully and, in cases, in danger of collapsing in to an erroding former river bed; are not be compensated. Not by the do-gooders out to make the salmon’s life easier, and certainly not by the salmon! 😉

  5. Pingback: No, the real Conservatives are NOT going after OUR LADY PARTS!!! « Temple of Mut

  6. Barry, I totally concur the $50 hits way too hard for the normal householder who is used to buying 60 watt 4-packs on sale for $6. And makes it easy to ridicule, especially with the feeble light put out by CFL’s and older versions of LEDs. However, these LED’s have great color rendition (<3000˚K), no flicker, really nice light. We're shifting into a different mode, sorta like going from kerosene to gas lamps. The $50 figure is of course the highest they'll ever cost. Discounts and rebates will bring it down to $40, and Moore's law will bring it down dramatically after that, once market forces are unleashed. Meanwhile, heres a basic breakdown of the savings, based on reduced energy consumption, depending on how much you're paying for power:

    Each bulb over ten years saves $75 at $.07/kWh; $140 at $.10/kWh; and $320 at $.20/kWh. The national average price is $.12/kWh, and higher tier electric prices in places like LA and NYC top $.25/kWh. Savings of $150 over 10 years, even on a $50 investment, that's $100 or $10/year, close to 20% return! What's not to like? The start up cost, of course. However, many are willing to buy the jumbo pack (of anything) at Costco that lasts for a month instead of a day.

    As far as the dams, I definitely misspoke when I said there were only two. I'm only familiar with the Elwah, a huge one in Olympic Peninsula, and the Hemlock Dam north of Seattle. Both of these were past their prime and have been in the works for decades. I hadn't heard of the hydroelectric aspect of the Klamath dams, or that they were being torn out. I was aware they've been embroiled in dispute over irrigation rights for years.

    Turns out there are many more. This could be fuel for your next blog article: Most of them are being removed in the name or restoring natural habitat. Some are hydroelectric. Virtually all have been declared hazardous or obsolete, but I'm sure there will be differing points of view to that.

    I don't know how many lakefront properties will be adversely affected. That's a good point, and gets into the whole question of property owner rights and expectations. I know that whole towns business districts have been wiped out by the decision to reroute a freeway, or close a railroad station, and those decisions are made based on the bigger picture, not whether the old gas station on the corner will be able to stay in business, or property values are altered.

    I understand that the restoration of native salmon runs may sound trivial to some, but we have vast industries here in the Northwest that depend on healthy fish populations, which have been decimated in recent years, partially due to elimination of spawning grounds (moreso due to overfishing). The larger threat is to the whole food chain. There is a matter of preference whether we want to rely on technology to produce what we eat (farmed fish, genetically modified crops, BHt, etc). But to lose any of our wild, natural food supply in the name of energy consumption makes me as mad as paying $50 for a light bulb.

  7. Thanks once again, Tom, for the well written and thought-out response… While I don’t look forward to $50 lightbulbs, I can now see what the rationale is.
    I’ll address the dam issue perhaps again at a futue date.
    Again, thanks, Tom.

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