Lights Out? More About Light Bulbs and Toilets

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on January 4, 2014

About three months ago, I bought a two-pack of LED “light bulbs.” Since I have a fascination with the evolution of LEDs over the last forty years – from simple on/off indicators, their landmark use in digital Texas Instruments wristwatches in the late seventies, to the development of practical blue LEDs in the nineties, this purchase was made in the name of science. Besides, I still could proudly state that I have yet to purchase a dim, mercury-filled compact fluorescent light bulb; the kind of bulb that brings the warmth and atmosphere of a warehouse direct to your home.

Compared to CFLs, the LEDs are a definite improvement; they are brighter and light-up much quicker. As for longevity, it will take a while to answer this question.

Obviously, looking for a replacement for incandescent light bulbs is a man-made crisis – a crisis with roots in feel-good/crony-capitalist legislation. The most damaging part of this ban is the unnecessary loss of jobs – a common causality that arises when legislation is passed by legislators who live in a campaign-fueled feelgoodocracy.

When the details of this law made the news, I was surprised that there had been very little backlash from American citizens, since the simple incandescent light bulb continues to play such an important role in how we live. But then again, being told to buy smaller, inefficient toilets should have infuriated those same people twenty years ago.

When the government interferes with basic necessities, most people passively welcome the government intrusion. However, these people need to study the playbook of Americans whose livelihoods and/or hobbies revolve around cars – specifically restoration and modifications.

When I first started reading car magazines in the early eighties, the biggest threat to the car hobby was – and still is — government at every level. From local issues, such as local leaders who wanted to outlaw cruise nights – regardless of their civility and organization — to state and local threats, such as making the process of buying salvaged parts difficult, as well as imposing restrictions on who could legally make repairs or modifications to personal vehicles. Cars are similar to horse racing: both are hobbies that put people to work. Outlaw, overtax or over-regulate one or both, and people lose jobs.

Unlike the “save the toilet” or “save the light bulb” movements that seemingly never-were, people within the car hobby defended their hobby – and their trade. Yes, there are still threats to “professional car lovers,” but they do their best to protect what they enjoy, learn from, and make a living with, such as with the help of the SEMA Action Network.

Yes, over-regulation or the death-by-mandate of a hobby that pumps new blood into a trade will deprive young people out of the opportunity to develop new technical skills – as well as an ability to learn the importance of attention to details. Also, the preservation of automobiles is the preservation of a small part of history.

As with any government threat, the difficult part is reaching politicians and bureaucrats who are isolated from the reality that the rest of us must dwell in. After all, it is safe to assume that something doesn’t exist if you have never been exposed to it, or had ever been a part of it. For example, I remember a story that had been told to me by a mechanic for a police department. He talked about an alderman who determined that an older police car was mechanically sound – based on how clean the interior was. If an individual has no experience related to a subject – and that individual is responsible for regulating that subject, then what are the odds that he or she is fixing to screw-up the proverbial one-car funeral?

When the government threatens our liberties via ignorance, crony capitalism, and/or misguided compassion, the affected citizens have a strange way of choosing which battles to fight.

As much as the government encroaches into our lives with restrictive laws and regulations, it is safe to assume that the only act of government that will produce an emotional response from most Americans – the one that will strike a nerve that will be felt in Washington almost instantly — is if in late December or early January, via Congress, Executive Order, or OSHA mandate, an immediate six-month moratorium is imposed on the NFL in the name of player safety.

The government-imposed cancellation of a Super Bowl is guaranteed start a revolt.

However, think of the embarrassment that should sweep across this generation when it collectively realizes that the Second American Revolution was not caused by an intrusive, power-hungry government, corrupt politicians or crony capitalist system that destroys small companies, but it was caused by the cancellation of a football game, and its commercials.

As for the incandescent light bulb and practical toilet, there is still hope. It could happen within the next few elections, or it could take a lifetime, but reason and technology will overcome bad legislation. I only hope that the rebels who fight for the restoration of common sense and reason choose a symbol for their flag that is representative of what they stand for – as long as it isn’t a toilet.

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Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for