January 3, 2008

Too Much Government, Dagnabbit!

Now that Channukah, Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone and I’ve recovered sufficiently from a rather active New Year’s Eve to take a poke at this keyboard again with some semblance of coherence…

First, being a smoker, I need to pitch a brief bitch about the no-smoking-in-bars law that was moved up from this coming summer to the day before yesterday (1 January, 2008) here in Illinois. I read all these pieces about fellow smokers facing the tribulations of having to step outside the bar, into the Chicago winter (if I’m not mistaken, it’s less than 10 degrees outside as I type this), to smoke a cigarette. They speak of everything from purchasing ear muffs and extra scarves to giving up the tobacco habit.

For me, this just means I won’t go to any bars other than those in restaurants where I’m having dinner with friends, and I’ll abstain until after I leave the establishment. I simply won’t hang out at my favorite watering hole any more, or any other local drinkeries, for that matter. So I’ll save a couple of hundred bucks a week.

Then there’s this other law that kinda’ sorta’ went into effect without my even knowing about it: I noticed, over the duration of my last carton of Chesterfield Kings, that the durn things kept going out on me when I laid them in the ashtray (more of my cigarettes spend time in the ashtray than they do being smoked, as I light up most while I’m on-line, blogging, reading, commenting, etc). It seemed that there was a problem with the paper — so I called Phillip Morris to inquire, and they informed me that certain states (including Illinois) had adopted a law requiring that all cigarettes sold in them had to have the paper thickened so that they go out when they’re not being smoked. This was explained as a measure to prevent cigarettes from starting fires. Right. Okay. Whatever. I search-engined the law and read all the statistics. Fine. Ram it.

It’s sure nice to have government entities, be they local, state or federal, protecting us from ourselves. I mean, what would we do without intrusive government? Let’s make things really easy: Let’s simply shitcan the Constitution altogether. Who needs it, right? Today’s politicians apparently haven’t read it, anyway, so why bother to perpetuate its existence?

Having gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the meat of this post:

Just like that–like flipping a switch–Congress and the president banned incandescent light bulbs last month. OK, they did not exactly ban them. But the energy bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush sets energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs that traditional incandescent bulbs cannot meet.

The new rules phase in starting in 2012, but don’t be lulled by that five-year delay. Whether it’s next week or next decade, you will one day walk into a hardware store looking for a 100-watt bulb–and there won’t be any. By 2014, the new efficiency standards will apply to 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs too.

So now the government is dictating what kind of light bulbs will be available to us, cost be damned.

As a disclaimer, I will say that I use compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) for the simple reason that I dislike pedestrian hassles, especially being a high ceilings kind of guy, and the spiral bulbs mean not having to change a light bulb for a really long time.

However, I don’t believe that CFLs should be forced on the public, like it or not. They are significantly more expensive, for one thing, and for another, as was bandied about the Blogosphere several months ago, they bring a serious element of risk into the household.

Brandy Bridges heard the claims of government officials, environmentalists and retailers like Wal-Mart all pushing the idea of replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving and money-saving compact fluorescent lamps.

So, last month, the Prospect, Maine, resident went out and bought two dozen CFLs and began installing them in her home. One broke. A month later, her daughter’s bedroom remains sealed off with plastic like the site of a hazardous materials accident, while Bridges works on a way to pay off a $2,000 estimate by a company specializing in environmentally sound cleanups of the mercury inside the bulb.

With everyone from Al Gore to Wal-Mart to the Environmental Protection Agency promoting CFLs as the greatest thing since, well, the light bulb, consumers have been left in the dark about a problem they will all face eventually – how to get rid of the darn things when they burn out or, worse yet, break.

So here we’re talking about government regulation requiring families and individuals to purchase and install in their dwellings common objects (unless, of course, they have no problem with living in the dark) that present potential health hazards.

Now, I’m not a litigious person, but…

… if the government can impose this upon the masses, then the masses should, by all means, be able to sue the government, big time, in the event that these CFLs, once they’re the only game in town, present the problem they did for Brandy Bridges. Instead of the citizen with no remaining freedom of choice paying for the clean-up, let Uncle Sam pay for it. After all, Uncle is forcing the situation on us, and doing so by ignoring the Constitution and the very principles of freedom that our founding fathers bestowed upon us.

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11 Responses to “Too Much Government, Dagnabbit!”

  1. Gayle Says:

    Seth, I agree with every single word that you have written in this post. If government continues to interfere in our lives the way it currently is doing, it won’t be long before we don’t have any freedom whatsoever. I’m sick and tired of being treated as though I am a small child who has no sense whatsoever! I grant that there are people out there who don’t have any sense whatsoever, but so what? They have always existed and will forever continue to exist. That doesn’t mean that those of us who are able to survive on our own shouldn’t be allowed to do so. I’m sick of this utter bs too! Then their is the fact that smoking may not be the healthiest choice we can make, but we should have the right to choose, just like it is best to fasten a seat belt before driving, but it should not be against the law as the only person you may hurt by not fastening it is yourself! Because I drove for many years before seat belts were even invented, and drove without incident, and even though I would now use one on my own volition because they have been invented, every time I snap one on myself I resent it now because it is a dictatorial law, and I freely admit that because I live in the country and seldom see the Highway Patrol, I often ride around without one just because I’m pissed off! People who are used to doing and thinking for themselves resent being dictated to. We are slowly losing our good old-fashioned common sense and initiative, and if we don’t watch it we’ll soon be a country of good little robots doing just like mommy and daddy (the government, local and national) dictates. There are some laws that just beg to be broken!

    Wow! Got a bit carried away there. Good post! :)

    Off topic, I’m so happy the video I posted helped you to reach a decision. I hope that you will post about it. I know Fred is behind right now, but that can change. Fred is not trusting of the MSM (smart man) and is even disdainful of it, so it is up to us to support and back him.

  2. Environmental Health » Too Much Government, Dagnabbit! Says:

    [...] Here’s another interesting post I read today by Hard Astarboard [...]

  3. BB-Idaho Says:

    Sort of wonder why the oppressed smokers don’t form an interest group: like maybe SRA..Smokers Resistance Org. You know, with lobby pros, bumper stickers that read
    ‘Cigarettes don’t kill, inhaling does’..indoor smoking ranges with certified instructors…surely there is an amendment to defend us? Don’t know about you, but I have been driven to be a ClosetSmoker..sit under the clothes rack, light up my pipe, turn on the INCANDESCENT bulb, leave my closet seat belt unfastioned and puff up a cloud of indignation. Now, I see that the state of Washington has banned text-messaging on the freeway. Lordy, soon we will be compelled to join healthclubs and eat tofu or face a stiff fine. You got me so mad I’m thinking of lighting up a CFL and exhaling second-hand Mercury. :)

  4. Ken Taylor Says:

    Any government regulation that curtails our freedom of choice as Americans is unconstitutional and has no business becoming law.

    This is one of the many reasons that Congress gets a failing grade from the people because they could care less what we think or that WE are their boss and not the other way around. It is time we as Americans took back this country as the Constitution states for, “We the People, ” and as their boss fired the lot of them replacing each with strict Constitutional representatives that have the will of the people as their motive and actions on Capitol Hill.

    Additionally did any of these morons bother to research the dangers of the mecury in these ridiculously expensive bulbs, that cause the response of a HASMAT team and thousands of dollars of cleanup not to mention having to stay out of ones home until the cleanup is over, when ONE OF THESE FLIMSY AND EASILY BROKEN GLASS BULBS BREAK!!!!

  5. BB-Idaho Says:

    A little surprised about the HAZMAT story, having worked with Mercury and its compounds my entire lab career. This outfit was surprised too http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/cfl.asp
    ..Hg is definitely toxic, a heavy metal like Arsenic or lead and it does tend to vaporize (like in coal-fired electic plants, where 40% of it arises). It is also considered in dangerous amounts in some fishes.
    The common sense response to a broken CFL is that 5 mg
    Mercury is coated on the glass interior. Pick up the pieces, wrap in a bag or handywrap and dispose like other little toxic items like batteries. I have a few and the pros & cons IMHO are that they are not as bright, take time to come to full lumen and are expensive up front//conversely, they last a long time, are very cheap on current draw and lower the light bill. We need consider that a simple mercury switch or old thermometer contains over 100 times as much HG as a CFL and any of us oldsters remembers coating pennies with mercury from the thermometer. That said,
    I agree that it should be a consumer choice, not a mandated thing. (The old lady up the street has laid in a lifetime supply of incandescents, bless her heart)….

  6. Shoprat Says:

    Soon they’ll be telling us what to eat and wear and when to sleep.

    When the state micromanages everything it becomes what Mussolini called Fascism.

    We aren’t becoming Socialist; we are becoming Fascist, thanks to the supposedly “Fascist” hating left.

  7. Seth Says:

    Gayle –

    I feel a certain amount of rage as well, it reads to me like the beginning of the end of the greatest experiment in true freedom in the history of civilization. :-(


    The single most important element I was seeking in a candidate was undiluted, focused conservatism. We are at a juncture where, facing a Democratic Party owned part & parcel by the far left, we need a President who will be the right matter to their left anti-matter and who will neither compromise nor hesitate to wield the veto pen when necessary. Tancredo had that cornered hands down, and I found myself looking at the only two remaining possibilities (for me), Mitt and Fred. While Mitt is an aggressive, conservative politician and certainly capable of leading the country, there are a few “blips” among the factors I look for, while Fred, more like a snoozing hound dog in his way, LOL, although one who can wake up in a millisecond and do the thing with the teeth, has none of those “blips”. He is a solid conservative.

    The video you posted is what sealed the deal, Fred’s the man!

    BB –

    A few years ago, I was receiving monthly bulletins from a group called the National Smokers’ Alliance. They provided news and updates (along the lines of those that come from the NRA, only tobacco oriented) on tobacco legislation in various states and on the Hill, on scientific issues, etc. I don’t know whether or not they had any effect in the legislation millieu or whether they still exist, but it really would be nice if tobacco companies fought a little harder for smokers’ rights.

    It shouldn’t be up to government to decide whether people can smoke on premises, it should be the decision of the owner of the business.

    The revised instructions (by Maine) for clean-up after a CFL breakage, even though they say a HazMat team isn’t needed, still indicate that such breakage is a serious matter, whether the amount of mercury involved is “the size of the period at the end of a sentence” or measurable in gallons. The very fact of having to take safety precautions (perhaps even purchase, for preemptive reasons, items for same that one might not routinely have around the house or apartment) that go well beyond anything one would have to do in the event of a trusty 100, 75 or 60 watt bulb breaking speaks volumes: It indicates that politicians, in the interest of politics, are mandating the mandatory introduction of health hazards into the American home. Their politics is endangering Americans.

    Cudos to the old lady up the street. :-)

    I received the heartily anticipated Moose Drool on Wednesday and subsequently hoisted a couple with an extremely blue collar (though, unfortunately, Democrat) friend who is the PDR equivalent of beers. Right off the bat, he observed (as is both our habit, we drank from the bottles) that Moose Drool is 5.1% alcohol.


    I was definitely impressed, it’s great stuff! I’ll definitely be ordering more…

    Ken –

    We’ve allowed our elected officials, by trusting them to do the right thing, to grow too big for their britches — it was only about two years ago that I revised an earlier opinion and decided that there should be term limits on all elected positions (too bad such decisions on my part don’t amount to a hill of beans on the Hill). Two terms max, which would eliminate the need/urge to play politics with an eye toward a career in office.

    BB’s link to Snopes and his own professional knowledge reduce the necessary measures to take after a CFL breakage, but they also raise an alarm.

    While I use CFLs out of — face it, domestic laziness, I like to not have to change light bulbs as frequently as one has to when dealing with normal bulbs — pure avoidance of a simple but distractive chore, I’m responsible only to myself. I wouldn’t use them if I had small children in the house and I wouldn’t screw them into anything but ceiling fixtures that are out of reach of accidental breakage.

    The government apparently doesn’t see anything wrong with health endangerment. They are too busy meeting political ends. This is, after all, an election year…

    Back to CFLs, though, if we’re looking at what, after 2014, will be tens of millions of them to dispose of via special disposal companies, we now have a new industry on the way and, indubitably, still another government bureaucracy. So they’ll do what, landfills? Bury spreadable mercury so it can seep through our soil, thereby polluting land and waterways while the Democrats (and their environmental mentors) extoll its virtues? And they say they’re concerned that we might attempt to vacuum it up!

    All this B.S., incidentally, is brought to us by the United States Government.

    As Greg Lake might have shouted, “What a thrill, what a thrill!”

    Shoprat –

    Spot on!

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines.

    Unless we can vote in enough conservatives to send the left packing, we’re pretty much screwed.

  8. Angel Says:

    hiya Seth!..I know I know…every second you turn around and theres
    another seemingly innocuous government “regulation”..!
    enough is enough~!..now come over and we’ll grab a falafel..LOL

  9. Seth Says:

    Angel –

    My treat!

    Let’s go to that place in Rego Park, about a block south of Queens Blvd on 63rd Drive…

  10. Gayle Says:

    That sounds like fun, Seth. Wish I could join you and Angel! :)

    Off topic, and just in case you missed it, Fred came in third in the Iowa Caucus. Not bad for a guy the press claimed was going to drop out!

  11. Seth Says:

    Gayle –

    Bring on New Hampshire! :-)