In just a few short weeks, the 100-watt incandescent light bulb will pass into history, as the legal ban on them will kick in on New Year’s Day. Instead, we will all have to learn to live to with the compact fluorescent bulbs. Those of us who have a fondness for the old-school, traditional bulbs, for whatever reason, will simply learn to have to adapt and make do.
It will take its place on the scrap-pile of history alongside the standard flush toilet, which was banned a few years ago and replaced with the “low-flow” toilets, that often literally don’t work for crap — often requiring multiple flushes to do its job, more than… er, eliminating the intended water savings.
Here in New Hampshire, we’re unique in a lot of ways. One of them is that we have no mandatory seat belt laws or motorcycle helmet laws for adults. Oh, we got ’em for people under 18, but once you’re an adult, you’re on your own. In every other state in the union, though, there are laws mandating the use of both.
These are just a few examples. I could go on, but that should be more than enough to make my point: in each and every case, people are deprived of the right to choose for themselves.
Of course, there are merits to the legally-mandated positions. A lot of people swear by the curlicue bulbs and the new toilets. And I am a seat belt militant — you ride with me, you buckle up. I don’t ride motorcycles, but I’d be just as militant in that case, too.
However, the proponents of these things are so convinced of the rightness of their position that they managed to get the government to give their opinions the force of law.
This is the point of the discussion where those who support these measures start chiming in about the merits and virtues of their positions, and how their position is so much more reasonable and sensible.
There is only one appropriate response to these statements:
SHUT THE FUCK UP.
These statements are arguments. They are attempting to persuade. Well, guess what, folks? They don’t matter. There’s no argument to be had; you made sure of that when you had your positions put into law. These aren’t arguments any more; they’re rationalizations. These are your attempts to justify how you didn’t win by persuading people, but by coercion. How your arguments weren’t compelling, you just had the brute force to impose your way.
As I said, there are merits to each of these positions. There are good reasons for people to embrace each. And I would never advocate banning any of these products (with the possible exception of the light bulbs — I have some troubles with their mercury content, especially in light of the current anti-mercury hysteria). To me, the opposite of “mandate the use of these products” is not “ban these products,” but “let people make up their own minds.”
C. S. Lewis said it best:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
The lamp-post in Narnia would never have grown with a compact fluorescent lightbulb.