14 July 2011

Government Overreach?

We all accept a certain amount of government interference in our lives - we understand we need a standing army, a national treasury, regulation of interstate commerce... however, where does this interference end? While Congress can pass laws involving how we live our personal lives, does it mean that they should?

Here are a couple topics to discuss along these lines:

The light bulb ban.
The federal government has decided to kill off the traditional incandescent bulbs in favor of the newer more energy efficient bulbs. But as we know, these bulbs are more expensive to buy as well as cause major headaches and cost if you happen to drop and break one.

Obese children to be removed from their families.
Whenever I hear the words "do it for the children" it scares me. It allows for just about any ridiculous law to be passed through government "for the children". Is this a slippery slide issue? Is this something that gives government (local or national) too much power to take children away? What happens if children are being taught to be racists? Is it a parent's right to teach hate? It sounds strange - but where does this end?

These are just two topics of many. Any thoughts on these - or any others?


Anonymous said...

It's just seems way too like a fascist government to me..

Anonymous said...

Stevie Beeko, he was born in South Africa, he died in a jail cell, a political prisoner! Cuz it's a fascist regime, South Africa, a fascist regime, South Africa!

Shira said...

I forgot another example: A resident of Oak Park, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit) planted a vegetable patch in her front yard - the city ticketed her and planned on taking her to court. Only after a huge outcry, the city decided to drop charges. Overreach?


Morris Slutsky said...

The light bulbs may be a pretty stupid thing to regulate. Of course they are! The fancy new CFLs and LED bulbs can and do fail with emission of smoke - no incandescent can do that. They also fail to work in enclosed light fixtures, and if you have a dimmer wired into your home you must wire it out or just smoke bulb after expensive bulb. Halogen bulbs, while bright and efficient, run very hot and can be serious fire hazards. Finally a lot of the efficiency claims for the newer bulbs are lies and there is also the deliberate misdirection from their poor power factor - a CFL burns many less Watts than a General Service Incandescent, but doesn't use very many less Volt-Amps. Power is billed to residences by Watts but power grids carry Volt-Amps and must be sized accordingly. Yes it's dumb . . .

But people need to focus here! Got a choice here, you really do. Advocate against the light bulb law as a thing in itself, you can make a big difference. But people want to use it as a rhetorical stepping stone to tie together other conservative talking points - if they want to use it as an excuse to talk about the progressive income tax, wheelchair ramps in public schools, interracial couples in McDonalds advertisements, the Federal Reserve, Ron Paul, and the hidden dangers of fluoride - then nothing will get done about anything INCLUDING the light bulb law. Got to focus and not be partisan. That's what I think the lesson is. How much do you care about the light bulbs?

Of course there is and will not be a ban on specialized incandescents which people need for specific purposes. Applicance lights, black lights, candelabra lights, etc are specifically exempted, there is a whole list there.

Morris Slutsky said...

Again, focusing and forgetting the politics - the fault is not really in the bulbs. It's that 120V AC circuits are great for running incandescent lights but not fluorescent or solid-state LEDs.

Old-fashioned fluorescent fixtures have a power supply built into them which provides both a constant current for operating the fluorescent discharge itself, a filament power supply to provide electrode emission, and a high-voltage spike to start the intial arc. CFLs are expected to work off of 120V AC, so they have to include their own power supply.

And unlike the ballast and starter of a standard fluorescent fixture, a CFL needs to include a power supply that is both small enough to fit inside a standard lamp base and cheap enough to throw away. Of course they don't usually meet the lifetime or performance specs in real life - if you take one apart you'll see plenty of underrated and undersized components - they are crap! Cutting size, cutting cost, means cutting the ability of the power supply to do the job.

LED bulbs - I'd honestly love for them to do well. They are really efficient and just fun little gadgets. Affordable, efficient solid-state lighting systems are one of those things we've been promised since ever - they're up there with fusion power, Moon vacations, and flying cars. Of course I want them to succeed. But again, they have to include a power supply.

Because nobody is going to rewire their house to have 300 mA DC constant-current circuits to operate LEDs off of. Even though that's what would be best.

So, like CFLS, they are built with inferior cheap-enough-to-throw-away power supplies built in. And like CFLs, likely won't last as long as they should. And heat buildup, dimmers, will kill them too. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Pretty soon the government will tell us which foot to put down on the floor as we get out of bed in the morning.