Energy Secretary Steven Chu admitted the paternalistic motivation for the effective ban on incandescent light-bulbs on Friday. Such honesty from a bureaucrat is somewhat refreshing, but ultimately disturbing.
Chu said, “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.” The federal government apparently considers it within their legitimate role to prevent us from wasting our own money, even on items as banal as light-bulbs or toilets.
The same logic could be used to justify any number of laws that force people to buy certain products, despite higher initial costs, aesthetic or performance differences or just plain ol’ personal preference. It could also be used to force people to clip coupons, or to buy items in bulk.
Individuals in a free society should be able to make their own choices, even their own mistakes. People deserve the dignity of being free to choose what products they purchase, for their own reasons, economic or otherwise. For the government to justify energy-saving product mandates by claiming that they’re trying to force us to save money is paternalistic and condescending.
Today the House is expected to vote on H.R. 2417, a bill that would repeal the mandate and allow consumers to continue making their own economic decisions. Even if that means paying more over the long run for the type of light-bulb they prefer, and to the horror of Steven Chu, wasting their own money.