Having done one review of a book that welcomes the demise of Edison's simple bulb, a blog like this might balance it with something that does not...
also in these holiday times when a good read might be welcome!
Published last summer 2011,
the latest December Congress developments may have halted things at "Death Row" level, but of course the ban has not gone away...
To begin with,
it should be clear that this cheap e-book, only around US $2 dollars (say on Amazon) is really about 2 lengthy essays or articles, than a book as such.
But for the price of a Cappucino, you certainly get good value, by 2 knowledgeable authors.
I can't better the overall review of the Broadside Book Publisher site:
I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial demonstrates how the American economy has gone from free markets to politically correct, government controlled crony capitalism in the half century since Leonard E. Read wrote the classic essay, “I, Pencil.”
Author Michael Patrick Leahy tells the story of the ban on the current generation of incandescents from the perspective of a condemned 100 watt light bulb. In the voice of the light bulb, Leahy points out the need for political activism to reverse this ban, arguing that it not only prevents an innocent incandescent light bulb from continuing a useful economic life, it also deprives every American of their own economic liberty and freedom of choice.
Readers who buy I, Lightbulb will also receive the bonus companion e-book The Disastrous Lightbulb Ban by Howard Brandston, at no additional cost.
Brandston, the internationally recognized expert on lighting most well known for lighting the Statue of Liberty, explains why the federal government’s ban on the current generation of incandescent light bulbs is such a bad idea.
He explains how in 2007 a Democrat controlled Congress, the lamp manufacturers, the Department of Energy, and George W. Bush combined to force us to replace inexpensive and safe incandescent light bulbs with expensive, unsafe Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs that contain mercury. In this companion book to I, Light Bulb, Brandston concludes by encouraging citizen political activism to repeal this ridiculous ban.
The August 2011 Weekly Standard article by editor Joseph Bottum,
puts the issues raised in a wider perspective. Extracts:
The two essays in a new pamphlet in the "Voices of the Tea Party" series from Broadside Books — I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial by the editor Michael Patrick Leahy and The Disastrous Light Bulb Ban by Howard M. Brandston — both identify the primary cause as an activist and out-of-control government, manipulated by crony-capitalist corporations:
"If you want to find the ultimate roots of the movement... it all began when Herbert Hoover was named the Secretary of Commerce under Warren Harding, when he set about organizing manufacturers into cooperative industry organizations."
In this telling,
the otherwise forgotten 1924 "Phoebus Cartel" of light-bulb manufacturers looms large, but the story only really gets rolling with the oil crisis of the 1970s, when Congress decided energy policy lay squarely within its remit and began to pass laws mandating all kinds of usage standards for cars and factories.
In those days, of course, the announced purpose was American "energy independence" rather than our currently declared goal of reducing greenhouse gases.
But the real motives, say the Tea Party authors, were always the same: a mistrust of ordinary people and an insatiable hunger for increased government. All of which culminated when the 2007 Democrat-dominated Congress (led by Nancy Pelosi, Nanny of the House) set out to do something, anything, that expanded government power, changed the nation's lifestyle, and rewarded the large manufacturers such as General Electric that had supported the Democrats' election. An inattentive or uninterested President Bush signed the bill, and here we are.
But if it hadn't been incandescent bulbs, it would have been something else.
The truisms of the nannies, the trite expressions of public morality spraying from the religious weight of environmentalism, will not be denied. One way or another, they force themselves out into the public air.
Among Republicans, Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is under some attack for having sponsored the amendment that kept the light-bulb ban alive in the 2007 energy bill. George W. Bush is tarred with the same indictment for having failed to veto the bizarre legislation. But, really, those poor men were just trying to do the right thing. They accepted the faux-science of CFLs and the pseudo-economics because they wanted to believe. They wanted to share in the great public morality of environmentalism, and everyone seemed to be telling them that light bulbs were the way to do it.
In the event, light bulbs weren't the way to do it,
but that's really beside the point.
You want to know where the light-bulb ban began?
It wasn't Nancy Pelosi, and it wasn't Herbert Hoover, and it wasn't even the shadowy Phoebus Cartel, though all who do evil love the darkness.
The light-bulb ban was carried forward by the placards about towels in motel rooms. It was nursed at the local coffee shop, where we are lectured in high moral language about how only sustainable coffee beans — gathered, if the illustrations are accurate, on the misty slopes of Ytaiao Mountain by Rima the jungle girl — can redeem us. Saving the planet, one Starbucks at a time.
The demand for CFLs was inculcated at "Earth Day" plays,
in which grade-school children got to act out the roles of bunnies and butterflies who've come to warn us that we must be nice to the Earth
(As James Lileks once noted, those school plays typically end with "a hymn to nature that makes the Romantic poets look like strip-mining company CEOs.")
The desire to eradicate incandescent bulbs grew up with myths of the Cuyahoga River catching fire and the smog of Los Angeles rolling through the Hollywood Hills like malevolent mud.
The truth or falsity of such things is a trifle, a quibble, a bagatelle.
What matters is that they form our national mythology and our cultural worldview. They form our public religion — the one moral vocabulary that can be spoken in this country anywhere and anytime.
Of course, the result is the kind of general feeling that something must be done about it all, and if that something is rather pointless — the peculiar rush to legislate 1.6-gallon toilets is a good example — nonetheless we have shown a righteous will by trying. We have the guilt-release of a noble attempt. We have the warm feeling of being on the side of good.
We have asserted our standing as children of light, even if rather ineffectual ones. We have followed the sayings of nanny.
I also refer to some interesting passages of the e-book on the Ceolas.net site
in relation to the famous (infamous) Phoebus cartel.
To quote, from Michael Patrick Leahy's I, Lightbulb:
During World War I, the War Industries Board was a government-authorized, industry-staffed effort engaged in industrial planning. General Electric executives such as Gerard Swope participated:
By so doing, and by watching Hoover in action in the sister agency, the Food Administration, they got the idea that by participating in such government authorized planning efforts, they could keep out competitors, control the market, and maximize their profits.
When Swope was named president of General Electric in 1922, he immediately set about applying those principles to the electrical lighting market.
Swope knew that the tungsten patent [vital to well-working light bulbs] would expire in 1927.
How was he going to maintain his monopoly?
The Phoebus Cartel
In 1924, General Electric, along with several major European corporations,
and with the implicit blessing of Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, formed a cartel - a cooperative group of competing firms who agreed to fix prices, share technology, establish production standards, and use common marketing practices.
By sharing incandescent light bulb patents that kept competitors out, and by agreeing on exclusive geographic spheres of influence, the member companies could maintain high market shares and high profits.
Called "The Phoebus Cartel" after the Swiss company Phoebus, they set out to keep track of all their activities around the world.
Under the agreement,
General Electric got the United States,
Associated Electrical Industries got the United Kingdom,
Osram got Germany,
Philips got Holland,
and Tungsram got Eastern Europe.
The European companies got to share the British overseas territories, and they all could compete in the rest of the world. General Electric was guaranteed that none of the other major manufacturers of incandescent light bulbs would enter the American market.
When the agreement began, General Electric had a 90 percent market share.
When it ended fifteen years later, General Electric still had a 90 percent market share.
Only a few dozen small, scrappy Japanese manufacturing companies dared to enter the American market and take on General Electric:
They ignored General Electric and related Phoebus Cartel patents, copied what they could, and shipped their less expensive, shorter-lasting incandescent bulbs into the United States. When they began to show some increase in sales, General Electric got friends in Congress to slap a tariff on imported incandescent bulbs, and the price advantage disappeared. Japanese inroads were stopped.
When the cartel was first organized, the life span of the average bulb was 1,000 hours. Fifteen years later, when the cartel came to an end due to World War II, it remained the same.
This is not the kind of progress you would expect if the full engineering and research capabilities of General Electric had been tasked with expanding the life span. Word in our family has always been that this was intentional:
Every 1,000 hours, you had to buy a new incandescent light bulb. Why expand the life span to 2,000 hours? You would just cut your sales in half...
Howard Brandston's contribution The Disastrous Light Bulb Ban is again illuminating, if such words may be used, especially in my view his direct personal involvement in light bulb legislation, having been consulted not only in the proposals leading to the 2007 legislation but also more recently in the Senate hearing this year that looked into reasons or not to proceed with the ban ("phase out").
He clarifies how light bulb manufacturers actively sought the ban
(slightly edited and highlighted extracts):
The NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) Lamp Subcommittee was composed of General Electric, Osram Sylvania, and Philips, the same industrial giants who formed the old Phoebus Cartel back in 1924 and was conducting its own research and internal hearings that culminated in a recommendation to ban the incandescent light bulb.
When I asked NEMA for help in fighting the incandescent light ban, I was politely told that they could not be involved in any research program like that...
In April 2007, ahead of Congress hearings, NEMA announced its support for the Government's energy efficient lighting policy.
He also runs through reasons why the ban is wrong,
as I reference to on the website, and is unnecessary to repeat here.
Michael Patrick Leahy
biography, website, blog
As seen, an extensive background in business management and conservative politics.
Michael is currently the Series Editor for Broadside Books' "Voices of the Tea Party" series of e-books.
Also not idle on the light bulb front - helping to put out a rough service bulb that "beats the ban"!
biography, commentary, business
As seen well known lighting designer with numerous projects, also a guest lecturer, visiting professor, and as noted the Congress choice of expert opinion on lighting issues.
full description here...
As one reviewer puts it,
“This is a gem of a book. For the design beginner it sets the approach to discovery. For the lighting professional it gives insights that can inspire creativity. The teacher will find useful methods for involving students in lighting concepts. The interested person will gain a higher understanding of how light affects the quality of our lives.”