Wednesday, August 8, 2012
"People don't buy expensive bulbs!"
"Too stupid to understand energy savings!"
Added note, August 8: Also updated/edited, "Philips, Osram, the UN and the World Bank: How we will en.lighten the World in 2012"
Updated, point 3 on The Deception behind the Arguments used to ban Light Bulbs and other Products page, taking into account also the findings from the Virginia University research.
An important point in justifying regulations is that stupid consumers don't make the "right" decisions by ourselves.
No - the legislators do not put it like that, of course.
They keep saying
"Hey, we are just setting energy usage standards, so manufacturers have to get their act together and make better bulbs for you consumers, letting you save more money!"
Apart from the fact that "better" bulbs are not just necessarily energy saving bulbs, and that "better" bulbs in any respect (including energy saving) arises from increased rather than decreased market place competition, and that alternatives better in respect of say light quality and brightness may not be able to meet energy usage standards, the argument runs hollow also for the simple fact that standards have to be set so that existing products meet them.
Otherwise consumers might literally be "left in the dark" if appropriate inventions or "improvements" were not possible.
But if people were already buying such existing "great" energy saving products in "sufficient" numbers, no ban would of course be "necessary".
By force of their own logic,
legislators are therefore saying that consumers are too stupid to make the right decisions by themselves.
The supposedly more intelligent legislators, and their hangaround bureaucrat cronies looking for cushy jobs, therefore have to make the decisions for us.
That is not all, as the "stupid consumer" logic then of itself falls flat.
Hence point 3 on the mentioned page:
3. "People won't buy CFLs or LEDs because they are too expensive!
People are too stupid to understand energy savings!"
Consumers don't repeatedly buy cheap products that don't meet their expectations.
Nor do they avoid buying expensive products that can give them future savings.
"Expensive to buy but cheap in the long run"?
From woollen suits to batteries and washing up liquids, durable expensive products are marketed and sold against cheap alternatives. Think of Energizer (Duracell) bunny rabbit commercials!
It is the presence - not the absence - of cheap alternatives that stimulates manufacturers to make better energy saving products, products that people actually want to buy.
Ironically this notion of uninformed consumers making the wrong decisions has been at the basis of improved information labelling of light bulbs and other products, as in both the USA and the EU, along with all the ongoing "switch your bulb" type energy saving campaigns.
Such increasingly informed consumers should by themselves make "better" decisions in line with governmental desire, buy more energy saving products, and reduce the "need" for a ban.
Who are the stupid ones here?
The consumers or the legislators?
July 2012 Virginia University research: Rational consumers - Small environmental savings.
for those who nevertheless insist on a "market failure" to achieve "desired" results from stupid consumers preferring cheap bulbs, then, as described, taxation of incandescents which in turn can cover price lowering subsidies on the CFLs or LEDs obviously "evens out the market" (albeit unjustified of itself).
Posted by Peter T at 8:28 AM