Europe's Light Bulb Socialism

Beginning today, it is a crime to manufacture or ship for sale a traditional 75-watt incandescent light bulb in the European Union (EU), says the Washington Times. The United States is scheduled to begin a phase-out schedule mirroring the European plan in 2012 – the same year incandescent lights are to be fully phased out in the EU:

  • Energy-saving bulbs have been clearly labelled since 1998 as the most cost-effective bulbs, but their relatively high purchase price has inhibited take-up, the European Commission Web site explains.

  • In response, EU governments and the European Parliament asked the Commission to adopt minimum requirements phasing out the least-efficient bulbs.

    Consumers are not reacting as planned:

  • In Finland, Helsingin Sanomat reported that the new ban has not resulted in a surge of sales for the new bulbs that the bureaucrats expected.

  • Instead, 75-watt packages have been flying off the shelves as customers fill their closets, garages and attics with lighting supplies for the long term.

  • Such hoarding has been the rule for more than a year – London's Daily Mail gave away 25,000 of the 100-watt bulbs as a prize in a January 2009 contest.

  • Der Spiegel reported that German customers left hardware stores with carts jammed with enough incandescent bulbs to last 20 years.

    President George W. Bush's signature on the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 condemned the traditional bulb in favour of the fluorescent lights. Only eight senators and 100 House members opposed the bill.

    Source: Europe's light-bulb socialism, Washington Times, August 31, 2010.

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    First published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, United States

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 07 September 2010

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