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Dr. Steven Chu and ‘Common Sense’

Energy Secretary and Nobel Laureate Dr. Steven Chu defends the banning of conventional incandescent light bulbs as a ‘common-sense’ measure that is certainly a ‘win-win’ for consumers. (Caution: Clicking HuffPo links may cause a loss of IQ points.)

Overall, consumers will save $6 billion a year from these standards.

Here’s another example of how common-sense standards like these have been working for American families for decades: since the 1970′s, we’ve made energy-saving improvements to refrigerators that now save Americans $20 billion per year, or $150 per family.

Seems to me that if we went back to old refrigerators (@ $20 B) and light bulbs (@ $6 B) and got rid of the Department of Energy (@ $30+ B), we’d be money ahead.

My skepticism has a basis in experience, Mr. Secretary: thanks to the same kind of ‘common-sense standard’, my EPA-mandated 1.6 gallon-per-flush toilet doesn’t do its job properly. Chances are those efficient refrigerators would have found their way into the marketplace without government interference. And as with CAFE standards and “light trucks” a/k/a SUVs, the marketplace will find a way to circumvent the will of Washington when it runs contrary to their wishes and desires.

While we’re on the topic of common sense, the following photo and caption can be found at Dr. Chu’s Facebook page:

Dr. Chu’s observation doesn’t stand up to the rigorous peer-review of his Facebook readers, several of whom pointed out that UPS has employed white fiberglas roofs on their delivery vans for years, and they do it for purposes of lighting, not climate change.

Duh.

Also, note that UPS’s energy saving move was not mandated by government, but by free businessmen exercising common sense.

In arguing against the House measure to bring back the Edison bulb, Dr. Chu said: “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.”

The reason that attitude from a high government official causes heartburn from free-marketers like me is that it tends to be contagious. The DOE has already decided that it’s government’s place to deny our wasting money on passenger vehicles with mileage under 62 miles per gallon — what’s next?

For the time being, the government “continues to let people waste their own money” on a number of items that “Progressives” find objectionable, among them:

  • Personal firearms
  • Private schools
  • Conservative talk radio
  • Grandma’s chemotherapy

How long until “common-sense standards” put an end to this waste?

Cross-posted at stevemaley.com.

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