Letter to the editor: Senator Gaines on light bulbs


Senator Gaines represents Mono County in the California State Senate.

It’s Lights Out for Incandescent Bulbs
by Senator Ted Gaines

As we say hello to 2012, it is time to say goodbye to an old friend, the trusty and dependable 100-watt light bulb. It will disappear into the new, uncomfortably-bright white world of the compact fluorescent light (CFL), where green Utopianism is killing consumer choice, shipping jobs to China, and lowering the dimmer switch on freedom.

The government’s benevolent, freedom-loving message to the people regarding CFLs is this: You can use any bulb you like, as long as it’s fluorescent.  That’s because CFLs are the chief replacement for the traditional incandescent light bulbs that the federal government will effectively ban in stages starting January 1, 2012.

The problem with that Hobson’s choice is that people already have real choices when it comes to bulbs for their homes and they don’t need the wisdom of bureaucrats to light the way for them.

Many are getting by with the same inefficient, global-warming villain known as the incandescent bulb that has only survived more than a century without significant change.  Among things it does that CFLs do not do is glow with a light people actually enjoy and does not give them headaches.  Who would want that when the government says otherwise?

It also doesn’t spill Mercury – a poison – onto the linoleum when it breaks, requiring a scary list of EPA clean-up instructions that include emptying the room of people and pets, airing out the room for ten minutes and turning off any central heating and air systems.  And it’s cheap.

The CFL has its advantages over the traditional bulb.  Energy efficiency is the CFL’s calling card.  It uses a fraction of the incandescent’s energy.  It lasts longer.

The government, though, isn’t weighing the benefits of one against the other, like consumers in a free society do day after day with product after product from candy bars to cars.  No – it has made up consumers’ minds for them and put the fear of global warming above everything else.

What do consumers want?  When standing in the light bulb aisle, with the bulbs sitting right next to each other on the shelves, they ignore the dictates of the green bien pensants and overwhelmingly choose incandescent bulbs.

Apparently, they are suffering from a collective delusion about what product is better.

The ban has all the hallmarks of bad government.  It’s a nannyish, meddling, superior regulation that will force people to buy a product they don’t want for more money.

The green jobs that were supposed to be one of the many blessings of the forced transition were not a myth, however.  They appeared – in China.  Apparently, labor-intensive CFL manufacturing doesn’t pencil out in America.

As we say goodbye to the signature invention of American’s greatest inventor, let’s remember that we won’t lose our freedom all at once, but one light bulb at a time.

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties.

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18 Responses to Letter to the editor: Senator Gaines on light bulbs

  1. Selma Calnan January 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Regarding Senator Gaines’ anti-goverment rant California voted to phase out the use of incandescent bulbs by 2018 as part of the bill by a Democratic Assemblyman and signed into law by the Republican “Governator” on October 12, 2007.

    The phase out of Edison’s light bulb is part of the worldwide acknowledgement that we need to reduce oil dependency. Ireland, not usually a freedom hater, was the first EU state that led all member states to begin a phase-out in December 2007, the same month President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act that had been passed by a bi-partisan legislature in response the “Twenty in Ten” message of his State of the Union Address. The goal was to reduce oil dependency by 20 percent in ten years (2007-2017.) Wouldn’t it be nice if the new Senator put away the demagoguery and got to work on something positive? It’s sad enough that Mono County must cope with the dismal reality of being just one of the dozen counties making up Senate District 1.

    Selma Calnan


    • skier January 10, 2012 at 10:26 am #

      Governator was not really a Republican or a conservative, he was a movie star.

  2. Tourbillon January 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    The real issue is government micromanagement of every facet of life. We are told what toilets we must use, what light bulbs we must use, ad nauseum, and the posters above do not seem to mind. All for our own good and well-intentioned, you know. But many of the same sanctimonious busybodies seem to mind plenty when LADWP – a de facto arm of government – tells us to send more water south. For the good of millions of people, you know.

    That’s the problem. You can’t have it both ways. Feel as good as you want about using the strong arm of government to supervise behavior you don’t approve of, but don’t whine when the giant butt-kicking machine gets wound up and pointed at you.

    • Ken Warner January 9, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

      Yeah, those jack booted thugs at FERC with their foot on our necks telling us that we all have to use 60 cycle alternating current — and they even tell us what voltage it has to be. Time for pitchforks and torches…..

    • skier January 10, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      That was excellent, couldn’t have said it better my self. I would like to ask the above posters what kind of vehicles they drive, how they heat their homes, double-pane windows?,etc. The libs want to regulate all that too, if Obama gets his way your 4 wheel drive full size pickup is HISTORY.

  3. JaneE January 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    For a state senator, he is remarkably ill-informed about the law. Ken Warner has it right. The law says that bulbs must be more efficient. Nothing tells the manufacturers how to do that. For a long time, manufacturers worked hard to increase efficiency, if only in their manufacturing process and not their actual products. Very few people would choose a 100 year old car for their family vehicle. But 100 year old light bulbs they will fight for (?). Most people don’t have real problems with fluorescent light. Those that do can still buy incandescent bulbs and pay higher electric bills. They just wouldn’t be quite so high as they are now.

    On the other hand, wasting energy means more coal, oil, fracking for gas, offshore drilling, pipelines and associated oil spills, polluted water and mercury pumped into the air by power plants. Plus reasons to get involved in foreign wars. This isn’t your grandfather’s Republican party any more.

  4. Eamon January 9, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    I wholeheartedly agree with the Senator’s Letter to the Editor, bureaucrats don’t need to dictate light bulb purchases to the public- I do, but I opt for CFL and LED because they save me money, which because of years of Republicans in office I don’t have anymore.

    • Charles James January 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      Eamon, that was truly a “classic” response! Wonderfully succinct!

  5. skier January 9, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Fluorescent light is unhealthy. So is mercury. I have never been able to tolerate working under fluorescent light.

    • Cristine January 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

      so buy some LED’s

  6. Dee January 9, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    The 100 watt incandescent will be gone, but one can still choose a 60 watt incandescent that is now much more efficient than before. I’d like to point that out because the article makes it sound as though the incandescent will no longer be available. Only the 100 watt will be banned not all incandescents. It would’ve been years before the 60 watt was banned.
    My much mower electric bill isn’t a delusion, it is great, it is MY choice!
    Utopianism? Nope, just a much lower electric bill and far better for the planet over the long run.

    Since I make an effort to pay attention to issues like this, why didn’t Sen. Gaines mention congress has put this ban on hold with a vote on Dec. 16? What are these do nothing chumps in congress gonna do next? Bring back rotary phones?

    To make the claim that the only choice in the future will be CFL’s is very misleading to say the least. Light bulb manufacturers have been working on other products since the 2007 legislation with very productive results. For example one can buy a Phillips halogen incandescent that works with dimmers and is 45 watt with the output of an old 60 watt and has excellent savings. And then LED’s that are more expensive but last even longer. Again, the choice of bulbs will NOT be just the CFL’s. That is a canard that is meant to mislead and creates an excuse for some to use fear in order to mislead. Speaking of fear, the amount of mercury in a CFL is less that what people consume after eating a few tuna sandwiches, you will not have a Superfund sight in your house if you break one. The silly description of breakage in the above article is laughable.

  7. Ken Warner January 9, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    …and one more thing. CFL’s are in line to be replaced by LED lighting — not by government mandate but because they are even more efficient, longer lasting, less hazardous and cheaper to manufacture. They also can be made to produce more pleasing light. CFL’s are not the only possible replacement for incandescent bulbs. Today and even more so in the future, you will have more choices for lighting than you’ve ever had.

    The arguments against more efficient lighting that use CFL’s as the boogie man are as out of date as the incandescent light bulb. The scare talk about the hazards of CFL’s ignore the fact that ordinary florescent tubes — the kind you see in every business and probably work under every day — are just as hazardous as CFL’s. But that’s never mentioned by the screaming meanies because how can they scare you with something that you’ve been using for decades without harm?

    Don’t let the screaming meanies scare you with silly arguments into thinking 1900’s technology represents freedom of choice when that choice locks you into old, out of date and out of touch technology that forces dependence on foreign oil. Just remember that they will tell you anything to win the next election.

  8. Cristine January 9, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    You are ridiculous, and I am disappointed that you are a Senator. This isn’t about controlling our choices or about where light bulbs are made and it’s pretty funny the way you guys spin things. “Now they are sending all of our jobs over seas and supporting China…blah blah blah and the good old U.S incandescent light bulb (read unnecessary energy consumer) will be thrown to the side lines along with U.S jobs…” – come on. You know it’s about nothing more than moving forward in a responsible way, making minor changes and hopefully giant leaps, to protect this fragile place we call home. It doesn’t have to be political. It could be an opportunity to lay down the weapons of words and work together. It sound so childish to make it about not liking to be told what to do. When you and I both know that if you were in power, you would be telling plenty of people what to do. Yes, like a child says “I don’t have to do what you tell me, I am going to eat ice cream for every meal,” you could say, “I don’t have to use CFL’s, I am going to continue to use this out dated and obviously inefficient lightbulb.” I assure you that approach won’t take you very far. Get over yourself and your partisan nonsense and be part of the evolution towards balance. Come on, buy yourself a CFL and see how good it feels to do something helpful for the environment and all of the children that will inherit this planet. Because when it comes down to what really matters, that is your job.

  9. Russ Monroe January 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Gosh Ted, Thank You! This dissertation gives the voters of the effected counties over ten months to read, research, and understand the depth and breadth of your ignorance. As provocative as a sound bite one liner, like: “It’s Lights Out for Incandescent Bulbs” is, it comes directly from the baffoons-r-Us play book, written by Repulicrats, and it is simply; not true.
    Specifically, the regulation changes that you so profoundly misrepresent here, do not end production of the indecent light bulb, they mandate changes in it’s efficiency. Ah, but what is the relevance truthfulness to an elected representative?
    Perhaps some grammar school math would help bring understanding to you,Ted.
    In my house and garage, inside and out, there are 44 light “bulbs”. If I were foolish enough to put one of your “old friends: the trusty and dependable 100 watt light bulb” in each of those fixtures it would cost 4,400 watts of electricity to run them. The equivalent light volume CFLs at 19 watts each would be 836 watts.
    Thankfully I do neither. I stopped buying CFLs ten years ago. My home is lighted with LEDs, Ted. The alternative bulb that conveniently left out out of your little “vote for me” diatribe. At 7 watts each, they require only 308 watts to light the entire place at the same light level as your buddy 100 watt incandescents. LEDs don’t burn out every few hundred hours like your old friends do Ted. They can be purchased in any color temperature that I choose. They contain no Mercury either, Ted. Perhaps the people that you represent don’t care about true long term cost, Ted, but everyone that I have talked to lately, about the subject, places a lot of importance to the idea of saving over 90% in operating costs while at the same time having the LEDs last, oh, 50 times longer. But, hey, Ted, maybe you are just suffering from having grown up with “new Math”, hmmm?
    Oh, but, in “weighing the benefits of one against the other” my choosing to exercise my freedom of choice to do something other that what Ted has deemed proper must be wrong… it doesn’t fit Teds Republicrat one liner reality.
    To everyone voting in the 1st Senate District this coming November: Please ask Ted a lot more questions before you put his brand of arrogant ignorance back in office. America will be a lot more competitive in the world markets when it is no longer run by the Teds.

    • Charles James January 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Russ, excellent response and very informative. So far this forum has been chock full of facts instead of simply political polemics. Thanks.

  10. upthecreek January 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    “As we say goodbye to the signature invention of American’s greatest inventor, let’s remember that we won’t lose our freedom all at once, but one light bulb at a time.”

    so true Mr Gaines

    We have been slowly losing our freedoms and rights over the last decades,

    government is out of control


  11. Ken Warner January 8, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Ok, this is more Republican disinformation designed ONLY to discredit the Obama administration and win the next election.

    This is a result of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 — note that it was passed during the Bush administration.


    Among other things, it requires all light bulbs between 40 and 100 watts to be 25% more efficient. This requirement is phased in over the next 2 years:


    Now if some clever entrepreneur figures out how to make a 100 watt bulb use 75 watts to produce the same number of lumen — then you will still have your 100 watt bulb but use less energy as the Energy Independence Act mandates.

    The reasonable effort at conservation to free us from dependency on foreign oil has been turned into a political cudgel to threaten those with little curiosity about the underlying facts with visions of Big Brother busting down your door to take the light bulbs out of your kitchen.

    Aint gonna happen. Don’t let the fear mongering screaming meanies like Gaines fool you into thinking the Light Bulb Police are going to land a black helicopter on your roof.

    In fact the lighting industry has already figured out that making more efficient light bulbs is actually a smart business move while at the same time actually improving our economy.


    Joseph Higbee, a spokesman for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which represents 95 percent of U.S. light bulb manufacturers, said even if the Department of Energy does not have the funding to enforce the energy efficiency standards, manufacturers are not going to retro-fit their assembly lines to produce the traditional, less-efficient bulbs.

    “The manufacturers have invested millions into the transitions and a delay in enforcement undermines those investments and creates regulatory uncertainty,” Higbee said. “Without [federal] enforcement, it does allow bad actors to sell noncompliant products without fear of enforcement and that creates a competitive disadvantage for law-abiding companies.”

    But what can you expect from Republican politicians these days other than lies, distortions and fear mongering????

    • Charles James January 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      Ken, what a great way to see the forum discussion begin…with actual “facts”! So far most of the posts on this subject have been “enlightening” and on point. Very good job of putting the facts forward.

      Also a very good job on links backing up your comments. Don’t miss Eamon’s response on the forum. It wasn’t just succinct, it’s an excellent example of humor putting political pandering in the place where it belongs.


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