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Fred Upton: Crony Capitalist

What do you do when you have a product which, after more than 2.5 decades on the market, just won’t outsell its century-old competition?  Simple, you call up Fred Upton who drafts a bill to make your competition illegal and call it “encouraging energy efficiency.”

That’s exactly what happened with compact fluorescents.  After languishing on store shelves for two-and-a-half decades, CFLs have only now become popular as the Edison bulb has been deemed illegal by legislation written by Fred Upton. (The ban officially takes effect in January, but standard bulbs have been growing hard to find for months as manufacturers close shop).  After a century of market dominance, the Edison bulb was killed, not by consumer choices a la the buggy whip, but by nanny state liberals (yes, however unfortunate, some liberals still have an R beside their name) who thought consumers weren’t making the “right” decision and needed the government’s guiding hand to steer them towards the “correct” lighting choice.  Indeed, California has already gone a step farther and banned stores from restocking 100 watt bulbs.  South Carolina, on the other hand, recently took a stand for what’s left of the free market and passed a law declaring all bulbs manufactured within the state exempt from federal regulation.

The light bulb ban is just one part of a growing trend of crony capitalism.  Government picks the winners and losers.  In this case, incandescent bulbs are out, and they will be replaced with poorer quality bulbs so expensive the bulb’s cost may wipe out any actual energy savings.  Sylvania’s new 100-watt equivalent LED bulb will cost more than $50.  Incandescents cost about $0.50.  At that cost difference, you could run the incandescent bulb for 187 days without ever turning it off, and you would have still spent less money than if you’d gone with the LED.

According to BigGovernment.com, Upton promised to revisit the bulb ban in exchange for his position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  It’s apparent that he has no intention of doing so, and as such, he should be asked to hand in his gavel.  Obviously, Upton didn’t get the message in 2010.  If this is how he’s going to act, then here’s to hoping Rep. Upton doesn’t survive the 2012 primaries.  It’s past time to hold Republicans accountable for their actions.

Read More in Energy, GOP, House.