Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rant: Canada Bans Light Bulbs

The nominally Conservative government of Canada is banning incandescent light bulbs. Their fidelity to market-based regulation is underwhelming. Following this lead, Dalton McGuinty's Ontario government, yet to find a behaviour or product that it can't ban, will prohibit barbecues and toilet paper.

4 comments:

Sean said...

Congratulations on your big day David.

David said...

Thank you. Sean is referring to a (recent) tradition here at the Big Picture School of Business. To prevent television news clips of its graduates being led out of First Canadian Place in handcuffs, we pledge an oath of honest dealing in exchange for a Big Picture School ring. Any similarity to the engineers' iron ring ceremony is purely coincidence. I'm not sure yet if I can contain my emotions, but I'll try to be strong.

zielzibub said...

Hi David, I don't think that "fidelity to market based regulation" (i liked that btw) has anything to do with it. Incandescent light bulbs merely waste a lot of energy as they emit more heat than light. the purpose of a 'light' bulb therefore, is defeated. Now in India, for years small shops have been placing raw eggs next to their light bulbs and making boiled eggs in this ingenius fashion - thus using up this wasted energy. the clincher, however, is that i believe someone from America has actually gone and patented a technology that uses the heat generated by a lightbulb in a contraption that basically is just that - a lightbulb. go figure! Anyway, just thought i'd rant a bit myself! Nice blog btw..

David said...

Zielzibub, thank you for your comment. I agree with you that incandescent light bulbs are wasteful and I've replaced them in my own home. I personally think that people who continue to use them can't perform simple cost-benefit analysis, but, but some claim to have a legitimate use for them.

My objection is based on the fact that prohibition is a lazy way to conduct public policy. There are lots of products that you and I could find that are wasteful and that people and society would be better off if they weren't on the market. Should we find them, catalogue them, and banish them? I'd prefer to use some kind of price mechanism to do it. I'm not sure that treating light bulbs the way we treat DDT is a measured response.