Supply and Demand

December 15, 2011

Glenn Beck this morning: “All I want for Christmas: Edison’s light bulb.”

It’s true, it will be illegal to sell 100-watt incandescent bulbs in the United States starting in 2012—i.e., two weeks from now.  You will be able to get them only at great expense, if at all.  (Hoard them while you can, if you like.)

I suppose the coming blackout is fitting accompaniment to the coming of the new dark ages.

13 Responses to “Supply and Demand”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    Do you seriously care about light bulbs?

  2. I do. As I’ve said before, it’s a question of liberty: As free citizens, we should not have to ask the state’s permission for every little thing we do. The members of Congress are supposed to serve us, not the other way around. Who died and made them king?

    • Snoodickle Says:

      I agree. Why should I have to ask the government’s permission before I use heroin and have sex with prostitutes?

    • Some libertarians would take just that position. You don’t actually agree, though, do you? We know you’re no libertarian.

      One argument against decriminalizing prostitution is that in practice, it makes it nearly impossible to enforce the laws against slavery and human trafficking, either—i.e., it results in much less liberty, in grotesque ways, not more, even if you would count prostitution itself as good “liberty”.

      One argument against decriminalizing drugs is that their use is per se a relinquishing of liberty, because of their effect on the mind. On this theory, drugs are illegal for the same reason that our laws do not permit a person “freely” to choose to sell himself into slavery.

      In any case, both laws fall into a venerable category: legal prohibitions on behaviors that are per se immoral (a. k. a. mala in se). I’m not necessarily in favor of retaining all such laws, but they have a long tradition behind them and some good arguments in their favor. I’m not aware that anyone has tried to make the case that the use of a particular technology for artificial lighting (but not another) is some kind of timeless evil for all men of all times and places, as prostitution and drug abuse are. If anyone has, it will be part of the “green” movement, in which traditional vices and virtues are thrown out like yesterday’s garbage and replaced with novel, ephemeral “green” standards of vice and virtue—in other words, all the more reason to make sure we don’t go any further down that path, by banning light bulbs or otherwise.

      • Snoodickle Says:

        The argument against decriminalizing drugs you mention is just silly. That would be like saying that fatty food should be illegal because of its effect on the body. Oh, and what about alcohol?

        As far as prostitution, it is interesting to note that for first time offenders in Hamilton County, prostitution is essentially decriminalized. If you are a first offender you can enter a diversion program, which if you complete successfully, allows your charges to be dismissed. I would be interested to know whether the incidence of human trafficking is higher in Hamilton County than it is, in say, Montgomery County, which takes takes a hard line stance against prostitution. If it is not, where does that leave us?

        All that said, beyond decriminalizing marihuana (which Ohio has essentially done except for the mandatory license suspension), I couldn’t care less whether the government decriminalizes drugs or prostitution. Like the light bulbs, it’s just a nonissue.

      • “. . . I couldn’t care less . . . .”

        So you always say. So why should anyone bother engaging with you?

        Your counterargument for decriminalizing drugs implies that you don’t understand my argument. The mind is the thing making decisions, the one capable of enjoying liberty; if you destroy or even alter the mind, arguably, by definition that amounts to less liberty, not more. Effects on the body are not parallel. Alcohol is more arguable; on this theory, I would argue that alcohol is mind-altering in the necessary sense only when consumed to excess (i.e., when people get drunk), not when consumed in moderation, but that marijuana or heroin is mind-altering in any appreciable quantity. In any case, I would rely again on the long tradition of alcohol, while there is no such tradition with other drugs.

        As far as prostitution, your counterargument again implies that you didn’t understand my argument. Did you read the piece I linked to? Those who enter a diversion program, the government is still identifying and working with them. In the total absence of a law against prostitution, the police would have no way (or at least much less way) to investigate which prostitutes might be being held against their will, etc.

        From the article linked above:

        Rhode Island has laws against sex trafficking and pimping (pandering, transporting, and harboring for prostitution, and deriving support and maintenance from prostitution). But without a predicate prostitution crime, state police lack the grounds to intervene and interview likely victims. Enforcement of federal sex-trafficking laws is also severely hampered. Consequently, there have been no federal or state prosecutions for sex trafficking and no state prosecutions for pimping for many years.

      • Snoodickle Says:

        If you’re going to sit there and tell me that being fat doesn’t hamper your liberty, I say fooey to you. Being fat in and of itself hampers your liberty of movement, makes you less attractive to the opposite sex, and endangers your health. If your only definition of liberty is mental liberty, then you are taking an extremely myopic view of that term. (Also, marihuana in moderation has little to no effect on the mind, at the very least it has less effect than alcohol in moderation. But don’t take my word for it, you should try it for yourself.)

        To say that the absence of prostitution laws would leave the government no way to investigate human trafficking is utter nonsense, and implies that you don’t understand how human trafficking works. Women who are trafficked are held against their will, and are confined in brothels with no ability to leave. They aren’t the prostitutes that you see out walking the streets at night. If the police get wind of a brothel that is holding people against their will, of course they can investigate it. And even if prostitution were decriminalized, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be regulated. The government could condition brothel licenses on allowing random police searches, during which any potential human trafficking could be snuffed out.

        I think we should discuss this issue with Ron Paul.

  3. Snoodickle Says:

    P.S. I think we had some confusion as to what is meant by “decriminalization.” “Decriminalization” does not necessarily mean that there is no law prohibiting something; it can also mean that the penalty for something is a simple fine, with no criminal record and no possibility of jail time. When I mentioned that Hamilton County had “essentially decriminalized” prostitution, that is what I meant. I think you were taking decriminalization to mean the complete absence of any law prohibiting the thing decriminalized, which is another way of decriminalizing something.

  4. Tevyeh Says:

    Thanks for the tip on 100 watt bulbs; I’ll make sure to stock up. I usually use lower-watt bulbs in most of my lamps, but you can’t beat a 100-watter for lighting up a large room. (More efficiently, I might add, than using the two 60-watt bulbs or four 40-watt bulbs you’d need to get the same light output.)

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