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L. Neil Smith's
Number 751, December 29, 2013

More Light!

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Mehr Licht!
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

As of the start of the coming year, both 60 and 40 watt light bulbs of the incandescent variety will join 75 and 100 watt bulbs in being outlawed by an illegal and record-breakingly stupid government edict.

The argument, when it's offered, is that incandescent light bulbs use too much energy (which has never been in anything resembling short supply, and the soaring price of which is a direct result of meddling government policies, not the unfettered operation of the free market system).

The rejoinder, which is offered all too often, is that we must hoard these bulbs while we can buy them, find extralegal (and very expensive) sources for, and beg for special dispensations and brief stays of execution from a body of creatures with whom nobody in his right mind would leave his four-year-old child alone in a room for ten minutes. I plan to get or make lots of double, triple, and quadruple sconced fixtures and simply run more lamps to make up for the loss of choice.

As most of my regular readers are aware, I am what might be termed a "Randite", which is to say, in general, that I adhere to philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand's political, economic, and ethical outlook on life, the universe, and (very nearly) everything. I have long been a student and an admirer of her Objectivist Ethic, and I first learned about what we now call the Zero Aggression Principle from one of her essays.

The first of Rand's writing that I stumbled across was her 1938 science fiction novella Anthem, the high point of which is the hero, Equality 7-2521's accidental rediscovery of what is clearly an old incandescent electric light bulb. Rand's little book is the reason I say today that Thomas Edison is the greatest benefactor humanity has ever known. His invention of the electric light changed our species forever, by banishing darkness and fear, and taking possession of the night.

Effectively doubling our useful lifetimes.

For me, Edison's bulb comes closer than anything else to being an object of religious veneration. As an individual who has been going blind slowly over the last decade (my condition is in the process of being reversed now, but far too slowly for my liking), I sympathize fully with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's deathbed demand for "mehr Licht!" I am also a retired machinist. There can never be too much light.

Nanny-state detractors condemn the incandescent light bulb because it generates too much "waste heat". I say incandescents are warm, just as they ought to be for a species that evolved in the sunlight of a yellow star and the firelight of a limestone cave. An incandescent's heat isn't wasted at all. It's the welcome signpost of hearth and home.

Nothing could be more symbolic and substantive at the same time. Ideas and inspiration are invariably expressed in terms of light; a sudden burst of insight or understanding is depicted by a light bulb—round, clear, featuring a curly tungsten filament—flashing on over our heads. Politicians, however, want us hoodwinked and kept in the dark, our lethargy high and our morale low. Ignorance, misery, hopelessness, and despair are invariably expressed in terms of darkness.

Politically correct "CFC" bulbs are expensive, fragile, and very dangerous to dispose of. What light they cast is depressing, fails to relay as much information to the human brain as conventional bulbs, and makes people sick. If you just love sniffing mercury vapor and catching a few extra ultraviolet rays, the new bulbs are the bee's knees.

Everybody needs suntanned corneas. The incandescent light bulb is much like other great inventions—the Zippo lighter, the 1911 Colt automatic, the Bic lighter, and the Glock—simple, sturdy (considering it's made of glass) and reliable. Its blessing—and its curse—is that it is the ultimate triumph of the individual human mind. People who hate that about it want it replaced by the product of unnamed technicians and faceless committees.

Edison is a name they despise (they usually idolize Nikola Tesla, a flim-flam artist whose genuine practical accomplishments are as numerous as those of Barack Obama), and people just like them want to render Ayn Rand an unperson for the same reason that (A) Democrats want to discredit and jettison Thomas Jefferson, and (B) politicians deeply and sincerely wish the Constitution had never been written. These people and things represent an impediment to their ambitions, which, one way or another, are nearly always collectivist at their heart.

Republicans beware: this repulsive legislation was passed in 2007, during the sad reign of George the Supremely Idiotic and Incompetent. Steeped in Stygian evil as they may be, the "progressives" have no monopoly.

So ...

Let it be known by these presents: I will not vote for—I will actively campaign against—any politician who will not repeal this abomination.

As an award-winning novelist, essayist, and publisher of an online journal for 18 years, I will encourage as many of my readers as I can to follow my example. And in order to get light bulb manufacturing started again in this country, those entrepreneurs who were driven out of business by politicians and bureaucrats must be indemnified fully out if the pockets and accounts, from Bush through Obama, of those responsible.

Moreover, I hereby declare that the logo for the Privacy Party I'm trying to start will consist simply of an Edison bulb on a field of light.

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