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Incandescent Arrogance

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Peter Miller of the National Resources Defense Council defends compact fluorescent light bulbs against incandescent bulbs in part by insinuating that compact fluorescents are the better option for individual households and businesses (Letters, Feb. 1).  He grounds this case on the fact that there are “years of evidence from around the world confirming the large electric-bill savings utility customers get from more efficient lighting.”

Far from justifying the ban (to start in 2014) on sales in the U.S. of incandescent bulbs, the evidence Mr. Miller offers strongly suggests that the ban will harm utility customers: if, in the absence of the ban, consumers would continue to buy incandescent bulbs despite the higher cost of using such bulbs, then consumers clearly judge the quality of incandescent bulbs to be so much higher than that of compact fluorescents as to be worth paying higher prices for incandescent lighting.

Banning incandescent bulbs for this reason makes no more sense than would, say, banning the sale of Chateau Latour and other premium wines because evidence shows that households save money by buying only Riunite.

Donald J. Boudreaux