Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Law and Hoarder": The problem banning anything in absence of immediate harm

Edward Tenner, from the Atlantic (via Instapundit):

There are three problems with a legislative ban on anything in the absence of immediate harm.

The first, as the German case shows, is that some people who might have increased their use of energy-saving bulbs, will protest limits on their choice by hoarding -- resulting in more energy spent producing bulbs that may outlive their purchasers.

The second is that it removes an important incentive for the development of compact fluorescent lamps and light-emitting diodes that produce a more pleasing light, killing off the competition and reference standard.

And the third is that it is an arbitrary and inconsistent way to promote energy saving; there's no limit to the wattage of new-style bulbs. The industry failed to learn from its founder, Thomas Edison, whose light bulb was designed to be not only more convenient than gas light, but more pleasant, according to Charles Bazerman's study.

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