In the last six months I have heard so much of how we don't need government controlling what we do, we are a free country, and we should be able to make our own decisions about certain things. Health Care, banking, home buying, we should make our own choices and accept responsibility for the consequences.
Of course there are things that we agree the government has a right to regulate. We don't have to vote on whether or not murder should still be a crime, or if people should have a driver's license before driving. These are a given, as are many other things the government has put in place to protect us from ourselves and others.
How I came to write this article is by starting to comply with a new standard. I bought a CFL light bulb recently, and while tearing it out of it's rather indestructible pack, I dropped it. There were others in the room, and we had all read and laughed about the warnings on the package. So for the few micro-seconds it took for the light bulb to land, time seemed to freeze as we watched it drop to the floor. Luckily, it landed on the carpet and did not break, but it made me think. Sure I had heard jokes about it, but what was the true danger?
So, as any normal person would do... I looked it up, I went to the EPA website and found the facts. Needless to say, they did not reassure me. I continued to search for more info, and kept finding only more of the same.Now, I have more questions.
My first question, is why do Americans who are so adamant about the security of their freedoms, not seem to care that by the year 2012, these are the only light bulbs we will be ALLOWED to buy? Why no protest, no outcry? The government knows whats best for us?
Why is it this light bulb?
Why not develop one that is not TOXIC waste, even when used properly, and a potential Hazmat situation if broken? Why not one made in the USA?
In case some of us haven't followed the news, or think this is about "commercial" light bulbs, it is about all of our light bulbs, in all of our cities, in all of our rural areas, in the barn, in the babies bedroom, in the schools, jobs, offices, EVERYWHERE.
Now, I am not an alarmist, and they say these are as safe as regular light bulbs as long as they are not broken, but the thing is, light bulbs are broken, not on purpose, usually, but in normal every day life. What do you do? Well, you must follow the exact procedures for removal, which first means, you need to keep a glass jar on hand at all times (the type for canning is recommended), you need duct tape, (but ironically no plastic wrap), you need to make sure you only break the bulb in a room where windows can be open, for instructions say to open windows, (that makes me wonder about the classrooms I work in, we have NO windows). You should also only break it in pleasant temperatures because you must also turn off all air conditioning and or furnaces, while you have the above mentioned window opened.
If this seems silly, I agree, but it is the way it is... this has been decided for us. True, this is probably too much for the average person to pay attention too, and we will probably get lax and just sweep away the bits of the bulbs, which will lead to more mercury everywhere.
Oh, by the way, these light bulbs seemed to only be make in China, or if some are made in the USA they are hard to find.
This is a very interesting video I found from earlier this year from C-SPAN. Congressman Ted Poe addressing the congress about these light bulbs.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT ENERGY SAVER LIGHT BULBS!
Here is the EPA's instructions for cleaning up after a breakage of these light bulbs. What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks!
DIGITAL CONVERTER BOX
My other recent trip into government control is the stupid Digital Converter Box.... the Digital compliance requirements that are quickly coming upon us.
Okay, so yeah, maybe I should have the latest greatest TV's and be with the "in" crowd. But, I don't.
In my house we have (and I believe as an American it is within my freedom to have these, no matter how crazy they sound to anyone else) 5 TV's - none are new enough to Comply. Two actually have dials that turn. They have "rabbit ears" antennas, two run from the same set of rabbit ears through a cable down the hall. We also have several VCR's. These of course are of the non compliant sort also. I have these because they still work. Not a firm believer in throwing out something that still works well, in order to buy something new.
Now, I have known for a while, that I MUST do something or these will all become extremely large paper weights in February. The Digital Converter Box must be bought. Okay, so I find out the government does have a little compassion to my outdated electronics, so they will offer a coupon to purchase such a box with.
I go to the website and log on.... and find that each ADDRESS is only allowed two such coupons, because why? Someone, somewhere decided that I should have only one TV and one VCR? I didn't even realize I needed them for the VCR until I went to the website. So I ordered my coupons, and decided to do a little detective work on my own. These are $40 coupons, so I did some checking on prices of the Boxes. Yes, you can easily find $40 boxes, but these usually come with the poorest of quality reviews. They seem to be on the end of "they will work in the most perfect conditions" but if the wind is blowing, or the sun is too hot, or the snow too cold..... well, you get the picture. Or rather with one of these boxes you probably wont.
Also, any TV such as a portable battery operated TV, for camping, or watching the "game" while in line, or GETTING IMPORTANT LOCAL NEWS in a power outage, forget that because all boxes MUST BE PLUGGED IN to an active outlet. Yes, I have read of using the Weather band radio instead, in emergency situations. Not all emergencies are weather related. We once had a local blackout due to a power plant fire. Even those used in recreational vehicles will no longer work, unless it is plugged into an outlet, it doesn't matter what kind of battery you have in it.
So, yes, I do realize that progress has moved steadily over the years, black and white TV's gave way to color, dial sets gave way to remotes, etc... but when this happened, the older ones did not quit working. It was a choice to keep watching black and white, they weren't rendered useless on the day color became available. Same with the dials, If I want to get up and turn my dial, and my picture is still good, it has been my choice. They dials did not stop working when the remotes became the norm. No one came into the house and said "COLOR" TV's only!!!!
So... back to my personal use of TV's in my home. I have 5 and 3 VCR's... so I need 8 boxes. I can get the two cheapy boxes with my coupons.. but if I want to actually be able to rely on them working, I should get the better ones. Also, all 8 of these boxes will need to be plugged in. They will be using electricity constantly, not something you turn off like a TV and they quit using until you turn them back on. Oh, I know you technically can unplug them every time you turn your TV off, but then you need to reprogram it every time you plug it back in. So, what if they use "very little electricity", that is for each box....
So... either I do I am forced to do it this way, or forced to buy new TV's (which just may end up being cheaper in the long run, at least it wont take eight outlets of electricity). Or I can just get cable TV, or a dish, or such... which I don't need and really don't want.
Oh, and also, I have yet to locate one of these boxes made in the USA.
What I find funny about this, is these two examples are of permanent changes we are forced to comply with, yet no one seems to care, yet have someone suggest the government deciding something for us, and everyone is saying "NO, NO, NO" . When they do it quietly and before they tell us, we just accept it.