Democracy lost

I know basically nothing about the politics of modern Russia, except that they are miserable.  It’s just an incredible shame that a democracy movement that seemed to have so much promise 20 years ago has devolved into a Russian government as authoritarian and corrupt as ever.  The Post takes a look.  [I presume Political Scientists have some interesting takes on this, but I’m just not familiar with them (if you are reading this Big Steve, fill me in).]

Video of the day

Here’s your “faith-based” policy.  Just take it on faith that what you believe has to work.  We don’t need no steeenkin’ statistics.

Sadly, this is a pervasive approach for Republicans across the public policy spectrum.  Why bother with empirical policy analysis when you know what you believe has to be true.

Light Bulbs and abortion

Didn’t see me tying those two together, did you.  I’ll get there.

After reading this really nice NYT article on the state of the art in light bulb technology, I’ve been a little bit light bulb obsessed this week.  Turns out that CFL’s now truly put out light in just the same pleasing color range (2700-3000K) as soft white incandescents.  And I’ve got plenty in my home that turn on instantly.  There’s also been great progress with LED’s.  You can learn a lot from the article and a few minutes with a light bulb package now.  I spent about 15 minutes in the light bulb aisle at the store the other day.  Bought a 1.1 watt LED that is perfect for Evan’s lamp at night.  He says his night light is not bright enough and he’s scared of the dark.  The 70 lumens from the LED do the trick, though, and at virtually no energy cost.

When you consider that you can get light just as good and pleasing from CFL’s and LED’s at this point, it seems perfectly reasonable to me to regulate away the incandescents (or at least force them to become much more efficient).  Thus, it was with annoyance that I read Bjorn Lomberg’s piece in Slate complaining about this.  No, CFL’s are not going to save the planet, but, under the circumstances, these regulations actually force consumers to act in their own interest when they otherwise would not (saves money and energy over the life of the bulb).  Anyway, what really annoyed me was this bit:

Why, then, is it even necessary to outlaw the old bulbs? The reason is that monetary cost is only one factor. Many people find it annoying that CFLs take time to “warm up.” Or they believe that their light is “funny.” Or they worry that the bulbs can spread poisonous mercury if they break. For some people, energy-efficient bulbs can trigger epileptic seizures and migraines.

Firstly, I can live with people being a little annoyed.  It’s annoying to wait for things to have a safety inspection.  And, as for the “funny light” if you buy the right bulb, that’s now pretty much all in your head.  And as for this seizures and migraines… seriously?  What percent of the population are we talking about.  Fine, let them import bulbs from Bulgaria or wherever they want.  Arguing against CFL’s on the basis of a small, unrepresentative population is very similar to saying abortion should be legal because sometimes people are raped or the victims of incest.  Not to get into the abortion issue, but it is foolish to justify a policy based on a very small sub-sample of those who are disproportionately effected, whether it is abortion, light bulbs, or anything else.

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