Incandescent Light Bulbs, Another Casualty of the Corporate-Political State

It’s 2014, which means incandescent light bulbs are kind of illegal. Granted, the prohibition on incandescent light bulbs has enough exceptions where those wanting such bulbs can find them. After all, a manufacturer need only label their bulbs “rough service” bulbs and they can sell them just as they always have. Otherwise you can probably follow the European route and seek out “heat lamp bulbs”. But let’s discuss the death of the standard incandescent bulb. What killed it? Was it environmental concern? No. While the ban was sold as environmental concern it was just another example of the corporate-political state at work:

People often assume green regulations like this represent the triumph of environmental activists trying to save the plant. That’s rarely the case, and it wasn’t here. Light bulb manufacturers whole-heartedly supported the efficiency standards. General Electric, Sylvania and Philips — the three companies that dominated the bulb industry — all backed the 2007 rule, while opposing proposals to explicitly outlaw incandescent technology (thus leaving the door open for high-efficiency incandescents).

This wasn’t a case of an industry getting on board with an inevitable regulation in order to tweak it. The lighting industry was the main reason the legislation was moving. As the New York Times reported in 2011, “Philips formed a coalition with environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council to push for higher standards.”

Why would General Electric, Sylvania, and Philips push to ban incandescent bulbs? Because it would push many of their competitors out of business. Producing a compact fluorescent (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulb is a much more expensive and complicated process than producing an incandescent bulb. In addition to being much easier to produce incandescent bulbs are also much cheaper to buy. So incandescent bulbs are the biggest competitor to CFL and LED bulbs. CFL and LED manufacturers wanted to eliminate competition to their bulbs.

This is standard operating procedure for large corporations. They seek out ways to use the political system to eliminate their competitors. Usually they will attempt to hijack a thriving political movement to do most of the dirty work. Environmental groups are common targets for hijacking because they usually have very passionate members and have shown a great deal of success at manipulating the political system.

If you’re a member of any political or social movement be wary of large corporations that approach you seeking an alliance or partnership. Chances are almost 100 percent that they’re interested in using you to knock one or more of their competitors out of a market. Once their competitors are out of the way they will dump you and, in all likelihood, work to have you rendered political irrelevant. After all, if you can demonstrate an ability to take out their competitors you are also a threat to them.