Death of the Light Bulb, Protectionism, Immigration
The incandescent lamp should be called the “heat bulb” not light bulb, since it is capable of a maximum 10% efficiency, meaning 90% of the energy used goes to waste heat. So ironic that this horribly wasteful piece of antiquated technology was once the archetypal symbol for a “good idea.”
CFLs contain mercury, and don’t yet match the light quality or CRI of incandescents. LEDs solve those problems, but remain expensive. Which is why the US has established 2014 as the deadline for the old bulbs to be phased out. Just in time for LEDs to become cost-effective. In the meantime, the dirt cheap incandescents have always failed to account for their true social and environmental costs. Which means we all have been paying a hidden tax to use them, in the form of CO2, particulates, and mercury emitted by the additional coal plants we’ve run. Yet listen to the most asinine GOP dinosaur Rep. Joe Barton try to justify “saving” the glass and tungsten environment-killers. Typical Republican waffle: if you don’t see a cost, it doesn’t exist.
We seem to be able to get bipartisan agreement on only a few things, and one of them is protectionist legislation against China. But protectionism can only make the US less competitive and hasten the day China eventually cleans our clock decisively at the top of the value chain–not just in manufacturing. The right is so out of touch with this issue, it boggles the mind. America has hard work to do. We must strategically and intellectually compete with China or surely we will become a second-rate nation.
Chinese kids often study 10-12 hours a day, something mocked and rejected when anyone suggests it in the USA. Because Chinese parents only have one child, there’s a lot of pressure for success. I’m not saying its necessarily healthy, but it’s a fact of life. And they’re not just doing academics, but music, dance, extracurriculars. In other words, they’re becoming well rounded people.
When expectations are rising (and they are in China) the people can smell it. And the competitive drives kick in and transform society. They work harder because they can sense victory. Americans spend all their time worrying about making life easier and improving their leisure time. There’s nothing wrong with that when you are on top, but we’re not anymore. Our kids are not being given the discipline and understanding of what it will take to wim. We no longer work as hard as people in the developing world. Though American productivity is still among the highest in the world, we’re starting to lose our edge. Our incentives and priorities have not kept pace with a changing world. Or we wouldn’t need to be thinking about protectionism.
Clearly China has huge issues to overcome. Like pollution, overcrowding, growing inequality, reliance on coal. But they see the big picture and know where they’re going. They not only have the world’s fastest trains, but are quickly building out the largest rail network, and they know how important that is. Even as they continue to be the largest coal consumer, they will still kill the US in green energy if we don’t engage. We don’t have anywhere near forever to get this right. It sometimes feels as if we’re not even trying–but rather we’ve been sleepwalking into the 21st century.
*ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS* As if there was an option for these workers to come here legally. As anyone who’s been through the US immigration labyrinth knows, *THERE ISN’T.* And the GOP wants to keep it that way, all the while benefiting from the taxpayer subsidy provided to the undocumented workers they hire. Hypocrisy, be it sex or immigration–is an inseparable element of the right’s DNA.