"Big Government", Brandy Bridges, Built-in Obsolescence, Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL), Elizabeth Doermann, Environmentalism, Incandescent Light Bulb, Mercury Poisoning, My Tennesse Heritage, Thomas Edison

Eureka, by Beverly Hicks Burch


By Beverly Hicks Burch

By Jove!

What would we do without the government to tell us what to do, how to eat, how to spend our money…or not spend our money, how to think…and now…what dang light bulb to buy?

Yes, you see, those of us who live in fly over county…that’s anything that’s not on the East or West Coast of the USA or in a Socialist country…are just too stupid and dumb-ass (sorry, but I’m riled) to even think our way out of a brown paper bag. I’m surprised we can even dress ourselves in the morning without the aid of a personal government worker to place each leg in our pants for us…of course while simultaneously having their hands in our back pockets.

So why is Bev so upset and flummoxed? Well, this month the House passed and the President signed a massive energy bill that will, over time phase out the dangerous, damnable incandescent light bulb. I’m sure we’ve all been taught from the crib and at the knees of our mothers about the perils of this evil…right? Oh my gosh, don’t you remember the fairy tale…”once upon a time there was a light bulb that went roaming across the land seeking people’s eyeballs to burn out of their heads…” That one use to scare the poop out of me…

Starting in 2012 the 100 watt light bulb will be phased out and by the year 2014 all watts including the 40 watt will be phased out…gone…perished…extinct…you get my drift. The old incandescent bulb is to be replaced with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). This is all done to force us to be green and environmentally “friendly” whether we want to or not by Jove.

My cause of ire is many fold. First, I guess my East Tennessee mountain heritage runs deeps and by nature I resemble this remark: “Don’t you tell me what to do.” The mountain folk were independent, hardy, individualistic and sometime suspicious people. You also had to earn their trust.

But, it really goes deeper than that. Let’s examine why they are going to redact the poor ol’ light bulb and make it go the way of the dodo bird.

They (meaning “experts” and I really do use that term lightly and you will see why later) say the incandescent is so inefficient and we use soooooooooo many that we are just burning up the energy grid with them. You see, we may use one for a few days, a few weeks or few months and then dispose of it. Shame on us…

When I was in high school I took a course called “Home and Family” as an elective and although the name may belie the content, the course was very informative and helpful. We learned a lot in that course (thanks Mrs. Armstrong)…about things like budgeting, finance, consumer education and many, many other things.

In the section on consumer education we learned about “built-in obsolescence”. Built-in obsolescence is a practice companies follow when they build or make one of their products. They make sure they build products not to last forever…if they did, they would go out of business because we would not have a need to continue to buy their wares.

It’s that way with light bulbs. You may not know this, but there are actually incandescent bulbs Edison used that are still working. Light bulbs use to last longer and ironically some of the bulb making companies were working on new types of incandescent bulbs that would last as long as the CFL when the new energy bill was passed.

But, these same companies should be held in suspect, also. Have you priced CFL’s? They are considerably higher in price than the old incandescent, so it stands to reason that companies selling the CFL will reap considerable profits from the sell of the forced converting of these “lamps”. (This is the oil industry all over again.) You should also know that the CFL will not fit in all standard sockets, are not recommended for track lightening and, my friend, I am saving the very best for last.

The whole push for this product…is that the CFL is for the environment. We keep hearing the mantra “environmentally friendly”. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of raping and pillaging the environment.) In the 1980’s Reagan was accused of practicing “voodoo economics”. Well, folks, I’m afraid now we are having “junk science’ rammed down our throat, wallet, environment and planet.

You see, what they are not telling you is this: the new CFL bulb that you are supposed to replace all of your old bulbs with contains MERCURY. I call that an inconvenient truth.

If you drop the CFL and break it you have to dispose of if like a hazardous materialyou can not just toss it into the trash because it will harm and contaminate the environment and kill the garbage collector. If the mercury is let loose in your house, then your house and the “dump site” in particular has to be clean by EPA standards like a haz-mat spill.

Even when the CFL is kaput you can not dispose of it like you would the old “harmful” incandescent. You know…by tossing it in the trash. Nope. You see, the CFL would hurt the environment if you did that and you have to dispose of if like hazardous material. See, if they break in the trash, then they can contaminate the environment, landfills and garbage dumps with mercury which could leech into our drinking water and otherwise debase and befoul the environment…oh, and kill the garbage collectors. Proponents say the recycling hasn’t caught up with the theory yet…YA THINK?! This is not a case where any idea is better than no idea.

Is this projected thinking, or “what if” thinking? No, it has already happened in this country and in Canada. It happened to Brandy Bridges of Prospect, Maine when the CFL she was trying to install in the ceiling light fixture in her seven year old daughter’s room fell and broke. Long story short, Bridge’s daughter’s room is sealed off with plastic like a haz-mat site because she can not afford the $2,000 it requires to have an EPA regulated and suggested hazardous material removal team. Please take the time to read her story because it is an eye opener.

It also happened to Elizabeth Doermann of Vanderbilt, Tennessee. Unaware that the CFL in the lamp the cat knocked over contained mercury, Doermann vacuumed it up and as a result spread the mercury dust through her whole house.

Charmain Miles of Toronto, Canada had the terrifying experience of a CFL catching on fire because she had installed them in her track lightening. There are no warnings the CFL bulb cannot be used in track lightening, dimmer switches or recessed lightening, but they cannot be used in those types of fixtures. So…designers everywhere…can those designs and get ready to use those lovely, spiral CFL bulbs. (FYI, the former owners of this home had them in this house. They had one CFL per room. When you walk into a room it’s like you’ve walked into instant cataracts. Oh, and the shower head is so small we feel like we’re being spit on instead of taking a shower…do you see “upgrade” in the future?)

So, I think we should all now know a little about mercury poisoning, oui? I don’t trust you on this one Mr. Government Man.

When it’s all said and done, darn that ol’ Thomas Edison and his Eureka moments…that angry white man of European ancestry. Why couldn’t he have left well enough alone? We could have all still been sitting by the fire reading our books by candle light and we wouldn’t have to worry about any of this…

”Darn, Paw, git yur gun and shoot that squirrel fur dinner…” Reflections of our future…

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Right Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Eureka, by Beverly Hicks Burch”

  1. Energy efficient light bulbs are the easiest first step consumers and businesses can take towards reducing their energy consumption. Products have gotten light years better in the past few years and, in my eyes, indisputably better for 99% of applications. Both CFL and LED light bulbs run much cooler than incandescent bulbs, use energy much more efficiently, and do offer saving on your electricity bill. I am a vendor of energy efficient bulbs, so perhaps I am a bit biased, but I don’t know why everyone doesn’t switch today.

  2. Hi James,

    Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

    I appreciate you honesty in admitting you are a vendor for the new “energy efficient” light bulbs and the tendancy to be a “bit biased” toward them.

    My concerns are:

    First the mercury. Yes, it may be a small amount in each bulb, but those amounts will add up over time as these used and cast off bulbs add up. Mercury is toxic and hazardous and in large amounts will cause problems. It causes problems already.

    Just to dispose of these bulbs in a normal household setting takes “hazardous waste” precautions most people are probably not aware of. If these bulbs are just carelessly tossed in the garbage all of that mercury is released into our landfills. They must be encased in plastic bags then tossed in the trash. Humm…I thought plastic was bad for the enviroment and had a biodegradable rate of NEVER!

    On a personal note…recently I moved and the precautions I needed to take just to move these bulbs were riduculous…it’s just easier to leave them behind…and of course that cost adds up…especially in today’s economy and if you happen to be on of the millions of unemployed in this country.

    Another factor is that the bulbs are being forced upon the public to use. So much for “choice”, huh? I guess choice is only good in certain circumstances…

    So much for freedom…

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