Tag Archives: VodkaPundit

A Lightbulb Ban News Sandwich

eulightbulbbanAccording to a recent gallup poll, 72% say that big government, as opposed to big business (21%) or big labor (5%), “will be the biggest threat to the country in the future.” Of course I’d prefer that the poll question refer to the scope of government, with the same result, but it nonetheless seems that people are beginning to recognize what Ayn Rand knew decades ago:

Potentially, a government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims. When unlimited and unrestricted by individual rights, a government is men’s deadliest enemy. It is not as protection against private actions, but against governmental actions that the Bill of Rights was written.

What is it that is making people wake up to the dangers of a rights-violating government? Perhaps it’s the “glitch”-ridden Obamacare takeover of the healthcare industry, along with the creepy suggestions coming from on high that we discuss Obamacare with our families and friends during holiday gatherings. Or maybe it’s the fact that government seems to be trying to control more and more aspects of our lives as the years go on.

Take the ban on incandescent light bulbs. (Anthem, anyone?) I hadn’t done much research on this, so I thought it would prohibit only higher-wattage bulbs, and that I’d still be able to get the 40- and 60-watt bulbs I like to use in various places in my home. Then I learned recently that, starting January 1, “it will become illegal for American businesses to either manufacture or import the old-style bulbs.” After reading about my Facebook friends stocking up on the bulbs, I went to Amazon, hoping to order a bunch for a semi-reasonable price. And in fact the other day I placed an order for a bunch of the 40-watt, globe-shaped bulbs I like to use above the bathroom mirror. I even gave myself a virtual pat on the back after clicking “place order,” congratulating myself for my resourcefulness. And then this arrived in my inbox this morning:

Hello,

Due to a lack of availability, we will not be able to obtain the following item(s) from your order:

“GE Lighting 48694 Reveal 40-watt 265-Lumen G25 Light Bulb with Medium Base, 6-Pack”

We’ve canceled the item(s) and apologize for the inconvenience. If you see a charge for the canceled item, we will refund you within 1-2 business days.

Ugh. Thanks, George W. Bush.

Thankfully Stephen Green (VodkaPundit) has done the heavy lifting, researching the legal alternatives we now have to the traditional incandescent bulbs. He says he’s as picky about the quality of light as I am and assures his readers that one brand of LED bulbs provides light comparable to my beloved Reveal incandescents. To read which type he recommends, go read his blog post here. The LEDs will apparently save us money on our electric bills, if that’s any consolation.

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Filed under Politics

Pigs Fly: A Good News Story At Top Of Drudge!

There are two notable things about today’s first good news story: First, I didn’t have to go digging for it. It was at the top of Drudge Report yesterday through this morning.* Second, the story is a continuation of one that I wrote about in this News Sandwich from last week, about the potential uses, both military and nonmilitary, of drone technology.

Amazon has announced, and released a demonstration video showing, its plans to use drone technology to deliver packages. The service, which Amazon plans to call “Prime Air,” will deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes of ordering. CEO Jeff Bezos says the drones will be able to carry packages up to 5 lbs. in weight–about 86% of the orders Amazon delivers. He says, however, the service won’t be offered to customers for another 4-5 years, with the one “roadblock” specifically cited in the USA Today video being lack of permission from the FAA. Maybe the reason Bezos did the 60 Minutes appearance is to create enthusiasm for the service (it worked!), and to gently nudge the FAA to get off its butt and write the “necessary” regulations? I gather that Bezos is a liberal, and so he would think it’s fine that our government, in its infinite wisdom, will now allow drone technology to be used only by government agencies and “hobbyists”–i.e., no one is allowed to make money from its use. It’s sad, but I am reminded of Equality 7-2521 in Ayn Rand’s Anthem, who brings his electric light before the World Council of Scholars, in hopes they will see how great it is and forgive his “transgressions.” Let’s hope the outcome in Amazon’s case is different.

Since we’re on the topic of technology and government, it’s time to check in on the Obama Administration’s progress in getting Healthcare.gov up and running. CNN reporters tested the website yesterday and found it still crashed. ZDNet concurs, saying the website is still glitchy. My favorite take on the update, however, comes from VodkaPundit, who summarizes it nicely: “My insurance options remain a riddle, wrapped in a subsidy, smothered in regulations.” It wasn’t so much that he ran into glitches, but he found it took forever to find the information he was looking for, and actually impossible to get complete information about his insurance options without first entering sensitive personal information, which he refused to do. I don’t blame him!

One thing I found disturbing (but not surprising) in reading VodkaPundit’s report is the number of times he encountered messages in ALL CAPS telling him he should check into whether he was eligible for subsidies. This confirms my suspicions that Obama’s real goal is not to let people know about their insurance options, but rather to funnel as many people as possible into government-subsidized or completely government-funded programs. As I discussed on my podcast a few weeks ago, the reason Obama had so little remorse after lying to us about being able to keep our plans, is that he’s already increased the Medicaid rolls by hundreds of thousands. If Republican governors continue to cave–which I assume is likely with Chris Christie as the head of the Republican Governors Association–Obama will achieve his goal of getting at least 5 million more people onto Medicaid over the next year, via the expansion provisions in Obamacare. Who will have the moral fibre necessary to repeal Obamacare in its entirety–including kicking hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, off of Medicaid? Obama and the Democrats are betting that there is not a single person in Washington willing to do that, and that there won’t be for a very long time.

The only hope right now is that the continued reports of glitches, crashes and security breaches will keep people away from Healthcare.gov, or from any government web site trying to suck them into socialized medicine. VodkaPundit mentioned an IBD poll in which the majority of Americans said that people should be “very concerned” about the security of the Healthcare.gov site. I gather the recent update is not doing much to alleviate that concern. But I also hope that most Americans will see the site as I do: not as a site designed to tell you about your insurance coverage options, but rather as a site designed to get you dependent on government handouts.

In a way, then, the glitches, crashes and security breaches are not really bad news, but good news, because they will hopefully keep Americans away from the site. Moreover, there is another way in which I am able to show this ostensibly bad news story to be a good news story. A couple months ago I discussed this story about the Utah Data Center (where the NSA does, or plans to do, a lot of its snooping) literally going up in flames. Seems the electrical engineers couldn’t do their job properly. I was happy to see the NSA’s plans to collect all of our metadata foiled, but I also thought the design failure was a good demonstration of the principle of the unity of the virtues. Much of what the NSA does, and all of what Healthcare.gov does, is not a proper function of government. Our government is acting unjustly towards us by, in the case of the NSA, collecting our metadata in the absence of probable cause and particularized suspicion and, in the case of Healthcare.gov, spending millions of dollars, stolen from Americans, to set up a website designed to help socialize the healthcare industry. Because our government is acting unjustly in these cases, the unity of the virtues principle would dictate that it is also not capable of acting in accordance with the virtues of rationality and productivity. Fires and website crashes and glitches. Our government is reaping what it has sown.

*It’s now been displaced by some yucky story about Iran and mideast oil. Haven’t had the stomach to look yet.

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Filed under Politics, Technology