Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Incandescent Light Bulb Ban Ushered in With New Year
By Andrea Billups / Newsmax

Image: Incandescent Light Bulb Ban Ushered in With New Year
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Incandescent light bulbs, which have been in use in the United States for more than a century, are on their way out in the new year. The federal government has prohibited their manufacture and import starting Wednesday.

The latest ban covers 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs. The 100-watt and 75-watt varieties had already been phased out. The bans were signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act.

Opponents of the law protest that the government is making decisions for consumers rather than letting the marketplace determine the products people want.

"When we make a purchase, it's about quality, price, how much money we have now, can I use that money for a better investment? I don't need the government to say that I am making the incorrect decision and therefore I should buy energy-efficient products," said Daren Bakst, research fellow in agricultural policy at the Heritage Foundation.

He decries the light-bulb ban as representing heightened government overreach.

"The light-bulb issue is about a complete ban of a product. It's overkill. Now you have something you can no longer buy. That's really indefensible," he said.

"Forget about choice. It's basically saying not only can you not make smart choices, we have so little faith in you that we will make sure you can't buy those goods anymore.

"Here you have a central-planning bureaucrat that knows everything, saying we're going to make sure you do the right thing. Granted, Congress passed the law, but this looks like the state knows better than the public does," Bakst said.

The prohibition has also led to U.S. job losses, as factories that made incandescent bulbs have been forced to close.

Because of the ban, General Electric closed a factory with 200 employees in Winchester, Va., that was the last major incandescent manufacturing facility in the United States. Now the work is going to places such as China, where some of the new compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are made.

Energy efficiency experts say the new light bulbs benefit consumers, who will pay more on the front end for the new-generation bulbs but will save money over time because they last longer — up to 23 years for LED bulbs and about nine years for CFLs.

CFL bulbs use about 75 percent less energy, government estimates say, while LEDs use about 85 percent less than incandescent bulbs, but they cost about 10 times more.

"The reason why the federal government legislated the change is because these incandescent bulbs use four times or more energy than other technologies," Kevin Hallinan, a University of Dayton engineering professor who studies renewable energy, told the Dayton Daily News, noting that incandescent bulbs emit more heat.

"That's more pollution coming out of the power plants, that's more carbon emissions, so this is really a good thing for the U.S," Hallinan said.

Consumers can still purchase the incandescent bulbs as long as supplies last, and they remain in stock at many home-product retailers around the country. Once those are gone, however, the newer bulbs will be the only ones available.

Some Republican members of Congress have sought a repeal of certain elements of the ban, but have had no success despite cries of a "nanny state" imposing its will on consumers.

In 2011, a trio of Republican lawmakers — Reps. Joe Barton and Michael Burgess of Texas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee — offered the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, but the legislation failed to pass the House.

The Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, sponsored by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and eight co-sponsors, was also floated in 2011 but died in a House subcommittee.

Current laws under the federal government's Energy Star program are enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is in charge of new guidelines for light fixtures. The guidelines for a fixture to earn Energy Star ratings increased in 2013 as part of the federal law's broader energy efficiency plan.

The light bulb issue marks a continued pattern of what some say is the federal government's overextending its power in recent years, including spying on news reporters' sources, forcing menu labeling laws in an attempt to change what people eat, and intimidating certain groups, including conservatives, through IRS intrusion.

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain said in a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual conference:

"We've got the IRS abuse. FEC intimidation. EPA discrimination. DOJ intimidation. NSA corruption. And it goes on and on and on in terms of the abuse and the corruption in the government that wants to control all of our lives."

Said Bakst, of the Heritage Foundation:

"We certainly have seen far more government intrusion in the last few years than we have before. It has become the expectation that the government has the proper role in the free choices that we make."

My Top 5 Can’t-Miss Predictions For 2014

by / Personal Liberty Digest
My Top 5 Can’t-Miss Predictions For 2014
PHOTOS.COM

I cannot unconditionally wish you a Happy New Year, because I don’t think it is going to be all that happy for most of us. So here’s a happy reminder of the good old days, when our worst fears were mostly just that: fears.

Think of all the angst felt by millions of people just 14 years ago, when the world was abuzz over Y2K. Could the computer geeks get it fixed in time? If they didn’t, what would be the outcome? People predicted End of Days scenarios: terribly expensive gasoline, an out-of-control Federal deficit, massive Federal aid for the growing poor, Mideast wars, a Federal government that failed to function and a draconian or even dictatorial American President who not only ignored the Constitution but used his personal authority in ways that once only George Orwell could imagine.

What a relief it was so see the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball drop and not have the family TV and everything electric turn black when the ball hit the bottom. It seemed like we were free and clear.

Silly me for being worried. It took the election of two American Presidents over the course of 13 years to do what we feared Y2K could do in a couple of weeks. And as it turns out, those two men — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — excelled at selling many things, none more so than fear.

Together with the media, they created a fearful Nation. With that in my thoughts, I decided to tell you my forecast for 2014. So here it is, what I see in my crystal ball for 2014:
  1. There will be variable weather. Weather will be unpredictable this year, meaning sometimes it will be hot when it is supposed to be cold and wet when it is supposed to be dry. There will be at least one hurricane, more than one tornado and at least one major flood. This will lead to…
  2. Greens blaming variable weather on fossil fuels. Bet your bottom dollar that, at the very least, MSNBC and CNN will treat variable weather events as proof that man-made carbon is killing the planet.  They will tote out “climate change experts” who will harp on the facts as they see them — including former Vice President Al Gore, who will say something ridiculously stupid that all the progressive liberals will believe. They, of course, will not be alone in trying to make all of us afraid because the Obama Administration will present…
  3. Dire warnings of a potential terrorist strike. Of course, nobody in government will be able to say when or where such an attack will happen — only that we should all be anxious that it will happen. It will dovetail nicely with liberal climatologists who will tell us that bad, perhaps even catastrophic weather may break upon us any day. To deal with the terrorist threat, you can count on Obama’s launching more attacks on Muslim countries and calling them necessary. The Obama Administration won’t come out specifically and say it is to win the hearts and minds of Islam, but that will be the indirect message that mainstream Republicans like Senator John McCain will line up behind. McCain will also plead that for some good reason somewhere in the world America must put “boots on the ground” to preserve peace. That message will thankfully be ignored by Obama, who instead will launch even more drone strikes. And there will hardly be a whisper from the media, who will instruct us that all of the government’s actions (killing) are to keep America safe. This will create a lot of animosity among Muslims, and to placate that…
  4. Obama will bow to Islamic dictators. The President will continue to celebrate Islam in public, if not in private, and will often acquiesce to brutal dictatorships, especially those that are rich in oil. He will also rub in the face of Christians outrageous lies that almost all Muslims are peaceful, loving people. Unfortunately, Obama will not be nearly as kind to America’s middle class this year — especially white Americans, who will be the focus of the biggest news event of the year…
  5. A story about white-on-black violence. Somewhere in America this year a black person will be highlighted as a victim of white criminality. The facts of the case won’t matter — only that there will be a media frenzy to cover it. Obama will give press conferences about how he could somehow be a relative of the victim. Of course, Obama will by lying about his personal angst. But for 2014, Obama will lie about a great many things. The good news is we have only three years left to suffer with him in the White House.
Happy New Year,
–John Myers


One year ago, I looked at the worst policy developments of 2012.

I had some very good (or should I say bad?) options for that award, including the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision,

the IRS’s lawless decision to make American banks act as tax collectors for foreign governments, Japan’shigher VAT tax, the California vote for a class-warfare tax hike, and France’s 75 percent income tax rate.

I ultimately decided, perhaps for selfishly sentimental reasons, that the worst development was repeal of the flat tax in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

We’re going to do the same exercise this year, but the glass is going to be half full. Not only will we look at the worst policy developments of 2013, but we’ll also list the best policy developments of the year.

And because I try to be optimistic, we’ll start with the good news.

But remember the rules. We’re looking at policy rather than politics.

I know, for instance, that one of my favorite posts in 2013 was the one about Reagan crushing Obama in a hypothetical matchup, but that’s obviously not a policy development.

So what are my choices?

Potential examples of good news include the fact that very little legislation was enacted during the year, the sequester (while it lasted), the overwhelmingrejection of class-warfare tax policy in Colorado, and the government shutdown.

Those are all good options, but I think these three developments rank the highest.

1. Obamacare – You’re probably thinking I’m on drugs since Obamacare is listed as good news, but bear with me because I’m engaging in some one-step-backwards-two-steps-forward analysis. More specifically, I think the President’s signature “achievement” has done more than anything else in recent years to discredit big government. I also think the flop of Obamacare has rejuvenated interest in – and support for – the types of policies that would make health care system more affordable and efficient. I’ve always feared that undoing the damage of government intervention in the health sector was our most intractable challenge, but Obama may have given us a path forward and that is worth celebrating. By the way, theDetroit bankruptcy is good news for the same reason. Maybe, just maybe, some people will learn the right lessons when statist policies spectacularly fail.

2. The defeat of pro-gun control politicians in Colorado – I don’t think many people will argue when I say that nothing matters more to politicians than getting reelected. And that’s why I am so happy that two Colorado state senators were kicked out of office because of their votes to impose gun control. And that was then followed by theresignation of another state senator who wanted to avoid the same fate. There aren’t many certainties in life, but I can assure you that pro-gun control politicians all across the nation noticed what happened to these Colorado thugs and are now much less likely to push anti-second amendment initiatives. More broadly, we can feel somewhat optimistic that the right to keep and bear arms has never been in a stronger political position.

3. Spending restraint – This hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as it deserves, but the federal budget in 2013 was actually smaller than the federal budget in 2012. And I’m using honest math, not the Washington approach of calling an increase a cut because the budget might have grown even faster. Indeed, the nation actually has enjoyed a two-year spending slowdown that substantially reduced government spending as a share of GDP. In other words, my Golden Rule was in effect! If we could maintain this approach for a few more years, we’d quickly have a balanced budget and hopefully kill off any pressure for tax hikes.

Feel free, by the way, to offer your suggestions in the comment section. Maybe the best news of 2013 was something that I neglected to cover.

Now let’s look at the other side of the ledger.

Potential bad news stories might include the IMF coercing/bribing Albania to get rid of its flat tax, the easy-money policies of the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, the 100th anniversary of the income tax, the global shift to higher tax rates, the seemingly permanent drop in the employment-population ratio, and the fiscal cliff tax hike from last January 1.

Geesh, that’s a depressing list. But there are three options – in my humble opinion – that are even worse.

1. Obamacare – I realize I listed Obamacare as one of the best developments of 2013, but it also has to be one of the worst. The legislation is a toxic stew of spending, taxes, regulation, cronyism, and intervention, and it was based on the absurd theory that you solve government-caused problems by adding even more government. And even though Obamacare has discredited big government and opened the door to real reform, we can’t dismiss the possibility that the law will survive and created more dependency.

2. Erosion of the Rule of Law – One of the defining features of a civilized society is the rule of law. Heck, even if laws are bad, it’s still important for people to know that there are rules and that the government is constrained by those rules. That’s the basic difference between the developed world and the types of despotic rule you find in developing nations (with Argentina being a tragic example). Unfortunately, the Obama White House seems to think that it can arbitrarily change laws or ignore laws simply based on the President’s ideological whims or political needs. This has happened over and over again with Obamacare, but the problem extends to many other issues.

3. Murray-Ryan budget deal – Since I thought the sequester was one of the good things that happened in 2013, you won’t be surprised that a law designed to evade the sequester would make the list of bad policy developments. The budget pact between Paul Ryan and Patty Murray allowed more short-term spending, much of it financed by back-door tax hikes. I’m the first to admit that the spending hikes and tax increases were relatively small compared to the size of the federal Leviathan, but what’s really depressing about the Murray-Ryan deal is that it probably sets the stage for future bad agreements. And this Charlie Brown cartoon shows what frequently happens when Republicans and Democrats decide to negotiate on fiscal policy.

Once again, feel free to offer your suggestions for the worst development of 2013.
On a more personal note, I’m happy to report that I don’t think there were any noteworthy bad developments in my life. Other than getting another year older, which isn’t any fun.

I can,however, report a couple of good developments for the year, including the Princess of the Levant and some better performance on the softball field.
And in the I’m-not-sure-how-to-react category, my favorite daughter got engaged this year. I’m worried this may eventually lead to marriage. And then children.

Which would make me a grandfather, and I’d like to think that I’m much too young for anyone to call me Grandpa!
The Beltway consensus seems to be that 2013 was a bad year for the same reason nearly every other recent year was bad: polarization and partisanship. Personally, I can think of plenty of more important things to worry about than partisanship. Democracy is about disagreements, and partisanship is often a sign of healthy disagreement.

But polarization is a bit different. It speaks not just to a lack of basic agreement about what kind of society we should live in, but a breakdown in understanding and respect among Americans. There's a lot of them-vs.-us talk these days on the left and the right. And while I'd never want to live in a country where we all join hands and sing "Kumbaya," maybe a bit more understanding wouldn't be all bad.

So I have small suggestions for New Year's resolutions for both the right and left in 2014. For liberals, maybe you should try to accept the fact that you're not the non-conformists you think you are. And for conservatives, perhaps you should consider you're not necessarily the irrefutable voice of "normal" Americans.

The thought occurred to me while reading "The Liberal Illusion of Uniqueness" in the journal Psychological Science. Apparently it's a well established finding that liberals tend to think their views are more rebellious than they are. They feel a "need for uniqueness." And that need can stand in the way of seeking commonality with other Americans.

Conservatives don't crave uniqueness. In fact, they are more likely to overestimate the extent to which there is a consensus around their beliefs. In other words, liberals bristle at the notion that they're conventional thinkers, while conservatives are too quick to assume everyone thinks like them.

I'm not a huge fan of subjecting politics to psychological analysis. It often lends itself to the pernicious idea that people with "healthy" minds have certain political views and that people with unpopular notions aren't simply wrong -- or have different preferences -- but are somehow sick.

Still, something about this finding rings true to me. One of the most impressive achievements of liberalism is the perpetuation of the myth of liberal rebelliousness. One of my favorite things to do when speaking on college campuses is to point out to students how conformist they are. (College students are a lot like that mob in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" who chant in unison, "We're all individuals!") I point out to the students that their professors are liberal. Their school administrators are liberal. Hollywood, the music and publishing industries are all overwhelmingly liberal. The mainstream media are liberal. "But," I ask them, "you think you're sticking it to the Man by agreeing with them?"

Meanwhile, lots of my friends on the right often seem to take it for granted that there's a vast silent majority of Americans pitted against a small cabal of elitist pinheads and would-be social engineers. As a conservative, I believe there are a lot of pinhead social engineers (see: Bloomberg, Michael). But I also understand -- or at least try to -- that there are millions of Americans who see these people as leaders who speak for them and address their needs.

Ironically, both the conservative false confidence in consensus and the liberal false confidence in uniqueness have a similar downside: smugness. Evidence for this is about as hard to find as straw in a haystack. Liberals often talk as if only the backward masses disagree with them, and conservatives often assume that only overeducated weirdos and radicals could object to their agenda. Hence Barack Obama's infamous explanation for why rural Pennsylvanians didn't support him: They were too busy "clinging" to their God and guns. Tellingly, conservatives took that line as a badge of honor.

Smugness is also the chief source of political problems for both the left and the right.

Conservatives have become far too insular, too often rejecting the need to persuade those who don't already agree with them, arguing instead that ever bloodier doses of red meat will grow the coalition. Liberals have become far too content with the myth of their uniqueness and the pretense that they are brave polymath iconoclasts who know what's best for you better than you do.

Maybe, just maybe, if both sides resolved not to take their most flattering myths for granted, America would be just a bit less polarized.

Putin vows to fight terrorists until their "total destruction"; Obama spokesperson offers help against "folks who want to cause mischief"

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


PutinObama.jpg

The shirtless horseman is unlikely to need the helmeted bike rider's help. "Russia's Putin Vows to Fight Terrorists Until Destroyed," from the VOA News, December 31 (thanks to Kenneth):
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to fight terrorists until their "total destruction," following the two suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd on Sunday and Monday that left 34 people dead. 
In his annual New Years address, Putin said that at the country's most trying times, Russia has always been united and consolidated.
Russian authorities have deployed more than 5,000 security force personnel in and around Volgograd in the wake of the bombings.
In Monday's attack, a bomb blast ripped apart a trolleybus, killing 16 people and injuring 30 others. A day earlier, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the security entrance of the city's main train station in an attack that left 18 dead.
A spokesman for Russia's main investigative agency said the bomb in Monday's explosion was similar to the one used in Sunday's attack, confirming suspicions that they may be linked.
Russia's foreign ministry compared the attacks to similar acts of terrorism in the United States, Iraq and Nigeria. It called for international solidarity in countering terrorism....
"After Attacks, Administration Offers to Help Russia Counter ‘Folks Who Want to Cause Mischief,’" by Bridget Johnson for PJ Media, December 30:
Over at the State Department, spokeswoman Marie Harf acknowledged the security issues highlighted by the bombings but still strove to argue that Sochi, 600 miles southwest of Volgograd but a hundred miles closer to Chechnya, is likely safe enough for the Olympic Games in six weeks. 
“In terms of security for Sochi, U.S. citizens planning to attend should remain alert regarding their personal security at all times. I think our security experts have said that criminal activity in Sochi is similar to other cities of comparable size. Obviously, major events such as the Olympic games are an opportunity for thieves or for other folks who want to cause mischief,” Harf said.
 
Good Riddance 2013...WELCOME 2014...
The Year We Take Our Country Back!




Wishing all my blog followers a very Happy New Year and may this year be the start of great things.