Seth Godin is on a tear about fluorescent light bulbs, and I join him in it not just because he’s promising a link for a trackback.
No, there is a matter of profoundly-important principle here: The redemptive power of Capitalism. The curly fluorescent bulb shown above is one of many in our home. Bulb-by-bulb we are swapping out the old Edison-style bulbs with fluorescent bulbs.
Is it because we’re granola-fed greenies right down to our Birkenstocks? Not hardly. It’s because we’re greedy, and we want to hold on to as much of our money as possible. Lumen for lumen, fluorescent bulbs are a lot cheaper than incandescent bulbs, and, because they are outrageously long-lived, they are cheaper to replace as well.
I have zero faith in the good intentions of capital-E Environmentalism as a movement. I see it as a further expression of the global totalitarian movement. The original Marxist argument — the vicious exploitation of the incredibly rotund poor people — is so obviously absurd, Environmentalism was cooked up as an unanswerable substitute.
If there were such a thing as a true environmentalist movement, its very first target would be government interference in real estate — starting with the collectively-owned roads that yield up thousands of acres of pristine land to taxpayer-subsidized development every month. The fact that capital-E Environmentalism does nothing to combat the massive environmental destruction caused by government argues to me that its actual objective is — surprise! — more government, not “saving the earth.”
But this is not about Environmentalism, it’s about Capitalism. Just as companies like Pur and Brita used the free market to solve the problems resulting from government mismanagement of the potable water supply, so, too, are entrepreneurs using simple market solutions to reduce the costs of government-regulated energy — “saving the earth” as an unintended consequence.
You have to give Marx his due, though. World-wide, 159 years after the publication of The Communist Manifesto, Marxism has produced nothing but mountainous mounds of corpses — 160 million and counting. In that same time, Capitalism has taken us from coal oil lamps to fluorescent bulbs (and light-sensitive LED night-lights in our hallways), from horse-drawn carts to supersonic jets, from the filth and pestilence thought to be the lot of man to the precipice of the conquest of all disease.
So, after 159 years of perfect records on both sides — nothing but incredible wealth from Capitalism, nothing but mass-murder from Marxism — who is the bad guy? Wal-Mart, of course, vicious exploiter of the incredibly rotund poor people and corporate cheerleader for fluorescent light bulbs.
Oh, well. The universe is apprehensible to the senses. We live enmired in Marxist propaganda, but there is nothing to prevent an individual mind from discovering the truth of wealth and its destruction. And as an incomparable expression of the wealth-building power of Capitalism, it’s hard to find a better symbol than the light bulb. Not the cartoon image denoting an epiphany, but simply that tiny, inexpensive device that permits the human mind — the sole source of Capital — to work on long after the sun has gone down…