Ken Blackwell

Why is Paris known as the City of Lights ? Is it because the U.S. Congress banned Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulbs, so he had to take his invention offshore?

Well, not actually. Thomas Edison was an honoree at the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition and he did go up in the Eiffel Tower . The Italian government conferred a knighthood at that event on the man who gave the world a brighter idea.

No, Congress in the 1880s would not have been so foolish as to extinguish Edison ’s light bulb. But the liberal Congress in 2007 was so foolish. They passed (and, regrettably, President George W. Bush signed) the BULB Act. That cutesy acronym stood for the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act. By that act, incandescent light bulbs were to have been phased out by 2014.

The BULB Act was co-sponsored by Calif. Rep. Jane Harmon (D) and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton (R). Back in those halcyon days of green legislation, of cost-free environmentalism, few people noticed that one of America ’s greatest inventions was about to be banned by act of Congress.

Liberals were, quite literally, turning lights out on America --at least the incandescent kind. Edison ’s invention was being treated like asbestos and lead paint. But once consumers got wind of the coming ban, they began hoarding “real” light bulbs.

Soon, documented stories began circulating highlighting negative aspects of the new, eco-friendly compact fluorescent light (CFL) light bulbs. It was as if the Congress had tried to insert a CFL—Canadian Football League—championship game in place of the Super Bowl.

Heritage Foundation researchers Kelsey Huber and Nicholas D. Loris alerted readers of Human Events that CFLs use high levels of mercury. They may last longer than real bulbs, but watch out if you break one or discard it. CFLs, Huber and Loris noted, can also cause migraines and aggravate epilepsy! What does this say about forcing them on health care providers?

Even the New York Times conceded that government nannying had failed to persuade consumers to shift from incandescents. The reason: they are cheap.

Many voters last fall were incandescent in their outrage of Congress’ meddling with the economy, with people’s way of life—and livelihoods. U.S. factories that make incandescent bulbs were shutting down, laying off American workers, only to have China pick up the slack.

Rush Limbaugh took up the conservative cudgels. When Michigan Congressman Upton rode back into office on the Republican tide last fall, Rush pointed to the BULB Act as Exhibit A in the case against Upton’s becoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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