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Freedom Is Not the Problem, It Is the Solution

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Doesn’t it seem like year after year, more and more decisions we should be making for ourselves, are instead being made by nameless bureaucrats in Washington? They tell us how to spend our money. They tell us how to run our businesses. They tell us how to raise our families. And now, when you thought things couldn’t become anymore absurd, they even tell us what kind of light bulbs we can use in our own homes.

Yes, that’s right, a recent piece of legislation passed in Washington has outlawed the everyday household light bulb.

Think this a joke?

I only wish it were. Congress slipped into the recent energy bill a mandate that within four years the everyday incandescent bulb is to disappear from the shelves of your local grocery and hardware stores. In it’s place? The fluorescent bulb that for years many consumers have avoided.

The list of complaints about fluorescent bulbs is long. Some are bothered by the higher price, others by the harsher light, others by their lack of adaptability to household fixtures, and still others by concerns over their mercury content.

So on what grounds has Washington justified this unwanted intrusion into our lives?

They say that these high-mercury bulbs will reduce the strain on our energy supply, reduce the carbon footprint, and lead to greater energy efficiency. But there’s little to no evidence to back up their claims.

Congress has intruded on your shopping list on a whim; in favor of a fad.

Well, that doesn’t sit well with me and I know it doesn’t sit well with you.

America was founded on the idea that people are far better able to make their own decisions than the government.

So I’ve the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, which makes a simple challenge to Big Brother: either Congress’ own independent investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), marshals evidence to back up the assumptions behind the light bulb ban – or Congress repeals the mandate.

In other words, I’m asking Congress to actually be – hold your breath – accountable to the people. If they are going to intrude into our lives, and control our most basic decisions, the least they can do is have enough respect for the American people to back-up their claims.

Specifically, my bill would ask the GAO to study whether the ban:

1.) leads to lower costs for consumers,
2.) leads to reduced carbon emissions, and
3.) does not lead to a health risk, particularly for vulnerable populations, like those in nursing homes, day care centers, schools, and hospitals

Congress is quite right that we have an energy crisis this country. But Congress itself is to blame.

Year after year, Congress has failed to take advantage of clean nuclear power, failed to build new refineries, failed to tap into oil-rich resources in our country, and failed to utilize the genius of private enterprise.

As a result, Americans are dependent on foreign oil from unstable or dangerous regimes – and paying top dollar at the pump for the privilege.

Forcing a fad on the American people isn’t a real energy policy. It’s eerily reminiscent of Jimmy Carter asking Americans to turn down the heat and put on sweaters in answer to the 70’s energy crisis.

What Washington fails to understand is that freedom is not the problem: it is the solution.

America has the ingenuity, resolve and the resources to harvest all the clean and affordable energy we could ever need. But from exploring untapped resources to new scientific frontiers, this future is found not in handcuffing Americans but in unleashing the power of their free will.

Coincidentally, it’s the one thing Congress hasn’t tried.

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