Left in the Dark–How Regulations Encroach on the Private Sector

As readers of this blog know, I believe the regulatory burden imposed by federal and state governments is largely to blame for the stagnation in the US and elsewhere. That burden includes the large amount of things government spends taxpayer money on–such as health care and retirement benefits–that could easily be provided by the private sector if it were given a chance. The term that classical economists apply to such government spending is “crowding out.”

To illustrate how far we have come, I wonder how many in the US know that it will soon be illegal to sell or buy an incandescent light bulb? Maybe the modern-day equivalent of “crowding out” is “left in the dark.”


If you want to know why so many Americans feel alienated from their government, you need only go to Target and check out the light bulb aisle. Instead of the cheap commodities of yesteryear, you’ll find what looks like evidence of a flourishing, technology-driven economy…

It seems to be a dazzling profusion of choice. But, at least in California, where I live, this plenitude no longer includes what most shoppers want: an inexpensive, plain-vanilla 100-watt incandescent bulb. Selling them is now illegal here. The rest of the country has until the end of the year to stock up before a federal ban kicks in. (I have a stash in storage.) Over the next two years, most lower-wattage incandescents will also disappear.

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