Thursday, September 27, 2007

Keep the government out of my light

One of my very best friends from high school sent me an interesting, though a bit long,
article about light pollution. I definitely agree with their idea of encouraging people/institutions to adjust their outdoor lighting to promote less light pollution, particularly after taking an astronomy class my freshman year at Brown and having to strain our eyes to find the big dipper through the Providence lights... but do they really need the government to become more involved? It seems to be clear that the benefits are for us scientists and star-enjoyers as well as the light-fixture "up-keepers", as these improved lights use much less energy and perform just as well, if not better than the old alternatives. I think their money would be better spent simply educating people who install outdoor light fixtures rather than letting our government, who has already shown themselves incompetent in oh-so-many-ways (no child left behind as only one recent example), stick another foot into our business. If it really saves money, light providers should need no government enforcement, it's just a smarter solution!

It seems funny to me that so often when the government screws up, people seem to be right ready to let them do something else to "fix" their mistakes. I say, if they can't fly the plane, quit riding with them!

On an unrelated note, there is a quite interesting correlation pointed out between breast-cancer and employees who take night-shifts. Apparently, messing with ones' (is that wrong to pluralize one?) circadian rhythm can affect amounts of what is normally produced during sleep- in this case, melatonin. However, could there also be a confounding variable of lower-income employees who are willing to take night shifts?

I can't help but point out, though, that if their findings are correct, this is just one more example of how amazing and ahead of his time Joseph Smith was. (Doctrine & Covenants 88:124) I guess he did have quite a bit of help from above though, eh?

12 comments:

Lindsay B said...

I am SOOOO angry right now! I had written this novel of a response to your light pollution blog, but before I submitted it I saw your baby blog and I stupidly clicked on that comment link. Bye bye light pollution response! So angry!! Its like pie in Las Vegas all over again!!

I will now attempt to recreate the magic within the safety of my own blog.

UsedToBeDay said...

Ha ha!! I don't think pie in Las Vegas should ever be re-lived... I'm sorry to cause you so much trauma.

Jay McCarthy said...

"If it really saves money, light providers should need no government enforcement, it's just a smarter solution! "

I love you!

UsedToBeDay said...

I must admit, you're rubbing off on me hun...

Lindsay B said...

but what if the light providers don't WANT to save money...anyone remember the electric car? (I'm not saying they've shown any indication of this, I'm just trying to play devil's advocate for all of our benefits).

UsedToBeDay said...

who doesn't want to save money? i will never be able to relate to that...

Lindsay B said...

i guess we need to think about the people who make the new improved light bulbs and structures. does it save THEM money or does it only save US money? Perhaps they are in cahoots with the light companies as well...

UsedToBeDay said...

who cares. if it saves ME money, it's in my interest to do it. especially if it's better for star-gazing :)

Lindsay B said...

but how will you get them to make the lights for you if it doesn't save THEM money?

I do long to go star gazing though. Remember that one summer with all the meteor showers? That was awesome.

UsedToBeDay said...

What do you mean? Save THEM money... it doesn't matter how much it costs them to make the lights because I will buy it from them and they will make money no matter what. And we will both be happy because they made money and I saved money AND I can star-gaze.

Indeed. I wish I had a telescope and a place to use it...

Lindsay B said...

I guess what I mean is...why would the light fixture company want to start selling a fixture that would bring them 2 cents of profit per sale when the ones they sell currently bring them 10 cents per sale, especially when the new fixture would be in DIRECT competition with the old fixture, and would virtually be replacing it, driving their profits down even more.

Perhaps this a good time for a new light fixture maker to come along, unless of course the original light fixture maker was nasty enough to patent his idea just so his competitors won't use it. Or they could call Andy to buy the patent...hahaha.

Anyway, I doubt that the technology in light fixtures is so undeveloped that it would cause this to happen, but I had to bring it up for arguments sake. In reality with the lights, I think its consumer ignorance (commercial and individual) holding us back more than anything.

Alas, I must stick with my original answer...EDUCATE THE PEOPLE!! I believe this was your thought as well...

That's not to say that this scenario does not happen, however. My overall point is that we cannot oversimplify or trust private business to have our best interests in mind, they have only the market demand and their revenue on their minds.

Quick sidenote: I'm not saying that the government does either (well, maybe they did at some point, before they all became rich and powerful), and they clearly can be far less efficient than private industry.

Back to private industry...You'd think that as consumers we would have our best interests (or more specifically, society's interests) at heart, but clearly that is not the case or the businesses would follow right along. This can be seen by Walmart and the electric car to name a few. We are the drivers of private business. That's the sad thing, we're the ones in control!! Unfortunately the best things for society are usually more expensive, which is why we don't buy them and the businesses don't sell them. Of course, as more people buy, they cheaper and better they'll get. So...EDUCATE EDUCATE EDUCATE!!! Lead by example!!

Of course, since you're educated on these matters, I will expect you (yes you Libby Day McCarthy!) to not let your frugal ways get the best of you! You can make up the savings for more expensive but socially responsible purchases by buying everything else used (which really you would already be doing).

Anyway, as you can tell I'm on the verge of a major tree-hugging tirade that is in no way provoked by you, but rather my beginning to speak on a matter that is very dear to my heart. I will continue on my blog and leave yours in peace.

Good night!

j the libertarian said...

Ah, and another smallgovermentarian rears her lovely head...

"What do you mean? Save THEM money... it doesn't matter how much it costs them to make the lights because I will buy it from them and they will make money no matter what."

I'm not sure I'm understanding your hypothetical here. Production costs do matter. Production costs would actually matter much less in the event of government control. The goverment is giving you your light from Light Company G, and that's the only place you can get it, so they have no incentive to make it cheap.

(And then, it seems to my government-cynical mind, they'll make more government regulations about how much light you have to use and when, to ensure a profit for Light Co. G...)

But the freer the market, the more it does matter how much it costs them to make lights. If source G produces the new light at 20% more than sources A, B, and C, A through C can offer cheaper lights *and* profit more!

But if it costs more to produce more efficient lights (which seems likely), well, that gets complicated, and then production cost really really matters, because it'll be hard to get what you want if no one's making it. Unless, of course, everybody wants it bad enough to force the market.

I hope no one is "nasty enough to patent" because that would make it all really ugly. And although I'm an economist I'm not an Economist so I can only handle hypotheticals with so many complication factors!

As an aside, I am very curious about what artificial light actually does to our circadian rhythm.