God bless Texas

June 21, 2011

…for telling the federal government to take their incandescent light-bulb ban and shove it:

Texas could soon be in a position to turn the lights off on a federal plan to phase out certain light bulbs.

State lawmakers have passed a bill that allows Texans to skirt federal efforts to promote more efficient light bulbs, which ultimately pushes the swirled, compact fluorescent bulbs over the 100-watt incandescent bulbs many grew up with.

The measure, sent to Gov. Rick Perry for consideration, lets any incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas – and sold in that state – avoid the authority of the federal government or the repeal of the 2007 energy independence act that starts phasing out some incandescent light bulbs next year.

“Let there be light,” state Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, wrote on Facebook after the bill passed. “It will allow the continued manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs in Texas, even after the federal ban goes into effect. … It’s a good day for Texas.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental group, is calling on Perry to veto the bill.

I suspect Perry will sign the bill, since it would be popular given the increasingly “small l” libertarian mood of the country these days, and those folks would be Perry’s core audience in a presidential run. The article goes on to quote an NRDC spokesman arguing that the bill cannot be implemented in a practical manner (What? They can’t build a light bulb plant in Texas?) and that it wouldn’t be in the “best interests” of Texans.

How… patronizing and condescending. We can’t let people decide for themselves what kind of lighting is best, after all. That’s better left to bureaucrats and panels of experts. That’s the “progressive way.”

To which I reply,  “go Texas!” 

Anyway, this law poses interesting constitutional issues, and I fully expect it to wind up in the courts. There’s the much-abused Commerce Clause, which has been stretched into near-meaninglessness to allow Washington to do whatever it wants. If the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 rests even in part on regulating interstate commerce (i.e., because the bulbs are manufactured in one state and shipped to another), then strict constructionists could argue that, since the economic activity (manufacturing and sale) takes place within one state, Congress has no power to regulate it. Under the 10th amendment, therefore, the power to do so is reserved to the states, and Washington can take a hike.

Given the legal history of Commerce Clause interpretation, and especially with horrible precedents such as Wickard v Filburn, I doubt this argument would win, but it sure would be interesting to watch. I will note, however, that a refining of the Commerce Clause to clearly prohibit Congress from regulating intra-state activity is one of the amendments in Professor Randy Barnett’s proposed Bill of Federalism.

Meanwhile, I may be looking at a quick trip to Texas to pick up a case of 100-watts.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Advertisements

Identity Quest: conservative, liberal, or libertarian?

July 14, 2010

Moe Lane comments on a debate at Reason about whether libertarians should ally with conservatives or liberals (or no one) in our continuing political free-for-all. While I’m uncomfortable with labels because people rarely agree on definitions, Moe provides a good example of why I consider myself a “conservative with libertarian leanings,” rather than a “Big L” doctrinaire libertarian:

When asked whether the government should be involved in something, the libertarian will default to “No;” the liberal, to “Yes;” and the conservative to “I don’t think so.”  What a lot of conservatives forget is that their answer and the libertarian answer is not quite the same; once a conservative is convinced that government intervention is acceptable or even laudable he will enthusiastically support it*.  And what a lot of libertarians forget is that while “No” and “Probably not” are not quite the same, “No” and “Yes” will never be the same; even in places where the results would be the same the process is significantly different**.  In other words: to a libertarian, a conservative is an ultimately unreliable ally (and vice versa).  But a liberal’s just going to be somebody who’s only right by accident.

Click through to see the reasons for the asterisks.

I don’t reject all government actions, programs, or regulations by any means, but I do have a healthy suspicion of them and a bias toward a) thinking the free market will often but not always do the job better and b) do so without running the risk of unduly restricting an individual’s freedom. To my mind, any action by government should be forced to answer the old question from WWII gas-rationing days, “Is this trip really necessary?”