Wednesday, December 02, 2009
California Energy Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld would have impressed me much more had he simply allowed a long string of drool to leave his mouth instead of the above quote about his state's brilliant move to outlaw 75% of the television sets currently on the market. I don't live there, but California's role as a trendsetter for foolish ideas in government, along with the impact the size of its market share has on manufacturing practices means that this lunacy will probably eventually affect me in some way.
Not too long ago, I noted of cost-benefit analyses of state economic controls that they had this disturbing tendency to ignore a really big cost to the individual citizen: freedom.
[A]ny time the government does anything but protect individual rights, someone's freedom has been infringed upon. Indeed, such analyses fail to object to the fact that the government has no right to force citizens take the risks of such involuntary "investments" [or avoid risks of their own choosing --ed]... [T]he real failure of such analyses is that a longstanding, and very bad precedent is being allowed to become more firmly entrenched in our cultural milieu when we desperately need to destroy it root and branch.The silver lining to this idiocy is, I suppose, that just in case the idea of freedom is a little too abstract for some people, the implications of these regulations on our daily life won't be lost on anyone. As Max Schulz of City Journal explains in his title, "Say Goodbye to Big-Screen TVs."
I don't watch that much television myself, but I am outraged. Let me explore this a little bit by looking at Rosenfeld's rationale:
"It looks like a very good deal for society," says commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld. By the commission's estimates, consumers will save anywhere from $18 to $30 per year in electricity costs as a result of the new rules. If every one of the state's 35 million TVs were replaced with a more efficient set, say proponents, the measure would save more than $8 billion over ten years. Says a commission spokesman: "I don't know anyone who doesn't like to save money."This is the height of presumption. Society, as Ayn Rand once pointed out, is simply, "a large number of men who live together in the same country, and who deal with one another." Arthur Rosenfeld has thus presumed to speak on my behalf, whether he chooses to admit it or not. Let me correct this pencil necked piece of officialdom right now.
What difference does saving money make -- even if it were far more than the pitiful two fifty a month I'm supposed to be so excited about -- if some jackass like Rosenfeld gets to tell me how to spend it? Saving money is not an end in itself: The whole reason that saving money can be a good thing to me is because doing so would leave me more money to spend on something else I would want.
What this means is that if I consider my priorities and decide that the financial outlay is less important than being able to enjoy the large, crisp picture of a big screen television set, then forgoing the television set is actually not a good thing, and therefore not something that I'd want in that context.
Arthur Rosenfeld, to put it in the most polite terms I can muster, has no fucking idea what my priorities are. He does not know my financial situation. He does not understand my hopes and dreams. He does not know what I like to do in my free time. He does not know what I consider important or why.
The only thing Rosenfeld does know is that he has the illegitimate power to affect my decisions at the point of a government gun while he hides behind a stack of paper and pats himself on the back for forcing me to save not even enough money to buy a beer at happy hour at a pub each month -- as if some soul-mate of his somewhere else isn't already plotting to make that illegal for "society's" health or productivity while another devises new ways to extract far more money from "society's" wallet than he has "saved" on "society's" behalf.
Any time you hear someone talking about what is best for "society" aside from protection of individual rights, you should ask yourself how the hell that person knows what is good for you, individually, and you should urge anyone else to do the same. That person is forgetting that human beings exist as individuals and even if he really thinks he's helping you out, he isn't because he can't.
To live, one must apply his individual reasoning mind to the question of his individual survival and the enjoyment of his individual life. Nobody can do that for anyone else, and the idea that some people want to use government power to do it should offend and alarm the bejeezus out of many more people than it apparently does.
Today: Corrected a typo.