Turn out the Lights

Now that the Dear Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (aka North Korea) has left this earth, it is up to the Great Successor (aka the Dear Leader’s youngest, inexperienced son) to carry on his legacy.

Rumor has it that the Great Successor’s first command was that all lights in the hermit kingdom be extinguished every evening at sunset for the indefinite future in honor of his dead father.

Don’t believe it? Check out the satellite photos that show South Korea ablaze with progress-shining lights while the North is almost totally dark. But, you say, these photos are years old? Yes, and that just confirms how brilliant the boy leader is. He commanded darkness in honor of his father years before this demigod was no more.

One theory is that the North is not really dark at night; it is just that they can only afford 25-watt bulbs, which are too dim to be seen from space. If this is true, the U.S. Congress might take note. Rather than argue over effectively banning incandescent light bulbs here, it might instead simply mandate no bulbs over 25 watts. Same result, and we get to look dark from space, too. How’s that for saving the planet while punishing the one percent who could afford those wasteful 100 watters? The Dear Leader would be proud of us.

In any case, everyone at Cascade Policy Institute wishes you a Happy, hopefully bright New Year.

Cascade Policy Institute’s founder and Senior Policy Analyst Steve Buckstein is also Satirist-in-Residence at Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

  • Kingston

    Steve, that picture says a thousand words

  • Bob Clark

    I would bet most people in the U.S. don’t want the availability incandescent light bulbs restricted by their government.  Let the market tell us when incandescents are no longer useful.  Incandescent lighting was actually invented in part to be pleasing to the human eye whereas its more popular alternatives seem to be marketed for their electric energy efficiency.  I believe, and I think most citizens believe, the benefits of the soft incandescent light on their psyche if not outright health is far more important than a dollar or two of electric energy savings per month.

    I myself stockpiled a twenty year supply of incandescents in reaction to this stupid law towards limiting consumer choice.  Even if the law is overturned I figure the investment beats the rate of inflation, the cost of storage, and the near zero risk free rates of investment yields.  It’s not too late to stock up more as the law only phases in over several years. 

    • Anonymous

      Good idea, Bob.  I think a lot of people are doing the same thing. It should be the consumer’s choice whether to value energy conservation or price and light quality more.

    • David Appell

      When the market accounts for negative externalities, then it can be the final arbiter. Until then it is inefficient and wastes resources.

      Markets should be not just free, but cost-free as well.

  • Years ago the federal government, in its unbounded wisdom, also banned shower heads that have a flow of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.  That’s why it takes twice as long as it used to to rinse off the soap and shampoo.  This ban applies equally throughout the U.S., from the Mohave desert to here in western Oregon, a part of the country not lacking in water, a detail apparently not noticed by the mental giants in Washington who came up with this policy.  Because I value my time, when I built my home I paid my builder an extra $20 to buy me a black market shower head with an unrestricted water flow.  At the rate of 5 minutes per day shaved off my time in the shower, this has saved me 243 hours over the past 8 years.  If my time is worth $100 per hour, the payback for my $20 investment is $24,300 to date.  How much economic value has been lost from the 300 million Americans who are wasting 5 minutes per day using low flow shower heads?

    • Steve Buckstein

      Good point Jim. Of course, your time saving of $24,300 is more than the average American, who would have still saved about $6,000.

      The amazing thing is that even a North Korean would have saved about $200 by ignoring such an order in that country.

      source: https://siakhenn.tripod.com/capita.html

    • David Appell

      I am extremely dubious that it would take anyone an extra 5 minutes to wash off soap and shampoo via the lower flow shower heads. Or that the extra 20 seconds you actually might save is put to much economically productive use. Or that your time is worth $876,000 a year. Your conclusion is simply junk.

      • Steve Buckstein

        David, you might work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but I assumed that when Jim stated that he values his time at $100 an hour he was assuming an 8 hour work day, 20 days a month, 12 months a year. That would make his annual work time worth not $876,000 a year, but $192,000. That wouldn’t even put someone in the top 1% that the Occupiers rally against.

        • David Appell

          Steve, no, Jim was valuing all his time at $100/hr. He assumed that time not spent in the shower was time he spent working and earning, which is doubtful. More likely he’d use that extra 20 seconds to linger over his coffee and newspaper.

        • David, you’re wrong to assume that I would spend my extra 5 minutes drinking coffee; I don’t drink coffee.  Most people will recognize that having a low flow shower would add 5 minutes to shower time.  But there is a larger point that I think that you, and other governmentalists, may be reluctant to address.  The question is whose decision should it be what type of showerhead I use?  The showerheads are one trivial example of a governmentalist ideology that believes government needs to manage every detail of our lives, from what type of toilets or light bulbs we can buy to how we prepare for retirement, manage our medical care, or what the terms of our employment should be.  You governmentalists are control freaks who want a centralized bureaucracy in Washington ever expanding its control over the details of our lives.  Thanks for the help, but I’d like to decide for myself what type of toilet to buy, or how to invest my retirement money. 

          • David Appell

            The coffee was a metaphor–I assumed that was obvious. And no, a low-flow shower head does not add 5 minutes to a shower. Many people don’t even spend 5 minutes taking an entire shower. 

            Government regulations are an attempt to compensate for a failure of the so-called “free market,” which does price in negative externalities, which are real and cost money. The regulations help see that the user of a product pays those costs, not the rest of society. You live in a society, remember, and your actions impact others. In this case it’s not so much the amount of water used (in Oregon), but the electricity needed to heat it. Generating that power causes damages, and you should pay for them, not everyone else.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      Boy does this bring back memories. I remember my first year of college everyone who was not a freshman would arrive with a pipe wrench and a shower head. I soon learned why. The shower heads in the dorms were actually lower flow than the 2.5 gallons required by the government at the time. Upon arrival the pipe wrench would bite into the metal of the shower head that had grown gnarled beyond description over the years from the same annual procedure. Removal was accomplished quickly but it was an utterly ludicrous situation. If one did not remove the shower head, at four people per dorm room it was literally impossible for all four to accomplish a shower in any reasonable amount of time.

      It’s the same absurdity we all face on a daily basis. Staying with friends over the weekend I noticed their once remarkable toilet was now a subject of mockery in the house. The toilet was installed a few short years ago. It was the sort that has two buttons, one to flush with less water, one to flush with more, depending on the activity one had engaged in. The mechanism failed within the first year. After repeated repairs they had simply given up. Emblazoned on the toilet tank were hands painted words: “just use this button”.

      Time had simply grown short and with all the other time wasted on the externalities of government meddling they had given up. With all the rest they have to worry about, such as Portland’s recent recycling ninnydom, they simply didn’t care any more.

      At this point most of this nonsense inspires little but further disregard for government. Few can see the purpose in their being forced to shower with that which the government approves, but many can come to resent, or at least laugh at, a government that would presume such power. In that sense such rules are incredibly valuable as the foment in the minds of many the notion that endless government growth is not a good thing.

      For that reason I strongly support shower head laws, toilet laws, enforced recycling and the like. The keep the public cognizant of government meddling in general, and thus more suspect of it than were the government to act in a more subtle manner. The externalities of excessive government – impoverishment of its citizens – need to be constantly watched for. Nothing accomplishes that more efficiently that inane regulation that is easily disregarded.

      Disclaimer – Because I am against excessive government regulation that does in fact mean I am against any government regulation of any kind. I think oil refinement should include as much pollution as possible and such pollution should be pumped directly into children’s bedrooms at night, women and minorities hardest hit.

      As an aside there is often a much simpler solution to the idiocy of
      black market shower heads. It has been a while since I have checked but
      often shower heads restrict flow not by having finer jets but by means
      of a simple disk inserted between the washer and the metal where the
      shower head screws onto the arm. This is done because making a fine jet
      costs substantially more money than simply inserting a disk with a hole
      punched in it to effectively reduce the size of the water inlet to the
      head. Using a screw driver to remove the rubber washer, and popping out
      this disk will result in substantially increased performance in the
      shower head.

  • crabman34

    How is this supposed to be satire?  What am I missing that makes this funny?  First you called the son inexperienced, then you called him brilliant.  And then somehow that proves a point about government and regulation of lightbulbs?  I don’t know that I’ll ever understand this site.

    • Steve Buckstein

      Crabman, experience and brilliance need not be related.  If I have to explain why this is satire then it’s obviously not – for you.  Sorry.

      • crabman34

        Oh, I give up.  Proceed with your clumsy jokes.

  • Tim Lyman

    It’s terrible, just terrible, all the light pollution from the failed capitalist state of South Korea.  Let North Korea be a shining example of the benefits of socialism for us all!