Not the Brightest Light Bulbs

Today the Ontario government announced that it will ban the use of incandescent light bulbs in the province by 2012.

Of course this move is prompted by the enviromental scare-mongering and is being touted as the politicians:

"…demonstrating real action to reduce electricity consumption, save money for consumers, and most important, protect our environment."

Interesting,  especially when you look and see the cost of the Compact Fluoresent Lamps that we’ll all have to buy.  Right now it costs just about $1.00 for a regular bulb – up to $6.00 for a fancy halogen number that many people have in ‘feature’ lights.  CFL’s are around $12.00 each.

I just did a quick walk through my own house and counted around 65 separate bulbs.  Conversion cost to CFL bulbs for my house: $780.  Plus taxes.  The Ontario userers charge 8% Provincial Sales Tax (PST), so let’s play tax collector for a moment.  Assume the average cost of replacing a bulb in my current configuration is $3 (allowing for halogen and other more expensive styles used in some fixtures).  If every incandescent bulb in my home burned out in one year I would pay $195 replacement cost and the government would net $15.60 PST.  My CFL conversion cost of $780 increases the government’s tax income to $62.40 – a 400% increase.

No wonder they wish to legislate my choice away.

Consider also that I have approximately 5 large light fixtures that require bulbs that no CFL style will fit.  Let’s say that I spend another $100 to replace these, plus the lamps.  Suddenly I’m out a lot of cash and the government is in clover.

I understand that the running costs are less for CFL’s than regular lamps, but then consider that in Canada we have more cold months than warm ones.  In cold climates, each incandescent bulb is helping to heat the house, thereby aiding the furnace by keeping the base temperature up.  If we lose the heat from lightbulbs, the furnace must be run longer to keep the house up to temperature.  So we use more gas but less electricity?  Suddenly the potential energy savings of CFL’s look more like cost transfers from one utility to another.

Another problem with the CFL bulbs is the mercury content.  In some states in the US a broken CFL is determined to be hazardous waste.  According to this site, Ontario does not classify the lamps as such, but there is no mention of broken bulbs – only intact ones.  GE recommends not disposing of CFL’s in household garbage.

I am more opposed to government dictating what I can and cannot use rather than any specific problem using some CFL bulbs, but in this case there are some questions that need to be answered before Ontario declares this a done deal.  If Ontario wants me to support this, a good first step would be making CFL’s PST exempt, at least then I would know that this isn’t one more cynical way to increase my hidden tax burden.

Time for me to go and stock up on old style bulbs and go buy some shares in Philips and GE, maybe in 2012 there will be a living in smuggling importing incandescents from the US.

Herouxville – Part Deux

In February I posted about the small town in Quebec that caused a national storm by publishing some ‘guidelines’ for potential immigrants to their corner of the world.

The Daily Bayonet has received an email from the good folk of Herouxville, which includes a link to their new English language web site.  It’s nice of them to write, and I post their message below, with the contact information redacted.

Do visit their new web site, say hello and tell them I sent you.

Hello Daily Bayonet ,

The Citizens of Herouxville, Quebec, Canada,
Thank you for posting our story on your website.
We would like to invite you to our new Official  English Language weblog.

Warmest Regards,

Contact Information Redacted

Municipalité d’Hérouxville
1060 Rang Saint-Pierre,
Hérouxville (Québec)


The story about 15 UK sailors being taken captive by Iran, then later released with much propaganda by nut-job in chief Ahmadinejad is old news by now.  I was going to post at the time, but I couldn’t quite figure out what to make of it all.  Anyone who reads this blog will know that I have supported the mission in Iraq from the start, and the troops who serve anywhere without question.

Since their return to the UK, there has been much criticism of the 15’s actions and apparent cooperation with the Iranian captors.  Some of the evidence is damning, but there is a lot more to this than meets the eye, I think.

The mistake was first made in allowing the capture to happen – for which I believe we need to blame some Ministry of Defence wonk who denied permission to engage the Iranians because the British had not been fired upon first.  Sometimes, you need to shoot first and ask questions later, this was one of those times.  That the Royal Navy allowed their patrol boats to get out of immediate support range of the HMS Cornwall was a mistake, that the supporting helicopter was not in the vicinity was worse, especially since the 15 were intending to board a vessel for inspection.

The second mistake was that none of the 15 seem to have received training on how to behave if captured.  Some critics are dismissing this as if these sailors should have inherently known what to do.  We don’t send military personnel into war zones without training on weapons and tactics, and preparation for the eventuality of capture should be included.  If not for all, at least the officers need to have some idea of how to lead in the circumstance.

Iran’s actions of course were despicable, I do not believe that the 15 stood much chance of overcoming an expert state propaganda machine without training.  These 15 are not SAS special forces types, and what they were subjected to was subtle enough that it probably never seemed to them like they were cooperating as fully as it seemed to those watching the Iranian propaganda output.

After a week of thinking about this event, I figure that there is one factor in all of of this that to date I have not seen mentioned in the media -public support for the troops and the war.  The world media, the BBC very much included, has decided that the war is wrong and unwinnable – a fact that the 15 would have been all too aware of.  It is one thing to be captured with the certain knowledge that your countrymen will demand action of its government to release or rescue captives, quite another to wonder if any such public support would be there at all.  Watching the news in the months leading up to their capture, how much could these 15 rely on public opinion or the increasingly shaky UK government?

This is a tough situation, and one which is impossible to judge from the comfort of home.  I’m happy the sailors are safe and home.  I am unhappy that the UK was made to look so inept and weak, and sincerely hope that the fallout will result in better preparation and rules of engagement for our servicemen and women.