California state officials have been busy writing regulations:
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) just passed a new regulation that requires glazed glass in automobiles that is supposed to reduce the need to use air conditioning. The catch is that the same properties that block electromagnetic sunlight radiation also blocks lower frequency electromagnetic radio waves. That means radios, satellite radios, GPS, garage door openers, and cell phones will be severely degraded. Even more surprising is that it requires this glass even for jeeps that have soft covers, plastic windows, and no air conditioning. Furthermore, the rules are so stringent that they effectively make sunroofs black, even though many consumers use the covers.
Also, the California State Energy Commission is promulgating stringent energy-consumption requirements for flat-screen TVs. At a minimum, these will surely increase prices to consumers (if manufacturers could increase energy efficiency without raising prices, they would have already done it, since efficiency is a selling point) and may effectively ban some size-technology combinations. This is being done on the theory that it will reduce overall electricity consumption and help avoid the need to build new power plants.
I watch very little television, and the largest TV in the house is a projection system which is several years old, used mainly for the occasional Netflix. But if I were so unfortunate as to live in California, and wanted to purchase a huge flat-screen TV, what right do these bureaucrats have to stop me?
From the specific standpoint of energy efficiency: the energy use of a device is equal to its power consumption multiplied by the length of time it is used. If I have a large flat-screen system drawing 600 watts, and use it 10 hours a month, I am using less total energy than someone with a 300-watt system who watches it for 50 hours a month.
Consider another common home appliance: the electric stove. The nameplate on my oven says 9.5KW, or 9500 watts. This is surely the peak demand, and the average as the oven thermostat cycles on and off is probably closer to 5000 watts…this is still almost ten times as much as the power demand of a large flat-screen TV.
One person might be a gourmet cook and run his oven 2 hours a day. Another might do quick stir-fry on the burner and warm up stuff in the microwave–far more energy efficient than the heavy oven-user. The electric meter lets you make this tradeoff: you can use less electricity for the oven and more for the television, while keeping the same electric bill. Or less for the television and more for incandescent lights. Or any of a billion tradeoffs based on personal taste. Bureaucratic edicts do not allow you to make these tradeoffs. You are simply one unit among millions or tens of millions. Bureaucratic logic: The average large flat-screen TV as used by the average Californian uses X kilowatt-hours per month; hence your personal access to these products must be limited based on this average.
The Declaration of Independence speaks of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Clearly, the Founders intended individuals to pursue happiness based on their own personal definitions of the same–they did not assume that happiness must be pursued in precisely the same way by each individuals.
Big-screen TVs may not be an important factor in your personal happiness–they are certainly not in mine. But whatever is important to you, be assured that there are government officials–usually led on by academics and various “experts”–who believe they have a total right to take it away from you.
Unless there is a major change in current trends, the realistic image of American life will be Gulliver, tied down by Lilliputians.