Dim-Bulb Dems Doom Edison's Baby

Light bulbs sprang from the brilliant mind of Thomas Edison -- a true American hero, right up there with Benjamin Franklin. But his legacy is coming to an end. General Electric, the company that he founded, is closing America's last factory for making incandescent light bulbs, victim of  liberal environmental politics and zealotry.

Sadly, not only will the workers be losing their jobs -- devastating another small  town (Winchester, Virginia) -- but the boon created by their replacements, compact fluorescents (CFLs), will not be realized in America, where they were first dreamed up and created, but will instead be enriching China.

The Washington Post reports about the close of an era in an elegiac column by Peter Whoriskey:

"Now what're we going to do?" said Toby Savolainen, 49, who like many others worked for decades at the factory, making bulbs now deemed wasteful. [snip]

What made the plant here vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014. The law will force millions of American households to switch to more efficient bulbs. [snip]

Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.

"Everybody's jumping on the green bandwagon," said Pat Doyle, 54, who has worked at the plant for 26 years. But "we've been sold out. First sold out by the government. Then sold out by GE."

Let us note that General Electric has been in Barack Obama's corner from day one and has positioned itself to be a prime beneficiary of the massive green scheming of America that Obama and his allies in Congress are perpetrating across our nation (via taxpayer money, subsidies, loans, mandates, rules, and regulations -- an EPA in overdrive). And Obama deserves a chunk of the blame:

General Electric jumped on board the CFL bandwagon -- and threw its workers off it without a ticket to get back on. American unions and government rules just did not make it feasible (i.e., profitable) to manufacture CFLs in America. Now most are made by Chinese companies, to which we are sending our green dollars in more ways than one.

Obama is driving jobs overseas. The overt and covert pro-union policies he is jamming through a Democratic Congress and through the executive branch through executive orders, personnel choices, and selective enforcement and interpretation of laws are making factory jobs a thing of the past in America. This is not only gutting the middle class, but also harming those whose first step on the ladder of a working career was formerly found on the factory floor. Indeed, this has been a prime area where African-Americans have been able to find well-paying jobs, as sociologist William Julius Wilson has argued in his analysis of the devastation of inner cities. Workers at the bulb factory were making upwards of $30 an hour; those jobs are gone now, and workers are scrambling to find other paths towards financial security (and many are in their fifties). Who will be the last worker to turn off the lights on this soon-to-be boarded-up wreck of a factory?

But light bulbs are just a symbolic example of what is happening throughout our nation due to the green scheming of Democrats, who, along with special interest group allies, are shoving their green policies down our throats like so much spinach. But in this case, it will not make us or our nation stronger. No Popeye effect here. Instead, crony capitalists (and there is no bigger crony capitalist than General Electric) and China are the ones who will get stronger -- at our expense.

General Electric is a key player in green politics; they saw which way the wind was blowing and threw in their lot with Barack Obama and Democratic firebrands such as Congressmen Ed Markey (MA) and Henry Waxman (CA), not to mention Democrat Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, where a carbon molecule is public enemy number one (after any random Republican). The cap and tax plan and the climate exchange market that would have arisen would have been a gift to General Electric had it not been (temporarily?) waylaid by the reality of a crumbling economy and midterm elections.

Wind subsidies are twenty times those given for the equivalent amount of power derived from oil and gas. They are wasteful for a variety of reasons -- intermittent wind problems requiring natural gas plants as backup, storage problems, distance from consumers, possible medical effects, environmental impacts, ugliness, and the unbearable whop-whop-whopness of the sounds of the propellers spinning (at least when they do spin). Well, General Electric gets a cut of that action, but again, most of those blades and related equipment are made in China. Solar energy? Once again, China benefits -- they are by far the world's largest and cheapest maker of solar panels, and the stocks of their companies litter China's stock markets. The renewable mandates are killing California but energizing the colossus across the Pacific. Obama's efforts to kill offshore drilling and the ability to tap our vast reserves of shale gas are also factors helping to enrich the green movement, with its plethora of venture capitalists, hedge fund managers (George Soros, the sugar daddy of the Democratic Party and a big green investor, among them), academics, thinks-tanks, and advocates all gung-ho to kill off carbon and common sense.

But solar power has also been blessed by our saviors, Al Gore and Barack Obama, and by Democrats who shower the sector with taxpayer dollars and mandates that require utilities to purchase this incredibly high-priced electricity. These mandates push up our utility bills -- but who cares about the little, bitter people out there? They can grasp religion or their guns to console themselves. In this case, the age-old problem arises whenever government intrudes on our lives: concentrated benefits flow to special interests, and the costs are too small and dispersed to motivate people to protest. Until now. Thank God for the Tea Party!

Thankfully, the media landscape has changed in ways that are unfavorable to Democrats. It is not just Fox News; a range of options have liberated us from listening to the collective heads of NBC and CNBC, who, under GE ownership and management, paved the way for Barack Obama and Democrat control of Congress. General Electric knows how the system works: as the number-one crony capitalist in the nation, it gets taxpayer dollars from Democrats and rewards them with donations from its Political Action Committee and free positive media. Now that is a perpetual energy machine, indeed. But like all faux perpetual energy schemes, it requires outside energy -- our dollars. And a lot of it flows not just to General Electric, but to our overseas adversary.

Maybe General Electric's new slogan should not be the rosy "We Bring Good Things to Life," but instead "We Bring Good Things to China".

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
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