The planned obsolescence of incandescent bulbs and conservatives
By Harold Witkov
Back when I started college in the fall of 1970, the Vietnam War and civil unrest were American open wounds, and my mind was fertile soil for the seeds of Leftism. My major was sociology, the study of group dynamics. An important part of the sociology curriculum I studied was concerned with the sufferings of various minority groups (allegedly) caused by the dirty hands of capitalism and capitalists.
"Big business," I was told back then, "was the real culprit behind our national woes. Big business owned everything and everyone, including the politicians in Washington."
And what was one of the crowning achievements of big business capitalists that enabled them to stay on top while keeping us down? It was the intended short lifespan of manufactured products. We were the victims of plannedobsolescence.
Back in my college days, the planned obsolescence term and concept were new to me. For those who were anti-business, however, plannedobsolescence had become the two-word business bashing catchphrase du jour.
The study of planned obsolescence in my sociology class started reasonably enough with the professor's assertion, "They could make an incandescent light bulb last longer if they really wanted to." But discussions in class and afterwards always seemed to raise the bar to new heights of conspiracy: "It is no coincidence that things seem to breakdown as soon as their warranties expire...Big business only cares about money...Big business is the reason we are in Vietnam....If it wasn't for big oil standing in the way, they could probably design a car engine that ran on water!"
I ate it all up, of course, hook, line, and sinker. How I loathed the Republicans, big corporations, and the men who ran them.
I've grown a lot both spiritually and politically since those days. Lucky for me, though the seeds of Leftist ideas may have sprouted in my college mind, their roots did not run deep. Thankfully, they were eventually replaced with a love of God, country and conservative values.
Now just because I am a former liberal turned conservative does not necessarily mean I am a fan of large corporations, though I do respect the multitudes of Americans they employ and appreciate how much revenue in taxes they pay. Similarly, just because I am now a conservative does not necessarily mean I am a planned obsolescence advocate, although I do see many (good for the economy) merits in the practice that I never saw before. What can I say; planned obsolescence is what it is.
Today there is a new kind of planned obsolescence; however, that does trouble me. It is the planned obsolescence of the incandescent light bulb. Back in 2010, the last major U.S. incandescent light bulb factory closed in Virginia and 200 workers lost their jobs. And thanks to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, most incandescent light bulbs will be a thing of the past by 2014. The writing, my friends, is on the wall.
There is also another type of planned obsolescence that, if true, scares the dickens out of me. I know it sounds crazy, but I fear there might be a plan out there to make conservatives obsolete.
Now I don't want to sound like a conspiracy nut because it would make me sound too much like my sociology professors. But is it just a coincidence that the IRS has been singling out conservative groups and denying them tax-exempt status?
And speaking of light bulbs, how is everyone enjoying those "high quality" compact fluorescent bulbs (with mercury)? They give me a headache.
Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying there is a conspiracy out there to make conservatives go the way of the incandescent light bulb, but if there was, and if this conspiracy went all the way to our President, I know exactly what I would say to him if we ever met. I'd say, "Mr. President, it is one thing to plan the demise of the incandescent light bulb, but quite another to plan the obsolescence of conservatives. After all, Mr. President, you know, you didn't build us."
Harold Witkov is an occasional contributor to Enter Stage Right.