France Insider/Paul Ben-Itzak

October 17, 2009

The lights are on but nobody’s home, or, le lumiere est la mais tous les etages ne sont pas illuminé or reason #1,677 why I hate Brussels

What if you woke up one morning and none of your light-bulbs fit? And on top of that, they were all fluorescent. You would either a) be having a nightmare or b)be living in Europe in 2010.

Indeed, when I looked for light-bulbs at the supermarket in the village today to replace a couple that had gone out, both in small snug fixtures, I looked and looked where the manager had told me to and saw nothing. Then he came over and explained that those ugly oblong white things — they look kind of like miniature sky-scrapers — were light-bulbs, and I remembered that a handful of bureaucrats in Brussels had decided that what was good enough for Edison and has been good enough for the rest of us the last hundred plus years was no longer good enough for the 450 million citizens they supposedly represented, and decreed that as of October 1, the luminescent round bulbs would be replaced by ugly, white, rectangular fluorescent bulbs. And when I say replaced, I don’t mean that we would be able to choose them, I mean that all the old bulbs would be removed from the shelves and we would have no choice. The supposed reason is that they are more efficient. In energy, maybe, but in cost, no; first, where the old lighbulbs cost 1.20 Euros for two, this new thing costs 2.02 for one. Second, because they are so big — long — with a new base added on top of the screw base to boot, they won’t fit into the narrow lighting chambers of just about any spot — and spots are big here in Europe — nor under any lighting globe. So hundreds of millions of Europeans will have to spend money to replace their lighting fixtures, and more money on their light-bulbs, in a time when, thanks partly to lack of foresight by Brussels, most of us have less of it, but Brussels doesn’t care because someone had a cool idea. The rest of us, as unusual, pay the consequences. And for those of us that get headaches from fluorescent lighting? No one asked us, we don’t count. And if we complain, they call us ‘anti-European.’ No, I’m not anti-European. I just say that what the EU about is not what was promised — making it easier for its citizens — but strictly about making it easier for the big capitalists. No matter if Brussels’s decisions create complications for the rest of us — the EU bureaucrats couldn’t care less. And if we vote down a constitution they’re trying to shove down or throats that does nothing to rectify this and whose soul goal is to make it even easier for big business, no problem; they’ll re-name it a treaty and say they don’t need to have a vote. Or, if we insist on a vote on the treaty and vote it down — as Ireland did — they’ll just make us vote again after scaring us a little.

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