CFLs and Congressional dim bulbs

Wall Street wobbly in this morning's action. Mercury, UV rays, anyone? Photo: Solovyov Design

WASHINGTON, January 7, 2013 – Not a lot to write as we begin the week. Last week’s irrational exuberance, inspired by the Congressional non-solution to the “fiscal cliff” dilemma will begin this week to look like what it really is: a feel-good faux fix that makes Congressional dim bulbs feel better about themselves—well, the Democrats, anyway—while they have, in fact, done precisely nothing, creating in the process more problems just down the road. 

It’s sort of like the Congressional “fix” for household and business lighting to further the saving of our planet. Cavalierly eliminating the bulk of incandescent lighting, Congress has on a mean-greenie whim ordered these cheap, time-honored, perfectly functional bulbs replaced by those expensive, hideous CFLs, the fluorescent squiggly bulbs we all love to hate. Furthermore, this “green” solution, subsidized in many cases once again by taxpayers, while feeling really good to save-the-earth lefties is, in fact, another ecological time bomb. These CFL puppies all contain mercury, which means, of course, we’re supposed to “dispose of them safely.” Which is great, since statistically at least, nobody knows what that means. 

When we spotted the brainy concept-design for a new CFL bulb, courtesy of some creative minds in the Ukraine, we decided to post it above to, umm, highlight our point. (We wonder how much mercury these brainy CFLs pack? Not that such things ever bother Commies working on their new 5-year plans.)

Moving right along, we have also figured out that should we actually shatter one of these great scientific advances, we’ll need to spend about $5,000 to call in a full Hazmat team to clean it up. (We’re not kidding. Read the literature on this.) But even this doesn’t address where all these bulbs go when they wear out. (Usually long before they’re supposed to, BTW.)

And where they do go, broken and smashed to smithereens by our friendly, non-toxic trash collection engineers (formerly known as garbage men), are to our friendly, local landfills. Where, drip-by-drip, they’ll inexorably leach their deadly, toxic cargo of mercury into our aquifers and poison us all. Gee, and we thought fracking was bad! Who knew?

Mercury pollution, anyone?

You get the point. Congress these days is all about short-term fixes and feel-good items that allow them to preen before the socialist gods like the Pharisees that they are. Meanwhile, the long-term consequences of their politically appealing and allegedly safe fixes could be costly and grave indeed. But no matter. We feel good today. So tomorrow will take care of itself presumably. 

The first half of this year thus begins to focus with greater clarity for investors. Certain certainties are slowly, subtly, but inexorably going to be turned on their collective ear. Stocks will go up, erratically, before the deadlier aspects of what it will take to solve the real fiscal cliff issues come into focus. Democrats will mightily resist cutting anything, including entitlements, which word is probably the greatest oxymoron of our time.

Something will happen. After a couple of frightening plunges, Congress will get something done, the President will pout, sign it, blame the Republicans, and head off again to Hawaii for another few rounds of golf and another $7M vacation bill at taxpayer expense due largely to the costly Michelle. At which time, it should be close to May, meaning that we should sell and go away before the market goes into the tank until November. Rinse, repeat. 

Oh, one more thing about those CFLs. A couple studies have recently brought to light the fact that these puppies also may be emitting skin cancer-causing UV rays. In our own living rooms no less. Putting on any sunblock before watching TV? We didn’t think so. 

Doing things to make you feel good today isn’t our idea of long range planning. But that’s the kind of life we lead today, courtesy of our betters in Congress, the media, and academia. It would be great if voters would wake up and replace the current cadre of dim bulbs with some genuinely incandescent brainpower in 2014. Otherwise, we’ll run out of time. And clean water. And our collective destiny, too.

Meanwhile, watch for a down day for at least part of the day as Mr. Market tries to absorb last week’s rally vie a spot of indigestion. We’ll try to come up with some short-term strategies to match the short attention spans that are currently driving markets from Capitol Hill. 

Disclaimer: The author of this column maintains several active trading and investment portfolios and owns residential and investment real estate.

Any positions mentioned above describe this author’s own investment decisions and should not be construed as either buy or sell recommendations. The current market is highly treacherous and all investors travel at their own risk, so caution should be exercised at all times.

Illustrations, charts, commentary, and analysis are only the author’s view of current or historical market activity and don’t constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any security or contract. Views, indications, and analysis aren’t necessarily predictive of any future market or government action. Rather they indicate the author’s opinion as to a range of possibilities that may occur going forward.

References to other reporters, analysts, pundits, or commentators are illustrative only and do not necessarily represent an endorsement of such individuals’ points of view. If specific investment vehicles are mentioned in any article under this column heading, the author will always fully disclose any active or contemplated investments in said vehicles.


Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.

Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17


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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  



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