Perhaps you haven't heard about California's big screen television ban. This plan has been hatched by the unelected California Energy Commission, which will decide on Nov. 18 whether to ban the sale of many electricity-guzzling large-screen plasma televisions. On its website, CEC claims:
No, the state is not banning any type of TV. Consumers have the freedom to choose any type and size of television that meets the efficiency standard.
This is bureaucrat-speak for, “Yes, we are banning all televisions that don't meet the efficiency standard.”
The ban will affect plasma sets that tend to be more affordable but use more energy than the more expensive LCD models. CEC estimates that after buying a more expensive set, California consumers will save, at most, about $30 per year in electricity costs. As with many of the Obama administration's plans on the federal level (the “green economy” and health care, for example), the idea here is to help people save money in the very, very long run by front-loading many large costs at a time when consumers and taxpayers can least afford it.
California's decision could compel manufacturers to limit consumers' choices nationwide. Worse still, that possibility has some commentators calling for new national television legislation that would pre-empt state regulations. (There are still no plans for a Flatscreen Czar in the Obama administration, but don't be surprised when it happens.)
American voters frown upon this sort of regulatory intrusion, according to Rasmussen Reports. Specifically, they oppose the plasma prohibition by a 50-point margin — 66 percent opposed and only 16 percent in favor.
If California's crusade against the plasma consumer starts a trend, it might just be a trend of electing conservatives to office.