mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Thanks for the lamp, taxpayers of NJ...

I bought a new desk lamp today. It was an impulse buy - some people impulse buy candy bars, I impulse buy desk lamps. It's a nice lamp - it has a pencil holder and organizer in the base, and it comes with a compact florescent light bulb, which supposedly will save me $68 over the life of the lamp, last 18 years, conserve energy, and prevent balding and make me more attractive to members of the opposite sex. (OK, I made the last two of those up).

I bought it because it was on clearance in the Rite Aid near my parent's house, where I had gone to pick up some free after rebate post-it notes and some soap. It was $2, which is probably less than a compact florescent bulb normally goes for.

Why was it so cheap? Well, it was on clearance - marked down to $2 from $4.99. But it also had a sticker on it that it was discounted due to a grant from the New Jersey Department of Energy and Governor Jim McGreevy. Since McGreevy hasn't been the gov for a while, it does suggest it's a bit old.

But of all the things to do with the money of the taxpayer's of NJ, NJ saw it fit to subsidize the purchase of energy efficient desk lamps - the bulk of the benefits of which go to the person who bought it, who not only gets a cheaper lamp, but also gets a electricity and light bulb bill. The irony of my purchase of it is that I'm not even a legal NJ resident, and this lamp will sit atop my desk in Baltimore. In other words, a small amount of NJ taxpayer money has been transferred from the pockets of hard-working New Jerseyans like my parents and put in the pocket of a Marylander - me.

PJ O'Rourke once characterized taxes for social programs like this: would you put a gun to your elderly grandmother for this? The logic is that since taxes are taken by force - the government will arrest you if you don't pay them - it's the equivilant of putting a gun to someone's head. For national defense, it's clearly worth it, and you could probably make the case for social programs that benefit, say, retarded infants. But helping to pay for a new desk lamp for someone who doesn't even live in your state is probably something that's going to fail the grandma test.


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