The Austin Chronicle

Hightower Report: Why Is It So Dark at This Time of Year?

By Jim Hightower, January 18, 2013, News

The moon sinks low on the horizon, as if it's trying to hide. Frightened animals flee into the woods, even though nothing seems to be chasing them. Nature has turned topsy-turvy. It can mean only one thing: The Legislature is back in session.

I've seen enough state legislatures in action – Michigan, for example, Florida, and, of course, Wisconsin – to know that our Texas bunch doesn't have a lock on lunacy, but we certainly have more than our share of loco lawmakers. Take George Lavender. Yes, please.

This right-wing peer of the lower chamber became a hero of the kooky caucus in 2011 by sponsoring and passing a bill intended to save us Texans from an unspeakable horror: energy-efficient lightbulbs. Because of a 2007 federal law (enacted by that notorious lefty president George W. Bush), lightbulbmakers were required to produce high-efficiency bulbs to replace the old energy suckers.

Over my dead body, cried Lavender! It was his Alamo moment, as he rose in defense of the holy right of Texans to waste as much energy as we damn well please. To counteract the big bad feds' outrageous attempt to save energy for America and save money for consumers, Laven­der's law invited bulbmakers to set up shop here and freely produce the old-style, high-wattage bulbs. Where else but Texas? Imagine how proud Davy Crockett would be to know that he died to make this possible.

Unfortunately for Lavender, major bulbmakers were already profiting from the burgeoning conservation market, so they had no interest in going backward. "The most disappointing thing to me," Lavender now says dimly, "is that we haven't found anyone willing to put in a plant."

And that's why the moon hides and animals flee when legislatures convene – it's scary to see so many 5-watt bulbs sitting in 100-watt sockets.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, "The Hightower Lowdown" – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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