I couldn't believe my ears last week, when I, for a change, tuned to 104.7 FM's Quinn and Rose morning talk show. Quinn and Rose are your typical polarizing talk show hosts who happen to think they're right 100% and the other side is always wrong 100% of the time.
It should be no surprise to my readers when I say that on environmental and climate change issues the Democratic Party candidates seem to get it more than the Republican candidates. So, being conservative talk show hosts, Quinn and his co-host, Rose, started going off on the Energy Bill, particularly on how it supposedly eliminate incandescent light bulbs from the marketplace. They, not surprisingly, during their rant slammed global warming, climate change, and Al Gore. Typical conservative talking points, right?
But then it got amusing, and sad, at the same time.
"How could Bush sign this bill?" whined Rose. "You know who is going to profit from this? The Phillips company. Is Bush in bed with the Phillips family or something. I don't understand how he could do such a thing. What was he thinking?!" Then she went on to talk about how women need the bright white light of incandescents when putting on make-up, and how she was going to stock up on hundreds of incandescent light bulbs because in the future she would have lamps with no compatible light bulbs, which means she would then have to turn to the black market.
I found her ignorance laughable, because, the Energy Bill is not eliminating incandescent light bulbs. The Energy Bill is mandating that all light bulbs starting with the 100 watt bulbs in 2012 must consume from 25 to 30% less electricity. The phased in mandate for more energy efficient light bulbs continues through 2014 when 40 watt bulbs must meet the new energy efficient ratings, and then finally, in 2020, all light bulbs must be 70% more efficient than today's light bulbs. So, I do not expect incandescents to go away entirely because companies are already improving the technology which has been around for roughly 100 years. Competing technologies, like Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) and LEDs are becoming cheaper, longer lasting, and more effective at offering light that competes with the best of the incandescents bulbs.
In Rose's defense, how was she supposed to know the truth about the Energy Bill? How do our citizens and concerned radio show hosts learn and then communicate the nuts and bolts of our federal legislation if they do not have access to the information in a way where they, in this age of text messaging and ADD, can consume, comprehend, and analyze the key points of legislation such as the latest Energy Bill. I do not know of such a system where that information is at my fingertips.
I am hoping that the next time legislation as important as the Energy Bill is up for vote, the average person who does not follow the issues as closely as your or I can simply go to a website and see what is going on, without the bias or construing of the facts that we see on talk shows or talk radio. Then, before their Representative in Congress votes on the Bill, the citizen could communicate with them to discuss their concerns and hopefully get their questions answered in a timely fashion.
If we do not know the issues and stakes at hand, then our Representatives do not know of our concerns. So how can we influence them to vote a certain way? Said another way, absent of this dialog with our Government - we will continue to see legislation that is influenced by the lobbies and corporate interests who have the time and money to get in front of the members of Congress.
We need a more democratic information system in place than what we have today. There are a number of websites that do a good job of tracking votes, campaign donations, and legislation but there needs to be more - a one stop shop that informs citizens and encourages their participation in the legislative process.