Recently, the government of the state of California decided they would fine and jail people who sold certain brands and types of television sets. The members of the California Energy Commission were unanimous in their decision to make it a crime to sell certain television sets. According to Julia Levin, one of the commissioners, "it will save consumers money, it will help protect public health, and it will spark innovation." How it will do this, of course, is left to the imagination of the people.
The state of California believes that it will save consumers money if the state jails people for selling televisions. The state believes that consumers will save money if the state limits the choices that are on the market for televisions. The state believes it will save consumers money by taking away the consumers' freedom of choice.
Advertisement - story continues below
The state of California believes that it will protect public health to jail people who choose to buy the "wrong" type of television set. The state believes it will protect public health to stop people from having the freedom to select a television set of their choice. The state believes that taking away the freedom of people will "spark innovation." Well, on that last point, the state is likely correct.
Here are the most likely types of innovation that this action will spark: neighboring states will have more television stores and sales near the state line. I can already imagine the signs: "Last chance to buy plasma TVs for 200 miles." There will be more truckloads of television sales in neighboring states, so the owners of the trucks can bring the televisions in to the state and sell them at a profit. More residents of California will borrow money to purchase the soon-to-be-illegal televisions now, before they become illegal overnight.
But do the government officials of the state of California really believe their rhetoric? Sadly, I think that they do. This is how disconnected from reality, especially economic reality, this so-called representative government has become. So what is the state going to do when they do not see all the results they are claiming? At the root of the government-created problem is that people are using too much electricity. So what will the government do when the people of California continue to use electricity?
The only logical step for them would be to conduct home inspections to find and seize all the illegal appliances and television sets. And no, this wouldn't be a violation of the Fourth Amendment, because you can be sure a judge would allow the search of a house that uses "too much" electricity because that house might actually have and be using some of the illegal appliances and televisions.
Advertisement - story continues below
Under a constitutional government, in a land ruled by the Constitution, this would never be possible. Instead, the government would not be concerned with the exchange of items between two free people. If one person wanted to turn on a light and leave it on 24 hours a day, government would not care one bit as long as the person paid for the electricity that lighted the bulb. Watching a big-screen television does not harm anyone (other than perhaps the person watching network television). In a constitutional government, no government person, employee, agent, agency, or organization would attempt to force manufacturers of harmless items to stop manufacturing that item in other states and locations.
In a free country, people would be free to purchase the television of their choice. They would also be free to purchase as much electricity as they wanted. At the same time, people would be free to run campaigns (with their own money), create television ads, and buy billboards that would try to convince people to not use energy-hogging appliances. But no one would be free to use force against others who wanted to watch television without harming another person.
Jeffrey Ober is a full-time freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics, including homeschooling, computer instruction, and political thought.