Thursday, September 9, 2010

The WashPost gets it wrong again: The replacement of old technologies by new ones drives growth

In yesterday’s Washington Post, Peter Whoriskey argues – predictably for the Post these days – that making lightbulbs more efficient puts Americans out of work. The last US-based GE factory to make old-school incandescent lightbulbs is going out of business, and here is Whoriskey’s explanation:

During the recession, political and business leaders have held out the promise that American advances, particularly in green technology, might stem the decades-long decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs. But as the lighting industry shows, even when the government pushes companies toward environmental innovations and Americans come up with them, the manufacture of the next generation technology can still end up overseas.

But the real story is, as usual, more complicated. First of all, the U.S. is not the only country to move beyond wasteful incandescent lightbulbs, which burn out ten times faster than fluorescent bulbs. The European Union, Australia, Canada, Russia, Brazil, and Argentina are among the other countries that have passed regulations to phase out these old-school bulbs. So it isn’t a question of the U.S. driving these manufacturers overseas; instead, we are talking about a global shift to newer, more efficient on

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