“We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.”

Thus spake departing energy secretary Steven Chu in his bizarre effort to justify his attempt to prevent Americans from using incandescent lightbulbs.

Doesn’t seem like a very big deal, does it?  Chu’s bewilderment — that people didn’t seem to get immediately why this ban was an obvious and benevolent act of consumer protection — is easier to understand if you have the benefit of Chu’s perspective.  From his point of view, consumers simply aren’t qualified to make certain choices, especially when math is involved.  The new bulbs were more expensive, true.  But they lasted much longer, used less power, and, in the end, were — theoretically, at least — cheaper.

That meant there had to be a law mandating their use.

It was clear as day to Chu.

Never mind that the new bulbs were hideous.  Never mind that they took as long as 5 minutes to achieve full brightness (a problem, as one consumer noted, if they were lighting a closet).   Disregard their environmental risks.  And pay no attention to the deathly, Dracula’s castle hues they bathed us in.  The quality of light is unimportant.  Just ask Rembrandt, Constable, Renoir, John Ford, Louis Tiffany or Sir Christopher Wren.

This is the harsh and Hobbsean world of Steven Chu.  He shall determine what you need, and how you shall get it.  Your choice?  What do you know?  The mullah has spoken, and you must be guided. Submit.

Good riddance, Mr. Chu.  You represent a brand of philistine vulgarity and totalitarian smugness that is all too pervasive in this world, where it may well find support from those equally insensitive to the larger consequences of ignorant coercion.  But please, not here, not any longer.  And take Solyndra with you.