Drink, Don’t Drive: How Obama’s Green Obsession Led me to Drink (and it’s good for the planet!)

Get ready for life in ultra small cars, shorn of spare tires and other unnecessary weight. The Obama administration has set the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 54.5 mpg! There will be fines (read: added costs) if you choose the wrong kind of vehicle or buy from an auto company that fails to meet this standard by 2025.

One thing that most didn’t see coming with Obama: he has defined his jobs agenda as one focused on “green” jobs. He talks about nothing else. Most Americans would prefer any jobs, but green jobs are the “jobs of the future,” so saith the Wizardly Lecturer from Hyde Park, Chicago.

Already car makers are throwing out spare tires and substituting spray cans for when our tires break down. Spare tire = too much weight. What’s next? Head rests? Convenience must give way to reducing carbon footprints. Think of the planet! And all those “future jobs!”

The government reassures us: this is “for our own good” and will save us money. Apparently, we are not able to make the “right” decision on purchases from toilets (“low flush” is for our own good) to light bulbs (no incandescents) to cars. Besides, everyone was expecting 62.5 as the new standard. Do mopeds get that much? FACT CHECK: Yes, they get 80-100 mpg but a family of four would need four mopeds. Perhaps a family-mo-ped of connected motorized bicycles?

A move to natural gas cars makes sense given the vast new reserves in America but . . . the EPA just handed down a  requirement that pollution from natural gas drilling must be cut by 25% (consider: natural gas is far cleaner than coal or oil but you can always require “better” standards somewhere down the line!).

Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien (“the better is the enemy of the good” – Voltaire).

Enter the Germans: Daimler-Benz is adamantly opposed to the extreme CAFE standards proposed for 2025 (they ramp up between now and then with much higher penalties).

“MercedesBenz, the luxury car line owned by German auto and truck maker Daimler, did not back the new system, saying it “clearly favors large SUVs and pickup trucks.”

Why the fear of a switch to trucks and SUVs? Because the standard for trucks and SUVs is much lower. One wonders what the EPA is thinking, although (sadly), I think I know.

The Germans are right to complain that this is protectionism by the back door and it is also profoundly distracting from the need to create a business climate that allows job to arise wherever investors and businesses can create them. It is not the president’s job to pick which jobs ought to be created. It is a quixotic quest, literally, focused on windmills and other perceived “Giants” of industry yet to come. Green jobs are not going to move a $15 trillion economy into recovery.

Meanwhile, Government Motors (GM) is quite pleased because they have been betting on their electric car. If the government can crush the competition, then people will have to buy cars they don’t want. And isn’t that the left-liberal dream?

The Greens are happy with job-destroying CAFE standards and the elimination of all possible energy sources (via new EPA regulations), except perhaps solar panels on top of your car. Reason columnist rightly calls the EPA’s anti-business jihad the “regulatory equivalent of declaring war on carmakers.” On the other hand, why should they be left out when the president has expressed no incentives toward any other industry?

It’s going to be a long recession when nearly every job generating activity, “green” aside, is being bopped by the EPA and its sister agencies (Obama’s outgoing antitrust head applauded herself for reviving antitrust attacks and directing them at new targets, including venture capitalists and tech companies).Of course, every action has a reaction and we must learn to live in the world of Obama’s imagination because it is now, by regulatory order, the “law” of the land (so much for separation of powers and Congress-passes-a-law).

On a positive note, beer has a low carbon footprint and that ought to please German brewers if our government wasn’t devaluing the dollar to keep out products like . . . German beer!

Personal reactions and thoughts:

*If readers have tips on shrinking my 6’2″ frame into a solar-powered go-kart, please email me.

*Could GM purchase bicycle maker Schwinn and get bicyles included under the “car” category for CAFE purposes? After all, my state’s lieutenant governor ran (biked) most of her political career on an agenda of—I kid you not—riding a bike to work.

*BEER! Those muckrakers who test such things say it is an extremely green industry (zero carbon footprint). Let’s have more beer, less driving.  Drink, Don’t Drive!

Postscript: please do our German friends a favor: since we can no longer afford their cars, buy a German brew from time to time. Drink locally, buy beer globally.


Recommended reading:

Close and Higgs, ed. Re-Thinking Green: Alternatives to Environmental Bureaucracy (2005)

Meiners and Stroup, Cutting Green Tape: Toxic Pollutants, Environmental Regulation and the Law (2000)

Jonathan Bean is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, and editor of the Independent book, Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader.
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