Obama Can Innovate

The fawning over Obama has not yet ceased in the mainstream media.

BBC headlines a story this morning with the appallingly thoughtless “Obama to curb vehicle emissions“.

First off, grammar police here to say: didn’t your mother tell you that every word in a headline or title is capitalized?

Now, to address the fallacy here: The President is not tasked with invention, nor with development. His expect forte is not to spearhead industrial progress, nor is his path laid alongside that of Carver, Watt, or Fermi.

The purpose of the President is to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. And nowhere within that auspicious document, envied and imitated by many and equaled by none yet, does it state the role of the Government of the United States or the President thereof have either the responsibility, prerogative, or power to direct industrial invention.

The Times of London leads with the much less misleading but no less grammatically faulty  “Obama to introduce emissions curbs on gas guzzlers“.

It is true I parts of me would prefer the no less true but much more provocative headline “Obama Corks US Industry, Innovation”.

The BBC article begins by quoting the talking points of the White House Press Release:

The plan will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil by 2016 and be the equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road, White House officials said.

Words sure to bring warm fuzzies to everybody with fuzz between their ears, for sure.

I’m completely for innovation making things more efficient and development making things more clean.

I’m all for using the incredible wealth and depth of technology to preserve the environment. I love clean air, camping, tree climbing, fishing, and all the good things tha come with living in a clean place.

But arbitrary requirements which have only shown in history to destroy and hobble and prevent and impoverish have no place here.

A dirty little secret about gas mileage and lower emissions is that, with current technology, there is a bit of a trade off.

My current car qualifies in the state of California as PZEV: Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. It is a small SUV, crossover-type from Mitsubishi. It is in the same emissions category as the Hybrid Toyota Camry. But it would fail Obama’s new “standards”. I only get 20-25MPG. Good for this car, but much less than the 35MPG proscribed by our Inventor In Chief.

One thing consistently noted in the reviews of this vehicle was that Mitsubishi decided to go with lower fuel economy to achieve the lower emissions.

On it’s face this trade-off doesn’t make much sense: burning less gas should mean less emissions, right?

But when you take into account all the various factors that affect emissions, compression in the engine, efficiency of the catalytic converter, richness of gas mixture, you will find that the cleanest burning calibration of the various elements is not the most energy efficient.

And, according to the Times of London article, these regulations and constraints will cost us more:

New vehicles at present average 25mpg, with most cars required to reach 27.5mpg and light trucks 23.1mpg. New Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules passed by Congress are already expected to add an extra $700 to the price of a new vehicle, and today’s announcement will add about another $600.

So in this economically difficult time the Savior of the Earth is costing each family who needs a car an extra 5-10% of the normal cost. So those claims about how these changes will make it as though there are 177 million cars aren’t lying, except for the “as though” bit.

It won’t be an “as though”, it will be fewer cars. It will be reality.

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