Connecting the Automotive and Energy Dots

Ever since the 1970’s one of the main goals of the Democratic party has been to reduce the amount energy consumed by the United States. This is not a bad idea in and of itself, but its urgency has always been ideological, rather than market-based. Cheap oil prices and Reagan-era deregulation foiled the Democrats’ original efforts, but now, “global warming” has provided a convenient reason to continue, and expand, this effort.

Now that the Democrats have been able to use the current economic crisis to gain control of two of America’s “Big Three” automakers, they are ready to forge ahead with the main portion of their energy reduction scheme — the elimination (or drastic scale-back) of the gasoline-powered automobile. Their plan involves two major components:

  • Fixing automobile design solely around fuel efficiency and carbon emissions, rather than comfort, safety, reliability, or any other criteria valued by consumers
  • Developing energy and environmental policies designed primarily to drive the cost of fossil fuel production and refining sky-high, so that we will be forced to by the government’s new energy efficient automobiles — vehicles that we would otherwise reject

How can we be so sure about all of this? Simple — all you have to do is connect the dots:

Rush Limbaugh said yesterday that GM will eventually be forced by the government to discontinue 11 of their 20 most profitable vehicles. I couldn’t find a link to his source (he said it’s in the Treasure Department’s viability report on GM) but for months now there has been talk of GM discontinuing the Avalanche, the Hummer, the Cadillac Escalade (their most profitable vehicle) and most of their mid and full-size SUV’s. This discussion began in earnest last year, when gas prices spiked over $4 a gallon.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that environmentalists and government bureaucrats have been studying the summer 2008 vehicle sales trends — when hybrids and small, efficient cars sold very well, and SUV’s and heavy trucks sold very poorly — and are now planning policies to recreate those market conditions.

Rush also featured an excerpt of Wolf Blitzer interviewing Austan Goolsbee, one of the “Ivy League egghead members of the Obama administration” who will be restructuring the American automotive industry. Blitzer grilled Goolsbee about the fact that none of the 21 members of President Obama’s automotive industry task force have any real experience in the automotive industry, and Goolsbee’s answers were truly embarrassing. There is no reason to put a panel of “experts” with zero automotive industry experience in charge of restructuring the automotive industry, unless you no longer want car companies to build cars based on the expectations of consumers. As Kim just reported, Chrysler and GM have just been ordered to suspend all involvement with NASCAR. (UPDATE: this was a joke. But my point about the Obama Administration still stands — what they want to do isn’t about saving money; it’s about disconnecting the future of the automobile industry from our fond memories of its past.)

A provision buried in the current Congressional omnibus spending bill will declare another two million acres of public land off-limits for energy exploration. Combined with the high taxes on oil and gas production already proposed by the Obama Administration, further limits on areas that can be explored and developed for energy production will be a one-two punch guaranteed to raise the cost of gasoline, diesel fuel, and, incidentally, electricity (which is mostly generated by burning coal or natural gas).

The Obama Administration seems to want us to believe that in a few years we will all be driving sleek, efficient electric cars. But right now, lithium-ion battery technology is prohibitively expensive, adding nearly $10,000 to the cost of an automobile when compared with an equivalent model powered by a gasoline engine. We also currently lack the capacity to produce enough batteries to equip the millions of electric-powered vehicles that would have to be built annually.

Additionally, the cost of the electricity that would be consumed charging and recharging electric car batteries would make an electric car cost-effective only if gasoline were to rise above $5 a gallon. And we haven’t even discussed how we will produce and transmit the hundreds of additional gigawatts of electricity that will be needed to power those cars. Right now, our government seems to be anxious to drastically raise the cost of electricity production with an ill-conceived (and already failed) “cap and trade” carbon emissions reduction scheme, at a time when they should be figuring out how to lower the cost of electricity, thereby making their precious electric vehicles more economical. Leave it to the government to screw up something so simple. On second thought, it’s probably easier just to raise energy taxes and make gasoline more expensive.

So … with the government in charge, what will be driving? I’m not getting my hopes up too high. It will probably be something like this:

(More on the CitiCar here. Other bloggers have linked to this hilarious little video before, but I think it’s worth dusting off again.)

I also expect that calls to our new government warranty service agency will go something like this.

Naturally conservatives are unhappy about all of this. You’ll hear our displeasure misrepresented and distorted by the mainstream media and by the Democrats. You’ll hear us despised as greedy and selfish and uncaring.

I want to tell you the real reason that we oppose these plans. It’s very simple, really. This was not our choice. That’s it — that’s all there is to it.

Americans, “free” Americans, are about to have the freedom to choose which automobiles they drive, and how they generate their energy, taken away from them by the Federal government. We will be given a “solution” that we had no part in determining. A group of elites in Washington, DC will determine what cars we will drive and how our energy will be produced. And they will force us to accept their solution through the piecemeal destruction of other options. Of course all of this mandated change will carry an enormous price tag that “we the people” will be forced to pay, along with all of the other debts that this administration is stacking on our backs.

That’s not freedom. It’s tyranny. It may be benevolent tyranny, but it is tyranny nonetheless.

(Edited at 14:10 04-01-09 to correct some grammatical errors.)

PS – Here’s probably the best discussion ever posted on the Internet about the disparities between gasoline and non-carbon-emitting energy alternatives (particularly solar energy).

And yes, I understand that electric cars possess a lot of advantages over gasoline cars. The Tesla, Chevy Volt, and other cars all have promise, but we are simply not ready to support electric cars at the scale necessary to make them the main replacement for gasoline powered vehicles. Besides, the government is most proficient at taking a good idea and screwing it up. After Uncle Sam gets through with the car industry, we will probably be lucky to get something like the CitiCar. I wish this was all just an elaborate April Fools joke, but it’s not.

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