A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Salmonella CAFE

It`s funny; I thought we won the last election! Silly me, I didn`t realize that last year I was voting for President Carter and the tumbledown house that Jimmy built. Unfortunately, that appears to be exactly what I have done, since President Bush seems to be morphing into our esteemed elder statesman these days.

President Bush hasn`t met a spending program he doesn`t like, has failed to control the borders (it was under Carter that the term ``undocumented worker`` first appeared; Reagan had to shepherd through the policies to resecure the border in the `80`s; the song by the Rock band Genesis ``Illegal Alien`` goes back to 1982, for instance), has devalued the dollar, has allowed gasoline prices to spiral out of control,and has allowed liberal social policies to grow. He has failed to roll back any of Bill Clinton`s garroting labyrinth of government regulation, and has even lost that steely resolve on foreign affairs which made him so appealing.

Now his Transportation Department has brought back a golden oldie from the Carter years; the government is going to impose fuel economy standards on vans, light trucks, and SUV`s! Dust off those 8 tracks and put your bell-bottoms on, folks! The days of disco are back!

The argument-both then and now-is that we need to conserve oil because the Islamic world is using it as a bludgeon with which to beat us. Fair enough. But Carter mishandled OPEC and fostered a revolution in Iran, a revolution which established a virulent anti-American government in one of our prime oil suppliers. President Carter II (er, Bush) allowed a communist (Chavez) to return to power in one of our prime oil suppliers (Venezuela) after a military coup deposed him, and Mr. Bush has mishandled OPEC. Couple this with crushing gasoline taxes and draconian environmental regulations on refineries, and you have skyrocketing inflation of fuel prices.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards were an idea going back to the Carter years, and mandated by Congress. This salmonella CAFE destroyed the American auto industry in the early `80`s because the auto makers were forced to build their cars as small and flimsy as possible, and the Japanese and Germans were way ahead on building compacts. Eventually, the quality of American products improved (mainly because of the development of computers which regulate the engine)-but at the cost of safety and sticker price. (I remember my mother paid $5000 for a Toyota Corolla in 1980; how much does the cheapest American car cost today?) The auto industry suffered greatly during the Reagan years because of these regulations. (On the upside, the UAW had less money to give to the Democrats!) Why does the Bush administration think these new standards won`t likewise damage the economy?

But (they say) we need to cut back on our oil consumption! We are at the mercy of the Arabs! Well, the case can be made that increasing fuel efficiency increases our dependence on foreign oil, since the average driver can now afford to drive more. That is the problem with government mandates; the law of unintended consequences comes into play.

Why did Capitalism displace the old mercantile system of the late middle-ages? Because the mercantile system suffered from central control. The King issued orders on how business would be conducted, and heads would roll (literally) if he were disobeyed. This system did not encourage entrepreneurship, nor did it lead to successful markets. Capitalism is lead by the vicitudes of the free market, and it is responsive to the needs and wants of the consumer in a way that a directed economy can never be. Through the `70`s we had been reinstituting a mercantile system-and the economic chaos of stagflation resulted. Ronald Reagan largely dismantled this medieval system and restored the free market as the prime economic mover. Now, under Bush, we are seeing a revival of the old Keynesian/mercantile system.

One of my brothers works for the Ford Motor Company, and he is probably going to lose his job soon. Why? Because the plant he works at makes the Explorer, and high gas prices are discouraging sales of the Explorer. The MARKET is dictating what people drive, and why. High gas prices mean changes in driving habits by the consumers. This does not have to be mandated by an imperial government. Forcing car manufacturers under the yoke of CAFE will drive prices up and limit customer choice. It`s a lose/lose situation.

Remember the station wagon? You don`t see many of those around any more. Why not? Because the station wagon was considered a car, and was not exempt from the original CAFE standards. The price of wagons went through the roof after government forced fuel economy regulations on the auto industry. Trucks had been exempt, and so we witnessed the birth of the minivan and SUV to take the place of the family wagon. Now government wants to close this loophole, and we will see prices skyrocket while these vehicles become unsafe. Safety is a matter of physics; you can`t increase fuel efficiency without removing mass. The high-tech electronics which increased fuel efficiency in cars has already been applied to trucks and SUV`s, so there will be nothing more that can be done on the engine side of the equation. This requires that these vehicles be made lighter, which means they will be less safe.

Furthermore, by endlessly stretching out the dwindling supply (if that is really the case) we are removing any incentive to develop alternative sources of fuel. Necessity is the Mother of invention, and without the spur of an oil shortage the necessity to develop hydrogen, say, as a fuel for automobiles is not great enough to push those who can do it to invest in such a project. Fuel economy standards thus INCREASES our dependence on foreign oil by artificially increasing the supply of oil. The market will act only if there is cause, and our Carteresque energy policy is stifling that cause.

But none of this matters to liberals, and apparently none of it matters to our Republican President. President Bush was elected to office to stop this kind of crap! If we had wanted a regulating regular rich guy we would have elected John F. Kerry! The fact that the Presidents own people are fostering this type of liberal hooey is a betrayal of the principles for which he was elected.

Ronald Reagan, when presented with the Law of the Sea Treaty, refused to sign. His advisors and the career diplomats were beside themselves because this treaty had been negotiated for years. Reagan pointed out that his election was not about the old and the worn but about a new start, and he was not going to fail those who elected him by signing a flawed treaty just because diplomats had worked hard on it for years. THAT is the way a true leader behaves!

If this President would stand firm against this type of arm-twisting, he would find plenty of political support for his agenda. He should demand Congress authorize more drilling both in Alaska and offshore. He should demand Congress remove the gasoline taxes they have accumulated over the years. He should order the EPA to standardize fuel mixtures and stop forcing refineries to produce different blends for different areas. He should streamline the process to build new refineries.

In short, there is no good reason for this pile of camel doo-doo. This is merely a sop for the Democrats. President Bush is incapable of understanding that the Dems and the media will never, ever, be satisfied with him. Nothing he does, no compromise will make him acceptable to them; they will fight and stonewall until he leaves office. I don`t know why he can`t see that!

Since his reelection, President Bush has been a huge disappointment to many Conservatives (indeed, many Conservatives didn`t care for him before the election) and he seems to take his base for granted. He has been fracturing the coalition which swept the Republicans into office by his ``new tone``, his knock-kneed policy of political appeasement. This is just another nail in the coffin of the Republican coalition.

If I had wanted Jimmy Carter for President, I would have voted Kerry. I wanted a Conservative; I wanted our agenda advanced, I wanted our views articulated, I wanted the damage done by Bill Clinton reversed. President Bush has exercised his veto only once, he has failed to rescind the mountain of Clinton`s executive orders, he has failed to advance our agenda. Environmental regulation proceeds unhindered, ``affirmative action`` preferences continue unabated, President Bush actually funded fetal stem cell research, etc. Illegal immigration is near and dear to the President`s heart. He signed McCain-Feingold to limit our rights to free speech. And don`t forget that the President failed to enforce the Congressional subpoena and save Terri Schiavo from those black robed, jackbooted thugs. Why should we support a Jimmy Carter with an R behind his name?

I realize this is rather harsh, but sometimes what is needed is tough love and this President needs some very tough love indeed. I supported President Bush, and I supported his re-election. But I can`t stand idly by while he runs like quicksilver into the mold of ``Malaise`` Carter. I am unwilling to see him tear our party apart, and damage our movement in an effort to please our enemies. The fact is that our enemies will stay our enemies, no matter how much we bribe or cajole them. President Bush needs to learn that lesson.

This ``energy policy`` smells of Carterism. If President Bush gets attacked by a rabbit, I`m moving to the Libertarians!



Blogger TJ Willms said...

"Rino" exactly what your talking about Tim. A picture of "Dubya" will soon appear in the dictionary next to (Disappointment.) There has been little to be cheerful about since inauguration day. That said, I refuse to even consider the “Losertarians” as an alternative........

I will not surrender my dignity to a third, fourth, or fifth party. Abstinence is preferable to an unfulfilling relationship.

Great post again!

7:55 PM  
Anonymous GM Roper said...

Bravo! Well Said, well presented, a GREAT read.

12:40 AM  
Blogger Michael Morrison said...

As long as people are unthinking enough to keep voting for an alleged "lesser of two evils," they will keep getting an evil.
W is a prime example.
Though the Libertarian Party has made some errors -- some colossal -- it is still the only party whose chief motivating principle is freedom.
TJ Willms can make silly comments such as "Losertarians" and continue to lose his freedom, but he also helps the rest of us to lose ours.
The two old parties are dedicated to no other "principle" than grabbing and holding on to power.
(It's that lust for power, I think, that also motivates the imperialism of the so-called "neo-cons.")
If that's what he wants, then he is definitely part of the problem.
If you, Tim, are about to take your future into your own hands, then welcome to the real world and welcome to the Libertarian Party.

8:27 AM  
Blogger TJ Willms said...

I apologize if my jaded comment ruffled some feathers but I'm not sorry for saying it. The Libertarian party is what it is, because they lack "real" leadership. Having a track record of being nearly as effective as the "Green" or "Reform" parties is the result. They have a long way to go before they can present a stable of candidates that are significantly more dynamic than their marginal standard bearers have been throughout their history. They will never capture and hold anybody’s attention or mine for more than one election cycle until they do so.

While the Libertarians seek traction to present the American people with VIABLE alternatives, they further erode the support for the only realistic hope millions of conservatives and I have of forestalling the tide of rampant liberalism in this country. The only other party prominent enough to challenge the lefties on at least some of the issues that are important to me and my family.

So Yes I will go with the devil I know. I have spent four years on the wrong side of the third party bandwagon. I survived “My Governor can beat up your governor,” but my state is still reeling from the tsunami of nonsensical non-leadership of a third party candidate.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Michael Morrison said...

TJ needn't apologize for ruffling my feathers. I don't have any.
Evolution has led me, in less than one generation, to develop instead a very thick skin.
I also admire what he said in his immediate previous post, and how he said it.
Still, what is important is this: A political party that breaks just about every promise it makes, and which it makes solely to keep the TJs captured, is not a party deserving of further support, not of anyone who wants freedom ... and honesty.
People who really want freedom MUST break their party chains first, then work for political freedom.
Also, though the Libertarian Party actually has won some competitive political offices, most notably lately in Georgia, the Green Party has won even more.
The Greens have won some fairly important city and, I think, county offices, again in competitive elections.
Believe it or not, I once voted for a Green candidate because there was no Libertarian and I could not in good conscience or for fear of my soul vote for a member of the two old parties.
An honest socialist, or pink fascist, such as a Green is preferable to a dishonest socialist, or pink or red fascist, as is the majority of "leaders" in the two old parties.
TJ acknowledges his corrupt party IS a devil, and I understand his preferring a devil he knows.
Still I prefer the angels, the advocates of freedom -- who might demonstrate a continuing lack of great competence in politics, but who also demonstrate a very deep and abiding love of liberty.
Again, I invite TJ and Tim and anyone else who yearns for freedom to join, or at least vote for, the Libertarian Party.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael Morrison has convinced me. I am joining the Libertarian Party.
No more Republican hypocrisy and inconsistency for me.
As soon as I finish this, I am going to and sign up.
I hope you all will join me.
Sarah Jane Moffett

5:30 AM  

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