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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Good Intentions; the Road to Electric Cars

Timothy Birdnow

Writing in American Thinker, Michael Geer discusses the new electric cars.

Now, much as I hate to rain on everyone's parade, there are two fundamental points that must be made.

1. It takes MORE energy to run these things than it would run a gasoline engine, and ultimately it means more pollution and greenhouse gases since electric cars will ultimately run on coal or natural gas.


2. Nobody wants them to be a reality anyway - and by nobody I mean the most ardent advocates on the Left.

Let me explain.

First, energy is lost converting coal or gas or oil into electricity, then lost again in the storage system. The only truly clean and efficient way to generate this electricity would be through nuclear and we all know that is anathema to the Gang Green and other leftists. I think that alone should illustrate my second point; nuclear is the only non-polluting energy system yet the left hates it. Now why do you suppose that is?

And these "electric" cars have to have backup gas engines. An electric car should logically be, uh, electric; that they are forms of hybrids shows the technology is not there and will not be there in the forseeable future.

Which brings us to the second point; a good many of the advocates for electric cars do so not because they think things will be better if we have them - they know that it won't change the pollution balance except to increase it and they further know that it's not going to make us "energy independent" by getting us away from importing oil. They have been laboring mightily to tie up our ability to use our own coal. Granted, natural gas is booming, but they are even fighting against fracking and other methods of extracting useful fuels. That was not and is not the plan.

No, the plan is to have us chase after a will-o-the-wisp. The left KNOWS this technology isn't ready, and likely won't be in the forseeable future. The argument is that we need to artificially create demand so the corporations will pump money into research and development - and that means inflating prices for all vehicles to cover the cost. Meanwhile they get to tie up oil, raise taxes on vehicles, generally get people afoot on onto public transportation. That is the endgame; to force the public into a strait-jacket, going where they want them to go and doing what they want them to do. If you control the movement of the People you control the People.

I wrote about this a few years back at Enter Stage Right; it's well worth re-reading.

I also discussed this at American Thinker in 2008.

Below are these articles in their entirety:

The right to mobility: How the left is violating our fundamental liberty by refusing our right to drill for oil

By Timothy Birdnow
web posted July 14, 2008

When the Bill of Rights was introduced to the U.S. Constitution, an argument erupted over the need for amendments specifically enumerating the rights of Americans. The Constitution states quite plainly that any powers not expressly granted to the United States government are reserved to the States and the People. In short, there should have been no need to enumerate rights; they were granted not by men but by God, after all, and the Constitution made it plain that America's central government was to be seriously circumscribed.

But many feared the power of this new, stronger union and the ''elastic clause'' (Article I, Sec. VIII) granting the power to do what was ''necessary and proper'' for the welfare of that union, and so the first ten amendments were introduced to guarantee the freedom of the citizenry. One freedom that never made it into the Constitution was so basic, it probably never occurred to the Founders that there was a need for a formal inclusion; the right to mobility.

Just as the right to own property was not included because it was seen as self-evident, the right to move about is one of the roots of liberty, something absolutely unabridgeable in a free society and likewise self-evident. A number of the individual States incorporated this fundamental right into their constitutions, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled early on in Corfield v. Coryell (1823) and in a series of subsequent rulings (Paul v. Virginia, Ward v. Maryland, U.S. v Harris, etc.) the right to travel was a fundamental thing, although it was not specifically within the jurisdiction of the United States government; after all, those rights were reserved to the States and the People.

Then we must consider this:

"Personal liberty largely consists of the Right to locomotion to go where and when one pleases only so far restrained as the Rights of others may make it necessary for the welfare of all other Citizens. The Right of the Citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, by horsedrawn carriage, wagon, or automobile, is not a mere privilege which may be permitted or prohibited at will, but the common Right which he has under his Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Under this Constitutional guarantee one may, therefore, under normal conditions, travel at his inclination along the public highways or in public places, and while conducting himself in an orderly and decent manner, neither interfering with nor disturbing another's Rights, he will be protected, not only in his person, but in his safe conduct." - American Jurisprudence 1st, Constitutional Law, Section 329, p. 1135.

In fact, mobility rights have become a part of international law, with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights declaring that:

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

So even liberals should appreciate the importance of freedom of mobility; the U.N. declared it a fundamental right! It is not just about building roads and bridges, either; it means that the government of the United States has a duty to encourage the free movement of her citizenry by whatever manner those citizens see fit.

This freedom we take for granted has a long pedigree, going back to Persian King Cyrus the Great's permission of his newly conquered subjects to move about his empire freely (and thus allowing the Israelites to return to their homeland). The Magna Carta had this to say about the right to travel:

''It shall be lawful to any person, for the future, to go out of our kingdom, and to return, safely and securely, by land or by water, saving his allegiance to us, unless it be in time of war, for some short space, for the common good of the kingdom: excepting prisoners and outlaws, according to the laws of the land, and of the people of the nation at war against us, and Merchants who shall be treated as it is said above.''

This fundamental right of movement is, as is true of all rights, something that does not impose any burden on others, but does require governments to cooperate in it's free exercise. Heavy restrictions on travel, or burdensome regulations on the means of travel, act to deny this fundamental liberty. After all, there is a reason the government builds roads and bridges, and enforces traffic laws; without these things the public would find mobility difficult, and their right to move about restricted. Liberals are always complaining about infrastructure, so they should understand the necessity of this fundamental right; why spend money on building thoroughfares if people can't afford to use them?

Of course, commerce would be impossible without the right to mobility, and we would never have had a Union without recognition of this right to move about. America would never have been anything more than a series of isolated villages without the means to travel, and there would have been no economy to speak of. We would never have had a westward expansion, our forefathers would never have conquered a continent, had it been believed (as other peoples have in the past) that travel should be restricted by government. Shipping meant trade, and the American Revolution was largely fought over British interdiction of free shipping of goods. Road building made it possible for Americans to travel west, and California would be a backwater had it not had good harbors for ships, railroads, and later Route 66. The commerce so necessary to our lives also funds our government through the taxes we pay, and so that government is obligated to maintain the easy flow of people, goods, and services to justify taking that money. The lives we enjoy are predicated on the ability to travel as we see fit. And, of course, one of the principle duties enumerated in the Constitution of the United States is to foster and regulate interstate commerce; something that requires the government do everything in its power to make mobility easier.

Our ability to move about is dependent in modern times on oil. With affordable fuel we have the means to exercise that basic right. Without it we are being oppressed by a government that is withholding a fundamental liberty.

We have much of the oil we need here in America, buried under publicly owned land (i.e. the People's land), but environmental restrictions have made it impossible to obtain and refine that resource for our use. We have ''designer fuels'', mandates requiring the use of ''renewable resources'' that do not work, limits on the use of coal, on nuclear power, etc. forcing us to waste oil to generate electricity. In this way U.S. government policy has abridged the right of the people to mobility by driving the price of fuel beyond the reach of many. (Granted, bad monetary policy and international markets have helped to drive this price up, though not commodities speculators as is often alleged.) This is an issue of human rights, and should be recognized as such.

That is why I believe we have gone off-track in our arguments for more energy exploration; we are approaching the matter from an economic and political viewpoint, rather than one of basic rights. This argument should be framed as the right to mobility versus the regulatory burden of an overweight government determined to use the many laws on the books to restrict our freedom to travel.

One of the first things tyrants do when they take power is restrict the right to travel. The Roman Emperor Diocletian restricted the right of the peasantry to move off their tenant farms, laying the groundwork for medieval serfdom. The Russian Tsars did likewise at a later date. The Bolsheviks always required special passes for travel, and the fascist state in modern Russia is now doing likewise. Ditto Castro. Control of the movement of people means control of the individual.

It should be pointed out that those who are more mobile generally defeat those who are sedentary in warfare. It has been so since the taming of the horse and demonstrated repeatedly in every war. Ask those who fought the Mongols, the Spaniards, Napoleon, the British Navy, Rommel, or the U.S. mechanized army with fast tanks and aircraft.

In fact the ability to move fast is on a par with the ownership of guns when it comes to defending liberties. In the Revolutionary War, Washington's ability to outrun the British army eventually won the day. British General Burgoyne and the other commanders could never catch him! Santa Ana could never catch Sam Houston in Texas, for that matter, but Houston's men caught him at San Jacinto; he was too slow. A speedy public makes tyranny difficult.

Which is precisely why liberals hate the automobile; it grants a level of independence impossible to those in less developed nations. Liberal thought is all about control; they seek to fundamentally change human nature, and to do that they must have a high level of control over the individual. Theirs' is a crusade to change beliefs and minds, and one cannot change what one cannot catch. The mobility of Americans -- both physical via autos and intellectual via the internet and other uncontrolled media makes implementing liberal policies impossible. The New Man cannot emerge as long as the Old Man can out-run him! This ability to move about means chaos to many on the Left, and that cannot be allowed.

The liberals have tried to control our mobility, through public transportation, urban renewal projects, restrictions on driver's licenses and vehicle ownership, and other methods, but the American people love their cars, and demand cheap fuel to operate them, spoiling their plans. Now, however, environmental restrictions and the religion of Global Warming have given the Left a new tool to restrict that right to travel. Taxation, restrictions on energy exploration, restrictions on refining capacity, regulations on emissions, other pollution regulations, etc. have been imposed to stop Americans from whizzing around where they will, ruining the grand design of liberal statists.

So, we have an energy crisis largely imposed by the government. If freedom of mobility is a basic human right, granted in our Constitution, seen by the Founding Fathers as being granted by a beneficent God to believer and non-believer alike, then our governmental policies can best be summed up as tyrannical. They must be changed! We should be using the language of the Civil Rights era when discussing this. Schumer, Reid, Pelosi, et. al are the bigots -- and elitists -- blocking the doorway to every American's mobility. The liberals want to keep us on their plantation, dependent on them for the things we need rather than letting us go out and get things for ourselves. And, oh yes! Women and minorities are hardest hit, since they have to pay the highest proportion of their incomes to transportation costs.

The U.S. government is not duty bound to drill for oil, but it has a sacred obligation to get out of the way of those who want to do it for us. The right to mobility should not be infringed! ESR

Special thanks to writer Jack Kemp (not the politician) for helping to pull this together.


August 5, 2008
Political Power Flowing from the Pump
By Timothy Birdnow
In one of the more ironic acts of political theatre we have witnessed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi last Friday ordered the lights be shut off when Republicans refused to leave the floor of the House of Representatives, determined to continue the debate over offshore drilling. Granted, Madam Speaker is often in the dark herself, but the great irony here is that she used her control over energy to stifle a debate about increasing energy supply.

One wonders if this display of power is not illustrative of a deeper malady; a lust for control that transcends the normal political power wrangling between parties. Control energy and you can control people. Nancy Pelosi used her power over the lighting system to silence her political opponents.

What are the basics, the fundamentals that a civilization requires? Food, clean water, shelter, clothing, transportation, heating and cooling, sanitation, lighting, are some of the major necessities that people need to survive and prosper. Then there are the many luxuries; telephones, televisions, computers, etc. What is the common thread? In all cases, everything we have, our very civilization requires energy. Every scrap of food, every stitch of clothing, every erg of heat, every shelter, even our sewers and drainage ditches require energy to make or to operate.

In primitive times that energy was supplied quite poorly, by the oxidation of wood or animal fats or plant oils, and from wind and water, and by the oxidation of carbohydrates in the human body and the bodies of beasts. This energy ultimately comes from the Sun (as does all energy except nuclear) and was difficult to control, although primitive leaders often tried. Rivers could be dammed, fields irrigated (or not), waterwheels could grind grain. (Keep in mind that food is energy, and is measured in calories, or how much heat is generated.) Egypt and Mesopotamia required serious irrigation for the land to be fruitful, and so the local chieftains made themselves into Pharaohs and Kings by control of that irrigation-control of the energy needed by the people. Thus civilization was born.

Each step of human history has added levels of complexity and an increase in the need for energy; Stone Age hunter-gatherers became settled farmers, and the ages are named for their material sciences: Paleolithic (old stone age) to Neolithic (new), Copper Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Steel. With the increases in population and the need for ever-more-complicated tools and techniques, governments have grown enormously in order to regulate and coordinate the new technologies and their uses. This growth of government turned elders to chieftains, chieftains to kings, kings to emperors, community organizers to Presidents (maybe). Government has become ever more intrusive as the means to intrude have developed, and the ultimate basis of that power is the control of energy usage.

That control is something those in government are loath to surrender, and this returns us to the original point of this essay; the Democrats, beholden to Big Environment, want to keep our energy resources under lock and key. Part of their purpose is to reward high dollar donors, but part of it is to maintain the kind of control that powerful people crave, and that reformers in particular lust after.

Oil is the lifeblood of the post-modern era, and there isn`t a grain of food, a stitch of clothing, a brick or board, that isn`t where it is and in the form it takes without oil. Oil runs the machines that plant the farmer`s seeds, runs the pumps that irrigate it, runs the reapers that harvest it. The farmer`s produce is processed and shipped via oil. We would all starve without it. This holds true for just about everything in our society, yet many want to restrict our right to oil. If government can control oil, it can control the individual. Those who behave in certain ways, ways favored by the energy masters will prosper, while those who are disobedient will wither.

Which is interesting, considering the animus many Environmentalists have against technology and high-energy industry. Many marry the green cause in rebellion against the kind of domination that modernity imposes on the individual. Yet their solution is to impoverish the individual in the hopes of making our civilization less complex. Many Greens believe that a simpler life would be better for individual liberty, when that simplicity disenfranchises the people who are yoked with it by reducing their abilities to control their own lives. The ability to move about, for instance, is part of the freedom we enjoy, and makes it harder for those who would circumscribe our liberties. (That's why liberals hate automobiles; they offer the average person the power to go where they will rather than where they are told.) Trucks, trains, and aircraft allow us to buy goods from all over the world, goods that are much cheaper than they would be if we had to make them in the town where we live. People want and need things, and making those things harder to acquire promotes only hardship, crime, and warfare. How many wars were fought over material goods? Despite what the Liberals claim, we have very few today. Why? Because we have a cornucopia of material wealth, more than anybody needs and available to most of us. Take this wealth away and people will fight over the scraps. Environmentalists don`t understand that empowering the government to fight ``big business`` to protect the environment will likely lead to a far worse despoiling. One need only look at the places where resources are controlled by governments like China and Russia to see the stinking wastelands they have made.

But Liberals never grasp the consequences of their actions, and gleefully turn to the government to manage resources in the interest of ``fairness``. What is more fair? One group controlling all those resources, or many? Free enterprise is fair enterprise.

Some Greens may be confused, but most on the Left are not, and that is why they seek to restrict the flow of oil; they know that power flows from a pump. They may talk about alternative energy, but they are slow to actually embrace real alternatives (like nuclear). Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barrack Obama realize the political danger of continuing to do nothing about gas prices, but the alternative -- surrendering their control of energy -- scares them more. Remember, the ``progressives`` went to Washington to fundamentally reorder society. They believe they can build a new world, perfect Mankind and America. How can they do that if they surrender the fundamental mechanism for control? If America is to be reshaped in the image of Our Messiah Obama, there must be a mechanism to force that change. Control of energy is that mechanism.

But there`s the small problem of the electorate; the public is mad as hell, and are demanding that something be done to reduce the price of gasoline. A number of people have noticed that we have large assets that remain untapped, or worse, that are now being tapped by other countries, off our coasts. Republicans want to tap that source of energy, and the Democrats, fearful of seeing their plans for change derailed, have dug in their heels.

John Kerry accidentally spilled the beans with regard to Democratic opposition to drilling in a debate with Joe Lieberman on Sunday`s Meet the Press (Aug.3):

SEN. KERRY: We only have, we only have 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. Sixty-five percent of the oil comes from the Mideast. The problem with global climate change is oil. The problem for our security is our dependency on oil.

MR. BROKAW: So what you're saying...

SEN. KERRY: If we go out and drill more oil, even temporarily, when it doesn't come to the pump for about seven years, you're not dealing with the real crisis, which is moving America's innovation...


SEN. KERRY: ...and creativity, the creation of new fuel.

In short, Kerry is arguing that America must be forced in a direction that most Americans don't want to go. The pain caused by high gas prices is the tool he and other Democrats will use to make a fundamental shift. They are quite willing to throw the forgotten man under the Obama Express, and back the bus over Joe Sixpack several times before leaving the scene of the crime. Being our betters, Those Most Qualified, they are fully prepared to let us endure our pain so they may mold America as they see fit. They are using energy to control the populace. Their motives may be pure or may not (I would argue not) but that is beside the point; they are stopping us from getting energy to reshape our culture, an act of oppression.

(Notice, too, Kerry`s complete ignorance of how markets work; as long as the OPEC cartel is the only game in town they can produce as much or as little as they like, and charge accordingly. If we really get in the game - or even threaten to get in the game -- the risk of American oil taking money out of OPEC`s pockets will force them to drill for more. They`ll have to react to a competitor, and competition drives prices down.)

Energy usage is certainly a measure of wealth, and those who are energy poor are poor. Wealth is a measure of power, and the poor are rarely powerful. If the Democrats can restrict energy usage through an energy "crisis", they can control the flow of wealth and the flow of power. They instinctively understand this, and labor diligently to make a reality of their plan, with what at first glance appears a very confused energy policy. It`s not; the goal is to nationalize resources, to break the power of the wealthy providers of energy and draw it into their own bosoms. Remember Maxine Waters` call to nationalize oil? Nationalizing energy is one of the first priorities of tyrants. The ultimate goal of the Democrats' strategy is to nationalize these resources.

So, when we see Pelosi turning the lights out on the House Republicans to end debate, what we are really seeing is a lust for power, an attempt to keep freedom out of the hands of the average American. Pelosi`s "lights out" makes a chilling metaphor -- a symbolic "lights out" for America. Do we want a nation where our betters guide us from their high perches, where our ability to make and use energy is circumscribed by a cadre of control freaks bent on reshaping how we live to better please themselves? Drilling for oil seems to be a straightforward proposition, but the implications for our future society are staggering. We cannot allow the collectivists to lock up our energy, lest all we hold dear should fade away in the general brownout.

Timothy Birdnow blogs at
on "Political Power Flowing from the Pump"

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