Is The Government Really Concerned About “Gas Mileage”?

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There is a big problem with high-mileage cars – from the point-of-view of the government.

Less revenue.

Imagine an 80 MPG car – which could be built right now, easily, with existing technology. (Several current European models are already pretty close to the 80 MPG bar.)

Such a car could cut the average person’s fuel costs by two-thirds – in effect, putting things back the way they were circa 1986, when gasoline still cost about $1 per gallon. It would do a great deal to ease the economic pressure bearing down on the average person. But if tens of millions of Americans were suddenly using two-thirds less fuel, they’d also be paying two-thirds less in motor fuels taxes.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy nut to wonder what effect contemplation of this possibility has had on government policy.

Even assuming the most benevolent, public spirited intentions, the situation is a debacle in the making. If revenue derived from motor fuels taxes declined by 20-30 percent, there would be that much less revenue available to maintain existing roads – and build new ones. Meanwhile, the population is galloping upward – more people, more cars. Where will the money come from to keep pace?

There is always the possibility of making up the shortfall some other way – but the beauty of the motor fuels tax, historically, is that it’s a largely hidden tax. The average motorist is not made to confront the bill in the same way that he’s made to confront, say, the sales tax on the food he buys after gassing up. Because unlike the food on which pays a tax in addition to the cost of the food itself, the motor fuels tax is discreetly folded into the cost of the fuel. One does not pay $2.40 a gallon – plus 80 cents per gallon in taxes. One just pays the $3.20 per gallon. Thus, “big oil” takes most of the heat – rather than big government.

Motor fuels taxes are regressive and confiscatory. Other than “sin taxes” on cigarettes, it’s hard to come up with a product  – in the case of gas, a necessary staple – that is taxed at a rate equivalent to about 30 percent (or more) of the cost of the actual item itself. And unlike cigarettes, most of us have no choice about buying gas. It’s an ingenious trap that government has set for us: First, use taxes (in the form of tax incentives as well as the use of taxes as such) to fund artificial, unnatural growth – in particular, the artificial, unnatural growth of highways and other roads. Highways and roads that would not have been built until real demand – as opposed to government “stimulated” demand – made an economic case for their construction. The artificially induced roads encourage sprawl – more government subsidized “growth” – of homes and retail areas that, in turn, encourage more driving, more consumption, which in turn funds more artificial growth.

And the cycle is complete.

But, the cycle depends on people continuing to pay the necessary amount of motor fuels tax in order to keep it going. Very high-mileage cars would throw a wrench in the gears. In order to perpetuate the cycle, alternative revenue sources would have to be found – and tapped. Where will the money come from? At the federal level, more “qualitative  easing” – that is, creating more money – is always possible. But at the state and local level, there’s no such option. Either fewer roads will be built – and existing roads not kept up as they might have been. Or there will be new taxes to cover the spread. The problem is that socking people with the equivalent of a 30 percent tax on a product they use every day – and so must pay every day – is not going to be an easy sell. People are used to hidden motor fuels taxes. They are not used to – and may revolt over – a new (and obvious) 30 percent tax on the miles they drive each week – one of the proposals floated as an alternative to the motor fuels taxes. This latter idea is why test balloons have been floated by such as Progressive Insurance to see what the reaction might be to requiring that cars be fitted with GPS-based recording/transmitting devices. One of the potential uses of this technology would be to monitor exactly how often – and how far – we drive. And charge us, accordingly.

But, it’s a hot potato, politically. People – most people – may not be ready for that … yet. In the meanwhile, it’s easier to keep selling them gas pigs. They’re sold as safe gas pigs, of course. And late-model America leg humps safety like an unfixed mongrel dog.

Probably we won’t see 70 MPG-capable cars like the European-spec VW Passat BlueMotion 1.6 TDI over here until the cost of fuel (via taxation) is comparable to what it is over there. At which point, the problem nicely solves itself. Meanwhile, expect more hot air – more talk about high-mileage cars.

And much less action.

Or rather, less in the way of action to remove the regulatory stumbling blocks that make it all-but-impossible to build a genuinely economical car – or even to import reasonably economical ones like the European Passat 1.6 TDI  over here. What we’ll get, instead, will be more cost and more cumbersome technology – all nicely wrapped up in “safety” gift-wrap.  In a few years, this will render new cars all-but-unaffordable.

And then, building new roads won’t matter anymore.

Throw it in the Woods?

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  195 comments for “Is The Government Really Concerned About “Gas Mileage”?

  1. damon
    May 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I’m not sure about that Eric. Take electricity conservation. IIRC when folks save on costs, they tend to consume more. So if a business is able to cut it’s heating/cooling costs, they are more likely to expend the building, thus increasing consumption of power. In terms of gas, higher efficiency will allow for MORE miles to be driven.

    I agree that the gov’t will work to ensure the continual and increasing stream of tax funds. That’s why, as you said, miles driven, smart highways, etc. are under consideration. But I think they are two separate issues.

    I would add that the smartest thing ever done by gov’t is the hidden tax, like you mentioned in the cost of gas. This also applies to “withholding”. If we all had to pony up our tax burden at one time they outrage might be enough to spark some changes….maybe…

    • Eric_G
      May 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      This is true, but with gasoline, because there is less money generated per mile, the best they can do is maintain the same revenue with greater wear and tear on the road. The net effect is the same.

      • Brad Smith
        May 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm

        Lighter cars, less wear and tear?

        • Matt Tanous
          May 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

          Not really. The weight of a car is really not a problem for wear and tear. Damages caused by vehicle passages are measured in ESALs. A passenger car has an ESAL of 0.0008, which is relatively tiny, so any change in weight of a car has minimal impact compared to repeated usage of a car.

          See here: http://facweb.knowlton.ohio-state.edu/pviton/courses2/crp776/776-roads-beam.pdf

          • UncleSim
            May 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm

            But surely cars wear on the roads less than trucks, and motorcycles wear the roads less than cars, and there is a definite weight factor involved, which also affects efficiency. A car is typically more efficient because it has lower resistance to rolling down the road, and the wear on the road is also a product of that resistance.

            While you may be right that wear is not reduced very much per vehicle, the wear on the road is still rather negligible for such light and efficient vehicles, when compared to the bumps and buckles heavy trucks inflict on the pavement, esp at intersections.

            And, if there were more (but lighter) cars on the roads that were used, then deterioration due to weather would also be less of a factor in overall road wear, when measured in miles driven. And at least here in Pennsylvania, weather probably has as much to do with road maintenance as anything else. But its a lot harder to tax snow and ice, than gasoline or tires.

          • BrentP
            May 20, 2012 at 2:18 am

            In terms of engineering stresses, roads built to wear out in a decade or three under heavy truck traffic see no wear and tear from passenger vehicles. Roads are broken by heavy trucks, that’s where the acceptable wear rate is. The cracks form, weather exploits the cracks, etc…

            Take away the heavy trucks these roads would last for centuries until the thermal cycle cracking did them in.

            Or the roads could simply be overbuilt for heavy truck use, but nobody in the USA wants to pay that in the short term and it’s not good for continued income by those in the road building business.

      • Hu
        May 19, 2012 at 5:32 am

        Too true. I am living in Thailand now – have been for 7 years – and many vehilcels – from taxis to big trucks that haul – use either LPG or NGC. Some people buy a regular gas car and then have it converted to NGC – which is expensive – purchase a NGC. Thailand is hardly a big Western Nation like the US, but it does offer choices as to the type of car you want to drive. With all the Natural Gas – NG – in the US, that would be one way to cut down on dependence on foreign oil imports. But then you would have to have a Government that would keep its nose out of private businesses which it will never do. Come visit Thailand and see. You may not wish to live here, but there are a variety of cars and the types of fuel that they use to choose from.

    • Phil
      May 21, 2012 at 1:34 am

      Eric, one more hidden tax among many. To produce oil in this country one generally has to pay severance tax (which is like sales tax on oil extracted), which can run about 4.6% up to 7% of gross crude price.

      If you also count the income taxes oil producers have to pay on their income derived from oil production, then you could probably safely add another ~10% of the price of crude (a proxy for gasoline) going to the fed’s coffers. I wouldn’t be surprised if after adding all the taxes up priced in terms of retail gasoline, more than 50% of the price goes to various government entities.

      • Douglas
        May 21, 2012 at 5:19 am

        AT LEAST 50%!! There was a humor editorial cartoon from about 60 years ago, showing a hapless motorist with his car piled on by a gaggle of scruffy-looking characters, labelled with all the various fees and taxes applicable to motor vehicles. This was circa 1950! It was labelled, “the trouble with hitch-hikers”. A Google search didn’t turn it up. If someone can find it, please post! It’s funny…but not really….

  2. Eric_G
    May 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    So is the answer to go back to a turnpike solution? I remember going from PA to FL to visit grandma in the 1970s, driving through Virgina and N. Carolina on I-95 and there were tollbooths across the highway. You’d have to slow down, throw a quarter or so into the highway and then continue on. It didn’t seem to slow us down and it paid for the road.

    US 36 into Boulder, CO used to be known as the Boulder Turnpike, until tolls paid off the construction bonds. Currently, E-470 out to Denver International is a toll road (the toll is too high, BTW), but when the construction cost is paid off it will also become free.

    So in the future I could easily see a dual-revenue approach: gas taxes for the local roads that can’t easily be tolled (imagine the upheaval if people had to actually pay the true cost of driving home on a paved road every night) and tolls for the limited access highways. Also, by getting used to paying tolls, it opens up possibilities for privately funded roads.

    BTW, this model works, and did work for years. It’s called the Bell System. You paid a flat rate for local calls and access to the network. But long distance and international calls you paid by the minute. It worked very well until long-haul fiber (and competition) made the economics such that it was cheaper to just charge for the access. Unless we get competition in interstate highways, I don’t think we’ll see the same “bandwidth revolution” happen.

    • GW
      May 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      The “turnpike” solution is already being implemented with the proliferation of Toll Transponders – on some Florida Expressways (at least in Tampa) there is no mechanism to even pay at a toll booth any more (I also noticed this in the Atlanta area last week where the HOV lanes have been changed to Toll Transponders only).

      Additionally pay attention to discussions of PPP’s (or Public-Private Partnerships) where basically the State leases the rights to a private company to take over a public infrastructure for a set period of time – roads / parking meters and garages / museums / State and National Parks, etc.

      Bend over and grab your ankles folks – this shit has already started and will become full blown very shortly after the November Elections regardless of which bastard crook wins.

      Hang on to your wallets!

      • Alex
        May 19, 2012 at 5:40 am

        Yeah, that’s a real neat trick too. We pay for the roads once through taxes and road fees, then they sell the roads which are already paid for through long term leases to a private company, to be paid for again, and again, and again…. And most people just nod and say nothing, letting them get away with it, like we’re a nation of morons.

        • GW
          May 19, 2012 at 11:59 am

          Unfortunately, much of our nation does consist of morons…

        • dom
          May 19, 2012 at 12:03 pm

          It’s really not much different than buying back everything you own each year in property tax…

        • ScotF
          May 20, 2012 at 11:40 pm

          Clarification, in the current ppp’s underway the public doesn’t pay for the construction costs. The private company that wins the project pays for the initial capital costs and secures tolls for a long period of time to recoup it’s investment and make a profit. The problem I can see with them is that it’s hard to understand how much the private company can raise tolls etc 10, 20, 30 years down the road. The deal now may look really good but years ahead the public using the roads could be getting soaked.

      • dom
        May 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

        $4 per shrimp!

      • Strider55
        May 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm

        FYI, that system (SunPass) works on all toll roads in the state, including the Turnpike. Since my commute is on the Turnpike, I got a transponder as soon as they came out. Even better, for the last 7-8 years transponder users get a discount.

    • Strider55
      May 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      I-30 was the “Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike” until the bonds were paid off and the tolls were removed. Arlington Stadium — the first home of the Rangers, which sat just off I-30 — was originally called “Turnpike Stadium.”

      Every once in awhile some idiot floats the notion of putting toll booths on I-4 in Orlando. So far overwhelming opposition has stymied the effort.

      • MoT
        May 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm

        Back in the early 70′s, as a kid, I remember my parents taking a trip to the Dallas area and driving down those toll roads. Later, as an adult, I went back and kept saying to myself “Now where are those toll booths?” They’d done their job and now were gone. The irony is that there are toll roads north of there that are not clearly marked and will snap your plates and serve you a friendly bill in the mail.

  3. Dallas 2
    May 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Non-logical & contradictory policies are what you get everywhere… when you have a dysfunctional group of 535 economically ignorant people (U.S. Congress) arrogantly trying to run a huge national economy. It will only get worse.

    ‘Hidden’ sales tax on gasoline certainly fool most consumers.

    However, the hidden taxes on gasoline are much more than mere retail sales taxes to the final consumer. Government taxes are actually about 50% of the price you pay for a gallon of gas.

    The government heavily taxes the production & distribution of gasoline at every step of the process… from oil drilling to tanker-truck delivery at your local gas station — with a dozen ‘really hidden’ taxes (excise taxes, utility taxes, employment taxes, fuel taxes, license/permit taxes, corporate taxes, property taxes, etc.). It all shows up in the final retail price of gasoline.

    Most all consumers, citizens and voters are clueless about the real level of taxation they pay — for gasoline… and all other things they buy.

    • Capn Mike
      May 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Make that 533 :)

  4. dom
    May 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    The trick:

    - convince everyone we need heavy (literally) safety standards/equipment

    - monster jack up the fuel prices

    - increase technical foul laws (traffic regulation/fines)

    - increase ownership fees

    - limit private industry/innovation (make monster barriers to entry)

    There is more…

    Anyone who does not see this is a complete idiot.

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      May 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      There is no dearth of complete idiots.

      • AU2000
        May 19, 2012 at 9:02 am

        The time of man is over. The day of the sheep is arrived.

        Our masters constantly scheme up new ways to fleece us the sheep. Taxed once or twice for the same thing is hardly enough.

        Taxed once to earn money, twice to buy a car, continuously to own the car (slave badges: licenses, license plates, mandatory insurance)

        Taxed to buy gas, taxed on toll roads long paid for, soon to be GPS taxed for every heavily taxed mile driven.

        Brainwashing us that high-mileage cars cost more is the zaniest thing I can think of. High mileage = Cheap for cars. Lighter car, smaller engine = high mileage. This idea is DOA, Let’s have 2 engines in the car and double the price! What can you do, we are all here to be shorn by our masters.

        • May 19, 2012 at 9:20 am

          I often think so too.

          For example, I personally know only a small number of people who base their political views on other than utilitarian philosophy (if you can call it that). The conservative who prattles on about making government more “efficient.” Or the liberal who wants to “help” people. Neither seems to have a developed conceptual faculty. It’s as though their ability to reason, in terms of moral philosophy, has been stunted. They will both acknowledge, for example, that it’s a breach of morality for me take something of theirs without their permission. But will both accept the same thing when it’s performed within the seance circle of “democracy” – via the vote. Magically, that which is immoral on the individual level becomes morally legitimate! This presents no intellectual/philosophical dilemma for them.

          Having accepted the premise, I point out to them that individual rights are now in principle null and void – because any individual right may be taken away, or “modified” merely by the magic of “the vote” or “political process.” Therefore, in practice, they can expect to have fewer rights respected – and less and less liberty. Each new precedent in law and practice normalizes more and more authoritarianism and collectivism. The wheel turns inexorably.

          I point out that the only difference between, say, Soviet Russia and current democratic America is one of degree – not kind – and that in time, it is inevitable that democratic America will become more Soviet-like (that is, more collectivist and authoritarian). Because there is no principle to stand athwart the road and call – halt!

          “Society” demands. The “general welfare” ordains. “Safety” – and “security” – trump all.

          They do not see.

          Or care to.

          The game is on. Or AGT. What’s for dinner?

          • UncleSim
            May 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm

            Ever play the card game called ‘Asshole’? When you’re president/king, make the game into a democracy, and see how long everyone keeps playing ;)

  5. Boothe
    May 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    What we in Amerika usually fail to acknowledge is the cumulative nature of all of “our” taxes. I once saw a breakdown based on a box of salt (as a corollary to the anecdotal ‘slaving away at the salt mine’) which is a good example of a ‘staple’ since sodium chloride is indeed essential to our survival. To get the salt out of the ground at the mine requires the mining company to pay Social Security, Medicare / Medicaid, unemployment, federal and (usually) state withholding, personal property tax, real estate tax, capital gains tax, corporate income tax, excise taxes on fuels and other commodities, as well as duties and tariffs on any imported goods. All of this government “extraction” factors into the wholesale cost of the salt; merely to get it loaded onto a truck.

    Once it’s in the semi and on its way to the processing plant the over-the-road-trucking company will pay those same taxes. After delivery to the plant where the salt is prepped and packaged for retail sale, all of those same taxes must be paid again. Then the trucking company that moves the finished production to the grocery distribution warehouses pays the same taxes once more. Now the warehouse must pay those same taxes before the next trucking company also incurs these redundant costs. And finally the grocery store that offers the salt at retail will have to pony up the bucks too.

    Now here you come, the end user or consumer, and pay for that box of salt with money that has already had most, if not all, of those very same taxes already extracted from it. Plus you have the additional privilege of chipping in a tidy bit of sales tax to boot in most locales. Once all of the figuring it done, we actually already pay somewhere in the neighborhood of a 70 – 80% effective tax rate! It’s hard to imagine that our ancestors supposedly fought a revolution over a 2% stamp tax. Then fought a so-called “civil war” over the Morrill Tariff…er…oops…I meant “involuntary servitude.” Looking at my paycheck stub in this light all I can say is: I sho’ is glad dey abolished slavery…

  6. drtypirat
    May 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I hadn’t thought of it from this perspective and it is quite plausible.
    Another reason to limit access to incredibly fuel efficient cars is the Military Ind Complex.
    If our nation cut down our gasoline consumption by say 50% we would not have the need (perceived as it may be) to be as imperialistic and get “our oil” out from under “their sand”.
    Cutting into the need for companies like Gen Dyn, BAE, Raytheon, AAI, Haliburton and others along with the active military would be a big no-no.
    The best way for them to do it is to allow incremental increases in both fuel efficiency and the increase in teh taxes. It has parallels to how we are experience “financial repression” in terms of interest rate, debt, and inflation. If it is gradual enough, the patient is less likely to reject the treatment.

    • Douglas
      May 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      The whole notion that for purposes of American “Energy Security” we needed to adopt the de facto policy that we’ve exhibited since 1990 (“Kick their ass and take the gas”) has been an utter fallacy. What would Sadaam Hussein have done with Iraqi, Kuwaiti, or even Saudi petroleum…DRINK IT? Nations that rely on the export of petroleum, natural gas, or coal (or other fossil fuel products), regardless of ideology, need markets to make it. Witness the “fall” of the Soviet Union and the hard times that its successor states experienced in the 90s…directly related to the crash of petroleum prices. Witness how their economies have resurged. The same is no different for Iraq, Iran, etc….to think of the billions, if not trillions, of American dollars wasted attempting to change the political paradigms in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past twenty years. All we’ve done is root out the current SOBs..but in time, due to their culture (the Asiatic nature is NOT democracy, they want the most competent strongman) other SOBs will take their place, and the net gain, if any, will not have been worth the money and especially not the lives of good young Americans. We’re idiots to let our leaders dupe us into going along with it.
      My solution is to go diesel…better mileage, better durability, and easier to store quantities of fuel on-site to see me through a temporary crisis. Can’t do that with gasoline.

  7. ThatOneGuy
    May 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    In my neck of the woods the plan is to get people out of their cars entirely. Seattle has dropped all requirements for parking spaces for new residential buildings (and they’re going up all over the place, recession be damned). There’s an effort underway to toll all the highways leading into the city. It’s already going on for the state highways; for the interstates they have to ask federal permission but the plan is already in the works.

    They want to herd everyone into the city core. No more commuting in from the Eastside, South King or Snohomish counties. Everyone is on board, the eco nuts, the city real estate developers, the command-and-control sadists.

    The thing about the new tolls that makes me most uncomfortable is it’s all electronic. You have to buy a pass that gets scanned or they take a picture of your license plate and send you a bill in the mail at a much higher fee than if you just buy the stalker pass that lets the state know where you go and when you do it. You can’t just anonymously pay your few bucks to the toll booth and be on your way.

    • GW
      May 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      But of course – don’t you know the GOVMINT knows what is best for you…NO Oliver, you may not have another bowl of porridge…bwahahaha

    • JC
      May 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

      You’re in the vanguard out there in the west, but that’s quite literally the plan nationwide. See this:

    • Mark
      May 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      You’re hitting a big nail on the head. The real issue is Land Use Planning. Seattle (and Portland) are implementing what is called New Urbanism or NeoTraditional PLANNING. This is to supercede the policies put into place, mostly post WW2, that required zoning that restricted where you could live, work and manufacture. The NeoTrads want to force the type of living that existed prior to WW2, that is be able to live where you work. The concept of living over your business is fine, worked for centuries but, it happened as a matter of personal choice and the ability to use one’s property in the best manner the OWNER wanted. The post WW2 statist mentality of “that which is not permitted is prohibited” hasn’t changed, just the things that are permited. The New Urbanist statist utopia will also fail, at our expense.

      • May 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm

        I must add that I find it rather amusing when supposed libertarians complain when restrictions on what one may do with one’s land are drastically reduced!

        I think the fallacy arises out of the presumption that we proceed from a recent condition of liberty, i.e. that well-established illiberty isn’t illiberty at all but liberty. But I cannot by any stretch of the imagination characterize a pattern of settlement that relies on State restriction of land-use on one hand and State provision of transport infrastructure on the other as “liberty”.

        As it happens I do not think that the current “New Urbanist” initiatives will succeed, not because the principles are wrong, but because the implementation will be half-hearted and misguided. It will fail to reach its natural conclusion of economic and political localization.

    • Strider55
      May 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      Hate to tell you this, but even where cash is accepted license plates are photographed at toll booths. The purpose is to identify those who drive through without paying.

    • Douglas
      May 26, 2012 at 1:23 am

      What sad, TOG (Amongst British tankers that acronym means “The Old Gang”), is that the “benevolent planners” in Seattle presume to use the bully pulpit of Government to “get people out of their cars” or otherwise employ coercion as to transportation needs. It comes out of the same thing: the desire to CONTROL for its own sake, and a pollyannish, utopian, collectivist view of folks relying on yet another Government monopoly (mass transit) for their comings and goings.
      It would be self-evident that if folks wanted to ride the bus to get around town, then bus companies would spring up to provide service and would compete. This is already done with taxis. Of course, in many locales under the guise of consumer protection, taxi companies have exclusive franchises and charge up the ying-yang for their service. The true market value is seen by the prices and services offered by so-called “gypsy” cabs (an offensive term to the Roma people).
      Yes, if we eliminate public funding of ‘mass transit’, I can already hear the clarion cry of the foolish liberal…”what about the POOR?”. Well, what of THEM? Most of them, from what I can see, could stand some exercise. If there truly are downtrodden folks that need some help getting around or things brought to them (like “Meals on Wheels” for Seniors), then by all means contribute to those causes! But do so of your own free volition and with your own means, not mine or anyone else’s. The way I see it, I don’t what my taxes to subsidize the transport of lowlifes and dirtbags, so if they have trouble getting from whence they dwell to my neighborhood, well, ever the better.

      • May 26, 2012 at 8:19 am

        Watch it, Douglas; some of my best friends are lowlifes and dirtbags :)

        At the risk of being tedious, though, I must reiterate that your – and my – peculiar form of neighbourhood is the deliberate creation of the State, its purpose being on among other things to establish a privileged opportunity for viable mass-production of boring appliancemobiles for the use not of a lunatic fringe of car nuts (you and me) but of pretty much everyone. It wasn’t spontaneous; it wasn’t natural; it was very much engineered.

        Now gluing a public-transport system onto some part of such an animal’s anatomy makes it the more unnatural still, for where public transport, be it State-run or, like most of the early ones, nominally private, has really worked well it has done so not as an alternative to the private automobile but as an adjunct to walking.

        I like walking in cities, as biologically basic, culturally accepted as random, politically quite stubbornly anonymous, and medically beneficial without the need to appear in public in undignified clothing designed specifically for the getting of exercise. However we conceive of a mode of settlement founded on respective and universal personal liberty, it will be sure to involve a lot of walking.

        And if there is walking in abundance, some form of transport available to the random, sporadic, and anonymous use of the public (that is, not everyone but anyone – there is a difference) is likely to emerge.

        • Douglas
          May 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

          Except for ONE little thing…roads and highways ain’t there for ‘free’. Before there was fuel (mostly gasoline and diesel) that could be taxed to pay for roads, there were tolls for the trolls. What about in the cities? In most cases, worn naturally in the dirt, becoming an interesting mixture of mud and horse shit in inclement weather. An eyesore, impediment to traffic and a public health hazard to boot. In many cases municipalities either taxed carts and jitneys or they charged an entry fee (re: toll). So, at least, if by “topsy” a (local) government monopoly, it was “pay as you go”, especially once fuel taxes on motor vehicles (and fees for heavy trucks that cause most of the road damage) were levied. Where it’s gone bad, of course, is like any other. Politicians can’t resist drawing off more life blood, even when the host is getting anaemia.
          Ask yourself if historically there was any difficulty in folks getting around with available technology without the “Gubmint” devising and providing (at always a substantial operating deficit) some form of “mass transit”. Any takers?
          Finally, if you think I’m judging by appearance those I designate “dirtbags” and “lowlifes”, it’s not so. Some of the scruffiest (like Han Solo) are truly shining knights. Others, however crisp of speech and nattily attired, give cesspools and shit a bad name.

  8. BrentP
    May 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Government already has the answer to fuel efficiency. Transponders. Tax by mile. Every where we go tracked and taxed.

    They’ve been muttering about it for years now. How to get more tax revenues with hybrids and plug in electrics.

    Every solution they propose to every problem enriches them and empowers them.

    BTW Ever notice how the road funds are what government continually raids and attempts to raid? That when it runs out of money one of the first thing it does is threaten the roads?

    • mithrandir
      May 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      They never threaten the IRS, courts, executive branch, or any other unpopular government service. i wonder why? Al Capone would have been proud.

    • Scott
      May 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      And parks, education followed by health and welfare.

      It’s a mantra, “give us more money or will stop doing anything for you at all!”

      I say fine. Close the parks. What does that mean exactly? It’s public land. Closing parks doesn’t mean selling them, it means Yogi doesn’t have the Ranger to rob of goodies anymore. That’s about it. It could mean tent cities on public lands. That could be problematic, but that’s about it; the parks become the Greenwood.

      Shut down public education? Hell yes. Health and Welfare? See “Greenwood”.

  9. mithrandir
    May 18, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Short answer: No.

    If they were really interested in saving gas, they would encourage lighter vehicles (which would require less energy to make and operate).

    If needed the fuel tax could be raised to account for the money loss due increasing fuel efficiency. Politicians would not want
    to raise the fuel tax since they do not wish to be portrayed as raising taxes.

    This (the gas tax) would permit people to decide the type of vehicle that fits their needs(wants) and budget. Federally mandated CAFE discourages manufactures from building all of the vehicles that they may want to build due to the need to meet federal mandates.

    • Scott
      May 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      My word for the day is “fungible” :) If we raise the tax on gas to compensate for improved fuel economy the buyer in the moment sees no benefit. The current owner sees his or her property depreciated when, absent taxation, it would effectively appreciate.

      You may as well just print dollars. It will have the same economic effect.

      • mithrandir
        May 19, 2012 at 10:52 pm

        I think what you say is valid. I am not sure what is the best solution. The cost for maintaining roads does not go down as fuel efficiency improves.

        I still think a gas tax would be more effective than using CAFE for encouraging people to use more efficient vehicles.

        If there was advance notice of the gas tax increase it would help mitigate the financial impact to the average citizen. They would have more time to adjust.

        Hypothetically: $0.25 increase (in gas tax) every year for 8 years starting in two years.

  10. Dallas 2
    May 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Congress ain’t much interested in fuel efficiency by the Dept of Defense (…speaking of the Military Industrial Complex).

    The US Air Force is the single largest fuel-user in the world… $17 BILLION worth a year. There’s a vast 24/7 airborne transport ferry system to the MidEast, Asia, and everywhere else… plus, all the “combat” aircraft training and “patrolling”. Jet engines burn huge amounts of fuel. The US Army is no slacker either — spending about ‘$200 per gallon of gasoline’ used in Afghanistan vehicles (due to logistical delivery costs) … but at least the Army is exempted from sales taxes.

    Even modest fuel conservation by the DOD would dwarf any possible fuel savings by more efficient American cars. Those “invisible” DOD fuel costs each day… are staggering and never discussed — because Congress isn’t truly interested in better fuel efficiency for the nation. It’s all political charades, as usual.

  11. Tor Munkov
    May 18, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    What if the government auctioned off all the interstates and their right of ways to the highest non-government, non-nonprofit bidder? Think of all the awesome shit that private companies and individuals could do with the interstate network. It would be like the internet explosion yet 1000 times cooler.
    Anyone could own and operate their own roadsite.

    • Douglas
      May 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      That was part of what the late Harry Browne advocated. Sell off the considerable public assets (mostly land) and let the private sector run it.
      However, having worked for a DoD agency that deals with the disposal of land (former military bases), I can tell you that in many cases it amounts to a giveaway of “stolen goods” to the politically connected. It’s been my experience that the public gets royally screwed on these deals.

  12. spiritsplice
    May 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    All this begs the question, What the fuck are we still doing using gasoline for? This is 100 year old technology. Imagine if you were stuck using an Intel 286 in 2012. But it’s worse than that. W should moved on from gas, then moved on from its replacement by now. Has no one noticed that the future never arrived?

    • May 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      Gas is good! It’s abundant, easy to transport, lots of energy per unit volume… that said, I am getting ready to convert my hosue generator to CNG/propane…

      • spiritsplice
        May 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm

        I think you are missing the point here, think Tesla, think not being slave to power. Gas sucks, try flying to the moon with it.

        • May 18, 2012 at 9:06 pm

          Not at all – just asking, “where’s the beef?” It’s fine to trot Telsa out – but where’s the beef? Gas works – provably. Tesla, “free energy,” solar, hydrogen – etc. – all sound wonderful. If they provide equivalent or better energy output for less input than gas, great! But again, where’s the beef?

          Maybe the better/replacement form of energy hasn’t reached viability yet, given the technology available. Or maybe it’s been suppressed somehow.

          Bottom line, until there’s a provably better option than gas, I’ll stick with gas (and other hydrocarbon fuels).

          • May 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

            I’ve been steered to blacklight before; it’s interesting stuff – and I’m all for it if it works. But does it actually work? Gas works. Anyone can prove it works, too. Over the years, I’ve had literally hundreds of “tips” sent my way about alternative energy options – everything from the transparently silly (install a magnetized tube in your car engine’s fuel system and double its mileage) to stuff such as blacklight that sounds plausible, but – who knows? Can one take at face value claims made about an alternative energy on a web site, absent third-party, objective (repeatable) test data?

          • SM777
            May 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm

            “Or maybe it’s been suppressed somehow.”

            Eric, you are correct. Most of the technology developed and invented by Tesla has been suppressed. From what I understand, he developed an electric car with an engine powered by the earth’s magnetic field. No batteries, no noise, no refueling, little maintenance. This was in the 1930′s and apparently it was seized by the fedgov after a couple of demonstrations (martial law had been declared by FDR in 1933, just a couple of years before).

            Here’s a better example of suppressed tech. How about the electric light bulbs they used in the pyramids 3,000 years ago? Yep, that’s true. I didn’t believe it myself until I saw this on a National Geographic program. It’s probably still on YouTube.

            According to the US “history” books, the light bulb was “invented” by Edison. Not by egyptian priests thousands of years ago. It’s amazing what the elite is hiding and has hidden from us. UFO’s anyone???

          • eightsouthman
            May 19, 2012 at 10:43 pm

            I just want to know how come all of a sudden diesel, the cheapest and easiest to produce fuel from oil is so damned expensive. Back in ’07 we experienced a jump from about $2.50/gal. to well over $5/gal. It was supposed to be from the price of oil but that was bs. Oil wasn’t that high and after the one year, the last year of the Shrub’s last year, it all returned to a much more acceptable price even though the price of oil changed very little. Everyone was asking(why is gas to high?). I couldn’t get it across to them it wasn’t the price of oil, it was a monopoly and the Shrub’s administration had given the oil companies the ability to sell liquid fuel for what the hell ever price they thought they could get. This was the first year of outlandish, over the top profits for the big oil companies. In an effort to save fuel I had(and still have) a diesel pickup that got much better mileage as a working truck than did a gasoline vehicle. I was getting screwed big time. Drag a heavy trailer with a one ton diesel pickup every day for anywhere from 200-300 miles and you go broke in a hurry. As far as all those people who buy huge pickups to drive to work or like many people I know, buy a one ton crew cab diesel to take the kids to school, they can pay whatever they want. It’s people working diesel vehicles that run the price of everything up simply because the oil companies can and will extract profits never before seen. And by the way, it’s still going on.

          • BrentP
            May 20, 2012 at 2:20 am

            Tesla’s car is a myth. The feds never bothered Tesla when he was alive. They took all his papers when he died. They were supposedly all eventually released to the museum of his work in his home country. Of course there may some things fedgov kept for themselves. Nobody knows. But as far as Tesla’s car goes there is no evidence it ever existed. It’s just a story that is told many different ways.

        • BrentP
          May 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

          Man did go to the moon on hydrocarbons indirectly. Without hydrocarbons that spacecraft simply would not have existed.

          Hydrocarbons are very good fuels for energy density (volume and weight) and for storage/transportation. Some are better than others for one thing or another. That’s why we have many different choices in hydrocarbon fuels.

          The only thing that will pull hydrocarbons off the top of the heap is pulling energy from the ether (aka free energy). That, if it exists, will never be let out of the government’s grasp. If it doesn’t exist it will be banned immediately after it becomes public knowledge. A triad of hydrocarbon fuel companies, environmentalists, and safety advocates will demand this new, dangerous, environmentally damaging energy be banned. Government of course won’t delay and will act immediately. And they will make up reasons for why it is all three. Why? Because they are all out of work if they don’t. Plus it would make people much more difficult to control.

          • SM777
            May 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm

            BrentP – “Tesla’s car is a myth. The feds never bothered Tesla when he was alive. They took all his papers when he died.”
            —————————————–
            Uh-huh. Kind of like that “myth/conspiracy theory” from back in the 90′s about Bill Clinton getting BJ’s while sitting in the Oval Office. Whooops, out came that semen-stained dress!

          • May 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

            I’m open to facts – I don’t dismiss the possibility. But it’s not reasonable, is it, to take an extraordinary claim at face value that isn’t backed up by something tangible?

            Tesla was a genius – no disputing it. But it’s one thing to credit him with AC power delivery and other such things that we have clear, incontrovertible evidence for – and crediting him with other things that are (absent some proof) just speculation. Maybe he did figure out a means of harnessing free energy; maybe he had a viable idea for a car based on the concept. But let’s have some facts.

            I’m very sympathetic to the idea – in that I’d like to see something better than what we have now – and don’t for a moment doubt the machinations of the PTB.

            Still, all we have is speculation… and that’s a ways off from confirmation.

            Just saying.

          • BrentP
            May 21, 2012 at 12:24 am

            SM777, spare me the ridiculing dismissals. I’ve tried to follow this Tesla car thing many times. Each time I just turn up different forms of the same fable. I’ve read much on Tesla and the story isn’t repeated likely due to its lack of evidence.

            Simply put I believe that either the car never existed or was something much more conventional.

            And if you must know, I do believe there is a way to use a natural magnetic field or energy of the universe. Hence my interest in Tesla’s car. I simply find the stories unconvincing. I believe coral castle is a much better place to look. We can look at the results of his manipulations.

          • SM777
            May 21, 2012 at 4:48 am

            Hi BrentP,

            Will do. No more ridiculing. Nothing personal.

            If I come across any links you may find interesting, I will post them here.

            SM777

          • Scott
            May 21, 2012 at 5:29 am

            Guys. Stop with Tesla, he was way ahead of his time. And BTW? He invented radio, not Marconni (it was a patent race). Tesla was, as Eric so aptly points out, a dyed in the wool genius. I wish I had children like him. Shit! I DO have children like him! Just proves my point :)

            What I was going to mumble about though was something called Zero Point Energy, also known as the Zero Point Field. It’s a very Zen idea…

            Happiness on you!

          • Scott
            May 21, 2012 at 5:47 am

            Perhaps I should mention my own opinion on extracting energy from zero point fields is that it isn’t repeatable; as soon as you extract any energy from a zero point field it ceases to exist. I don’t find this a particularly difficult concept.

      • Douglas
        May 18, 2012 at 11:07 pm

        Hank Hill will be your best friend….

    • DD
      May 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      Hydrocarbons are freaking incredible.
      hydrocarbons are incredibly energy dense.
      I just put 10 fluid ounces of C8 in my lawnmower with a B&S heat generator engine of about 20% work efficiency and it cut and bagged probably 180 lbs of grass.
      Move on to what? Please specify.
      The only viable replacement would be hyrogen but you will need nuclear power to crack water.
      The Terrorists with their broadcast media and publik skewls has indoctrinated their tax livestock into believing that duhhh…Hydrocarbon and “big oil” (placing the word “Big” in front of a company makes them evil to the feeble-minded runts) Bad…duhhh…GruntGrunt when actually driving a Hummer H2 on Autobahn 7 at 120 MPH is the “Greenest” thing one can do.
      Hint: Co2 and Water (car exhaust) is fucking plant food!

      • JC
        May 19, 2012 at 11:59 pm

        Hydrocarbons are incredible. But uranium is even better. And LENR (low energy nuclear reactions, e.g. Pons Fleischman and successors) are pretty darn incredible too. If only we were allowed to have the technology in widespread civilian use.

        • Tinsley Grey Sammons
          May 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

          A so-called nuclear powered vehicle would be driven by a steam engine. After considering teh design and manufacturing problems the internal combustion engine is going to be around for a long time to come.

        • Scott
          May 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

          LENR is indeed incredible, so much so that no one gives it any credence. It’s been 20 years now and no one has reproduced the Pons Fleischman experiment.

          How could a discovery like that be suppressed? Even if you consider that Big Oil might be able to put coordinated international pressure on oil consuming nations, there are still a few (Iran comes to mind) that undoubtedly would be pursuing cold fusion if they could make it work. People would find out.

          I’m afraid I can’t buy LENR. I would be happy to see liquid metal reactors in use though, but of course after Fukishima that won’t be happening.

          • JC
            May 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm

            If you want to know about things that are not in the interests of the powers that be, sometimes you have to go looking for the information. It really is not that hard to find, but I learned long ago that most people don’t want to know, so I’m not going to do a google search for you.

          • May 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

            The problem with that, JC, is that you’re putting the burden of supporting your assertion on other people. It’s the obligation of the person making an assertion to provide factual support for the assertion. If I say, “aliens crash landed at Roswell” – and then tell you the “truth is out there” – how much weight will you give my assertion? Now, show me evidence that aliens crash landed at Roswell – and it’s a different story.

          • May 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm

            Isn’t “no one has reproduced the Pons Fleischman experiment” science-speak for “it’s bullshit”?

            There isn’t a lot of cloak-and-dagger in the scientific community. These things don’t happen in a corner, as it were.

          • May 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm

            Yeah, I’m with you… where’s the beef? Show me the data – show me facts, repeatable tests. Not “so and so invented a Computerized Space Modulator that provides limitless free energy… but the technology has been suppressed.” Well, maybe. But maybe aliens have visited earth, too. I’m not discounting the possibility. But I’m not going to buy the reality until I see the evidence – incontrovertible proof.

            Where’s the beef?

    • Boothe
      May 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      @spiritsplice – So what do you propose we use for vehicle fuel? Solar electric? Sails? Whale oil? As Eric points out, right now there are bloody few alternatives that have the stability and energy density for storage, portability and ease of use possessed by gasoline and diesel fuel. Natural Gas which is primarily CH4 (methane) does not liquefy at any temperature above -116 deg. F, regardless of pressure. Compressed Natural Gas cylinders run in the 3000+ PSIG range when full, presenting all kinds of issues for filling them when depleted, storage, leaks, pressure regulation, potential for injury, property damage, etc. This makes CNG prohibitively costly and risky for use as a vehicle fuel outside of commercial / industrial applications; even then only with trained personnel. Propane, which is C3H8, will liquefy at ambient temperatures in the 130 to 250 PSIG range. But propane is primarily the byproduct of…wait for it…refining petroleum. Hence it’s other name: Liquefied Petroleum Gas or simply LP. So to get the propane you have to refine the gasoline. Ironic isn’t it?

      So perhaps you’re thinking a nuclear powered car? Maybe a “safe” thorium power unit? Even if it were economically viable, the PTB won’t let Iran have a nuclear power plant without a fight. You think they’d mere “mundanes” such as us have a long lasting power source that doesn’t require coming them frequently with checkbook or debit card in hand? Enlighten us as to just what this “modern” energy source you proclaim we should have had by now really is. I suspect that if you actually knew, you be filthy rich and not wasting your time here with us “small people.”

      • Tinsley Grey Sammons
        May 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm

        Thank you Boothe. I long ago wearied of pull-it-out-of thin-air-solutions.

        I have long wondered why the U.S. has not had the world’s best bullet train and monorail systems for at least thirty years. It simple does not make sense.

        I live in Gonzales Louisiana and have not visited my family near Gainesville Florida in more than five years because I don’t want to spend fourteen hours driving and I don’t like to fly. And who in his right mind would take a slow train or ride the bus unless he simply had to.

        • Brad Smith
          May 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm

          Amtrak is the answer to your question. It doesn’t work without forcing taxpayers to pay for it. How much would the average customer really be willing to pay for a ticket? How do you build it without eminent domain?

          • Tinsley Grey Sammons
            May 19, 2012 at 2:04 am

            How much would a customer pay for a ticket?

            I’d pay $100 for a ten hour train trip from Baton Rouge to Gainesville.

            I made several train trips in my youth. I Even made a couple of overnighters in Pullman cars and slept the night through.

            The trains in Germany were the best where you could share a compartment with one other person and the seats made into small beds. My parents and I made two round trips to Garmish Germany and one to St. Moritz Switzerland from Bremerhaven.

          • May 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

            I, too, would like to take a train for longer (more than 10 hour by car) trips. But train travel has become vile and Third World, just like air travel – right down to the gropes and scans and Submit and Obey.

        • Tinsley Grey Sammons
          May 19, 2012 at 11:04 am

          I cannot recall ever being cramped or bored during a long train ride. And today, with a latop or notebook there is even less reason to be bored. Take along a few “downers” and there is less reason yet. It is impossible to be bored while asleep.

          There is very little reason for “Are we there yet?” during a long train ride.

      • DD
        May 19, 2012 at 12:34 am

        If there was a free market then I suspect that most all ground and air transportation devices would use C11 or Jet-A1 and nuclear power for boats.

        C11 is far less volatile than gasoline and still has good low temperature performance. With the advancements in high-pressure fuel injection, Compression ignition of C11 could happen at around 15:1 compression without a lot of soot and NOx.

      • May 19, 2012 at 9:37 am

        Actually, it is almost as practical to make biopropane as bioethanol. That is, neither is (currently) practical for ordinary uses and neither looks like it will be practical in the foreseeable future, but that’s for economic reasons, not technical ones; there is no technical issue making propane necessarily a petroleum product, just an economic one.

        In case anyone is interested, the way to get biopropane is to make butyric acid by fermentation (much like bioethanol), only where you concentrate bioethanol by distilling it you decarboxylate the butyric acid by destructively distilling it with soda lime to give biopropane.

      • Scott
        May 20, 2012 at 11:30 am

        The only liquid fuel I know of that’s renewable and has an energy density high enough to make it a practical replacement for gas is hydrogen peroxide. It’d be pretty strait forward to build an engine based on it, maybe a Wankle type.

        The big problem with H2O2 is handling safety since it’s a potent oxidizer at fuel grade concentrations; pretty much anything it touches ignites. These aren’t insurmountable problems but the stuff is harder to handle than gasoline.

        • DD
          May 20, 2012 at 8:32 pm

          The great thing about HC is that it is created naturally and is naturally renewable unlike what we are told to think. There are quadrillions of barrels of the goo under the ocean…literally oceans of the stuff under the oceans. People who actually understand earth’s carbon cycle call the goo “liquid sunshine”… because that’s really what it is.

    • May 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      Of all the things preventing people from seeing the world’s situation clearly, most nefarious is the facile but severe conception of “progress” that Jacques Maritain aptly named “chronolatry”. Get so far as to question that idea, and suddenly everything is limpid.

      “Has no one noticed that the future never arrived?” The future hasn’t arrived. That is why it is the future. If it had arrived, it would have been the present – momentarily, before becoming the past. The important point here is that there is no quality peculiar to the future except that it has not happened yet. It might be no different from the present; though chances are that it will be different, but possibly – probably – in a way that isn’t in the least “futuristic”.

      Historically, a good case can be made for the view that the general mien of technological development had been cumulative – a steady and beneficial expansion of options – until the establishment of patent law. Only thereafter, that is, quite recently and emphatically nowhere on any spectrum in any way related to “human evolution”, do we see the sort of chain-like Hegelian dialectical of techniques that has come to represent the historical norm in the popular mind. The pattern of successive obsolescences is unprecedented and for that reason alone conceivably anomalous; and as anomalous it describes a machine, a Future Machine that not only produces but also consumes innovation, arguably leaving us little better off than we might have been without it.

      I find this supporting another observation I’ve got brewing. A few have above referred to the basic idea underlying Jevons’ Paradox, and I certainly believe that it is applicable in this case. Indeed, to those who would argue that the situation is such that we should not expect Jevons to kick in imminently I say that it has kicked in, and quite some time ago. Jevons’ Paradox describes the development of urban motoring in the USA after WWII perfectly.

      But the State has been complicit in this from the start, as Eric rightly points out. The construction of transport infrastructure has been described by Kevin Carson (see http://c4ss.org/content/10402, for instance) as a fifth monopoly equal in influence to the four identified by Benjamin Tucker (money, land, tariffs, and patents), and moreover one that was already very much in force in Tucker’s 19th-century American context. And its function is readily understandable in those terms, also as regards fuel: it’s purpose is to ensure critical threshold fuel consumption to ensure the viability of petrochemical fuel production. (It is a moderately high threshold – considerably higher than that of organic-stock E96, for instance.)

      My concern with significant improvements in fuel efficiency is that the current pattern of sprawl – that is, an interreaction of available mobility and the need for mobility – would be further stimulated, leaving us with a nett fuel bill higher than ever. We might be left with reduced nett mobility: need to travel farther on the same cost of fuel, impossible except by feeding the Future Machine and getting new cars – but for how long, before they too become too expensive to run?

      That is why I see no solution around the 100mpg-mean range of efficiency touted by many. A system can find a more comfortable sustainability around 30mpg-mean (Europe in the ’60s? – or the ’20s?!), if everything else in the system tends to support a generous cushion of surplus nett mobility.

  13. Brad Smith
    May 18, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I wouldn’t have a problem with the gas tax at all if it were used correctly, openly, hosestly and without some other agenda. When is the last time our government ever did anything that way? However, use taxes are in my mind preferable to a progressive tax.

    Anyone see all the hoopla about the facebook guy who left the country? His exit tax, capital gains tax, etc. was over 400 million dollars. Yet libs will claim he didn’t pay his fair share. What? How is that possible? He lived in this country for ten years, how did he use more than 400 million dollars in services? So now they are passing some law saying you must pay taxes on investments even after you ditch your citizenship.

    Tax cattle, tax slaves etc.

    • BrentP
      May 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm

      Attaching user fees to fuel is a good system. Its positives outweigh its faults. Government is the problem as always.

      The problem with taxation is that people are manipulated into emotions like jealousy etc. It’s a manipulation that is easy to fall into. A guy is paying a lot of taxes and then someone with more doesn’t or pays less or escapes future taxes or whatever and the emotional reaction is to ‘get him’. Same with people who don’t have much income. They never think about what’s in common they just want what the other guy has or at the very least make him as miserable as they are.

      That’s what we are in the grip of. People who rather bring others down than advance themselves. Instead of seeing the state as a roadblock to their wealth they see it as a tool to destroy the wealth of someone else or take it. It takes a higher level thinking to want to remove the roadblock so politicians don’t bother with that and instead play to the lowest common denominator hoping that people will be too lazy to go beyond it.

      Of course those on top in this society don’t often stop with their own success, others have to be ruined too. This also has infected the society. People would rather see a millionaire brought down than have the artificial barriers to them being millionaires removed.

      • Brad Smith
        May 18, 2012 at 11:48 pm

        Right on!

      • Strider55
        May 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

        Same with people who don’t have much income. They never think about what’s in common they just want what the other guy has or at the very least make him as miserable as they are.

        What those fools never realize is that there are others even poorer than them and want to screw them over to the same degree.

        “You fear the man who has a dollar less than you, that dollar is rightfully his, he makes you feel like a moral defrauder. You hate the man who has a dollar more than you, that dollar is rightfully yours, he makes you feel that you are morally defrauded.” — John Galt

  14. Harold
    May 19, 2012 at 12:31 am

    I find some faults in the logic presented in this article.
    First: tens of millions of people suddenly using less gas? That wouldn’t happen until tens of millions of these fuel efficient cars are sold. That would take several years of car production.
    Less money spent on fuel would mean more money for other consumption, which would be good for all but the oil business.
    It would also reduce out oil trade imbalance, which is also beneficial.
    I guess if you believe that everything our government does, starting with wars in Vietnam and Iraq, is all about maintaining sources of oil for our corporations to exploit to failure to do anything to enable mass public transit, then perhaps the initial article makes sense.
    I do have a hard time accepting that it’s all about gas tax revenue for the government.

    • May 19, 2012 at 9:44 am

      Everything the government does is about money – and power. Nothing the government does is meant to “help” you or me or any other peon.

      This is the essential thing to understand.

      • Tinsley Grey Sammons
        May 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

        Truer words were never spoken and it takes very little Critical Thinking to arrive at that succinct conclusion. But unpardonably, most folks are apparently not competent Critical Thinkers. They simply do not bother to make use of their potential ability to “Think it through”.

        Why not?

      • DD
        May 20, 2012 at 9:53 pm

        Geeeeezzzzz…It takes a serious moron to think otherwise! I swear!

        Most people don’t even realize that the terrorists OWN them…It really is not that hard to figure out!

        (You forgot one…Political Terrorists want…In order: Power, Money, Sex)

    • May 20, 2012 at 11:58 am

      Another thing to understand is that the petrochemical industry is about more than petrol/gasoline. Crude oil is a cocktail of lots of different substances, the proportions of which varies over quite a wide range. Exploiting it viably means ultimately being able to sell as much of it as possible.

      Out of every gallon of crude one would get so much of the fractions found in petrol/gasoline, so much of the somewhat heavier fractions that go into diesel, so much plastics feedstocks, so much LP, so much paraffin/kerosene, so much of various lubricating oils, etc. That is why the consumption rates of these various components are artificially managed.

      That is why abandoning one in favour of the other makes no sense. That is why the NATO phase-out of spark-ignition fuels has caused a slight civilian-industry retreat from diesel. That is why the idea of achieving extreme fuel efficiency through “lightweight plastic” cars is a ludicrous one.

  15. May 19, 2012 at 5:55 am

    If people continue to get poor gas mileage from their vehicles they will start to look toward alternative fuel sources which will cost the major oil companies a lot of money. Oil is still depleting so by using more fuel efficient cars people will still lean toward fossil fuel as the their primary source of gas

    • May 19, 2012 at 9:33 am

      Agreed – however:

      If you try to make your own fuel, watch out (as OJ likes to say). We had a guy in my area who home-brewed bio-diesel and got crucified for not paying the tribute (taxes). If they don’t get you that way, they’ll find other ways – such as “environmental” ways, even on your own property. Which of course, isn’t.

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      May 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Resources are diminishing while the human population grows.

      “Someday people will hate one another simply because there are so many.” –Philip Wylie, FINLEY WREN (1936)

      I doubt there is anyone here who has not felt hatred for his fellow critters “simply because there are so many”?

      Interestingly, hateful old curmudgeon Wylie also wrote THE ANSWER.

      Wylie’s GENERATION OF VIPERS catapulted him to fame in 1941. VIPERS is a people-are-stupid-hypocrite-assholes classic

      tgsam

      • May 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        For Vipers, I prefer Francois Mauriac’s Knot of them: it is ultimately as charitable as the other isn’t.

  16. dom
    May 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve always loved this picture!

    Obama Forward

  17. May 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Eric, the short answer to the question that you ask in this essay’s title is, “Absolutely not.”

    Both American domestic and import manufacturers have made and sold high mpg vehicles for decades – but almost never in the USA.

    I read somewhere that 70+% of the 50+ mpg vehicles sold outside of the US are manufactured by the (former) US Big 3 automakers.

    Like everything else that our government meddles in – our government is the problem, and no part of the solution. If, in this industry, they would just get out of the way and let the free market decide what we want, we would have high mpg cars.

    But of course our government has no interest in giving up control here or in any other area of our lives. It is reported that in calendar 2011 alone, out government passed over 40,000 new laws. Our government is never the solution – but it is ALWAYS the problem – with 535 compromised criminals in DC running the show.

    America is headed for a financial reset. I hope that that reset includes a governmental reset as well.

  18. May 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    The critical thing you missed Erik is that my research indicates that only about 50% of gas taxes actually go to anything remotely concerned with roads. We can easily double the gas mileage of our cars before we have to worry about financing road construction as long as we can control the thieves in the District of Criminals.

  19. Paul
    May 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I would like for someone to show me a 747 flying on a damn Battery? If there is a car getting 80 Mpg. you can bet its a pregnant roller skate instead of a car? fossil fuels are the only answer until technology comes up with something different and they haven’t yet!

    • SM777
      May 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      Hi Paul, Google the VW Lupo.

    • SM777
      May 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      Also, Google fuel vapor. Or fuel vaporization, the Corbin carburetor, Fuel Evaporative Technologies (they have a YouTube channel).

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      May 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      The laws of physics are what they are and wishful thinking ain’t gonna change them.

      Talk of the government-prevented 100 mpg carburettor was not uncommon in the 1940s. Although I was a mere boy at the time, I remember it well. I also remember a pitchman demonstrating a power improving device that he put into a distributor by merely removing the cap. It caused the demonstration engine to rev higher and the pitchman passed this off as proof. Some of the audience actually bought his little device. I suspect that it was nothing more than a rotor molded to advance ignition timing.

      • JC
        May 20, 2012 at 12:01 am

        They are what they are until somebody demonstrates conclusively that there are significant revisions in order. Think Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kind of changed the paradigm a bit, wouldn’t you say?

        • Tinsley Grey Sammons
          May 20, 2012 at 2:41 am

          Get right on it. Perhaps the revisions will at least help until population growth nullifies the positive effect of your revisions.

          Hmm…I wonder how much a woman would have to be paid to voluntarily submit to being spayed?

          • May 20, 2012 at 9:52 am

            “Hmm…I wonder how much a woman would have to be paid to voluntarily submit to being spayed?”

            My solution to this strikes me as simple – and most important, in accordance with a moral political philosophy:

            Every person who brings a child into this world is personally responsibly for that child. You will do whatever you must in order to provide food/shelter, etc. for your child. You will not transfer this obligation onto the shoulders of anyone else.

            Your child needs shelter and food and education? Then provide it. No more shitting out kids and getting paid to do so. No more entitlements to anything based on having produced a child.

            For most people, this prospect presents a very powerful – and salutary – moral hazard. They refrain from having kids they cannot afford to care for. The maggotry will still reproduce of course, but not to the extent they do now. Which would be an enormous improvement.

            Some will accuse me of being harsh. Which is harsher? Threatening innocent strangers with lethal violence, in order to force them to provide funds in perpetuity, at the expense of their own financial security and that of their families, so that the irresponsible actions of random strangers may be financially rewarded? And is it kind to encourage the most cretinous and irresponsible elements in a society to reproduce? Even with gibs muh dat assistance, the progeny of these people are doomed from conception (the vast majority). Unwanted, unloved, uncared-for. Endowed with (generally) lower IQs and other debilities. Is it kind to foster the reproduction, en masse, of such?

          • JC
            May 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm

            The problem with population in the developed world and China is not population growth, but population implosion. Again, if you want to know the truth about what is going on in the world, sometimes it is necessary to ask questions rather than just accept whatever memes are being propagated by the powers that be. This is another issue where the facts aren’t hard to discover. You don’t even need Google for this one. Remember the one child policy they instituted in China a thirty or forty years ago? You must have heard that the Japanese are literally dying off. In the U.S. the fertility rate is below the replacement rate. Ditto Western Europe. Russia? On the path to extinction.

            Now, parts of Africa and perhaps South America, yes, the birth rate is very high. In Africa many of those children die. Maybe you’ve heard of the AIDS epidemic that still ravages much of the continent. Look up the UN, World Bank, and other internnational organizations documents on population. A hint: Use the ones from a few years back.

          • BrentP
            May 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm

            All these people will mutter ‘it wasn’t the child’s fault’ and go about subsidizing the ‘poor’ to have children. Even though things are really far from their ideal in the USA people are still poor for a reason. They still could have made or can make decisions that would result in them not being poor. For now anyway.

            The worst thing about this welfare is that it gets people into other people’s business. The same caring folks who talk about ‘the children’ will also start demanding things for their money. Couple that with human social tendencies to have everyone conform… And then they play right into the eugenics hand.

            It causes people to go along with the ruling class’s ideas when otherwise they would have been repulsive.

            And in the mind of these people they believe it will never ever be applied to them. Only those bad people over there. Now more and more cases are getting into the public eye where middle class people who provide for themselves suddenly find the child welfare people in their face.

            Even then, they still don’t wake up. They shrug it off as errors not as the system is constructed at best.

          • May 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

            I’ve read several “sob story” articles lately about people in great financial distress… as you dig into the story, you find out that the man is/was a construction worker and making $40k year during the boom times. The wife works/worked part-time. They bought a $280,000 house, own a late-model SUV that cost $30,000 and another car or SUV that cost about the same. And they have 2-3 kids on top.

            So, these people, already living well beyond their means – add kids to the mix. Then dad loses his sheetrocking job. Six months later, they’re broke and homeless.

            Do I feel bad for them?

            No. I do feel bad for their kids. The stupidity of parents ought not to become the albatross around the necks of children. But the issue here is the atrocious judgment, planning and reckless irresponsibility of the parents.

            These people could have been ok – even with kids – if they’d lived reasonably. But they didn’t – and now not only do their kids suffer, we suffer. We – taxpaying, responsible people – get to hold the proverbial bag. In effect, our being prudent and responsible is punished.

            And that makes me furious!

          • SM777
            May 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm

            “We – taxpaying, responsible people – get to hold the proverbial bag. In effect, our being prudent and responsible is punished.”
            —————————————
            Don’t worry Eric. The welfare state will soon be gone. So will socialist security.

            Just watch out for those FEMA camps. Once the fedgov (TM) is no longer able to make the interest payment on the impossible national debt, they will no longer fund socialist security, welfare, Medicare/Medicaid……and guess what is going to happen to all of the pensions?. The elite’s goal then will be to put the trouble makers in “residential facilities”.

            From what I understand, in the rural areas, it might not be cost effective. But since there are clumps of trouble makers in the “inner cities” (street gangs, etc.), guess who will go first?

            I was a State Dept. employee for three years. Guess what else I heard about.

          • May 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm

            Much as I would like to avoid/limit the awful consequences of what you describe – I agree that it’s inevitable and may be purgative.

            The country needs a douching.

          • BrentP
            May 21, 2012 at 12:15 am

            Eric, you’re gonna send me on another ‘help for the hapless’ rant. :)

            It all stems from this idea that what happens in life and the severity from it is just random events. Which is rarely the case.

            So first the feel sorry for and help these people… then there are too many people being helped (because bad decisions are subsidized) so that’s followed up with control.

            Present the 1920s-30s eugenics ideas and they get rejected out of hand. Do them this way and the people cheer it on. Same end result. A small elite shaping society the way they want it on every level. It’s so clever as a new way to achieve those ideas that failed straight on the odds of it not being on purpose must be slim.

    • Scott
      May 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm
    • Douglas
      May 26, 2012 at 1:38 am

      Amen. Most of these stories about the “miracle carburetor” (like the Pogue) that raises the fuel economy five-fold with no other modifications to a gasoline engine are bunk. Just think about it from a “garbage-in, garbage-out” perspective. The mere existence of such a device would mean that worldwide, competing automakers and their parts suppliers were committing to a setup that allowed 80% of the fuel delivered to not be burned. So either there’s an afterburner on the tailpipe, or somehow the incredible gas fumes that would spew forth (and also the muffler/converter wouldn’t get choked by all that soot) are treated to not offend the driver’s nostrils, and the unburned fuel isn’t washing the engine oil right off the cylinders to wear out the rings in not time flat. C’mon, folks, it’s nice to thing of these miracle engineering improvements, but they don’t exist! Air-fuel delivery was largely solved by the carburetor about 100 years ago. There were further refinements. We went to at first Throttle-body injection (which would suffice in most “grocery-getter” applications today), and then multi-point fuel injection systems which largely today are fairly trouble-free and reliable for the useful economic life of the vehicle (but “Gawd” help you when it finally gives out, usually due to aging of the components).
      There are only two ways to somehow get even better performance out of the gasoline (Otto) cycle engine…(1) somehow improve the materials so that they can withstand the engine heat and still deliver a reasonable service life, enabling an “adiabatic” engine, and (2) develop variable compression to enable optimum compression for various fuels (alcohol, gasohol, propane, and petrol). Other improvements such as an improved hybrid configuration wouldn’t be specific to gasoline engines…like having the engine run at a constant speed that it can be optimized for, and use either a computer-controlled constant-variable transmission or some form of electric drive. The idea, in the latter, is to get the “off-line” performance desired by the motoring public with a smaller, and therefore more fuel efficient engine.
      But in all this, keep the politicians and crackpots (am I being redundant?) out of the bailiwick of engineers.

      • May 26, 2012 at 10:09 am

        Right you are, Doug.

        Political conspiracies – definitely. The 100 MPG carburetor? No way. My reasoning? As a gearhead who knows gearheads (including some extremely bright engineers who hold multiple patents) if such a thing were possible, and so simply achieved, not just one of us but thousands of us would have built the damn thing ourselves – and there’s no way that could be suppressed. Think of the tends of thousands – no, wait – hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of active, hard-core wrenchers out there. People capable of rebuilding entire drivetrains and making major modifications on their own, in their back yards. Is it credible to believe that none of these people – some of them geniuses with machinery – could reproduce this technology? Mind, we’re not talking about engineering a faster-than-light star drive or opening a wormhole or cold fusion. We are talking about feeding gasoline to an IC engine – a simple IC engine (the Pogue carburetor goes back to the 1950s or earlier, I believe).

        • dom
          May 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

          I thought about something like this the other day. I’ve heard about the 100 mpg carb, or manifold a few times in the past, but check this out. What if we started with a super small car like early 80s civic. Then built a carb with a completely adjustable on the fly carburetor (something we can lean the shit out of while driving). Like have some dials on the dash that are mechanically connected to the carb. I think modern small private airplane have something similar. I know as we lean it out it would start to detonate, maybe this could be fixed by using alcohol or water or both and having dash controls for them too. Of course we’d need readings for all the temperatures (head, intake, exhaust) so we don’t blow the shit up. It would be trial and error for sure, but once an absolute most lean state was reached we could cycle back into it and out of it to keep the heads from popping, or shoot more water/alcohol into the mix. Or maybe some other chemical. I don’t know, just something I think about every once in while.

          • BrentP
            May 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm

            Computer controlled carburetors were made thirty years ago. No need for manual adjustment.

          • May 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

            Remember Chrysler’s “lean burn” system of the late ’70s?

          • dom
            May 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm

            Naw, I am talking about leaning it out all the way to detonation as well as perhaps mixing other stuff. Not talking about throttle body injection. I know on my buddy’s plane he has the ability to lean his mixture out from like 13 gallons an hour to 9 gallons an hour.

            Plus dood, having a computer run the shit pretty much makes this idea dead in the water (makes the shit too hard to create at home).

          • BrentP
            May 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm

            Vaguely remember reading about “lean burn” once upon a time.

            Dom, not throttle body injection, a computer controlled carburetor. I’ve rebuilt one, they exist. Uses an O2 sensor and everything. search up “computer controlled quadrajet”

            Spending a bunch of time adjusting AF, idle, etc takes away from driving. That’s for machines to do.

          • May 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm

            They were Carter AFBs set to run so lean the engines barely ran!

          • May 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

            I can think of few things more pointless than a computer-controlled carburettor! I’d be all over EFI if it weren’t for the computer. That’s what draws me to unexpected uses for 2″ SUs: much of the functionality of EFI without any microchips.

          • dom
            May 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

            “Spending a bunch of time adjusting AF, idle, etc takes away from driving. That’s for machines to do.”

            I know I know… Was just thinking out loud.

            I used to have a computer controled quadrahog on my El Camino.

            Here is a bit about a similar airplane carb I was talking about:

            http://luscombe.org/index.php?page=stromberg-carburetors-article-1-7-07

  20. dom
    May 19, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Just got back from canoeing on the Shenandoah River which is about a mile from my house. Loaded up the trailer with the canoe and packed the wife, kid, and dog in the truck. Wouldn’t you know it when I got to the low water bridge (our departure spot) there are three State Troopers there making a fucking road block safety check! It’s a super tight area, so I started doing a u-turn around them to dump of my boat and move on. One of them walked up the my truck and following me. When I got out he was “please show me your license.” I replied “no.” He said “why?” I was like “I don’t feel like it, this is my home why are you bothering me?” He said, “you live here, like right here?” I said “yeah, one mile down the road.” He was like “then what is your social security number?” I like “are you kidding me, this is a free country isn’t it?” Anyhow, I told my SSN and then he pulled out his notepad and started writing it. He asked if I could give it to him again. I was like “Jezzzus” and grabbed my wallet from the truck and gave my license to him. All the while I am unloading my boat, getting the kid out of the child seat, and letting the dog out the back. My wife was like “this is fucking ridiculous.” I made it a point to make it a real fucking pain the ass for these fucks as we all should. This shit is out of control and I am sick of it. There were about 20 people standing around in shock at the way I asserted myself. Too many fucking pussies in America. That is the cause of all our problems!

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      May 19, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      Too many people period. As population increases things are going to continue to worsen for those desiring to simply be left alone.

      So many things have ceased to be fun simply because individuals can no longer “get away from it all”.

      During Apollo, I remember a cartoon in Playboy that showed an astronauts foot leaving the Moon Lander’s ladder and descending onto a pile of shit on the moon’s surface.

      SOYLENT GREEN anyone?

      • dom
        May 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm

        You are right! I failed to mention I live smack dab in the middle of nowhere in the mountains! My house is an eight of a mile off state maintained roads. I purposely moved out here to be the hell away from this exact shit.

        • Tinsley Grey Sammons
          May 20, 2012 at 2:31 am

          As long as population continues to increase, no one’s property ownership and remoteness is secure.

          I could puke every time I hear “growth” mentioned as though it were a good thing. The last thing our human population tortured planet needs is more “growth”.

          Planet Earth is becoming a spherical human warren.

      • BrentP
        May 20, 2012 at 2:29 am

        Societies that are freer that what we have in the USA now have managed to exist with far higher population density.

        The problem is well… the kind of people.

    • May 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Unbelievable.

      This kind of thing is a big part of the reason why we moved to a very rural area. Here, I am able to (for the moment) practice avoidance. In eight years, only had to deal with two “safety” checkpoints. But I realize the net is closing – and I burn with contempt for my “fellow Americans,” who countenance this kind of thing. I think to myself, if only a solid 20-30 percent of the population had some balls – and self respect – we would not have “safety” checks or the airport gropes. I could travel unmolested.

      Instead, “freedom loving” Americans surrender their freedom – and worse, yours and mine – as soon as they hear the magic words:

      Safety.

      Security.

      I will have no pity for them when they are herded down the chute.

      The tragedy is that you and I and others who do value human liberty – human dignity – will go down with them.

      • May 20, 2012 at 11:11 am

        It’s a perennial problem for me: people take “what/how” issues and turn them into “who” issues. In other words, their entire take on an issue revolves around the questions, “What kind of people support x?” and “What kind of people oppose x?”; “what kind” being articulated purely in terms of social status.

        Sometimes the association structures can be very subtle. And I do not believe for a moment that they exist free of considerable “guidance” from certain quarters; but they would not work at all but for a very real human weakness. As CS Lewis put it, “for all but the best of men would rather be called wicked than vulgar.”

        Thus deliberately to arrange it so that a love of liberty is perceived to be a characteristic of ignorant provincial hicks is doubly criminal.

        I am reminded of the European intellectual climate in the years leading up to WWII, when many erudite Jews adopted a studied indifference arising out of Nietzschean cool. That ended badly enough despite the Nazi propaganda machine being quite a blunt instrument by comparison.

  21. Joe in Missouri
    May 20, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Growth IMHO is not nearly the problem that governments are. We have fukashima’s precisely because government has stepped in and limited the liability of cooperation’s. In the US this corporatism took the form of the Price Anderson act. Would we have mercury filled compact fluorescents filling land fills if it were not for government legislation and subsides? Would fluoride soup be going into the streams and rivers if it were not for the insane government psy-op to put this toxin in our drinking water? We would would also all be driving 80 MPG autos if it were not for government interference. Government is the biggest threat to this planet the way I see it.

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      May 20, 2012 at 3:53 am

      I’m 76 years old. What should fluoride have done to me by now?

      Eighty MPG autos?

      How much will they weigh.

      How many passengers would they comfortably accommodate?

      What will their speed be limited to to achieve 80 MPG?

      It isn’t possible to go very far on the lean side of stoichiometric without causing a lean misfire. Methinks squeezing 80 mpg out of even the most economical passenger car is a pipe dream.

      • Scott
        May 20, 2012 at 7:10 am

        Fluoride forms hydrofluoric acid in your stomach, which destroys the stomach and intestinal mucosa. All sorts of stuff can result, from malabsorption syndrome to plain old bleeding out. Toxic dose is estimated at 5-10mg/kg, with 5-10 grams being an average lethal dose in adults.

        • Scott
          May 20, 2012 at 7:12 am

          I never have figured out how local governments were convinced to put a toxic waste product in public water supplies. It remains a mystery to me.

          • Tinsley Grey Sammons
            May 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm

            Why is unneeded and toxic Tylenol put in Hydrocodone? As an effective and safe analgesic opium needs no additives.

            Either the lawmakers aren’t paying attention or there is money and/or malice at work.

            “As ever, post election herds of politicians are migrating from the public sector to the promised land of Washington lobbying, led this year by Representative [LAWYER] Billy Tauzin, an architect of the people’s new Medicare drug law who is becoming the pharmaceutical industry’s chief lobbyist at a rumored salary of $2 million a year”. — http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/17/opinion/17fri2.html?th

            Will the de facto drug criminal law parasites please stand up.

            BANG!

            Thank you, you lowlife son’s-of-bitches.

          • Scott
            May 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm

            God question Tinsley! I have my own personal boycott going on that subject and refuse to use percocet, insisting instead on percodan, which at least isn’t toxic to my liver, though it still eats my stomach and thins my blood to the point that shaving every morning is out of the question. I can’t see any reason oxycodon isn’t put in some filler that doesn’t destroy an internal organ. Absurd.

          • Tinsley Grey Sammons
            May 21, 2012 at 1:12 am

            It’s beyond absurd Scott. It’s downright criminal.

          • Scott
            May 21, 2012 at 4:08 am

            I’m coming to believe it’s a case of undeserved trust Tinsley. I’d love to believe it’s just ignorance. A good friend of mine used to say “Never assume malice when ignorance will suffice”, but I find so many cases now that *could* be described by ignorance, yet they involve persons with higher education credentials that deny that conclusion.

            I am, frankly, very depressed by it.

          • Douglas
            May 26, 2012 at 1:41 am

            L-O-B-B-Y-I-N-G….that’s how.

      • May 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

        Existing (in Europe) cars equipped with small diesels are already rated at almost 70 MPG in city driving. (Using our methods, and US gallons, this would probably be about 60 MPG.)

        Getting to 80 – maybe not average, but 80 in city-type driving and 60-ish average – seems to me a doable thing, provided you are permitted to build the car light. Assuming about 1,600 lbs; at the curb, and a small diesel under the hood, 60 MPG average should be very doable indeed. And just putting around, such a car would do a lot better.

        I wish we could try it and see -

        • Tinsley Grey Sammons
          May 20, 2012 at 10:58 am

          I should have done more research prior to posting. Thanx for the input.

          About five hears ago, Scientific American carried a scholarly article on the diesel engine and the improvements that continue making it better.
          I have years of issues on dusty discs and I will look for it.

          tgsam

          • May 20, 2012 at 11:14 am

            I’m just extrapolating a little…

            We know that a current VW Passat TDI – the US spec version – is capable of 43 MPG on the highway. The Euro version – smaller and with a smaller 1.6 liter engine – does considerably better. It’s hard to directly correlate US vs. European standards (and gallons vs. imperial gallons) but I think it’s safe to say 50 MPG on the highway has already been achieved. Probably better than that.

            Ok. The US Passat weighs 3,360 lbs. It’d be very interesting to see what the fuel economy of this car might be if it weighed 2,200 lbs.

            I would expect 60 MPG, at least. Maybe more.

            Now, that’s still a decent sized (mid-size) sedan, too.

            Imagine a subcompact commuter that weighed say 1,500 lbs. and which needed only a 1 liter, three-cylinder engine.

            I would expect 70 MPG – and while it might not be especially quick, probably it would be adequate for most driving, even short-hops on the Interstate.

            As an aside: I own a 250 cc gasoline burning dual sport motorcycle. It has a top speed of about 100 MPH, all out – and is quicker than most cars, off the line and up to about 50 MPH. Certainly quick enough to comfortable mix with most traffic.

            This bike can come close to 100 MPG, if not ridden hard.

            That’s with a gas engine – a carbureted gas engine – and no overdrive gearing (just 1:1).

    • May 20, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Let’s not forget the body count. Only government is capable of mechanized, industrial-scale mass murder. In the 20th century alone, the figure runs into the tens of millions exterminated by governments – including “our” government. No individual sociopath can ever achieve what government is capable of doing almost effortlessly – and worst of all, under color of law. The serial killer, at least, faces possible repercussions. The Chimp and Rummy, to cite two recent offenders, merely retire to the “ranch” or the paid lecturer circuit.

      • May 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm

        Governments’ mass murder Eric? The 20th century figure actually runs into the hundreds of millions, as has been documented elsewhere.

        And when a person kills someone, that’s called murder. But when governments murder millions – that’s just called “foreign policy.”

        • May 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm

          Right on, Fred.

          It’s depressing that so many people take the view that Stalin expressed: A single death is a tragedy. A millions deaths – a statistic.

        • DD
          May 20, 2012 at 8:35 pm

          It is estimated that between the two – Government and Religion – Combined they have killed over 1 BILLION people…And yet people still don’t refer to these psychopaths as Terrorists. Sad, really.

          • UncleSim
            May 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm

            And between me and the Steelers, we’re responsible for 6 Super Bowl wins… right?

            The number of deaths organized by religions (even including individual religious zealots acting independently) pales in comparison to that of governments. No religion ever handed anyone a ‘football’ capable of destroying a city and all its inhabitants within a few minutes. No religion ever dropped nuclear devices on 2 cities of an already defeated nation.

            Unless, of course, you count govt-power-worship as a religion… which I would accept, but such a stance would serve to further complicate your allegation, not clarify it, so I don’t expect it.

          • UncleSim
            May 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm

            The organization that kills millions of people a year and wants you to worship it, wants you to be afraid of the organizations that encourage you to worship God, and which actually engage in charitable works, just because they also have a few ‘bad apples’. But religions don’t supply their minions with political power over anyone else, and typically don’t employ aggressive weapons or tactics against anyone at all. They don’t force their own members to pay tribute like govts do, and they certainly don’t force non-supporters to pay either.

            Independent terrorists have never managed to kill more than a few thousand people in any given year. Govt efforts routinely rack up millions of deaths in short periods of time.

          • DD
            May 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm

            I know, right? Because Constantine and Muhammad were just such wonderful guys….

          • Douglas
            May 26, 2012 at 1:44 am

            The difference, at least in countries that nominally “allow” religious FREEDOM, is that if you don’t like a particular religion, you can leave it. Until now, we could do the same as far as Uncle Sam goes…now, it’s becoming, “you can go, but leave your money behind.” Soon, it’ll be like the band Queen singing in “Boheminan Rhapsody..”…WE WILL NOT LET YOU GO. Then, like was with the countries behind the Iron Curtain, the USA will be a large prison camp.

          • UncleSim
            July 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm

            @DD… Constantine was an emperor first. Anyway, do you really want to name names?

            Nero, Caligula, Napoleon, Stalin, and the famous German, just off the top of my head. I could easily name another 10 murderous dictators with ‘merely’ tragic numbers.

  22. Bill S
    May 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    No, we couldn’t build 80 mpg vehicles tomorrow. That is the most ignorant statement I’ve read in a long time. Even 50 mpg vehicles are way too small, way too underpowered and way too dangerous to drive. Your statement is an ignorant myth. And don’t worry. The government can always raise gas taxes even more.

    Clover

    • May 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Really, Bill?

      Way too small – according to whom? You? Who made you the arbiter of “too small”? Is the current Fiat 500 “too small”? The old Honda CRX HF? The original Honda Insight? Their owners apparently don’t think they’re too small. Maybe you want/need a big, heavy car. Other people may not. Of course, what other people want/need is of no importance to you. Right?

      Too underpowered – according to whom? Current 43 MPG-plus diesels (see more below) are quicker than most V-8 muscle cars of the ’70s. And the fact is that old Beetles – which took 15-20 seconds to reach 60 – were perfectly viable on the road. Still are. Even really “slow” new cars such as the Toyota Prius are rockets compared with the typical economy compact of the ’70s.

      Update your hard drive, Bill.

      Saaaaaaaaaaaafety – yeah, I knew that was coming. Clover. Maybe some people would prefer the everyday reality of excellent gas mileage rather than the theoretical advantage of a “safe” (heavy) car, as defined/dictated by you.

      What’s wrong with allowing people the freedom to choose the car that they believe makes the most sense? Cars like the old Beetle weighed about 1,600 lbs. – and people loved them, buying them by the millions. What’s wrong with that?

      Oh, yeah. I forgot. You’re a Clover. You believe your judgments should bind others.

      Here’s the facts, Bill:

      The current US spec Passat TDI – not a small, underpowered car – already gets 43 highway. Imagine a car that weighed half as much – and which thus needed much less engine to deliver comparable performance. The Euro-spec Passat TDI is such a car. It already gets more than 50 MPG. And that’s a mid-sized sedan. A lighter, smaller compact with a smaller, less thirsty engine would – does – deliver even better MPGs.

      Notice that your post contains no facts whatsoever? Just your emoting .. your feelings and personal insults.

      Sliced and diced. Clovers are easy targets!

      • SM777
        May 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm

        “Imagine a car that weighed half as much – and which thus needed much less engine to deliver comparable performance.”
        ————————————————
        For example, the early 1990′s Geo Metro. I saw one w/o AC which was rated at 58 MPG highway at a dealer back then. Not bad.

        How about the Toyota Aygo (1 liter)? The overseas version of the Chev. Spark (0.8 liter)? The Hyundai Getz (1 liter)?

        • SM777
          May 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

          Also, I wonder if the population of Clovers will decline once the Great American @sskicking gets underway.

        • May 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm

          Exactly.

          And the Metro did not have the advantage of a current-era overdrive transmission.

          Take that platform, add a modern six speed or CVT, low rolling resistance tires and some aerodynamic improvements. Instead of the Metro’s gas engine, install a three cylinder diesel, maybe 1 liter or so.

          I’d bet 60 MPG on the highway and 70 in town.

          • SM777
            May 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

            Eric, when I was overseas 1.5 years ago, I saw a few of these. VW has one and I recall seeing a Honda which had the same body as the old Insight but was either gas or a diesel option. Also, I saw a Mercedes A Class (140) which looks like a st’d. econobox and it had a 1.6 in it.

      • chris
        May 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm

        Americans are ignorant b/c they do not travel and they think that America is superior to the rest of the world.

        • May 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm

          I think that’s certainly part of it. They have no frame of reference – and all their lives, are told “we’re #1!” – and so, accept that it is so. There’s also the element of confirmation bias. It’s hard to admit “we’re not #1″ given how much most people have invested in this system.

          • chris
            May 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm

            Exactly. How do you explain to your father and his ~70 year old friends who served in Europe and Korea that American has lost her way? Good luck on that.

        • Mike in Spotsy
          May 22, 2012 at 2:38 am

          Right on target, chris. In the ’90s, I traveled extensively in Europe on business. I got to know quite a few people very well, and to talk to many others. It became quite clear that (a) the Europeans really looked up to Americans as people, but (b) they couldn’t understand why the US government acted like such a bully. Guess it must be that they don’t understand American exceptionalism.

          • Mike in Spotsy
            May 22, 2012 at 2:39 am

            Dang…I included an eye roll at the end of that post, but it didn’t go through.

        • July 14, 2012 at 1:00 am

          Dear Chris,

          Fortunately not all Americans are like that. Present company is gratifying proof of that.

          Unfortunately far too many are exactly as you describe.

          And for those who are, travel doesn’t necessarily enlighten them. All too often they merely become even more imbued with neocolonialist arrogance and condescension towards the WOGS.

          I can’t tell you how many American expats on Taiwan assume the White Man’s Burden of preaching “liberal democracy” to the poor, benighted locals.

          It would be one thing if they were preaching free market anarchism. Or failing that, Ron Paul’s Strict Construction style Constitutionalism. If they were, they might actually be doing some good.

          But “liberal democracy?” Please!

          These supercilious little clowns don’t even know their history. They don’t even know how the Framers felt about democracy.

          They don’t even know that when John Adams wrote “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide” he was expressing a sentiment shared by all the Framers.

          Unfortunately, travel does not necessarily enlighten these clovers. Because as Buckaroo Banzai noted, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

      • UncleSim
        July 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm

        You’ve made me realize, if safety is so vitally important, then pedestrians should be required to wear protective gear while walking along any street, too. Not that I want to give organized clovers any ideas, but it does sort of extend the example.

        • July 14, 2012 at 12:01 am

          Dear Uncle Sim,

          I wonder how many people roll over in their sleep, fall out of bed, and crack their skulls on the floor?

          As the Safety Nazis say, “Even one life is too many.”

          So how about mandating baby crib style side rails, “sleep helmets,” and floor padding?

          Hell, why stop there? Why not put everyone in plastic capsules and hook them up a “Matrix” with tubes?

          http://outnow.ch/Movies/1999/Matrix/Bilder/dvd-1.ws/37
          http://outnow.ch/Movies/1999/Matrix/Bilder/dvd-1.ws/36
          http://outnow.ch/Movies/1999/Matrix/Bilder/dvd-1.ws/35

          This is where this insane “logic” is headed.

          • UncleSim
            July 14, 2012 at 11:51 am

            Exactly. Thanks for extending the example even further into the absurd.

          • July 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

            Dear Uncle Sim,

            So right.

            People are going to have to decide.

            Do they want to take the red pill and be truly autonomous beings?

            Or do they want to take the blue pill, and lapse back into their comas, still hooked up to the Matrix.

          • Scott
            July 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm

            Wrap ‘em in bubble pack, throw ‘em in a steel reenforced concrete bunker and feed ‘em through a tube.

            It’s the only way to be sure.

    • DD
      May 20, 2012 at 8:43 pm

      Who’s “We”?
      I could build one with my eyes shut.
      But it is clear that you are the expert in Physics and Thermodynamics…Your public school teachers said you were.

    • Tor Munkov
      May 21, 2012 at 2:37 am

      Hypermiling couple with 150 lbs of luggage gets a VW Passat TDi to drive 1626 miles on 1 tank of gas. Works out to 84 mpg.

      • Tor Munkov
        May 21, 2012 at 2:38 am

    • July 14, 2012 at 12:15 am

      Dear Bill,

      You say:

      “Even 50 mpg vehicles are way too small, way too underpowered and way too dangerous to drive.”

      Motorcycles and motor scooters are even smaller, and don’t even enclose the rider.

      Even “bubble cars,” such as the Messerschmitt and Isetta, which I think are great, do that.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubble_car

      You clearly don’t get it. It’s not your decision.

  23. Tinsley Grey Sammons
    May 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    DIESELS COME CLEAN
    SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, March 2007

    Eric, you might want to download this one. Scientific American went digital years ago. You can download every issue all the way back to 1993*. In my experience the stuff in S.A. is thorough and scholarly.

    Tinsley Grey Sammons (Sam)

    *I have every issue on DVD up to 2008 when I terminated my subscription in favor of purchasing and downloading single issues.

  24. Luis Basto
    May 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    So, what’s the problem of importing that 1.6L TDI Passat to the US? Years ago my friend who worked in Germany shipped back his BMWs, MBs, etc. Even with the “upgrade to US specs” and freight, they still cost less than buying the same or similar models here.

    I think our “friends” in Washington must have gotten wind of that and closed the gap.

  25. Harold
    May 21, 2012 at 12:17 am

    Eric, it would be helpful if you programmed your thread to only give 1 notice every 24 hours. This thing is out of hand.
    Also, so many subthreads that it’s hard to know which one deserves a reply first.
    80 mpg autos? I will say that people are starting to feel it when they fill their gas tank. That was slow in coming; however, when the VW bug and tiny Datsuns and Toyotas first appeared in America oil sold for $3 a barrel.
    The best answer is rapid transit within and between major metro areas, imo (just like the advanced countries on this earth have).
    TIC
    This would greatly reduce fuel consumption, air pollution, and stress in the American worker.
    Socialist security? Hey, I paid in for 40+ years. It’s not my fault that Congress robbed the funds and spent them on ……….
    WAR, make that unnecessary war.
    And yes, we have an underclass in America that abuses the welfare system; however, we also do not and never will have enough jobs to provide all Americans with a decent standard of living.
    IOW—-there are no easy answers.

  26. Brian in Chile
    May 21, 2012 at 3:17 am

    This author doesn´t have a clue about the new technologies that would allow a car to run on self generated hydrogen gasoline in such a manner as to obviate completely the necessity for gasoline. That technology has been around for 25 years already. There are even older technologies that would allow for direct extraction of electricity from the aether directly to a motor powering an auto. We know who has “black shelved” these technologies : the same cretans who own our government.

    • May 21, 2012 at 9:23 am

      Brian,

      Writing that I don’t “have a clue” about your self-generated hydrogen stuff is on the same plane as my saying you don’t have a clue about the UFO landing at Roswell. I’m not against alternatives to gasoline – I just want to see some proof that a viable alternative such as your self-generated hydrogen stuff exists, works – and works better (more efficiently, inexpensively, etc.) than gasoline.

      Well? How about it?

    • May 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

      See: http://www.amazon.com/The-Emperors-New-Hydrogen-Economy/dp/0595392296

      I’ve had contact with McMahon on other forums: not a nutter.

  27. farmer Tom
    May 21, 2012 at 3:27 am

    I didn’t read all the comments, but I want to inject a few thoughts into the conversation.

    First, I live in Iowa, the the PTB are currently talking about raising the gas tax. Funny thing how some of the biggest political donations in the state come from the highway construction lobby, and contractors.

    Second, Some of our roads suck. And with the huge volumes of ag products produced here it requires good roads to move it on. And there in lies the rub. The taxes for this transportation of goods should be paid by proportion of the abuse to the roads. The fuel for a Jetta diesel should be taxed at a different rate than that of a farmer hauling grain to market. In fact a tax on bushels of grain would actually be more just than the current system.

    Many of the grain transportation problems are caused by a rail system with was never properly established in the first place. I could go on about that, but needless to say. The problems are not going away.

    I’m looking for a Jetta diesel right now. And I’m trying to decide if I should try skipping the highway fuel tax and burning “farm” diesel in the car. The fine is very, very harsh if you get caught.

    BTW, diesel is a far better power source than gasoline. Bring on more diesel cars.

    Open that new refinery in SD north of Sioux City and midwest diesel prices would drop by 25 to 50 cents a gallon. There is a huge demand for diesel, and a large tax on it to cover damage done to the roads by trucks.

    • methylamine
      May 25, 2012 at 2:54 am

      Tom, you’ve just described the problem with all socialist systems; everyone becomes everyone else’s thief and victim, and there is never peace. Meanwhile, the middleman–the State–laughs all the way to the bank.

      The solution? Private roads. Why should roads be any different than any other useful property, like a parking lot, or a building, a house, a field?

      Walter Block’s excellent book on private roads provides a complete economic analysis and path to making it happen.

      Market solutions are always the most peaceful and efficient; not perfect, but a damn sight better than the Sovietized system we suffer today!

      • Douglas
        May 26, 2012 at 1:47 am

        And don’t forget the BEST advantage of a PRIVATE road, like anything else PRIVATE…you don’t have to let just anyone traverse it. Oh, it may be good business to take all comers, but by the nature of being “private”, it’s for the owners to decide.
        I’m all FOR discrimination…against the annoying and unprofitable.

  28. Scott
    May 21, 2012 at 6:20 am

    “This would greatly reduce fuel consumption, air pollution, and stress in the American worker.”

    And make it much easier to go to work drunk! Brilliant!

    Sorry Harold. I know what you’re saying but I just couldn’t resist :)

  29. Scott
    May 21, 2012 at 6:23 am

    “we also do not and never will have enough jobs to provide all Americans with a decent standard of living.”

    Why is it we keep trying?

  30. Werner
    May 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Fuel taxes collected here in Canada disappear into the bottomless coffers of the federal and provincial governments. If ALL those taxes were returned to the provinces and cities and ALL of it used to maintain roads we wouldn’t have the terrible pothole conditions.

    Heavy emphasis on the ALL!

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      May 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      In the fucked up mess south of your border, the fuel taxes probably go into the bottomless pit with the money legally extorted following the successful Tobacco Lawsuit from yesteryear. The slimy New Orleans lawyer who made that great law extortion possible died following the lawsuit but I’m sure America’s many law schools have shat more than enough slimebag JDs to take his place.

      tgsam

  31. dom
    May 25, 2012 at 2:31 am

    With so much going on, this term keeps coming to mind:

    Intentional Diversion

    I’m starting to feel that way about everything!

  32. Attila
    May 31, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    No, the government is really concerned about getting reelected by dispensing favors to supporters and striking poll determined poses to voters. Empowered by the left and unopposed by the right, the EPA is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. The writer here makes opposing points; the government benefits from fuel consumption and the priced in revenue hidden behind big oil bashing gives them cover for whatever level of taxation they wish. Which is it? Can’t they print whatever they need anyway? Once in my feckless youth I wondered why they couldnt make it easier to obtain the quite challenging pilot’s license. The answer was that a lot of ignoramuses would get a lot of people killed. I still wonder why it would not be wise to make it harder rather than easier to vote.

    • June 1, 2012 at 6:26 am

      If by the right one means the established large-scale manufacturing industry, then the EPA is an instrument of the right. By contrast the traditional left has fallen for the spin entirely: the louder they complain the more the corporations benefit; and thus there is nobody to address the traditional left issues effectively.

      Even saying that runs up against the limitations of the old left-right dichotomy. It has become more problematic than it is useful, not least for enabling the nefarious suggestion that General Motors or Toyota are somehow the same sort of thing as you and me, simply because all fall under the spurious classification, “private”. The corporations are much more like government than either are like people. In fact, unless one considers corporations and government equally organs of the State, I cannot think what one could possibly mean by “the State”.

      So, the left is not the right’s problem, and the right is not the left’s problem. The State is both’s problem.

      It is not “socialism” that is threatening our liberty, but the natural extension of late controlled capitalism, in which the State’s role in enforcing privileged oligopolistic control of the means of production becomes increasingly obvious. The falsehood that capitalism is the same thing as a free market is becoming harder to maintain.

      What, after all, do all the laws we oppose say, except, “you shall not play in industry’s domain”?

      • Attila
        June 2, 2012 at 11:12 pm

        Boy are we on different planets! 100 years ago there was some justification for calling corporate elitism (fascism) “right” versus revolutionary elitism (communist) “left”. The reality of course was that left and right were just two fists of the socialist elitist rulers and both supported by big business. The “conservative” movement that developed in the 50s and found a permanent home in the Republican party came to be labeled “right” strictly as an opposition pejorative. Unlike the fascist right, a basic premise is minimum government and maximum liberty to the people. This is anathema to the ruling political elitists who want to hold on to special favors and privileges.

        • June 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm

          I don’t think we’re really that far apart. The only real difference I see between what you’re saying and what I’m saying is in how we use the word “socialist”.

          The word has quite a complex history. Before it was hijacked by Marx during the debates that raged in Switzerland at the middle of the 19th century it meant to most people pretty much what we’d call “libertarian” today. After Marx appropriated the term to his own nefarious uses it still had a fairly narrow meaning, narrower even among those who with the passage of time had forgotten all about those early “socialists”. But I fear that among a certain broad stripe of American conservatism it has been reduced to a mere synonym for “bad”. The wieldiest term for “bad” is, of course, not “socialist” but “bad”.

          But be that as it may. Terms apart I don’t think we are really in disagreement.

  33. SojournerMoon
    June 5, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Eric, you’ve proven a little prophetic again, or perhaps USA Today is cribbing off you:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-06-03/states-motorist-taxes/55367022/1

    B.

    • June 5, 2012 at 10:14 am

      To quote the Comedian (my favorite “superhero”): It was only a matter of time. One doesn’t need prophetic powers; just the ability to extrapolate. We have maybe five years before this comes into being.

      If I were 20 years younger, I’d be outta here. I may still get up the gumption to leave, regardless.

      • chris
        June 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm

        And go where? That is the question…

        • June 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm

          South America appears to be the only realistic option. Brazil or Argentina, say.

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