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Thread: Kick 'em while they're down

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Kick 'em while they're down

    The usual rule is: You don't kick 'em when they're down. So one has to wonder about the sportsmanship, at the very least, of the Obama administration. The American car industry's on the mat - yet it's about to be kicked in the ribs and maybe have a chair smashed over its head for good measure - in the form of new "emissions controls" the Obama people have announced they'll soon be imposing.

    What's most interesting about this is that the "emissions" being talked about are not the old-school type that were defined as harmful chemical compounds such as carbon monoxide or unburned hydrocarbons - the stuff that makes it hard to breath and clouds the skies with tawny-looking smog.

    Those emissions have already been controlled, you see. They are a non-problem - or very close to it. After 100 years of engineering refinement (and 40 years of work inventing and improving emissions control equipment such as catalytic onverters and electronic fuel injection) a modern passenger car engine's exhaust stream is better than 98 percent "clean." Only about two percent of what exits the pipe is other than harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide, an inert gas.

    But there's the rub.

    The old school definition of "emission" is being broadened to include that formerly inoffensive inert gas, carbon dioxide. The C02 produced as a result of operating a car (or running a factory) isn't causing breathing problems or fouling the sky with soot or smog - but it is held to be the cause of man-made global warming.

    And unlike traditional exhaust emissions - which can be and have been lowered by making engines burn fuel more efficiently and by chemically scrubbing their exhaust - the only currently known/practical way to reduce the amount of C02 produced by burning a gallon of gasoline is to burn less gasoline.

    That, in turn, will mean that new cars will become smaller - whether that's what consumers want or not.

    The automakers will be forced to junk billions of dollars in tooling as well as vehicle platforms (the basic architecture of a car) and write-off an entire class of vehicles (larger passenger cars, including family-type sedans and minivans as well as the much abused SUV and pick-up truck). Foreign competitors, who already specialize in smaller cars, will be given another government-ordered advantage over American industry. (This happened previously in the 1970s, when the federal government passed draconian fuel economy requirements that effectively outlawed the traditional mid and full-sized American car almost overnight - giving the then-new to the market Japanese a huge competitive leg up from which it can be argued the U.S. car industry never fully recovered.)

    That, in turn, could be "it" for the U.S. car industry - which is in no condition to absorb another blind-sided punch to the kidneys.

    Unfortunately, that may not be the worst of it.

    The crusade to curtail C02 emissions could lead down other roads, too - for example, a "carbon tax" on gasoline. People could, after all, simply continue to drive whatever cars they currently own rather than buy a government-mandated micro car. But a punitive gas tax would keep many of them in their garages - and their owners taking public transport. There could even be restrictions on driving itself - whether directly, by "on" and "off" days or perhaps indirectly, via a requirement that all cars be fitted with GPS transponders so that their owners can be automatically charged for every mile traveled on a pay-as-you-go basis.

    Indeed, some of the above has already been proposed.

    Some may regard all of this as a good thing, of course. There is the claim that man-made global warning is an urgent problem that requires such measures. But the truth is we (that is, science) can't say definitively or even with any real degree of certainty whether global warming is occurring and if it is, whether it's abnormal or merely another cyclical climatological event. Even less whether driving cars is exacerbating it. The former is at least scientific conjecture, to give it its due. But the latter - the claim that people driving cars is warming the globe - is political science. Or rather, politicized science.

    There is no more hard evidence for it than there is for the existence of Chupacabre or the Moth Man. Nevertheless, the auto industry - and the American driver - are to be punished mercilessly.

    But mobility is the keystone of American life, economic and otherwise. Kill the privately owned car, cram us all into busses and trains like the Soviet proletariat and what have we come to resemble? Whatever image you might conjure, it's not America. Or at least, not the America that was.

    It should not be done lightly.
    Last edited by Eric; 04-19-2009 at 08:17 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    Kick 'em while they're down

    Back in the 70's when the Auto Industry went to hell in a hand basket,with the "NEW" 'CAFE' and Emission Standards, the Manufactures of these fine auto's had been turning out junk for years. Sure, there had been some good years for some, and we kept buying them, and they were more than happy to sell their products to us. As Technology improved, so did the fuel economy and emissions. We have all had our turn at the Inspection Station, called them a BUNCH OF CROOKS when the car didn't pass, or cussed out the car maker, or both. Some of those Auto's were A CHALLENGE to get them to pass emissions. In the Eighties, we got our smaller cars, which in turn gave us better millage, and no trunk space. We had to keep our Pickem-up Trucks if we wanted to haul the Boat, go camping, bring home enough lumber to build that play house for the kids. That little Puddle Jumper that got 25-30 miles to the gallon, couldn't haul the nails to put the Play House together. They didn't have much room for all the stuff needed for that weekend at the beach. We had a joke in the Auto Industry pertaining to the seating. "there is room for Five. Mom, Dad, and a picture of the three kids in the back seat". Welcome the MINIVAN. No self respecting dad would be caught dead in that thing. For mom, it was a godsend. It was like a mini school bus, and it could pull a Tent Trailer, providing it wasn't loaded up like a semi truck. Dad had the honors of sneaking out of town with this group, while leaving the real rig at home. Then the Auto dudes decided they weren't selling enough stuff, so they started loading them up. All kinds of do-dads that these under powered cars that you paid an obnoxious price for. As the Eighties ended, The performance had returned to some, the computer had taken over the nuts and bolts of making this thing work. And the fuel mileage had gone down the tube as well. By the time the 90's rolled around, the makers had another bright idea. Lets sell them something that will bring out the stupidity, and we will call it a SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE. An SUV! Sounds neet. Now we have a new vehicle that can pull the boat, haul the kids, take mom shopping, and look cool while doing it. You know, maybe we can load these things up with more stuff they really don't need, and convince them they really do need this stuff. Hell, they don't know what they want, but we'll convince them they need it. Mean while, fuel mileage had tanked, cars were weighing more than they did Twenty-Thirty years ago. Into the 2000's. Thank god I'm Retired. I couldn't take it out there now. Our powers to be want the Auto Industry to increase fuel mileage. I will find that hard to do with the crap they are selling us for fuel. We have a bunch of MORONS running our lives. We will be back like we were in the 70's. Cars that won't run, are a Bitch to repair, and a consumer with no understanding. And the physically challenged will be hanging on to that worn out MINI Van.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    The old school definition of "emission" is being broadened to include that formerly inoffensive inert gas, carbon dioxide. The C02 produced as a result of operating a car (or running a factory) isn't causing breathing problems or fouling the sky with soot or smog - but it is held to be the cause of man-made global warming..
    The other day I saw a TV news report that showed an electric utility power generation station, and comment was: "polluters like this...."

    This is sick, sick, sick. IMO it was a no-win situation in the last election.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    The other day I saw a TV news report that showed an electric utility power generation station, and comment was: "polluters like this...."

    This is sick, sick, sick. IMO it was a no-win situation in the last election.
    That idiot reporter will see his/her power bills skyrocket just like the rest of ours when Obama gets his way on cap/trade or whatever other scheme is up the administrations sleeve.

    Of course, he/she won't make the connection between that and Obama''s policies.

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    Imagine it is 2014 or so and the global consensus among scientists is that CO2 really isn't driving climate change after all. Do you think the government will let up and reverse all the new regulations? I would bet not.

    Decades ago they banned the artificial sweetener cyclamate because they thought it caused cancer. Cyclamate has long since been proven to be safe, but too bad, we've made our ruling. DDT has been banned even though it is greatly beneficial and is not harmful if used properly, but the greenies simply will not hear of allowing it again. Once a chemical compound has been ruled an enemy of the people, it will never be rehabilitated.

    Randy

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandyW View Post
    Imagine it is 2014 or so and the global consensus among scientists is that CO2 really isn't driving climate change after all. Do you think the government will let up and reverse all the new regulations? I would bet not.

    Decades ago they banned the artificial sweetener cyclamate because they thought it caused cancer. Cyclamate has long since been proven to be safe, but too bad, we've made our ruling. DDT has been banned even though it is greatly beneficial and is not harmful if used properly, but the greenies simply will not hear of allowing it again. Once a chemical compound has been ruled an enemy of the people, it will never be rehabilitated.

    Randy
    That appears to be the way it works, unfortunately. One wonders how much more the country can take....

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