New ‘Hot Air’ Standards

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is set to announce new national fuel emission standards. According to the article, the combining of stringent California standards with the so-called CAFE standards enforced elsewhere in the country will have a beneficial impact. John Broder writes: “As a result, cars and light trucks sold in the United States will be roughly 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016.”

Why not, if all it takes is an edict from the government, make the cars and light trucks sold in the United States say 50 percent cleaner and get 100 miles per gallon of fuel? Heck, why not order that all internal combustion engines henceforth run on tap-water? Can’t get much cleaner than that.

If my questions seem unreasonable to this point, permit me to try another. If the Obama standards are in fact achievable, how does the government know it and what will be sacrificed to achieve the mandated standards?

State “goal-setters” are apparently magicians of some sort. They “will” the automobile industries to produce a certain product with no price information to support either the demand or production costs information needed. The manufacturers may, within the constraints of available technology, be able to meet the production standards by some combination of smaller, lighter vehicles with underpowered engines. Unlike the President and his administration, the manufacturers cannot just “imagine” production out of nothing. They must work with scarce resources, which is a characteristic of all economic goods. “Hot air” it seems is the only item in plentiful supply.

Copyright 2009 Edward Podritske

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