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Outside of the purchase of a home, the purchase of an automobile or two is likely the largest purchase a consumer makes. Given it is your money at stake, the reliability of the transportation, the economy to operate, and the safety of your family, it seemed reasonable just a few years ago that this decision should be made by the consumer.
The style of car one chooses can say something about you as well. Having a midlife crisis or looking for something utilitarian?
Today, however, socialists use the weak reed of “global warming” to determine what choices you will have if any regarding personal transportation.
By use of propaganda, subsidies, tax breaks, and hectoring, progressives want you in an electric vehicle. Some Democrat states like Washington and California now have set due dates beyond which you will not be allowed to purchase a car of your choice.
If having an electric vehicle is such a wonderful idea, why is all this subsidization and coercion necessary? And why are some Progressives now turning cool on the idea?
For the sake of brevity, we will not discuss the scientific arguments about global warming, other than to say that despite claims made otherwise, the science is hardly settled. Not only are there good reasons to dispute the theory, many who accept the theory think there are much better ways to deal with the problem than trying to alter the climate of the entire earth. There just are too many independent variables such as the fluctuating power of the sun, the wobble of the earth, undersea volcanic activity warming currents, to think what man is doing will make much of a difference. We all know these variables exist because the climate has always been changing long before man was powerful enough to have an influence.
In addition, it makes no sense whatsoever for the US to unilaterally destroy its standard of living while giving the Chinese, the Indians, and the Third World in general, a free pass on their carbon emissions. The idea, after all, is global warming and environmental leaders can’t demonstrate it is possible to coordinate all the global players to accomplish their ends.
The current period is one of the few instances in history where politicians determine which technology consumers should and can use. We have gone from wood to coal, to kerosene, to gasoline, to nuclear power without the government telling market participants what their choices should be or stopping those choices from being exercised altogether.
When the internal combustion engine first made its debut in 1876, it was not clear what direction things would take. The marketplace is very much a system of trial and error, profit and loss, where the applicable technology gets translated into goods people desire to own. When steam engines were first used, it was to pump water out of mines. No one thought they could pull a train of wheeled cars on steel rails.
Those businesses that innovate and recognize what consumers really want make a profit. Those that don’t, go out of business. Since the beginning of the auto industry in the US, there have been some 3,000 firms involved in automobile production. That does not include foreign firms. Only a handful survive today.
As suggested, there were technological advancements, but it was still a process of trial and error, voluntary choice, and profit and loss. That is not what we have today. Instead, we have top-down mandates and orders from political authorities who are largely unchecked in their quest for power over the choices of individuals. It does not look like free enterprise in America but rather like Soviet-style planning along the lines of Gosplan.
Early automobiles included those powered by steam, electric, and gasoline-powered. The gasoline-powered car was not mandated by the government and all other alternatives were not banned from the marketplace. The government did not pick winners and losers.
No one picked a time when a consumer could not use a horse or mule.
By 1908, costs and reliability were achieved by the unbelievably successful Model T Ford. The use of automobiles and other types of equipment using gas engines really took off.
There was no call to ban the use of existing alternatives, however. In fact, the use of horses continued for quite some time afterward. More than 30 years later, for example, less than 25% of American farms used tractors. Farmers and consumers were free to make their own choices using their own money.
It may surprise some to learn that as late as World War II, 3 million horses were used by the vaunted German Army. Yes, the army of Blitzkrieg. The one of mechanized armor and infantry that overran the whole of Europe was in fact supplied largely by horse-drawn transport.
It was much the same on the vast front in the war in Russia, or at least at first. However, thanks to American lend-lease and 200,000 Studebaker trucks, the T-54 tank and Stalin’s artillery was supplied by gasoline-powered trucks. This allowed the Soviet Army to be more mobile than horse transport and accounted for about two-thirds of the German casualties during the war.
No one banned the use of horses. It took many years for the internal combustion engine to replace the preexisting mode of transportation.
No one banned competition from rail, airplanes, ships, barges, or fuels like diesel that competed with gasoline engines.
Our point here is the evolution in technology, voluntary choices by consumers, and the profit and loss system are better at making these decisions than politicians, and worse yet, children of the very rich that staff NGOs who are neither elected nor held accountable for their theories and mandates.
In the marketplace, you vote with your dollars. In politics, you vote with a ballot you hope will be counted correctly. Who elected Klaus Schwab or Bill Gates to rule over us?
In the total life cycle of a vehicle, studies have shown that electric vehicles may hardly reduce “greenhouse gases” at all. And, they are much more expensive. Moreover, we are shutting down existing energy capacity before new alternatives have been both proven and installed. This has an excellent chance of causing an energy crisis that involves very basic things like providing heating and food necessary for human survival.
Whether it be charging times, the robustness of the existing power grid, the shortage of minerals necessary to make car batteries, the use of energy in mining, EV battery fires, variance in performance in temperature extremes, to recycling issues; let people choose.
If consumers want to try electric vehicles, let them choose and we will all learn in the real world of experience and free competition. But if we don’t think they are such a great idea, we should not be forced to buy electric vehicles. Nor should we be forced to subsidize other people’s choices. Besides being morally unfair, the true cost of choices is obscured by both hidden and overt subsidies.
Within my own family, one family member has a Toyota T-2000 pickup truck with over 450,000 miles on it. When electric cars prove as dependable and thrifty as a Toyota, rest assured yours truly will buy an electric car. No coercion or subsidy will be necessary.
What our elites really want to argue is that human flourishing is damaging to the environment and that the “environment” is more important than our flourishing. They want us to have a lower standard of living and follow their dream picked up by the summer they had in college spent in Copenhagen, living in a small apartment and riding on public transportation. Their dream is small living quarters, no independent transportation, and for most of us to survive by eating crickets and vegetables.
Democrats want us in EVs but will not use nuclear power to power them nor will they allow copper mining. They want us dependent on China for solar panels, EV batteries, and windmills.
Increasingly, however, the environmental Left is starting to recognize that EVs, the technology they are mandating in timelines, may do more harm than good.
If you think that is overstating the case, a new study by the Climate and Community Project, a network of Left-wing academics and activists, generally concedes that forcing everyone to buy an electric vehicle will not do the job of stopping global warming. They really want to ban cars altogether so you don’t have independence of movement.
Left-of-center newspapers now concede that mining the minerals necessary to support the widespread use of EVs would severely damage the earth.
So, we are mandating a technology that leaves us dependent on our strategic enemy, does not do the job of lowering temperatures, fouls the earth, and deprives people of their freedom of choice in transportation.
But it is even broader than your choice of transportation. They don’t like you eating meat, cooking with natural gas, washing your clothes, living in a large home, or driving the car of your choice.
They don’t like you and consider you a menace to “the earth.” So, it would seem they soon will be coming after your electric car as well. Then what?
Well, there is always the horse but they emit methane.
The best thing for all of us to do is just die for the sake of the earth, provided we are recycled in a compost heap. We are looking for environmental leaders to set the example.