An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings

April 13, 2007

Debate Not Over

Filed under: Opinion — olbroad @ 11:32

Robbing SUV owners to pay hybrid buyers

I KNEW that the debate about whether global warming is happening was over when the March 12 issue of Sports Illustrated arrived, with its sports and global-warming theme and huge headline “As the Planet Changes, So Do the Games We Play: Time to Pay Attention.” Everyone, even the jocks at Sports Illustrated, wants to get in on the game of appearing to be the most caring about our Mother Earth.

I would hope this statement is sarcasm, but since we’re talking about San Francisco, she’s probably quite serious. The debate is far from over!

But the rush to appear to be the most green has led to some silly public-policy ideas. Take, for example, the “Clean Car Discount Act of 2007,” a legislative proposal by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City. Ruskin’s proposal would create a new car rebate and surcharge program based on state carbon dioxide emission ratings. The penalties and rebates would range from $100 to $2,500, depending on a state-rating system.

Don’t you just love legislatures who want to take YOUR money away from you if you don’t bow to their whims?

That’s not even touching on the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” method of achieving state environmental goals. Why should a family of five, who decides that a Ford Explorer best meets their families’ needs, pay roughly $1,600 so a smaller family or a single adult could receive, roughly, a $2,200 rebate on their purchase of a Honda Civic — which they were likely to purchase anyway?

If a family has five kids, their bills are a LOT higher than a family that only has one child, or a single person. With five rugrats, your “disposable income” is shrunk quite noticeably. Kids are expensive!

The proposal doesn’t attempt to deal with driving behaviors. Soccer moms driving a vehicle with a higher emission rating but with other people’s kids in the car — saving a car trip or two — may be doing more for the environment than if multiple families were driving multiple low-emission vehicles to soccer practice. The fact is that government attempts at market engineering usually backfire.

This bill isn’t terribly forward thinking.

Ruskin contends, “Without programs like this, there is no way to be certain that the market will produce cleaner and cleaner vehicles.” In fact, the market is working.

High gas prices have consumers choosing smaller cars and driving less. As the car companies bring to market hybrids, they and other alternative-energy-type cars will grow in popularity.

The car industry is like any other business, it’s consumer driven. For a “well meaning” legislator to try to control any business is detrimental to business, period. It always ends up costing the consumer more money because the costs are passed on.

The mass hysteria of “man made global warming” is driven by the almighty dollar.

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