CAFE Standards: Central Planners Target Your Cars

Oh, the joys of being one of the elite. How satisfying it must be to have gone to the right schools, to belong to the right clubs, to shop in the right stores, and to enjoy the company of those just like you, of those who think just like you. What a warm feeling it must be to know that you are smarter, better dressed, better looking -- in every way, better than those benighted souls who live in flyover country, bitter clingers to God and guns who could not begin to understand your moral superiority.

One of the great benefits of being among the elite is the power to determine what is good and right, and what ought to be, particularly for the lower classes who just aren’t moral or smart enough to know what’s good for them. It is sometimes a burden, laboring ceaselessly to build a society that is socially just and equal. But the elite gladly take on that burden, for the rewards are greater.

A primary tool of the elite progressive (or socialist) is central planning.  Not only are the denizens of flyover country incapable of understanding the glory and rightness of socialism. They have the nasty, foolish tendency to ignore or even oppose what the elite know is good for them. They must be forced to be more diverse, equal, tolerant, and socially just. And if they resist, they must be punished, severely.

A perfect example of central planning is the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. A better example of the folly of central planning is hard to find. CAFE is rife with unintended consequences -- and a complete lack of understanding of the science and engineering involved in the numbers picked, apparently out of a hat.

To be completely fair, virtually all governments, even those controlled by Republicans, fall prey, to lesser and greater degrees, to the temptation of socialistic central planning. A central planning scheme begun under a Democrat administration will tend to continue under all that follow it if for no reason beside the self-perpetuating inertia of all federal bureaucracies. The current administration, however, has taken central planning to previously unheard of heights -- and therein lies the potential for previously unimagined damage.

CAFE represents governmental control over our lives in ways unimaginable to most Americans. All automakers selling vehicles in the United States must conform to their standard. It’s the average MPG for all vehicles sold by a given car company. If Smith Motor Company’s most popular vehicles are pickup trucks with certified MPG figures of 24 highway (that’s what those numbers on the window stickers of new vehicles mean), it can still meet the CAFE standard by selling its supereconobox sedans, which get 42 MPG -- thereby reaching the appropriate average fuel economy for the entire fleet.

Among the first and most destructive edicts of President Barack Obama was the imposition of new CAFE standards. Mr. Obama was accompanied at a May 19, 2009, presser by several Democrat governors, plus Arnold Schwarzenegger and United Auto Workers head Ron Gettelfinger.

According to Autoblog, Mr. Obama announced that the CAFE standards would increase by five percent each year, beginning with 2011, until 2015 -- when the CAFE standard would be 35.5 MPG. Mr. Obama made the announcement appear to be a bold move intended to consolidate government and prevent unnecessary duplication between the EPA, the DOT, and California bureaucrats, but his real goals were plainly visible. Mr. Obama said that the agreement was "an historic agreement to help American break its addiction to oil."

"Obama," Autoblog added, "said the new rule will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the next five years, and is the projected equivalent of taking 58 million vehicles off the road.”