Friday, May 22, 2009

The cars government wants us to have

President Obama's little love-fest this week as he announced higher CAFE fuel-economy standards was hailed by most observers as a long overdue triumph of goodheartedness over greed and careless neglect of the planet. The Register, not surprisingly, begged to differ today. The standards and various other government actions will mean more expensive and less desirable (from the perspective of what consumers by their patterns have lately shown that they want) automobiles. If you're thinking of buying a new car in the near future, I'd suggest doing it soon, before the government screws them up royally.

The CAFE standards, of course, will probably kill more people each year than the Iraq war has, because the most efficacious way to get to higher mileage is to build lighter and smaller car4s, which fare poorly in accidents and tend to kill passengers more foten.

We tend to forget that the SUV craze, though it was certainly welcomed by a lot of Americans, was intensified by previous CAFE standards. SUVs were classified as trucks, which had lower CAFE requirements, so the car companies started building and marketing them, found people liked them, and also found they yielded a higher profit margin. Of course the U.S. car companies have also become bloated and topheavy, unable to move nimbly as consumer tastes change, so the fact that they have essentially become wards of the state is largely their own fault. Still, it's a shame.

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