Corn Muffins and the Corner CAFE
By Brendan Moore
As you have probably read, President Bush met with the CEOs of Ford, GM and Chrysler yesterday in order to discuss “our addiction to oil” and what is being done about it. Everyone talked about flex-fuel vehicles, President Bush gingerly touched a couple of the flex-fuel vehicles brought to the White House by the automakers, cameras whirred, everyone smiled, and people pronounced it a success.
Let’s put aside the surreal theatre of this photo-op session and talk about the subject that was studiously avoided yesterday morning; that’s right, raising the fuel economy requirements of the cars that will be for sale in the next few years. The plan by Bush (and others, most notably the Democratic House members) to raise the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirements of new vehicles is a cruel joke.
But the joke’s on us. CAFE is a completely bankrupt premise. It serves now as an illusion that Bush has put before the American people, an illusion that makes the public believe that the federal government is doing something about the United States using less oil, and therefore, gasoline.
It is simply the federal government trying to foist responsibility for reducing gasoline consumption on to the automakers. Hey, everybody, look over there, don’t look at us!
Only a tax on gasoline will reduce gasoline consumption, and only the federal government has the power to enact such a tax. They just don’t have the political will to do it.
So, instead, we get this completely meaningless diversion of CAFÉ that wasn’t discussed
yesterday, but is being hotly debated in Congress, and almost just-as-meaningless talk about corn-based ethanol and hydrogen flex-fuel, which, apparently is the technological breakthrough we need if you go by the meeting that took place at the White House yesterday. Except, of course, that it’s not going to happen anytime soon, and there are already some serious doubts as to whether either one is even close to a good answer to our oil addiction. The government and our representatives will do anything to distract the American public away from the real solution that no wants to talk about since it is currently political self-immolation.
Isn’t President Bush fond of saying that he doesn’t govern by public opinion; he does what’s right for America? Well, here’s his big moment – will he be found wanting?
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