Well, well, well -- more bizarre news out of Washington.
What a surprise.
Of course, President Barack Obama announced some new mileage and emissions standards today that raise a ton of questions. Well, a lot of Americans will get around to pondering those questions after the fun of laughingly waving at SUV and pickup truck owners with Obama stickers on them wears off, at least.
Essentially, we're looking at some pretty stringent fuel economy requirements by 2016 -- 39 MPG on average for cars and 30 MPG on average for SUVs and pickup trucks. The thought, of course, is that car manufacturers will have to come up with vehicles that are smaller, lighter and more efficient.
What's the problem with that? Those of us who have been doing the "right" thing all along will be the ones getting penalized. Hey, my vehicle of choice -- a Toyota Matrix -- is classified as a small SUV and, as such, would meet that 30 MPG average requirement. Why do I drive a Matrix? Because I choose to do so and I've always gone for smaller, more efficient cars (they're cheap, reliable and I can run them to death without feeling any guilt). Obama's lackeys have predicted that cars will cost an average of $1,300 more due to the new regulations. So, I'll buy the kind of vehicle I was going to buy anyway and I'll get to pay more for it. What a bargain.
And let's not forget that we are undoubtedly looking a higher taxes due to the insane bailouts pushed for by both George W. Bush and Obama. Why on earth, then, would the government purposefully go out of its way to make vehicles more expensive, too?
Further, I can't help but think we're being set up in a way. If we look at the history of the American automotive industry, we'll see the big three tend to face major problems when big, gas-guzzling vehicles fall out of favor with the public. Yet, the Big 3 appear to be on board with Obama's latest plan.
Why? Why on earth would they be in support of a plan that seems to push them closer to extinction? A logical answer might be that we're cooking up some protectionism through which tariffs would be slapped on cars made by companies based outside of the U.S. in order to help American companies become more competitive.
That answer makes a lot of sense, really, when you consider the Japanese are far ahead of the Americans on Hybrid technology and GM seems intent on finding a market for its Volt. Let's see -- it will cost $35,000 to $40,000 whereas a base model Prius costs $22,000 and a fully loaded one sells for $27,000. The Prius is a proven vehicle whereas the highly experimental Volt is, well, not. Further, the Volt is one of those weird "plug it into a wall socket" vehicles manufactured by a company that tends to make garbage when out of its comfort zone (remember the Oldsmobile Omega, the Chevy Cavalier and the Chevy Vega?) How do you make the Volt viable in that atmosphere? How do you convince Americans to shell out up to $40,000 on a vehicle that might turn out to be yet another lemon? The answer is simple -- tax the living hell out of the Prius and artificially inflate the price of it. You'd better believe the same government that has spent billions of dollars bailing out GM would be more than willing to blatantly interfere in the free market and rip off consumers on that level.
Hey, a pimp will take some measures to protect his whores, right?