You’ve probably seen those displays where the automakers roll out some sleek, futuristic-looking car with the legend that this is the “Car of The Future.” They’re usually silver, all the harsh angles have been gently rounded off, and they come complete with a list of promises: it runs on a battery! it flies! it goes underwater! it can hold fifteen people and their luggage! etc.
I was really looking forward to getting that car, but I knew that I’d have to wait until the market found a way to make this masterpiece affordable.
Enter Government Motors.
The Obama Administration has now told auto companies that they must produce cars that get approximately 35 miles per gallon in the next seven years. What if the technology is not up to that level by then? Tough. What if it increases the cost of cars dramatically (The Administration estimates that the cost of a car will increase by about $1300 under the new rules, and we all know how well the Administration estimates costs)? Tough.
Of course, there is one surefire way of increasing the MPG rate: make the car more lightweight and smaller.
Behold the new, revised Car of The Future:
Remember how the Government told all the networks and cable companies that they must broadcast their signals in a digital format by February of 2009? Of course, the technology wasn’t quite there by then so the date was pushed back to June. And then there were thousands and thousands of people who didn’t have cable TV and who had to buy converter boxes? And how we couldn’t just force people to shell out their own money for the boxes, so the stimulus package that was recently passed had $640 million dollars for “coupons” so people could get their converter boxes? Now let’s apply these principles here: Government mandates by setting arbitrary goals and deadlines; technology and innovation fail to operate under a government deadline; deadlines get delayed; costs mount. As sure as Niagara Falls…
Why can’t these people just let the market (i.e., consumers, the people) decide how and when they want these things to change? Government mandates assume that a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington D.C. are so omniscient that they can dictate what people really want. Well, an office in the nation’s capital doesn’t grant the occupant with any special knowledge of John and Jane Public. In many ways, the isolating cocoon of a government office removes the knowledge of what the people really want and need.
We should be so lucky. At least if the roads were full of Homers it would be funny.