Better Ways to Save Gas

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“We” (as the statists always style it) waste a lot of fuel in this country. No doubt you’ve heard that one before. But let’s examine the cliche from a slightly different perspective: The many ways via which the government wastes our fuel.gas waste lead

* Out-of-synch traffic lights –

Broad avenue, three or four traffic lights – each spaced say 500 yards apart as you proceed down the road. The first goes green just as the one up ahead turns red. Or vice-versa. Writ small, a Clover Conga. Inch forward a bit – then stop and wait some more. It takes 15 minutes to clear a mile or so of road that – if the lights all went green at once – you could probably traverse in two minutes or so. Write large – extrapolated nationwide – a massive waste of gas as millions of car engines idle while the cars themselves go nowhere. The government itself concedes that as much as 10 percent of the fuel used by Americans each year is burnt up by cars idling uselessly at lights. With all the AI-type computers and cameras everywhere, it surely can’t be much of a technical challenge to coordinate traffic signals so they encourage free-flowing traffic as opposed to mucking up the flow of traffic. It’s a no-cost solution to a real problem.

Which is probably why the government is doing nothing about it. Or rather, doing more to make it worse.

* Too many stop signs – not enough “proceed with caution” signs –caution pic

Other than it being “the law,” is there any sensible reason for coming to a complete stop at an intersection where sight lines are open and you can clearly see there are no other cars in the immediate vicinity? Losing momentum – and having to regain it – wastes a tremendous amount of fuel. It does not take much horsepower – and so, not much fuel – to keep even the biggest “gas hog” SUV moving.  But it does take a great deal of fuel to get the thing moving in the first place. A vehicle that weighs say 3,200 pounds and which is powered by a 270 hp V-6 may only need 30 or 40 hp to cruise in top gear at a steady 45 MPH. But it needs a whole lot more than 30 or 40 hp to push (or pull, if FWD)  that 3,200 pounds to 45 MPH from a dead stop. The more stop-and-go, the faster the gas needle moves from right to left. Stop less – and save more. Some (Clovers) will object to the idea of people exercising discretion and judgment – as opposed to worshipful blind obedience to signage. But then they ought to mewl less about “wasting gas.”

Which of course, they won’t.

* Make-work “safety” zones –

It used to be that if work was being done on a stretch of road, they’d put up cones and so on to direct traffic around the area being worked on. Apparently, one-too-many Clovers ran down one-too-many workers and the result is the “pilot car” safety zone. You sit and wait – burning up fuel and time – awaiting the “pilot car” to lead the Clover Conga through the perilous work zone. The “pilot car” is piloted by a bored and indifferent person who always takes his time. Or rather, yours. Plus of course, your fuel. All because a Mr. (or Mrs.) McGoo type of Clover didn’t see the standing army of orange cones or the sea of blinking lights – and mowed down some unfortunate highway worker. Instead of taking Mr. McGoo off the road, the government’s solution is to make the rest of us wait by the side of the road for the “pilot car” to safely guide us through the gantlet. And naturally, the “pilot car”  is invariably a large truck – probably with a large (and hungry) V-8 under its hood – running back and forth and back and forth all day long.

On our nickle.pilot pic

* Lower speed limits for big trucks –

In many areas, heavy trucks are restricted to a lower speed than other traffic (for example 55 MPH vs. 65). The one-dimensional idea being that this will make the roads “safer” by dint of limiting the speed of the heavy trucks. Without deconstructing that shibboleth (again) let’s look at another dimension – and unintended side-effect – of this policy: Congealed traffic – and wasted fuel. Heavy trucks rely on momentum to maintain their pace. They go faster on the downhills in order to avoid slowing to a crawl on the uphills. But when they are legally restricted to go slow on the downhills, it’s a guaranteed thing they’ll go even slower come the uphill. Instead of maintaining 60-ish because they started out with a decent head of steam, they gimp down to 40-ish…. with all the rest of us forced to slow down – and burn up more fuel than we otherwise would have. Driving an OTR truck requires a great deal more skill than putting a Corolla’s shifter into “D” and pushing down on the gas pedal. Yet the government restricts the freedom of action of the OTR trucker even more than it does the Corolla driver.terucks 55

That’s Uncle for you, though. He’s irascible, controlling – and violent. Rarely sensible.  And always wasteful.

Unfortunately, he’s always along for the ride, too.

Throw it in the Woods?


  1. Gasoline evoporation is the number one gas wasting issue, buy a new proper fitting gas cap and you could improve your mileage by 15%.

    Left hand turns across on coming traffic is the number one cause of accidents – it is a design flaw.

  2. I have the dumb luck of living in a rural area where every mile in every compass direction from my home has a blood-red STOP sign. And the speed limit between signs is…55. Not that anyone pays attention to that number. Or the STOP signs either, for that matter. It’s nice that even the police usually ignore enforcing those STOP signs, but I never know when they might change their stupid collective minds.

  3. With all the AI-type computers and cameras everywhere, it surely can’t be much of a technical challenge to coordinate traffic signals so they encourage free-flowing traffic as opposed to mucking up the flow of traffic. It’s a no-cost solution to a real problem.

    Think it through. That’s the same reasoning as that used by people who think a planned economy is both practical and desirable (just change a few of the nouns to see that). Or just look at Braess’s Paradox (or here) to see how the whole subject is a lot trickier than faulty common sense tells you it must be.

    Other than it being “the law,” is there any sensible reason for coming to a complete stop at an intersection where sight lines are open and you can clearly see there are no other cars in the immediate vicinity?

    Seriously? Only the same reason why you should always treat every gun as loaded, even if you “know” it isn’t – the cost of being mistaken one way is a lot higher than the cost of being mistaken the other way. More people have been accidentally shot with unloaded guns than with any other kind. “It ain’t what you don’t know that’ll hurt you, but what you do know that ain’t so”. Even the way you – a known motorcyclist – have expressed that is a good give away of the problem that human senses present of only picking up on what is expected. I myself once had my collar bone broken when riding a motorcycle, precisely because a car driver turned in front of me in a clear case of “an intersection where sight lines are open and you can clearly see there are no other cars in the immediate vicinity”.

    • “More people have been accidentally shot with unloaded guns than with any other kind.”

      PM, you might want to rethink that statement. Yes, it has a certain ring to it but it’s entirely false. Do I even need to go into why that statement is so untrue? More people obviously have been shot by guns that were known and meant to be loaded.

    • Open sight line intersections & guns – loaded or not – are not analogous or synonymous…except to the extent that if a blackhat is eyeballing the intersection you roll thru, “its loaded”.

      • On second thought – & last one for the night – checking the sightlines while rolling is analogous to checking your weapon. Blackhat snipers, perched way up yonder, often hidden, are a separate weapon, trained on you.

    • The problem with your argument, PM, is that it is based on the bizarre notion that human beings can only make accurate assessments when they are not moving forward. If that is the case then all drivers must come to a complete stop before making the judgement that the other lane is clear and it is only then that they can decide to change lanes. (?!)

      Drivers make hundreds of decisions while on the move so why not at intersections? Replace stop signs with yield signs at most intersections and traffic will flow better.

      And out of curiosity, did the driver who broke your collar bone come to a complete stop at the intersection before pulling out in front of you?

      • Any one who’s driven a few miles in an American city quickly learns you can never predict what another driver is going to do. Only a moron thinks the guy in front of him is going to obey a sign or play by the all the contradictory rules.

        I’m guessing PM lives somewhere with a functioning culture, where there is predictability in the actions of others.

        • I can predict quite accurately what other drivers are going to do. It’s not 100%. There are numerous tells. For instance, make model and year of what they are driving. Body language of how they are driving is another.

          Then there is what for the purposes of this group, I call ‘clover law’. Clover law is that made up personal version of the vehicle code people use that is passed down by word of mouth that doesn’t really exist. Clover law is largely composed of illegalities that clovers don’t get ticketed for but someone like myself would. It’s also a might-makes-right violent law of the jungle type system. Our resident troll, Clover, for instance defends every SUV driver that shoves me out of position.

          Using these things it is possible to make accurate statistically based predictions. The problem is that it is statistics, so it can be wrong.

          • Very interesting BrentP. It makes sense, that one gains superior knowledge from experience.
            If I am in a hurry in heavy traffic, I will take more gambles guessing the reactions and tolerances of other drivers, but I don’t have your skills by any means.

            Clovers, unlike you, contend that they have superior knowledge of the rules, which as you say, is a sort of Talmud that exists only in their minds, and nowhere are explicitly written down and available for scrutiny.

    • Hi PM,

      I was only trying to make the point that it’s not proverbial rocket science to time lights in sequence. There’s no good technical or practical reason for a series of lights in a given direction to not go green at about the same time in order to facilitate the flow of traffic rather than impede it. It’s an example of government creating problems when the light you’re waiting for turns green, but the one 100 yards up ahead just turned red.

      On stops. Yes. Absolutely – I am very serious. Example: Every morning, I drive up the feeder road from our place to the main north-south road that bisects our county. On a clear day, I can see the “T” intersection up ahead a half-mile before I get to it, including traffic coming from the left for several hundred yards. If I can clearly see that nothing is coming, why should I mindlessly come to a complete stop when I arrive at the “T”? When there is no question – none – that the way is clear for me to merge right and proceed… why not proceed?

      One would have to be blind – or the oncoming car/bike invisible – for their to be a safety issue. Since I am neither blind, nor are there invisible cars/bikes, I proceed with due caution. Mind – I do slow. I just do not stop all the way. No reason to.

    • I don’t think that was an apt analogy PM. If you were approaching an intersection and saw another car approaching at roughly the same time then it would be prudent to stop.

      It drives me nuts here in the PNW to find rural roadways with stop signs on them when a simple yield sign would do.

      One can still drive smartly and defensively while not having the requirement of stop signs everywhere.

  4. Hey Eric,

    I have just recently began to study libertarian philosophy over the last couple of months. I found your articles through I love reading your articles. They are very logical, practical, and informative. I was curious about the use of the word “Clover”. I can deduce from context that this is referencing a statist. Is there anything more to it than that? How did the term begin to be used in this way? Lastly, what books/ websites would you recommend to a learning libertarian?

    • Hi LL,

      Click here to learn more about Clover:

      On books (authors):

      HL Mencken is among my favorites; also Thomas Paine and Robert Heinlein.

      That should get you started!

    • LOL, I had the exact same question. “Clover” is/was someone who used to post here, and seems to refer to a particular type of statist. The one who wants to follow, rather than lead, and who demands that everyone else be forced to follow as well. Often referred to other places as “sheeple” or “boobus Americanus.”

      And here’s a few books I recommend if you want something to read:

      Ron Paul, “The Revolution: A Manifesto”
      Ayn Rand, “Anthem”(more of a very long short story than a novel per se), “Atlas Shrugged”
      Bastiat, “The Law”, “That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen”

      I’d also recommend checking out, follow them on Facebook if you use it, they post a lot of interesting stuff.

  5. What many seem to miss is that traffic lights are purposely designed to interrupt traffic flow. It is called “Engineered grid lock” and the purpose is to infuriate drivers so that there will not be a squawk when next years budget is proposed. “We need the extra money to fix the horrific traffic flow”. Then dozens of studies are performed, gobs of extra people are hired, and since we now have more people working in the system the top guys go up in salary. The name of the game in government circles is called “Empire building”!

    • They pull that crap here every few years and the sad thing is last time they spent like 50-70k for a “traffic study” when I could have fixed the problem with 2-3 days of data gathering a pedometer and a spreadsheet. Fixing light timing is not rocket science, it’s basic high school math and any engineer worth anything should be able to do it with little to no effort given the right data.

  6. Hmmm, where to start…

    You think it wastes fuel to get an SUV up to speed? How about 140,000 lb trucks? (In Canada, we have real ones) I figured it costs each and every truck about $8 to get up to speed, and that, my friends, will ultimately be paid by you at the check out.

    My latest pet peeve has to do with ground loops. They’re dang convenient if your the puddle jumper driver coming up to the big road. Drive up and BANG, light turns green. Well, the guy who just got his 140,000 b-train up to speed, about 1/2 a mile behind the rest of the traffic, now has to stop, again. Punished in the wallet, punished in lost time.

    Stop signs. Well, they are obviously putting “punishment signs” up as speed enforcement/revenue generators. Again, 5 stop signs in a row x $8 per stop = $40 out of the pocket in wasted fuel….. wait a minute, could the oil companies have a stake in this too? The conspiratorial possibilities boggle the mind… I digress…

    I was taught to do a “rolling stop” when safe. You slow down, make sure it’s safe, then roll through. No, not at speed, but 5 to 10 MPH, is plenty safe, plus you save wear on your clutch. Tried to explain that to a cop once, he said, stop means STOP. Well, eff him anyway, all that did was cause me to lose a bit more respect for the “law”.

    Happy trails all…

    • Rambler, I feel your pain. I used to slow down to first gear to a walk and hit my foot brake or trailer brake just enough to make the lights come on and then apply fuel and stand the tractor up a bit just enough they can see I “stopped” and then started again It’s not much consolation but when you have to pay for that clutch, it’s nice to know you’re not using it as much. I had a clutch installed by a dealership that went out of business. I had 80,000 miles on it when it just quit disengaging, 600 miles from home so I just never stopped except for two places I remembered very steep hills I could use to start again. My wife was with me, got home a bit dry. When I pulled that clutch(piss on them, did it myself with a floor jack, chains and boomers hanging the tranny off the frame)it was installed with the imtermediate plate and second disc in backward. I had run it that far without using just those few thousandths that let the springs hit the flywheel bolts. God, I do hate shops although a good one is a life saver…if you can find one. Keep the shiny side up. ESM

  7. The best way to deal with traffic is to let pedestrians and cars responsible for their actions. In Europe and in some US states (New Hampshire being one), they have traffic circles (or roundabouts). This deals with traffic flow much better than preset timing at lights. A small town in Holland got rid of all their traffic lights, with the result being better traffic flow and fewer accidents.

      • In a sense. Traffic signals like much else are the result of the control mentality of society. Through centuries of manipulation this is a society that operates on an obedience and punishment model. Thus the solution to every problem is ‘obey or be punished’. This is a self enforcing cultural mentality. It doesn’t come from above or from some conspiracy, it is the way people are raised and conditioned and has taken centuries to get to this point.

        • Bevin wrote of “manifestation”. Less “cosmic” language (had a woman-child once who sorted people into as / as not that term) would be projection & self-fulfilling prophecy.

          I’d only embroider that the minority seeds that “there ought to be a law’d” this/that/the other, in the early days of hardier pioneering majorities were useful idiot levers, but also that such seeds would be sterile were it not for the gamma ray machinations of sociopaths.

          • Dear oz,


            It’s sometimes useful to invoke lower level abstractions.

            Occasionally however, a higher level, more cosmic perspective helps one see the bigger picture.

            Sort of like Google Maps, where you zoon out and see the map from a higher altitude.

            Personally I resort to the highest level abstractions sparingly. Not because I don’t grok them. I do.

            But I find that invoking higher level abstractions in debates inadvertently gives people like rj pare or Gil too much wiggle room.

            I try to use the lowest level abstraction that will get the job done and illustrate the NAP.

          • bevin…. Interesting albeit 180 divergent perspective. I think “new age” (incl old new age – “collective unconscious”, “synchronicity”, etc) provides more wiggle room than even Keynesianism’s infinite 0’s & 1’s. In my time with the woman-child, I was obliqued to a standstill…lol. I was quite a bit younger then, however…& she was damn sexy-strange. The cosmic perspective was more one of “one of us is enlightened – & it ain’t you”. Ha! Not literal elevation, which I proselytize too.

            As for lures to pares & gils, catching, netting, displaying for the audience is…fun. Possibly even practical for some unseen/heard remnant “out there”. Ya’ll got every nook & cranny of pare on film, in the record.

          • Dear oz,

            It’s true that probably most New Agers, or at least “into New Age psychology,” are New Left oriented.

            But I know of many who are not, including myself.

            Re: level of abstraction to use during debates

            I think it’s a judgment call on when to resort to lower or higher level abstractions.

            I think it’s often useful to invoke higher level abstractions with other INTJs, for example. They get it. They aren’t trying not to get it.

            When arguing with the tj pares and Gils, on the other hand, it’s better to rub their noses in the fact that they are “pointing guns in our faces and demanding money and obedience.”

          • Is there a psychologist in the house? We have new age & existential – which would you prefer? Oh, someone of once psychiatric credentials, who goes by methylamine – which according to my breaking bad chemistry lessons, is indeed part of a psychoactive recipe – is here, too. there may well be others. lol…

            You could say debate losers always have abraded noses…..☻

        • Reading your post just reminded of a clover I passed one evening last week on the way home from work. Middle of nowhere, road wide open, and they’re dragging ass so I pass. Clover didn’t like that so he sped up and high beamed me for a bit.

          • I’ve had them do that to me, too. They can’t stand it when someone else drives faster than they like. Doesn’t matter you’ve caused them no problem, are in full control of your vehicle and just doing your thing.

            Nothing like an angry Clover!

          • The more one drives, the more one will get the clover-beams. At least, at one time. It’s not as common as it was a few years ago.

            Many years ago (80’s), when I was a professional driver and putting 100k on my car a year, I decided it was happening often enough that I had to do something about it.

            So I installed four hi-intensity halogen lights on the light bar of my truck — facing rearwards. I spent the better part of a Saturday evening aiming those suckers right where they needed to be to give the most intense shot.

            Thereafter, if a clover beamed me, 1) in anger or 2) ignoring the common courtesy of keeping them OFF when there’s someone visible in front, I’d turn on those lights for a few seconds, and light his world up. The half-dozen times it happened over about three years, they all backed off and turned off their brights within a second or two. My lights went off as soon as they behaved.

            These days, my driving strategy is simply to get away from clovers as far as possible. If that means increasing speed to a rate they are too scared to follow, so be it. I slow down as soon as they give up.

          • Dom, last night I got these two clovers in front of me. It’s the spot where if one accelerates when the first light turns green can reach the second green. Lead clover accelerates well enough but clover #2 doesn’t. When I start to move to pass clover #2 he accelerates to catch up. Can’t see clover #1, but clover #2 stops on a green signal. So I have to stop. Then clover #2 takes off hard and passes clover #1, I am approaching clover #1 who is doing ~25 in a 45mph zone. I’m in the left lane and clover #1 is in the right. Clover #1 flips on his left signal as I approach and cuts me off. I am on the horn and he doesn’t back off, I take evasive maneuvers and pass him on the right and he’s now blaring the horn at me.

            Now one would think this clover had to turn left at the intersection up ahead. The right lane even had the clearer path. Nope. He just had to be in the left lane. At that very moment. Three intersections later as I am making a right turn he drives by.

    • The problem with roundabouts in the US is that 1) american drivers generally don’t know how to use them, 2) the highway dept doesn’t know how to construct them. They make them too small. You’re not supposed to have to SLOW down when entering a roundabout except to yeild to traffic.

      • I’ve driven through roundabouts in Australia and the UK, and if American roundabouts are much different, I must have missed it. They all share pretty much the same plan.

        Size is sometimes a function of the space available (roundabouts aren’t an easy retrofit in built-up areas.

  8. Don’t even get me started on the question of traffic signals vs. round a bouts. So much more efficient and a fool proof (I did not say Clover proof) method of moving traffic through an intersection.

    I actually went through a round a bout in Kilgore, TX where the yield signs were replaced with STOP SIGNS! I suppose the clovers in east TX can’t figure out how to proceed without running into each other.

    • One nice thing about round abouts (rotary) in Boston is that those entering the rotary must yield to those in the rotary.

      That would be a nice rule if it was consistently applied.

      Rotaries or circles are a nice idea in areas without high volumes of traffic and people that know how to drive well.

  9. In our town there are about 5 traffic lights in a half mile. As they cycle one of their settings is to stop vehicles in ALL 4 directions and allow pedestrians to move in ANY direction. Even diagonally. I have sat there at 4 AM when there is no one, not a pedestrian OR another vehicle, around while waiting for these stupid lights. What gets me is the light posts have these buttons for the pedestrians to signal their presence. I don’t think they are connected to anything. They just make the pedestrians think they have affected the lights so they will stand there like good little citizens until the light tells them it’s OK to cross the street.

    If you want to move traffic and save gas TURN OFF the traffic lights. Like here:

  10. I live outside of Wasilla, AK, and we have the most infuriating traffic lights I’ve ever seen. The Parks highway runs straight through from one end of Wasilla to the other, and if you hit one red light you will hit *every* red light. They are, for some reason, timed that way.

    The problem is made even more absurd by the tendency of drivers around here to slow down when approaching a green light — easily the cloverism that irritates me the most. So there’s an increased chance of getting snagged by any given light, at which point you’re in the trap and your commute is now ten minutes longer for no real reason.

    • Well, slowing down for green lights I really can’t say I blame them. Running a red involves increasingly brutish penalties. Enforcement is an easy way to extract more revenue, and no one is really sure any more where a red light camera might be lying in wait.

      Law enforcement studies all sorts of traffic data and gets their bosses in the council to adjust the law according to their findings. One of the many examples of this is the much-studied relationship between the length of the yellow and the number of drivers who run the light. Cops want the yellows to be relatively short so that drivers approaching have a choice: brake at the limit of adhesion or risk running the light.

      If the yellow is sufficiently short, look for either a red light camera or the frequent presence of cop car waiting for someone to stumble.

  11. I dont like smart lights because most of the time if you are driving a truck they will stop you,on the other hand in a small city like like Salem,VA(were they had great pride in the appearence of the city
    They used to time the lights so if you ran the speedlimit and caught one green,you could sail on through with scarcely a stop.Pros and cons to everything,over at UVA there are a good many useless stop signs-Kevin

  12. Great article. With private, profit driven roads, and fees on a per mile basis, traffic jams would be few and far between. I’m not talking about the quasi-government “toll roads” we have today, I’m talking about real private owned roads.

    It is really quite simple: Traffic jam = loss of revenue.

    The more cars that can complete a mile in a given amount of time, the more profit the road owner makes.

    With no profit incentives to get traffic moving on government roads, and no losses suffered for inefficient light timing,far too many traffic lights (operating 24/7 to boot), etc., don’t expect any improvement.

  13. Good article Eric. Reminds me of how asinine and incompetent the government is at managing something simple like roads. In my town your comment on traffic lights in particular struck home.

    One of our major highways through town is constantly snarled with traffic because the city engineer hasn’t figured out that the highway lights need to be timed together so that if you go a steady speed (say 43 mph) you’d hit all green lights.

    If I as an engineer designed something this bad in the private market I would have been fired a long time ago and yet he’s had his job for 10+ years. Must be nice…

  14. Stop signs are used as speed bumps, what happened to yield signs?Induction loops are expensive to install, cheaper to program the monitor to fixed time. Try driving in downtown Buffalo, no such thing as induction loops. I just treat every signal at a side streets as a four way stop, as there are no gringos to be seen.

  15. “… 10+ new stop signs in our neighborhood. …”

    And one ‘punishment light’ for every ten stop signs. You know, the light that takes forever to turn green.

    That light has lost some of its power since I’ve begun treating most lights as if they were stop signs… or, my favorite: yield signs.

    • Remember way back when there were two Yield signs – yellow and red? Now we just get red ones because any decision not made by the lardasses in government is suspect. Such a shame…

      • And of course, they never see the logical fallacy:

        If “people” are too ignorant/lazy/reckless/selfish to be trusted to make reasonable decisions, how is that other people – those in government – aren’t those things? What endows a government worker/official with superior judgment, competence and diligence? Are they so by dint of being government workers/officials? How? By what miraculous process?

        • It’s a miracle.

          I guess that means if the country wishes to remove ignorant/lazy/reckless/selfish people from this country, then the solution (based on the implication) is to make everyone a gov’t employee.

          It will be just like one big plantation with everyone working for a common goal. Of course the common goal will be determined by the good massa.

        • Because of social darwinism. They were ruthless and smart enough to win a popularity contest and/or become wealthy thus they have shown that they should tell everyone else how to live. Sure, it’s not stated openly any longer, but that’s still the reasoning. The reasoning used by them to justify their actions and the effective reasoning of the masses.

          Eugenics, social darwinism, etc and so forth never left us. It just changed appearance.

        • My brother-in-law once told me it’s because they have people who “study” such things and these people have the right answers.

          Like how high the latch on a fence around a swimming pool should be for optimimum protection for the kids.

          It’s always about the children’s safety.

        • That’s elegant mockery, but that isn’t actually the invariable reasoning here. There are two kinds of reasoning that are different from that and could fit the facts:-

          – The bureaucrats aren’t any “better”, but they only have to decide once. Letting the public decide will work fine – right up until someone gets it wrong, when there will be casualties. The same happens as, when and if a bureaucrat gets it wrong, but then the decision will be changed; with the public, they will just keep on, throwing up casualties every so often instead of just once at worst.

          – The bureaucrats aren’t any “better”, but there isn’t any “right” answer so much as that consistency is best. When bureaucrats do it, they make a standard, and that works out for the best. It’s not important whether you drive on the left or the right side of the road, provided you drive on the same side as everybody else. My mother was stationed in Italy after the war, and she told me that it had had a local option even under Mussolini; you either had to know what the local municipality had picked before you drove into town, or else you had to keep a sharp look out for signs and other drivers until you could figure things out.

          Of course, it’s a very real question whether either of those two arguments really do apply. We shouldn’t let the bureaucrats claim that support unless they establish it. But the point is, when that fits the support doesn’t come from the bureaucrats somehow knowing better, just because they have the job – you can still get monkeys even when you pay more than peanuts.

          • Hi PM,

            I think – I know – you are being over-generous to government “workers” and their supposed superior judgment. You write:

            “The same happens as, when and if a bureaucrat gets it wrong, but then the decision will be changed… ” Really?

            Have the decisions rendering the honest people of Chicago and New York City defenseless against armed thugs been changed? Or have they in fact pursued the same course for decades – at the cost of thousands of innocent people’s lives?

            How about the 20 years of “Drive 55” – and the untold millions in “speeding” fines stolen at gunpoint from millions of American drivers?

            You write: “When bureaucrats do it, they make a standard, and that works out for the best.”

            Not when the standards are arbitrary and when a person’s sound judgment is demonstrably more reasonable. As in the example I provided earlier in re stop signs and mindless obedience.

          • Since when does government realize a mistake and change? There are only very few instances where that happened it all of them took a very long time.
            1) Prohibition on alcohol. 13 years.
            2) NMSL 21 years.
            3) Prohibition on owning gold 41 years.
            4) Home brewing of beer, 58 years.

            Those are the biggest instances where government admitted it was wrong and changed. That’s how long it takes for government to admit its error if it admits it at all. Now keep in mind, it was well known those were all very bad policies from very early on.

            Furthermore, government doesn’t admit error in most cases, it doubles down on it.

  16. I have to agree with the stop sign issue. In my neighborhood they put up multiple stop signs to slow people down. A few years ago a drunk smashed into a mail box and tree at a high rate of speed. The owner of the house complained to the county and they installed a stop sign even though no roads intersect this stop sign except a very tiny access road that only the owner of the house uses.

    After that, all of the clovers came out of the wood work to request stop signs. Within 6 months we had 10+ new stop signs in our neighborhood. All of these stop signs serve no other purpose except to slow people down.

    What chaps my ass most is that these clovers will wave and yell at you for going 35-40 in a 30 zone. In the last few years I have simply blown through every single one of these newly erected stop signs.

    • I think that using a stop sign to enforce speed reduction is in violation of the code. I got that from a Deputy in St. Bernard Parish Louisiana but never bothered to verify. You might look into that in your state, Eric. If I’m right you can probably mine it for an oped. Keep pissin’ folks off as best you can.

      Unfortunately stop signs are among the growing number of things that unlawfully generate revenue. Why others do not see what is actually happening is beyond my ability to comprehend.

      There is a Principle in the Eighth Amendment that is applicable to the present out of control revenue collecting by way of relatively minor offenses. When a laborer or some wretch working a fast-food serving line* is fined a weeks pay for something that doesn’t amount to a bag of fart, it’s time for some serious resistance,


      *I can imagine few things worse.

    • And if the state you live in incorporates the MUTCD into the vehicle code they are all illegal. Stop signs are not supposed to be used for speed control. Now of course a MUTCD defense in traffic court will get a guilty verdict…. well unless you hire a lawyer, then it might work out ok.

      • The Evil Brotherhood of Juris Doctors looks out for its own.

        The People should not put all their eggs* in the Election Basket. Their real power goes unnoticed in in Grand Jury Presentment Power, Petit Jury Nullification, and Sheer Numbers.

        BTW, there are some good reads in LewRockwell today.


        *Down heah, north of N’Awlins they’re called “aigz”.

          • Laigz. Hey Homer! That thar gal got sum purty laigz.

            Remember DELIVERANCE? “Ain’t he got a purty mouth.”

            If that didn’t gag you nuthin’ ever will.

        • That doesn’t even evoke the Blue threat level, sold-jure.(man who sells self to the state in a legal sense)

          gag (v.)
          mid-15c., “to choke, strangle,” possibly imitative or influenced by Old Norse gaghals “with head thrown back.” The sense of “stop a person’s mouth” is first attested c.1500. Related: Gagged; gagging.

          gag (n.1)
          “joke,” 1863, probably related to theatrical sense of “matter interpolated in a written piece by the actor” (1847); or from the sense “made-up story” (1805); or from slang verbal sense of “to deceive, take in with talk” (1777), all perhaps on notion of “stuff, fill” (see gag (v.)).

          gag (n.2)
          “act of gagging,” 1550s, from gag (v.); figurative use from 1620s.

          You seem like a fine feller, if I jacked around too much at your expense, mea culpa, meesa sorry.

          • Lupe Fiasco
            Words I Never Said

            It’s so loud inside my head
            With words that I should have said
            As I drown in my regrets
            I can’t take back the words I never said
            I can’t take back the words I never said

            I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullshit
            Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets
            How much money does it take to really make a full clip?
            9/11, Building 7, did they really pull it?

            Uh, and a bunch of other cover ups
            Your child’s future was the first to go with budget cuts
            If you think that hurts them, wait, here comes the uppercut
            The school was garbage in the first place, that’s on the up and up

            Keep you at the bottom, but tease you with the upper crust
            You get it, then they move it, so you never keeping up enough
            If you turn on TV, all you see’s a bunch of what-the-fucks
            Dude is dating so-and-so, blabbering ’bout such and such

            And that ain’t Jersey Shore, homie that’s the news
            And these the same people supposedly telling us the truth
            Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
            Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit

            That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either
            I’ma part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful
            And I believe in the people

            It’s so loud inside my head
            With words that I should have said
            As I drown in my regrets
            I can’t take back the words I never said

            Now we can say it ain’t our fault if we never heard it
            But if we know better, then we probably deserve it
            Jihad is not a holy war, where’s that in the worship?
            Murdering is not Islam, and you are not observant

            And you are not a Muslim
            Israel don’t take my side, ’cause look how far you’ve pushed them
            Walk with me into the ghetto, this where all the kush went
            Complain about the liquor store, but what you drinking liquor for?

            Complain about the gloom, but when’d you pick a broom up?
            Just listening to Pac ain’t gon’ make it stop
            A rebel in your thoughts, ain’t gon’ make it halt
            If you don’t become an actor, you’ll never be a factor

            Pills with million side effects, take ’em when the pain’s felt
            Wash them down with diet soda, killin’ off your brain cells
            Crooked banks around the world would gladly give a loan today
            So if you ever miss payment they can take your home away

            It’s so loud inside my head
            With words that I should have said
            As I drown in my regrets
            I can’t take back the words I never said, never said
            I can’t take back the words I never said

            I think that all the silence is worse than all the violence
            Fear is such a weak emotion, that’s why I despise it
            We scared of almost everything, afraid to even tell the truth
            So scared of what you think of me, I’m scared of even telling you

            Sometimes I’m like the only person I feel safe to tell it to
            I’m locked inside a cell in me, I know that there’s a jail in you
            Consider this your bailing out, so take a breath, inhale a few
            My screams is finally getting free, my thoughts is finally yelling through

            It’s so loud inside my head
            With words that I should have said
            As I drown in my regrets
            I can’t take back the words I never said

          • Lupe Fiasco Kicked Out of Obama Inauguration Event

            [Editor’s note: This video link was removed from youtube]

            I often post in an oblique manner/I have a lack of comprehension of oblique posts

            Attempt to be Explicit
            I still don’t know what Tinsley is saying, but if I come back weeks later, I might understand it.

            Additional Irony
            I’m trapped in Kal-El’s Fortress of Solitude, within an ironohedron constructed using my own principles.

            Well played!

            At least I didn’t violate the NAP?

          • Hey Tinsley,

            Laigz just rhymes with Aigz.

            You wrote “If that didn’t gag you.”

            Somehow I read that to mean “gag” my responding to your posts!

            You just meant the scene from the movie was enough to gag you.


            Where is the delete button when I need it?

    • Dear Pedro,

      Proof positive that any government measure invariably gets taken to its illogical extreme, soon if not later.

      The only solution?

      Throw it in the woods.

  17. About the lights synching. Another thought, from the persepective of the gov’t. In certain areas, I’m sure they don’t sync the timing because they want you in mass transit, not in the car. Anything they can do to make the driving more annoying they will.

    Also, I’ve been through many intersections that have the timing of the lights on a set pattern, regardless of demand, so you can sit at a cross street for quite a while waiting for the standing timing to change. Those magnetic readers that tell if a car wants to cross should be added to all intersections.

    • Sometimes you can only sync the lights for travel in one direction.

      Then it will be a choice of which (if any) direction gets the synced lights for smoother travel

      • The problem is that in most cities the city engineer can’t seem to make the logical choice that the main arterial is the one that should be timed.

        • I guess that would make some sense. I can usually make good time on 3rd Ave or 11th Ave in NYC.

          Going crosstown is usually iffy.

  18. The safety zone is to protect workers myth is a good one. One of the safest jobs out there is highway construction worker. The unions ran out of things to complain about, so they got obsessive about safety. This led to all these crazy work rules, giant crush barrier bumpers on trucks, miles of lane closures and crossovers, and all the other stuff that doesn’t make a bit of difference. In fact, the driver going through the construction zone is more likely to be injured than the construction crew.

    Much more dangerous is the job of the speed-trap cop. He intentionally keeps out of sight, puts himself in a dangerous position (at the bottom of a hill or after a blind turn, etc), and then proceeds to get out of his vehicle, stand between a parked car and the moving traffic, in dark clothing, often at night.

    If I were in charge, the first thing I’d do is paint all the police cars optic orange and make the officers wear reflective vests. After all, if the goal is to prevent crime, shouldn’t a visible police force be a great deterrent?

    • Once upon a time police vehicles were to stand out. Now they do everything to make them not stand out. As time progresses it is about hiding the police vehicle more and more to write more traffic tickets… now around here they put the light bars inside the cars.

      This just one of the ways that the police are making their true purpose all the more obvious.

        • Oh it still stands out…. the tailgating, binary use of the accelerator, sudden un-signaled lane changes, etc and so on. Driver behavior is how I often identify cops in traffic.

        • Somewhat on topic. I notice police around here in Alabama drive like maniacs when they have funeral escort duties. One up front, one in back, one blocking the intersection. The asshat who blocks the intersection, once all the cars are through, tears ass past all the cars in the funeral procession and the cars stopped going the opposite direction. Mind you I witness this a few days a month on the same two lane with a turn lane down the middle road with a 35mph limit (which for this road almost makes sense). Every time I see this move, I’m thinking: one dead, another probably on the way if this idiot cop has anything to say about it.

    • Good observation. It seems as though I’ve seen an increase of police pulling people over for traffic infractions of late. Maybe part of it is that I have been working in a more prosperous area. The better the host is doing, the bigger the parasite can grow.

      Due to increased penalties and also where I live laws requiring you to move over a lane from where the police have someone pulled over, I am not sure how ‘dangerous’ the job really is, although it is a stupid system and often the mere presence of the police is enough to grind traffic almost to a halt. I always think of the time and fuel wasted whenever traffic is artificially impacted like that. Another of the things ‘not seen’ for that revenue and make-work for the enforcers, oops I mean ‘public safety.’ The politicians often acts as though fuel is the worst possible thing to waste/or even use, while many policies directly contradict that. (Like the requirement of more ‘protected’ and therefore heavier/less efficient cars that Eric brought to my attention).


      • Cops are pretty careless getting out of their vehicles. Before the move-over laws there are a couple-three cops who are alive today because I’m a bicyclist. Just because I am driving it doesn’t mean by bicycling instincts about being doored go away. Because of this these cops who flung their doors out into traffic and stepped out quickly lived past those nights.

        Of course their carelessness is our fault so the move over laws were made. Now I crawl past cops (per the law) if I can’t get over…. one of these days some drunk is going to try and pass a driver such as myself on the right….

    • Eric G: “… miles of lane closures…”

      This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Five miles of cones reducing traffic to one lane with the construction actually only taking place on 100 feet of road.

      And along with these lane closures are the idiots who ignore the lane closed merge now signs and wait until the very last possible second to get over causing everyone else to have to slam on their brakes to let the dolt over. And that is how the accordion effect gets started.

      Why cannot people grasp the simple concept of merging while maintaining the speed?

      • Skunk,

        I’ve found after driving all around the US that the inability of people to merge while maintaining speed is damn near universal.

        In my day part of my driving test was to get on the freeway and get up to freeway speed BEFORE merging. One would think this is a simple, logical skill to have.

        So much for claim by clovers of the license being there to weed out unqualified drivers because there sure are a lot of them.

        • I have said it before and I will say it again: there must be something in estrogen that prevents most women from grasping the concept of the acceleration lane.

          • Its an estrogenic world; we just live in it. Lots of women are on testo replacement, tho. already a controlled substance, won’t be surprised to see increased prohibition…unameliorated “saltpeter” for everyone.

          • The government actually teaches people to merge poorly now. Why? Because speed kills I guess and they can’t square proper merging with their under posted speed limits.

            I wish I had recorded the online traffic school stuff I had to go through. The incorrect teachings would be great humor for anyone with a clue on how to drive. One of the two did not discuss timing a merge, it simply stated that if there wasn’t a safe space to move into traffic at the posted speed limit one should come to a stop at the end of the acceleration lane and wait for one. Yes, stop at the end of the acceleration lane rather than exceed the posted speed limit to make a safe merge.

            Then there was the three second slinky teaching… don’t move from a stop at a traffic light until the car in front of you has been gone for three seconds….

            And people wonder why traffic is so bad.

    • Around here, construction workers aren’t at hazard as much as car drivers and motorcycle riders in slow-go zones, since morons perpetually plow into them. Until the American driver learns basic driving competence, slow-go zones seem like a good idea.

      But Peters is absolutely right about signs and stoplights. What a total waste of fuel and time. I sympathize with semi drivers–several of my relatives make or made a living driving–but there are a few lunatics out there in fair weather and foul who seem to want to scare the bejeezus out of everyone else.

      • Hi Ross,

        The problem, then, with the “slow-go” zones is the relative handful of inept/reckless people who occasionally hit a road worker. Don’t fall into the same trap currently being set (again) by the Victim Creation League (i.e., those demanding honest citizens be denied their right to possess arms). Don’t defend or support general punishment (or prior restraint) of everyone based on the actions of a handful of people. Get the poor drivers off the road. Hold them responsible for what they do. Let everyone else proceed!

    • Once the idea of “fines doubled in construction zones” came out, lo and behold, MORE construction zones…in how many cases have we seen signs and cones laid out, and no progress being made? This is especially bad on I-80 in NV…it seems they’re put out as speed traps, NOT for worker safety.
      But why even bother setting up construction zones at all? At some point, some bureaucrat will point out that some form of “construction” is taking place on public roads…so why not double the fines EVERYWHERE? I pointed this out twenty years ago that it’d come to that. That’s exactly what’s being proposed in CA. It won’t be safe to venture forth in a motor vehicle anymore…

    • If I were in charge, the first thing I’d do is paint all the police cars optic orange and make the officers wear reflective vests. After all, if the goal is to prevent crime, shouldn’t a visible police force be a great deterrent?

      No, because that also signals when they aren’t there and just makes life easier for those bad guys who could be scared straight. It’s better to make it ambiguous enough that the risk averse will never take the chance, then cope with the remainder. If there are enough police for saturation, so that they are always there, then you don’t need to put in any effort to highlight them anyway.

      • The underlying problem is that the enforcers are not their for “our safety.” If we had peace officers then few would object to their presence, visible or not-so-visible. But we don’t have peace officers. We have law enforcers – synonymous with revenue collectors. Assholes with badges and guns out to mulct and hassle people over “technical foul” statutory non-crimes.

  19. Where I’m at now, you cannot make a left turn at an intersection. you have to go 100 yds past the intersection, make a u-turn and come back and make a right turn.

    In NJ they have jug-handles. They have a saying: you have to make two rights to make a left. Absurd.

  20. The absence of coast to coast bullet trains along with state of the art monorail systems in every metropolis in America is inexcusable.

    Google: America isn’t great anymore.

    Tinsley Grey Sammons (1936 –)

    • Tinsley, the only way I would ever set foot in a bullet train or monorail is if they were COMPLETELY privately owned and operated. But we all know the feds would have to get involved and that would mean TSA, insane regs, forced hiring practices, etc. No thanks on that…

      • Dang it Skunk, if enough humanoids go by train and monorail you and I won’t have to deal with them on the street.


        • Now you have me thinking, Tinsley. Maybe I have it backwards – let the monorails and bullet trains be run by the gubment and make all roads private! And no gubment drivers licenses; private road authorization cards only after proof of competency. I like it!

    • If bullet trains/monorails were economically practical they would have been built. Outside of a very few densely populated urban areas they are not. Of course there are also a few being built that rely on political patronage (extorting taxes from some to provide unearned benefits such as subsidies to others), but this just an example of tyranny. The government that screws others for your benefit will screw you for someone else’s benefit.
      Come up with something else brilliant.

      • Rail has been political for something like 170 years now in the USA. Air travel is highly subsidized through taxation. Where would high speed rail be in a free market is anyone’s guess. If the pricing came out comparable high speed rail could offer much more comfort while airlines could offer speed. I think they could go toe to toe but we’ll never know because government is involved.

        • The outrage is that *all* forms of transport in the USA have been subject to the distortions of government subsidy.

          “Free” roads, brought to you largely by stealing land from property owners; cheap gas, courtesy of US military might keeping the spigots wide open; not to mention allowing individuals to spew emissions into the air by the ton every year — these all amount to subsidies for automobiles.

          Community-destroying zoning laws and land-use controls have also transformed cities from compact, walkable people spaces where the old PRIVATE-SECTOR mass transit system once profitably worked fine, into a sprawling car-centric nightmare that results in inefficient mass transit wholly owned by tax-sucking public bodies. Check out this in-depth article on the problem:

          To set the transportation market right, government’s slimy tentacles should be removed from all sectors.

          Let road builder negotiate honestly and openly with property owners, without using eminent domain. Let road owners charge the tolls they wish to recoup their costs and make a profit. Let other suppliers of transportation compete freely with them, so the open market will “regulate” prices. Let people build however they wish, whatever they wish, on their honestly-acquired property, without restriction. Abolish zoning, setbacks, and all other land-use controls. Bring US troops home and let China & India fight over the scraps of resources in the 7th-century tyrants’ neighborhood. Allow people to sue polluters for damages; but abolish the EPA and government regulation — let millions of people figure out how much pollution they wish to live with, rather than one bureaucrat.

          I have entertained the notion that there should probably be ONE exception to privatizing government’s holdings in transportation. It is only in the last 30,000 years or so since people started settling down in civilization, and large areas of land became locked down as “property”. I do think people have a *right* to move about — humans have been migrants / nomads for all of our history. So perhaps there should be some universal standard for foot-travel rights-of-way to be held in common, alongside other private, and mechanized, transportation corridors. Thoughts?

          • I realized before I clicked ‘post’ that I had opened the door to an anti-car argument, however, of the transportation systems the automobile is the one that is most user fee based of all of them. It is not perfect but it is by far the closest to that goal that we have. So much so it is distorted to where those who use private automobiles subsidize the trucking industry. That is the system forces its direct users to subsidize its indirect users. Those who have their goods transported for lower than what it actually costs.

            Under a free market system we should expect the cost of automotive transport to drop, trucking to increase, airlines to increase, and real passenger rail service to come into existence again. And transit fares to increase. Of course all the increases then should be offset by the removal of the general, sales, and other taxation which currently covers those costs.

          • Hi Brent,

            Not so much an anti-car argument (I am a dyed-in-the-wool car guy; I will never give up my AMC’s until they pry them from my cold, dead fingers) as a “the entire Transportation market is distorted by government” argument.

            I agree with Bevin. The market is so completely corrupted by government now that only a complete unraveling of it will reveal how the private sector would ultimately shake it all out.

          • Dear Brent,

            Under a free market system we should expect the cost of automotive transport to drop

            So very, very true.

            A free market capitalist economy is a well-tuned, smoothly running car.

            A Communist or Mercantilist/Corporatist/Fascist economy is a car with its parking brake partially engaged, unbeknownst to the driver.

            If the engine is powerful enough, the driver may think, “Wow. Cruising along pretty damned well. Nothing to complain about.”

            But anyone who knows Austrian economics knows that such an economy is operating nowhere near its potential. It is artificially crippled, and seriously so.

            Whenever I think about how much vastly more wealthy and comfortable we would have been under a truly free economy, I want to scream.

            If we had had a truly free economy for the past few centuries, who knows? Middle class people might consider software billionaire Larry Ellison’s extravagant lifestyle perfectly normal and average.

            No one with any connection with “The Government” has any right to talk about “creating jobs” and “ensuring prosperity.”

            Any gunvermin who dares to claim otherwise should be relegated to the lowest rungs of hell.

      • Dear Atilla,

        Everyone here strongly agrees with the moral principles you outlined.

        But whether a market anarchist system would have MRTs and HSR system is a technical and economic issue.

        Given the statist status quo, the gunvermin have created such a tangled web, with taxes here and subsidies there, it is impossible to tell whether a free market would have spawned MRT and HSR systems.

        To know the answer with 100% certainly one would have to privatize everything first, then wait and see.

        Needless to say I would love to see that in my lifetime, but I doubt I will.

  21. Is the part government plays about safety, or is it about revenue collection?

    Whatever happened to those affordable heads-up $25 fines?


    • tgsam, Hard to believe it could possibly be about safety although that’s always the mantra, It’s not safe or Speed kills. I agee, speed or lack thereof, does kill. It’s been proven with countless studies that regardless of the speed limit, traffic all moving the same speed is much safer. And yeh, they have to do a study to confirm this? They should just get a DOT license along with a Class A Commercial license, get in an 18 wheeler and try to make a living for a year. They’ll have more information that they can process, right in their brain.
      So the next time I get stopped for speeding I’m going to kindly point out the the same roads I used to could only go 55mph on are now at least 75mph(Texas)and up to 85mph. So which is it occifer, safety or need to control people? I absolutely hate speed enforcers, no need except to collect revenue and harass…and of course, be the irreplaceable “narc”.

    • Part of why they do it is about appealing to supporters with boastful talk about how they “did something” that “made a difference” so that [insert tragedy here] “will never happen again!”.


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