And Now Cummins. . .

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It takes a lot for a major car company or engine manufacturer to deliberately circumvent a regulatory fatwa. As policy. Not a “rogue engineer.” The entire engineering department; the upstairs bosses… everyone in on it.

It is happening a lot lately.

VW – and now Cummins, a major manufacturer of diesel engines used in heavy commercial and street vehicles, including Chrysler (and lately, Nissan) pick-up trucks. Both have been caught (apparently, in the case of Cummins, which hasn’t yet admitted to it) diddling with their engines’ software – which controls the hardware –  in order to “cheat”  the EPA’s emissions tests.cummins-6-7-image

It is an act of desperation on the order of the Ardennes Offensive in the winter of ’44 – with VW (and Cummins) in the role of the Germans. It’s an all or nothing throw of the dice.

Billions in potential losses; potentially, the loss of the company itself.

It is no joke.

VW is probably doomed, having been caught – and now facing financial repercussions the equivalent of a mile-high tsunami. Not to mention the PR debacle.

So, why?

Because we have reached a regulatory bottleneck. A point not merely of diminishing returns (that was reached at least a decade ago) as far as the cost imposed for the gains achieved, but a point of engineering (or economic) can’t-go-there. The EPA is basically demanding zero-emissions internal combustion, which is not possible without eliminating combustion.bottleneck

And even getting close to “zero emissions” (which is literally what EPA expects) can only be done at great cost and not just in terms of the MSRP.

You may have noticed that modern diesel engines are not spectacularly fuel-efficient. This notwithstanding all the new technologies. It is so because the fuel has been jiggered with to be Ultra Low Sulfur (ULS) and because the engines have been jiggered with (particulate traps, urea injection, “regeneration” and other such add-ons).

A few years ago, there was a scramble among over-the-road truckers to snatch up the remaining inventory of big rigs powered by diesel engines built before the latest/newest EPA fatwas as applied to big rigs – which made the new, EPA-acceptable ones much more expensive to buy and much less efficient to operate.

Freight hauling got more expensive and so did our groceries and everything else.big-rigs

Then EPA then turned its evil eyes toward passenger car diesels.

There is a reason why the only EPA-acceptable diesels you can still buy in this country are without exception installed in high-dollar cars built by luxury-brand marques like Mercedes and BMW. It is because the cost of compliance doesn’t matter as much to people who spend $50,000 or more to buy a new car.

A car like the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-class diesel (base price $52,650) is a fantastic car but it’s not an economical car. The price of the car negates the “savings” realized from its 28 city/42 highway EPA rating.vw-logo

Which by the way would be higher were it not for the EPA-mandatory Ultra Low Sulfur fuel and all the gear Benz and everyone else is forced to graft on to their diesel engines in order to pass the EPA’s emissions tests and not run afoul of the EPA’s Ayatollahs.

VW (and, apparently, Cummins) decided to diddle. A very dangerous thing when dealing with Ayatollahs.

They did so because they can’t charge Mercedes prices for EPA-compliant diesels. It was either diddle – or (as they say in the Marines) drop on request.

Get out of the market entirely.

Which is what Caterpillar has already done. The company – which was once a big name in over-the-road trucking – is now selling off-road (and so, for now, emissions-exempt) engines only.

The cost of compliance was simply too high.Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

VW, on the other hand, depended on its line of affordable diesel engines – available in most of the cars it sold (Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat and Touareg) which made them an economic alternative to other, modestly priced (but gas-engined cars).

And hybrids.

Before the “cheating” scandal blew up in VW’s face, you could buy a Jetta with a TDI diesel engine that got 31 city, 46 highway (better than the EPA-acceptable Benz E-Class diesel) for $21,640 (less than half the price of the Mercedes diesel).

It also cost less than a Prius hybrid while almost matching that car’s at-the-pump parsimony – making it an economical alternative to that car, too.

VW engineers – and managers, they had to know what was going on – resorted to “cheating” because it was the only way to keep their diesel-powered cars on the market at an affordable price (and without negatively affecting their fuel efficiency).jetta-tdi

It was either “cheat” the EPA – for the sake of their buyers – or try to sell people pricier (and less fuel-efficient) but EPA-acceptable diesels that buyers wouldn’t buy.

It appears Cummins has made the same decision.    

And – if the “allegations” are true – will be nailed to the cross right next to VW.

So, for that matter, will we.

It’s us – the car (and truck) buying public that ultimately pays for all of this. Not for the “cheating.”

For the fatwas issued by the EPA’s Ayatollahs.

And that is precisely what they are. Religious fanatics.fanatics

This “cheating” business is about minuscule, fractional differences in tailpipe exhaust emissions that have caused no provable harm to any actual person. As opposed to the very provable harm caused to hundreds of thousands of people by the EPA’s fatwas. The higher prices, decreased choices – and lost jobs – just for openers.

The time has come – has already passed – for the people to push back against the EPA’s unelected, unaccountable-to-anyone fanaticism. These regulatory Ayatollahs weren’t elected by anyone and – under our system – have no right to legislate. Yet – effectively – that is just what they do. Via regulatory fatwas that carry the force of law.

It is enough; it has got to stop. President Trump has it in his power to apply the choke chain. He had better.

The alternative being we all go broke – or out of business.

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61 COMMENTS

  1. Eric,

    You got this one very wrong.

    You looked at the allegations from a lawyer trying to make money on this case. Neither the EPA nor California’s ARB have alleged Cummins of cheating. Just lawyers who are misinterpreting the facts and trying to capitalized on the momentum created by the VW situation. It is a class action suit and the lawyers just hope that Cummins will settle out of court, they get 40%, the truck owners all get 60% or maybe 10 bucks each and the lawyers retire.

    Cummins released an SCR system with a catalyst formulation that turned out to not be robust. The catalyst craps out after awhile and then the emissions go way up. Cummins doesn’t deny that and there is a campaign to replace those defective cats with a different catalyst formulation and revised controls for that. Cummins and FCA are fighting over who pays the costs for those recalls. Cummins vehemently denies they employed any kind of defeat device or strategy as did VW and plans to vigorously fight the law suit.

    Your article was worded in such a way to suggest there is little question that Cummins cheated. That was wrong.

  2. So tell me Eric…What’s a person with a 2011 TDI Jetta that they love to do??? Sell it back for twice the trade in price or allow them to mess up my car and mileage?

    • Hi BB,

      If it were me (and my car) I’d just continue to drive it, unless and until the government ordered me to have it “fixed.” At which point I would accept the buyback.

  3. Wow! The war against the IC engine is picking up steam. That was fast. Of course, the Duramax (made by Government Motors) will be the one to escape scrutiny….). I guess Powerstroke’ll be next, then they’ll start coming for the gas engines.

    I would like to think that The Donald would stop this nonsense, but considering the way he’s filling his cabinet with the standard Republican Swamp-inhabitants, it’s not looking good.

  4. Eric- Can you explain how lowering sulfur costs fuel efficiency? I used to be a trucker (got out of the business) and used Lucas additive in my truck to replace lubricity lost in the ULSD, but I am unaware of how it affects mpg. Any estimates on mpg loss from regular diesel to low sulfur, and finally ultra low sulfur? Is there an additive to replace sulfur?

  5. some blame has to fall on the pansy bed wetting CEO’s . they should refuse the mandates and continue to make the normal diesels. my friend is a trucker and they are buying a slider tractor truck which is new without a engine and putting in an older rebuilt engines. I wonder when they will close that loophole. I say they went after VW to destroy the competition so govt motors could sell their junk

    • Agreed, SPQR –

      I am convinced the reason why is short-term/quarterly profit thinking. That is all these CEOs care about. What happens five years from now doesn’t concern them because they’ll be long gone, either retired or at some other company.

    • Needless to say, I’ll bet Government Motors won’t be looked at by the EPA. They will be the only ones who can get away with cheating.

      • Hi PJ,

        No, I don’t think they will. I am now seriously entertaining the idea – perhaps paranoid – that it wasn’t just my “diversity” article that annoyed GM and caused them to revoke my press car privileges. I am wondering whether my defense of VW had something to do with it…

        • Its probably a little of all of it. Your one of the few to actually criticize and call out the nonsense.

          But its not like that’s all you do. You actually didn’t trash the Volt like you could have.

    • SPQR70AD, Not to be a hairsplitter, but the word you were looking for is GLIDER, as in powerless cab and chassis. They have been around for many years, pre-emissions BS, as a way for a trucking company, or o/o, to keep and re-use a sound drive-train while replacing the rattles and clunks of the worn out body and frame.
      In 2008 heavy engine builders, and thus heavy truck manufacturers, were required by the Envirofacists to dangle all kinds of fart catchers on their finely tuned diesels. Truckers did horde the old trucks, until they simply became too expensive to maintain, and then turned to glider kits to keep the reliable, relatively cheap to operate older engines around for a few hundred thousand more miles.
      I bailed on trucking a couple of years ago. One of many of the things that made me decide to leave a career I loved was the mandate of DEF, Diesel Exhaust Fluid. It’s expensive cow piss dyed blue and just another bureaucratic hurdle drivers are expected to jump without a cent in extra compensation.
      I miss it until, like today, I talk to fleet maintenance managers who are losing their hair over brand new trucks that roll to a silent stop, all because Big Brothers Fart Catchers don’t work!

    • Volkswagen denied the bullying of the UAW after the WORKERS VOTED NO to the UAW. The UAW cried to the government, the government looked for a way to destroy VW.

    • Doesn’t seem to even matter what the consumer wants anymore. Just follow orders, comrade! Then, after they comply with the orders, they apparently hire some guys who are LSD trips to “tell them what the consumer wants”, because they seem to think that the consumer wants $70K pick’em-up trucks with power tailgates and power-retractable mirrors and automatic retracting cab steps, and heated/cooled seats…yada, yada….. (Apparently, people are going to the opera in these pick-ups, instead of using them to carry plywood and haul tractors. )

      Completely unrelated of course, I wonder why new vehicle sales are down something like 40%?

      Oh, and gimme some of that lane departure warning and automatic breaking and a back-up camera, so I can pay less attention to my driving, cuz if there’s one thing we need more of on the roads, it’s less attentive drivers!

      • Hi Nunzio,

        I was showing some friends the automated braking system in the Lexus NX300h I’m driving this week. The juxtaposition between the hysteria about “distracted driving” on the one hand and in-car gadgets that encourage it is … startling.

  6. mr peters blames the ”ayatollahs””OR THE EPA they are the enforcers of this cabal of climate warming/change etc.and he expects this guy trump to do something about.in a cold day in hell maybe!!! its a conspiracy as another rothchild/wall street, agenda/ scam to rape and pillage the nation,””HELL THE WORLD””!! and to make the public obedient little surfs.oh!!! i guess thats what we are!!!!trump will do nothing to stop any wall street rothchild agenda period.he is clinton on steroids!!!

      • Governing is the problem…

        “To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.”
        — P.J. Proudhon

  7. Cummins has not been accused or admitted any wrong doing. There’s a class action regarding unreliable exhausts. This article is liable.

  8. Peters — Perhaps completely and, sadly, accurate. Tell us who the hell hypocrites to blast with emails, letters, etc. This is coming down to fantasy vs. reality. Yes engines put out some “pollution” it is less than that from the total combined production and utilization of other “green” technologies, i.e. solar cells whose components require significant toxic output, etc., etc. – rarely mentioned.

    Thank you for your fortitude, website, etc.

    • Thanks, Tom –

      The hope, if there is any, lies with Trump. He could fire the current EPA (and NHTSA) heads, install more reasonable ones, out the fear of god into the bureaucrats – and then revisit the whole business of the current emissions (and safety) regime with Congress and the public.

      • Eric,

        That might be from the other side of the twilight zone.
        I do not remember EPA autos (although the name does sound similar to a certain website. 😉 ) building cars during the last 40-50 years.

        Perhaps the author is confusing the head of the EPA with a certain Pharaoh?
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O8gTIr4lys

        I think eventually cars would have been cleaner, more fuel efficient, better, and safer without government oversight.
        How quickly would be debatable, but car builders were heading in that direction. (at least here in North America)

        In some respects the EPA is like Pharaoh telling the car manufacturers to build bricks (vehicles) without providing them with proverbial straw (feasible technology) to build bricks (vehicles).

        • Hi Mith,

          Yup!

          Among other things, the author of that snarlin’ gnarlin’ neglects to acknowledge that it was the EPA’s first slew of fatwas that gave us underpowered/balky cars for most of the ’70s and into the ’80s.

          Fuel injection would have replaced carburetors (for the most part) because of market pressure to increase economy and improve drivability. But we’d have simpler EFI (probably TBI) and in lower-priced cars, carbs would probably have remained available for longer. PFI would be very rare (no significant improvement over TBI) and DI would be like real magnesium wheels.

          As far as safety: Volvo built a company on that. It’s ridiculous to image a market demand for safety would have been ignored absent mandates. But government decided to mandate that “safety” trumps all other considerations such that people no longer have the option to choose the vehicle/attributes that best suits their needs and wants. Instead, cars are made to suit government’s dictates.

          • Not to mention that one of (if not the very) first actions of the EPA, perhaps even its raison d’etre, was to cave to the hysterical propaganda of Rachel Carson and ban DDT. Doesn’t matter that hordes, perhaps millions, esp. in Africa, have died of malaria since then.

      • “The EPA, one of the best things that has ever happened to the automobile, looks to be one of the first federal agencies the Trump administration plans to gut.”

        That’s the first line in the article you linked. What a total asshole that guy is. Talk about “fake news”. Thanks for showing the other side for what they are, in their own words.

  9. Folks, its over, okay? We passed the political point of no return a century ago. Nothing short of total systemic collapse is going to change anything, not just an opinion, but based on years of social science research and historical data.
    The public is manipulated, the masses are to ignorant to do anything other than push for what their biological drives demand.
    Too few are able to make decisions based on long-term time horizons. The dollar is fake. Politics is a farce. The media is all powerful. The internet hasn’t made us freer, it just provides deeper access to our personal lives by our corporate/state overlords.
    Your only defense: MOVE
    Goodbye, America. Or what is left of it.

    • Hi Andy,

      I agree… much as I’d like to argue otherwise.

      I believe what happened last week will prove to be the proverbial final straw. Trump will – I am betting – govern as another Republican. Which will give us not just another Democrat a few years from now. It will give us a Bernie Sanders or Michelle Obama (or much worse) outright socialist.

      Wait.

      But, I’m stuck. Too old, too tired to pick up sticks. They can come get me. I won’t go quietly, though.

    • And yet, some of us still have the will to survive and live free. To keep doing more and better for us and ours, and thereby benefitting all of humanity. We’re the ones spitting in the eye of “law enforcement” saying shove your seatbelt up your nazi, buzz cut, mouthy 20 year old brainwashed ass. We’re the ones who know the second amendment is the law, not because it’s written in the constitution, but because defending our life and property is God’s law or natural law. If trump turns out to have feet of clay, the time is at hand. I, for one, am inspired by VW, and Cummins, and all my fellow scofflaws who do defy the scum on top of my pond,. Ignore them until they go away, and if they don’t, then make them.

    • As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over”. Ol’ Yogi also said “Predictions are hard to make, especially about the future”.

      Still, I’m afraid you’re right, Andy.. The Yogi quotes are good for a laugh, but I agree we seem to be fucked.

  10. When Congress created the EPA, it was like the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.
    A broad mandate was given and there were no limits built in, so the wonks in the EPA were free to keep moving the goalposts. Congress does have the power to rule that standards applying to, shall we say, 2005 are good enough and to spell out that the EPA can go no further. But that would generate a firestorm of debate and lobbying and any bill to give a haircut to the EPA would be hard to get through.

    That is the mischief involved in “enabling legislation”. It gives de facto law making powers to people who by all rights should only have law enforcement powers. This country has lost many of its freedoms due to enabling legislation passed by a Congress enamored of lofty goals, but too lazy to do the heavy lifting involved in generating specific standards.
    Enabling legislation in the Reichstag gave a certain Corporal the right to rule by decree.

  11. So the question is is Cummins going to lay down and play dead like VW?

    I just don’t get why VW didn’t fight at all. What else could they have lost? They could have attacked the tests of the people who caught them (since the EPA and such never did).

    • Laying down and playing dead is in the modern German’s nature.

      Cummins may be willing to fight but 98.3% of the country has no idea who they are. So Cummins is on their own, not a winning position.

  12. I know this a moronic thing to ask, but here goes anyway:

    Is there any remote chance that a Trump Administration will at least try to rein in the Economic Punishment Ayatollahs? Trump certainly has enough of a popular backing to do so. The EPA being an executive agency, all he has to do is tell the ayatollahs “you’re all fired!” and that would be that. It’s past time a president issued a Fuehrerbefehl to do some good for once.

    • I doubt it.

      Even if Trump would dial it back, I could see agency people going rogue and trying anyway. These people think they are on a mission from god or something.

    • I don’t have the quotes handy but apparently he is in favor of ending this whole climate change non sense and doing away with the MPG requirements and such.

      We’ll see though.

      • Hi Todd,

        Yup… fingers tightly crossed. But I think he’d be smart to do it. A groundswell of support would erupt from people who have lost their jobs or are paying through the nose because of this “climate change” religion. I’d particularly like to see Musk cut off.

        I have my Fez ready…

        Saluta il Duce!

        • And bullshit like TWIC. You don’t know what TWIC is? Don’t let me stand in your way. By their own calculations TWIC had fucked at least 30,000 truck drivers. Say it real fast and it doesn’t sound like much.

          All of you that want to take up one of those great trucking jobs via what’s his name can get your hard on here and qualify with the FBI and TSA giving everybody hell who you live near a chance to diss you and create the most distance between you and them……and who could blame them. I’ve had a buddy recently who had all his neighbors harassed cause he was sent to get a load, unkown to him, a load of really hot nuclear wastes. So they sent him out headed for La. and tailed him all the way, not to protect him or keep him safe but to see what sort of bad fellow he was simply doing his job. God, ain’t this a great country?

          http://twicinformation.com/

          • Yikes, thats on top of the huge loss of privacy in order to be employed as a regular trucker today. No wonder most of the truck drivers I know are looking for the exit, all this nonsense for lousy hours and pay. How does anyone tolerate driving for a living anymore?

  13. Just to correct a something eric said, Caterpillar is still selling engines for trucks run on road. Since they’re known to be great engines I checked the website and only a few months ago saw a brand new truck with a new 15L Caterpillar engine……that ran about a week and had some failure that was fixed under warranty. I don’t know what the failure was except something came loose inside it the driver said. I had to wonder if it was something that would never have existed pre-smog bs.

    • I got screwed by the TWIC requirement and the company I used to drive for. When it first came out; I went to a port in Louisiana, took a test, paid a bunch of money, and I picked up my load which paid me less then I had spent getting that TWIC. I didn’t actually get the card; I got the receipt. TWIC back then would not mail the card to the driver. To get the card, I was supposed to return to that exact same port once _they_ received it. Guess what. My company decided that they weren’t going to pick up any more loads from ports and I never got that card. It has expired long ago by now.
      Getting a Hazmat endorsement added my CDL was just as invasive. Every time the CDL gets renewed I am required to take a written test. On top of that: To get the endorsement I had to submit to a background check by the TSA and wait about a month for it to arrive in my mail, then take that paper to the license office before I could get the endorsement added. On top of that: It expires before my license does; therefore I have to remember reapply for it a month before it expires. They do not mail reminders! If it expires then my license immediately gets reduced to a Class C. Think about all the tickets I would get for driving a truck with a Hazmat load if I were to get pulled over by a cop or get called in at a weigh station.
      My new job is to haul fuel and ethanol, so a mistake like letting my TSA clearance expire would cost me my job.

      • I had Hazmat till Tx. began requiring a test every year. No real reason for that except to collect revenue. Nothing being hauled now that wasn’t being hauled since I got my first Hazmat 20 years ago. So the company that pays pretty well locally is now hauling nuclear wastes so they evidently chunk applications that are obviously not going to pass TWIC. TSA has cost the taxpayers trillions and has delivered squat for it.

        I haven’t queried Tx. to see if they send a notice on Hazmat every year. And here’s something that’s crazy. I haven’t had a moving violation since sometime in the 80’s and that was slightly speeding in my pickup. I’ve had to renew my license every 2 years though and it’s not a cheap affair(third rate romance, low rent rendezvous)

        • There are a lot of things that I really liked about Texas while I was living there, but I found the negatives surpassing the positives in my personal situation.
          The coproaches and the DOT really suck here in Missouri, but not as bad as they do in Texas. The cost of living and property tax are lower here in Mo even when the lack of income taxes in Texas are considered. We get more precipitation than the western 3/4ths of Texas does. In general: I do like genuine Texans more that I do most Missourians. OTAH; Texans seem to strongly prefer Neocons.
          Yes, the decision was difficult for me to make as an anarchist!

          • Hi Brian,

            I suspect Texas, like other states, has its share of Clovers. Our Gordian Knot isn’t going to be easy to unravel. Wherever you go, just about, it seems that most people do not question the idea of coercive collectivism. It just varies in degree and object.

            The good news is that most people have been conditioned to think this way; have never had someone attempt to get them to think another way. Specifically, that it’s in their own self-interest to refrain from buying into coercive collectivism (assuming they are basically decent people who aren’t looking to leech off others). After all, if Smith can use the power of the government (via the ballot box) to vote himself into your pocket, you can do the same to him in return. And just as Smith can use the power of the government to impose his views on you and yours, you can use the power of the government to return the favor.

            This ultimately benefits neither – but leaves the government in control of both.

            Libertarianism is thus both practical as well as moral.

            It is much better to live – and let live – than to live constantly at war with others, despising them for their meddling and busybodyism.

  14. I’ve read the linked article. Apparently what the civil suit is saying is that the emissions equipment on these trucks was prone to failure after some undisclosed point. If it met the end of life requirements (which are higher than the brand new requirements) then the plaintiff has no case. That’s how government regulation protects companies. If it meets the requirements the government sets then the plaintiffs can pound sand.

    So this doesn’t sound like it is so much a cheating the test problem but a problem people are having now that the trucks are old and have high mileage and they are on the hook to replace the emissions equipment (to get the trucks to pass state emissions tests) rather than getting it replaced under warranty.

      • But it’s not in this case. It’s class action for the owners of the trucks. There’s also some sort of civil case against audi saying the detected the car was on the dyno by steering angle and substituting a different shift pattern for fuel economy*. Except the lawyers and the media called it CO2 emissions to conflate it with the VW issue. Basically I think every scammer is going to come out of the woodwork now and try to claim automakers cheated on this or that government test.

        *my guess is that Audi had a clever system that detected sedate driving and shifted the car appropriately. So long as it was always active and did come on in the real world it would be legal best that I know.

  15. The problem is the government and the media purposely mislead the public. They don’t tell us about the trivial differences between tier 2 bins or how they’ve rigged up tier 3. Yes, as of next year it starts getting worse. Right now we’re dealing with changes in the 0.0X g/mi as certain bins in tier 2 expired years ago resulting in this mess. But the media never talks about that. They use results of test B and compare them to the EPA standards of test A. Never ever ever letting people know that all this scramble is to get from the expiring bins of 0.4g/mi and 0.2g/mi NOx to the permanent bins of 0.14g/mi and below. Because 99.99% of people or more will never look at let alone try to understand it.

    The politicians tell people how they’ve granted them 50% cleaner air, but never ever saying that difference is going from 0.2 to 0.1. Which for all real world reality is no change at all, it’s just a change on the test. But if the automakers game the test which has little connection to real life use anyway…. oh noes…

    Let’s understand what the real problem is that these changes supposedly mitigate. Population increase. Why is the population increasing? Because the government is importing people.

    • The real problem is those great paychecks and perks of being a federal employee. Nobody’s going to give it up and they have the fedgov on their side since, well, they essentially ARE the fedgov. Sweet deal if you can swing it.

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