It’s strange to find myself an uncle, with a country place – and an Orange Barchetta out in the garage.
My 1976 Trans-Am.
It is a relic from the ”better, vanished time” Rush sang about in their classic Libertarian rock hit of 1981, which was inspired by a short story written in 1973 by Richard S. Foster for Road & Track magazine, about a future in which saaaaaaaaaaaaafety mandates had turned new cars into – well, what they are today. Big Brothered, homogenized and no fun.
Older cars were banned by The Motor Law.
The Barchetta – redwood and leather, hot metal and oil and not an air bag to be found – is carefully hidden away and kept in full operational readiness by the white-haired uncle, who preserves it for his nephew as a piece of what was.
I’m not yet white-haired – and my niece isn’t quite old enough to appreciate the TA, much less drive it – but the prescience of that song – which I first heard before I learned how to drive – cuts awfully close to the bone.
There are Motor Laws – engine laws, to be technical about it – already on the books. Laws – in Europe, for now – limiting the use of cars powered by internal combustion engines in various areas, such as cities and outright forbidding their sale (as in France) beginning in 2030.
And there are laws here targeting engines in favor of motors. These include directly – such as laws in force in various state requiring the sale and so the manufacture of a certain number of electric cars (*which have motors, not engines) as well as obliquely – for the moment – via the sudden characterization of carbon dioxide as an “emission.”
This bait-and-switch (or shifting of the goal posts, if you prefer) had to happen because actual emissions from car engines – the stuff that created smog and acid rain and made people cough – have been reduced to nearly nil. About a third of all new cars qualify as Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles, meaning they emit almost nothing harmful to the air or the lungs.
Thus, a new pretext had to be ginned up to justify the strangulation by regulation of engines – which has been the conscious goal now for at least the past 20 years. Because it was 20 years ago – back in the mid-late 1990s – that the exhaust emissions problem was solved.
This – like the collapse of the old Soviet Union – created a new problem, one very different from the air quality problem which had existed back in the ’60s and ’70s but which no longer existed by the ’90s, because internal combustion engines had been dialed in so brilliantly by then that less than 3 percent of their exhaust byproduct was objectionable on air quality or public health grounds.
But the cars (and easy access to personal mobility they endowed the masses with) remained objectionable in certain quarters. The emissions regs were meant to kill them off – and almost did. Some of you reading this may recall what cars were like in the ’70s. But the engineers did the unexpected, the miraculous – and made them emit almost nothing by the ’90s – and did so while making them more powerful, more durable and more reliable.
Another, related problem has been the collapse of the Peak Oil fraud – the long con of imminent energy scarcity – which was used to justify energy rationing.
At least for us.
This was done in the form of such things as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) law – which decrees that new cars must average ever-higher mileage. The government, of course, exempting itself from such hardships.
The public seemed to accept the government doing this because of rising fuel prices, which suggested decreasing supply.
But the carny slipped up; the energy scarcity con collapsed. It became common knowledge that there was much more energy in the ground than the public had been led to believe there was. The price of gas went down, a sure barometer of this increase in supply. People began to question the need for energy rationing given the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded was just over $2 a gallon, with 50 cents or more of that being just taxes.
No one talks about Peak Oil anymore, which has assumed its place adjacent to phrenology in the Encyclopedia of Silly Ideas.
Instead, they talk about climate change – the replacement con.
This is why, all of a sudden, energy rationing regimes have shifted gears and are justified as “emissions” reduction regimes. The “emissions” being, of course, carbon dioxide. Which cannot be chemically scrubbed or reduced in any way except by the rationing of energy.
This will include electric cars.
Not at first, but inevitably. They are being used as the pretext for the elimination of engines, which are in the process of being anathematized because they produce carbon dioxide “emissions.”
Mr. Fusion has not yet been invented and until such a contrivance comes along, the production of electricity will also result in the creation of carbon dioxide “emissions.” These “emissions” are centrally emitted rather than individually emitted – but they are emitted nonetheless and it has been calculated that, on the whole, if all the cars in use powered by engines were replaced by cars with motors, the total volume of carbon dioxide “emissions” from oil/coal/natural gas-burning utilities would actually be higher.
This stands to reason given that none of the EVs currently available emphasize economy. They are all high-performance luxury-sport cars that happen to be powered by motors rather than engines.
You can perhaps see the coming bait-and-switch.
First – and this is in process – we will be pushed out of cars with engines and into cars with motors (electric cars). But as millions of high-demand EVs begin to consume millions of kilowatts of electricity, the carbon dioxide “emissions” problem will remain and may even have become more serious – assuming one buys the carny con about carbon dioxide “emissions” from human sources causing dangerous and unnatural “climate change.”
This is idiocy, of course – but no less potent on account of that. The idiocy of “all power to the people” and the “dictatorship of the proletariat” was no less effective as the tool used to oppress and slaughter millions, by dint of its fatuity.
Cars with motors will be restricted and banned, in their turn. Once they’ve gotten rid of all the cars with engines.
And make no mistake, these bans will be enforced – as laws inevitably are. Perhaps not by “gleaming alloy air cars,” but nonetheless.
Meanwhile, the Orange Barchetta waits.
. . .
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