Our Worser Half

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Government is like a bad marriage you can’t get out of. An arranged bad marriage you didn’t even once upon a time think was a good idea that turned bad over time. You were forced into it – and you can’t leave it.

Just ask Mr. Lincoln.

So you end up doing your best to “make it work” – and are grateful for whatever small occasional concessions you can manage.

They are better than nothing, as the saying goes.

And yes – it could have been worse. For instance:

Our Worser Half was going to force us to buy nothing but hybrids and electric cars – by jacking up the price – via fines – of any new car that didn’t average at least 46.7 MPG – which is every car that isn’t a hybrid or an EV – by the 2026 model year.

This would have had a seismic effect on not just the cost of cars but also the choice of cars available come 2026. Less “efficient” models would become more scarce as well as more expensive – the one inevitably resulting in the other.

Instead, the arm-twisting will apparently be relaxed – somewhat. New cars will “only” be required to average 37 MPG by 2026. Those that don’t – which is almost all of them except hybrids – will still cost more.

But a bit less than they would have otherwise.

Be grateful?

Yes, surely. In the manner of Stalin’s chicken. It is of a piece with being grateful that the county “only” increased the tax assessment on your home by 3 percent this year instead of 5.

How about zero?

Never mind.

Our Worser Half has been decreeing  MPG minimums – styled Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency standards – since the 1970s on the basis of a very strange and morally despicable argument, which is rarely – if ever – questioned.

It goes something like this:

The car companies must be forced by the government to offer what buyers are clamoring fori.e., “fuel-efficient” cars – else they would force people to buy nothing but “gas guzzling” cars.

This is of course absurd, both historically, logically – and actually.

In the first place, the car companies can’t force anyone to buy anything – lacking the force to do so. All they can do is offer; it is up to us to buy – or not.

It is our Worser Half that relies upon force – to make us buy what we don’t want.

Its many “services,” for instance.

Interesting that our Worser Half never applies its own argument to itself.

Secondly, as long as there have been cars there have been “fuel-efficient” cars; the problem – from the standpoint of our Worser Half – is that not everyone wants them. Or rather, that they want something else more.

Perhaps more car rather than more MPGS. Or a more powerful car. Maybe a truck.

Mileage being one of many variables that are taken into consideration by most people but not the sole consideration. For many buyers, it is a secondary or even tertiary consideration.

It may not be a consideration at all.

This explains why no one has to be forced to buy, say, a Dodge Hellcat that averages 13 MPG. It also explains why the best-selling vehicle isn’t a 50-plus MPG hybrid like the Prius. It is a truck truck three-times the size of the Prius – the Ford F-150. It doesn’t get 50 MPG – or even 37 MPG.

But it can pull 10,000-plus pounds, carry five large men and a stack of 4×8 plywood sheets, too. Some people value this capability – even if it’s only used occasionally – more than they do the everyday capability to drive 50 miles-plus on a gallon of gas . . .  in a small car that can’t pull anything and hasn’t got room fo five large men or even half a sheet of 4×8 plywood in the back.

It is ridiculous to claim – as our Worser Half does – that without the ol’ bayonet in the backside – “fuel efficient” vehicles like the Prius would be suppressed.

In fact, it’s exactly the other way around.

Our Worser Half is the one suppressing vehicles … that aren’t like the Prius.

The claim that the car companies are not building more vehicles like the Prius in spite of buyer demand for them is like saying that, absent a government mandate requiring it, the car companies would suppress air conditioning.

Of course, most people want air conditioning. Which is why it is not necessary to mandate it – or anything else that people want.

Like the Ford F-150, for instance.

It is necessary to mandate MPGs – because most people don’t want MPGs. More precisely, they want MPGs less than they want the other things mentioned earlier.Things like size, power and capability.

And this is what enrages our Worser Half.

Only “fuel efficient” vehicles must be available – regardless of the cost, in terms of money or choice.

Which brings us to the morally despicable part.

This business of our Worser Half decreeing any MPG minimums whatsoever. What the Hell? Who are these geeks? How did the mileage of our vehicles become any of their business?

It is of a piece with our Worse Half taking any of our money.

How about none?

We are grateful when our Worser Half takes a bit less – or decrees a bit less. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the taking and decreeing just ended?

. . .

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47 COMMENTS

  1. My recently acquired 1993 Ford Escort LX wagon with 1.9l and 5sp is 2400 pounds empty. It gets 21-24mpg in pdx idling and slow traffic, and 34 on the highway in the right lane through pnw low hills. Compared to my 1979 Corolla Sport with 1200cc and 4sp, it’s a tank, weighing over 600 pounds more. It’s “faster” and might allow passengers to survive a modest low speet front or rear collision. Crashes over 20mph in the 45mpg city Corolla almost certainly would result in passenger injury.

    Both of these cars have well engineered powerplants and transmissions, but were built to save fuel and be easy to park, while being inexpensive to buy and service. They both go “fast enough” if you have time to get going, and both remind you that you are going too fast above a mile a minute with noise and harshness. Heater, radio, lights all easy to understand and fix, which is why they are running today. Neither have computers fancy enough to operate ABS or airbags, but the Escort 1.9l is port fuel injected so “barely running” to save fuel is possible (a good use of a timing computer). Manual locks and windows are nicely part of saving build cost.

    This car is a niche product that I want, but did not want when new. I will keep it through the coming fuel price shocks and shortages, so that I can buy fuel to put in my neighbors v8 truck to move heavy dirty things, or Jeep to go remote. A gasoline ration will be available only if you have a tagged/insured/smog-checked ICE vehicle, otherwise you are probably just making Molotov cocktails, fueling an illegal 2-stoke genset, or want to drive Uncle’s red Barchetta.

    • Hang on to BOTH them rides! That ’93 is just about at the “sweet spot” that Eric has alluded to before, where the useful parts of modern automotive ignition and fuel injection were already in place and reasonably developed (and parts are still readily and cheaply available), but before the damn thing got weighed down with so many fuel economy “Fatwas” and other dictums for s-a-a-a-a-a-f-t-e-e-e-e! The ’79 Toyota is likely very much yesteryear’s product (carburetor, point ignition, no overdrive top gear), but for an around-town scoot, as long as you can get the parts, still no less useful than a virtue-signaling EV, and in a SHTF scenario, as long as you have gasoline, you can drive it far into the Cascades. Indeed, if there ever was a massive EMP detonation from the DPRK “Fatboy” lobbing a high-altitude nuke over the USA that shut down a lot of our electronic gizmos and especially our modern cars, that old Corolla might be worth more than its weight in gold! If you really plan on keeping it long-term, scout around “Pick-N-Pull” for a rebuildable used engine and a good used gearbox, along with working starter and alternator. Of course, all this wisdom could be invalidated with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, deeming either or both of your rides “unsafe” or “dirty”, so you would have to leave them on a cow pasture, unless the State of Oregon seizes them and has them crushed against your wishes. Don’t think THAT couldn’t happened, the Air Resources Board in Calipornia (ironically acronymed “CARB”) already is proposed to do that with old rides THEY deem to not have “collector” value. There’s ANOTHER proposal in the state that gave rise to hot rod and car culture to issue “vintage” plates on a rationed basis, with exorbitant “smog impact” fees to drive them, or even not allowing them on the roads at all, so in effect, your old ’57 Chevy Bel Air becomes a “Trailer Queen”!

  2. I had a pickup once, a Dodge with the recent V6 engine, very nice – for a pickup. But in the Pacific NW, a van makes more sense, unless you like having a compost pile in the bed. Anyway, who needs a pickup, really? Not many of us are in the construction business. I got rid of it.

    My current car is a 2015 Audi A3 diesel, and yes it gets 50mpg. I was happy with my previous car, a VW Passat diesel, also getting 50mpg, but the government said I couldn’t have it (lawsuit related).

    I don’t think there should be CAFE standards; in fact I don’t think there should be government. But I still think most people buying F-150s are economics-challenged.

    • A “twuck” is a GUY thing, PJ. I agree that they’re costly to buy and expensive to feed. But when you need to HAUL something, what could be BETTER? Just for ‘dissin my truck, I won’t help you MOVE!

    • The downside to (most) vans is the motor is more difficult to work on.
      Not a big fan of 4wd for similar reasons (less easy to work on), gotta love when the back of the intake is too far to reach without climbing up on something. Or when the pinion seal can’t be done with the steering box in the truck. Etc..
      I have a 4 cyl. stick 99 frontier xe for my daily driver. Quite easy/cheap to work on and easy on fuel. Glacially slow too, it got walked by a UPS truck on a highway ramp recently lmao.

        • I had a mid 80s VW golf that ran consistent 18.1x in the 1/4 mile (85 hp) and this nissan feels slower…
          At the parts store I once replied “leaf blower” when they asked what engine. That mildly offended one of the kids working there lol. ( he owned a ‘hardbody’ nissan pu)

  3. I LOVE my ’03 F-250 Triton V-10. It gets a reliable 11-12 mpg – Street or hwy, uphill or down, cruises @ 80 mph with power to surge ahead when I step on it. I don’t drive it a lot. 4WD is one of those things you don’t need a lot. but when you do you REALLY need it.
    Daily driver is a ’14 Sonata, last year for the 274 hp engine. I like the performance.
    Our ’49 Burb is the ne plus of simplicity, reliability, and value. How many of these plastic computerized little sedans will be around or worth reconditioning when they are 70?

  4. The determination of what the MPG limits should be is purely based on a false deduction. That of global warming being caused by man. If you bother to go back in history before the industrial revolution, you will find the weather was always changing and sometimes from one extreme to the other, despite the presence of man on the planet and the lack of any industrialization. The government control freaks (Marxists) have absolutely no proof that controlling the use of vehicles will change anything. The only reason we have this stupid nonsense to deal with is because they want to take away our freedom, choices and destroy individualism and free markets. If there is anybody in government that is concerned about the future of this country and it citizens/consumers, they have moved to Pluto.

  5. The perception that the money we make, earn or use is ours is a errant one. The money we are forced to use is someone else’s version of money and we are taxed and charged accordingly for its use. The battle for liberty and freedom should not be viewed or measured in terms of regulation and legislation, but in the effort to liberate money from the clutches of a small group of people. Remove this power and liberty and freedom will flow once again. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of pain and bloodshed along the way.

  6. I noticed something interesting around New Year’s this year. That’s when the car companies and dealerships advertise their wares heavily. I didn’t see a single hybrid or electric in any of the commercials. They were all for performance cars or SUV’s and crossovers. Huh.

    • Few will ever speak out, most are addicted to cell phones and video games. I have a Kia Soul 2020 averages close to 40 mpg. The 2020 ones have a new transmission and engine. This is not a hybrid. The 2020 sportage is in the 30’s range.

  7. Hey, it could get worser,

    https://apnews.com/4071a69453ccac372f2cb710dfdb2374

    Bloomberg said in a statement accompanying the release of the new policy. He added: “As president, I’ll accelerate our transition to a 100% clean energy economy.”

    Bloomberg’s plan envisions “phasing out of all carbon and health-threatening pollution in the electricity sector” to ensure 80% clean electricity by the end of his second term.

    Hey, why not? I hear those Unicorn treadmills really can output enough energy to replace oil and gas.

    Don’t worry though, at least the Bloomberg decrees probably won’t cost as much as the Sanders plan $16 TRILLION dollar plan.

  8. I have similar conversations with my Republican family and friends about taxes. It’s great that Trump cut taxes, but how about decimating them? How about eliminating them?

    • Amen, Drunkard – this is the principle which must be relentlessly hammered on. Otherwise, we’re just haggling over how much will be stolen from us… which leaves us perpetually open to being stolen from.

      • Given the power to tax there is no legal limit to how high they can be. Nothing but friction and gravity keeps the US Sociopaths In Charge from taking it all. Amen Saint Lincoln, by far the worst president this poor nation has ever had.

      • Eric: sometime in the future maybe by 2030 everyone will be on bicycles, donkeys or electric scooters that can’t afford electric cars.

      • All a cannibal-criminal’s gonna’ know or care is that there ain’t any bullets in that p(rinciple)-shooter.

        Word salad•efense…means (to a cannibal)…soup’s on…means, too…no soup for you…cuz bein’ soup & havin’ soup is canned & can & canned can’t ever correctly say it’s got can, nor soup say its got itself…’cept maybe when in a condensed supercalifragilisticexpialidocious mood…which moody soup &\or sparks sometimes is…but which don’t make it, nor anything else, so…♪ feeeeeelings…for all my life I’ll feeeel it ♫….

        https://www.amazon.com/War-Soups-Sparks-Neurotransmitters-Communicate/dp/0231135882/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=soup+or+sparks&qid=1579466254&s=books&sr=1-2

        Arguing principle with criminals might should have a word of its own. Prisonciple, maybe.

        Typecast is sorta’ like learning disability is sorta like a room at the gray(matter)bar.

        It’s like this guy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgUQldQC440

        I’ve seen him hanged, twice, in the same show (Deadwood), his larynx crushed (Life), & here, shot in the head. All neck up demises…which ain’t just a metaphor.

        Bonus point question: are these characters “too much in their heads,” or not enough?

        Bonus bonus point question: what if our worser half’s right next door, in that other hemispheric head space taker upper?

        (If you can dodge a wrench, you can Dodge a brother, a Chrysler\Plymouth, a ball, all kinds of things – but how you gonna’ dodge *that*, a feral domesticated conjoined siamese?)

        (But which side’s the sinister side? Knew a guy that said look left & be right. Julia Cameron’s deal was drawing to a royal flush right side.)

        Piggy’s – a kid, emulating “adults” — got the conch. He didn’t start young…he started at conc(h)eption. Pig in a poke?

        Damn…pulled pork (but not skulled Piggy – I ain’t cannibal) in Carolina Gold bbq sauce – mustard’s way better than nightshade — sounds good now!

    • Come on now, Trump can’t cut taxes anymore, because he’s too busy tweeting about how govt is beyond corrupt and full of war criminals committing high treason everyday… but he won’t DO anything about it, just tweets. President TWEETY BIRD. America is going to hell… might as well start calling it Venezuelamerica, or maybe North Koreamerica. Because THE PEOPLE won’t do anything… they just sit around and blog about how bad things are, yakkety yak yak… but there’s not one single civics group in the entire country. I can’t even find one republican party group in the state of Oregon. But the demonrats have unlimited funding and they actually organize to some extent. The evil criminals of this world are the ONLY ones that organize and make goals and do anything… all the good people just sit around and work at jobs so they can pay taxes to the evil criminals. But they all say “we have to vote for better dictators”, but yet noone cares that there’s absolutely no way to verify your vote was even counted or wasn’t altered… no serial numbers on any ballots… tons of lawsuits and complaints for decades… yet still no serial numbers, so we have rampant election fraud, yet the people STILL don’t realize that. OMG… total failure of a country’s people. We’re all just peasants and victims now. Enjoy the ride down to hell. Wheeeeee.

  9. the other funny thing I see with these MPG rules is that people who are concerned about MPG are only so because of the cost element. But what point is there having a 50MPG+ car who’s cost is jacked up by thousands (with expensive repairs or depreciation during ownership) just to save on 1-2 dollar gas…..

    But not the way the government works – its ok to double the price of a car to save a couple dollars on fuel…

    • Hi Nasir!

      I think they’ve been desperately conflating mileage with “emissions” (i.e., C02) lately precisely because it’s so hard to make a mathematical/economical case for these MPG mandates… which result in slight mileage increases at very high cost.

      • Just like the old rule of thumb in building an engine for your race car. The first 500 horsepower will cost you $5,000.. The hext 50 will cost you another $2000. Another ten probably $1500 more. So you’ve now spent $8500 to put 560 horses under that bonnet. First time out you come in in the middle of the field. Hmmm… so you spend another $2000 to round up and put another ten horses in with the herd. Next time out your only 40% back in the field. You work on your handling skills, spend another $2000 and find five more….. this time you see the finishing winner way out ahead as you round outof the final hairpin and thunder down the home straight….. The next weekend you are three cars back in your class from the chequered flag when the second place car loses an oil line and is DNF on the final lap, making you second. But HE was beating you on raw power before his line broke. Did you really win second? Not really. So, its find another two grand…….

    • Hi Nasir,

      In the 70’s people who wanted efficient cars were genuinely interested in fuel economy to save money. This was a market response to the government created fuel shortage problem. Today, that is, at best, a secondary concern. Enviros buy fuel efficient cars not to save money, but to “save the planet”. Because they’ve been completely bamboozled by “climate” hysteria, pointing out that their purchase makes no sense falls on deaf ears. You see, they are being rational (in the economic sense) because they value being, or appearing, “green”, more than they value saving money.

      Government has never been concerned about lower gas costs for us, CAFE fatwas are about power and control. In the 70’s it was about oil politics, today it’s “climate” hysteria serving as justification for their grand social and economic plans.

      Cheers,
      Jeremy

      • Calipornia is utterly INFESTED with those “Toy-Yoda” Pri-ii…effin’ virtue-signaling twits, not ONE of ’em can drive worth a crap!

      • That depends on the vehicle in view. In my Mercedes diesel (300 SD) it gets about 30 mpg at 75, for every 10,000 miles that’s about a thousand dollars. set of, four good tyres costs about $600, and lasts about 80 K miles, that;s about $75 per 10K. Nine quarts of Delo 400 15-40 cost less than $50, add filter for $10, is $60 per 10K miles. Geatbox pan service costs about $20 per 10K. Brake pads, good ones, maybe $50 the front $30 the rears, $80 total, and last about 80K miles, $10 per 10K. Battery every 8 years or so, at 20 K miles per year that’s 160K miles on a $125 Inrerstate Megatron, or $20 per 10K. Water and vacuum pumps, alternator, seem to last 200K or so, about $150 or about $8 per 10K. ALL IN, other costs per 10K total around $120, while fuel is $1000. So fuel alone is eight times everything else put together. See why I find the cheapest fuel I can find. have fitted an YUUUGE Racor (sized for a commercial truck tractor) and don’t worry about clean fuel, ever? I can, and do, even take the drain oil and gearbox fluid and add that back into the fiel tank at about a gallon mer 20 gallon fill.I never notice any difference in starting or running or power. AND I don’t have to bother with finding a place to dump the drain oil.

        • Ah, but the Greenies that want to “thave the planet” will have a cow over your “smoky” OLD oil-burner, never mind that it’s far cleaner than even most NEW gasoline-powered cars.

  10. how about the government mandate that only government purchased cars for staff and AGWs are whatever MPG they think it should be…. if it doesn’t meet the requirement, no purchase. I suspect it won’t go down too well with the bureaucrats though – who while imposing these rules on us continue to roam around in the nicest SUVs or powerful cars….

    • I’ve owned several gov surplus cars. Ex cop and military cars get more power, and are still pretty fuel efficient. For instance- the GI 6.2 GM diesels got bigger injectors and made about an extra 100 lb*ft of torque- but they get as good or better mileage than the civvy 6.2’s. Crown Vic vs P71 is about the same- very similar mpg if not better for the HO version. It appears that civvy versions are so detuned to control “emissions” that they are less efficient and burn more fuel. Ive found the same on Cummins TD’s- bigger injectors and a bit of tuning yields a lot of power and torque, as well as better mpg if you aren’t constantly flogging it.

      • My current safe and fast do-everything car is a Caprice Special Equipment Option 9C1 LT1 from 1995. My mechanic says that when new they couldn’t easily pass smog check, got bad fuel economy in town, made LOTS of 12v dc current at idle (140A alternator), and can go 149mph if you put good tires on and have the space ahead of you. Non-cop version always passed smog, can go 112mph, and get 24mpg cruising 90+mph. Not bad for a 4100 pound sedan that can tow 5000 pounds. The 1995 Cadillac Fleetwood with the same engine could tow 7000 pounds.
        1995 Caprice fleet car was about $24000.

        • Hi PDX,

          I remember the old Caprice; I drove it when it was the new Caprice (including the SS version). These were remarkable cars – all the more so because comparatively simple cars. Six passengers, full-size; could tow a decent load. Could hit 140-plus, as you note. Better mileage than most new turbo four crossover SUVs that carry five and tow 1,500-3,000 lbs.

          But hey – the new crossover has ASS and a touchscreen!

        • “The 1995 Cadillac Fleetwood with the same engine could tow 7000 pounds.”
          Only with the V4P option, otherwise it was rated at ~5k towing cap. 3.42 gears rather than 2.92 for the V4p so highway mileage will be down a touch too.
          My 95 roadmaster with 3.42s, slightly shorter than stock tire (26.5″), headers & some other minor mods, gets ~22 mpg @ 80 mph. I see as good as 16 in town but – city mileage varies wildly depending on the city.
          As far passing smog, the LT1 cars will pass california smog with the a.i.r. pump disabled.

  11. There is a problem of corporations only offering what is most popular. Of course that’s a government created problem of making it such that only a few large players dominate an industry. But this condition of only offering what is most popular wasn’t a problem in the auto industry. The auto industry is one of exploring every niche possible. If one of those niches gets popular the entire industry turns towards it. Maybe slowly like a cruise ship but it does turn towards it.

    We see how the industry turns as the government pushes legislation and people then buy into niches they never before considered. The SUV for instance. The large lower-wider passenger cars were killed off so people went to enclosed trucks. The government went after SUVs so then people shifted again, choosing cross-overs which were originally an SUV sub class for people who never hauled, towed, or went off road but wanted the size.

    Crossovers to me look like 1940s cars. Before lower and wider became a thing. When CAFE was introduced in the 1970s a full size car was low, wide, and long so that’s what the government went after. So these tall cars, like cars were in the 1940s, are now classified as light trucks.

    The whole premise of CAFE is pure american control freakism. See it wasn’t enough to tax fuel, because taxing fuel wouldn’t have changed what people bought all that much. They had to make what they didn’t want people using unavailable. So that’s what CAFE is designed to do. To remove choices from the market. Yes there also would have been more resistance to fuel taxes. The elected office holders get a pass by blaming engineers for not being able to produce a 35mph 7 liter big block full sized sedan. The magical thinking that the laws of physics and thermodynamics can be superseded by a government edict.

    Cars with good fuel economy have always been around for those who wanted them. Countless models were created when that segment of buyers increased. And of course the selection drops as buyers who want fuel economy falls.

    It’s like safety. The auto industry tried to sell safety for decades. It was in their interest to. Failure after failure as people decided to hold on to their cash. Only a few niche vehicles sold on safety. It’s difficult to convince people. Government stepped in to use force. But the safety still didn’t ‘sell’ until one day in the 1980s it did. Government didn’t have to do anything to get automakers to exceed the standards then.

    • Ever notice that almost every accident involving a “crossover” (and they are most of the cars on the road now) is a roll over ????

      Even my old truck based 4×4 Suburban is more stable than these tranny cars.

        • That would be true for single vehicle rollovers, but I’ve seen lots of videos of intersection crashes where fairly minor bumps cause one or both cars to go rolling like a beach ball.

    • Mercedes, Volvo, and BMW began to pioneer impact crumple zone body constructiion way back in the mid to late 1950’s. Many people were attracted to them in large part BECAUSE of their crash protection. Of course, their style, power, economy, comfort features, didn’t exactly drive potential biyers away, either. They all handled and performed well, and were the safest ones out there. Many of those marques from even that far back are still going strong and returing the excellent fuel economy they did way back when.

      • Hi T,

        The problem, of course, is that it’s not enough for some car companies to sell ssssssssssssssssssssssssafety. Every car company must be forced to sell ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssafety. One used to be able to choose a car like an old VW Beetle – small, light and cheap – or a big, heavy and expensive car like a Mercedes. And everything in between.

        Not anymore. Choice being something government exercises on our behalf.

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