President Joe Biden is set to “transform” and “remake” the entire auto industry — “first with carrots, now with sticks” — notes the Washington Post, as if dictating the output of a major industry is within the governing purview of the executive branch. The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing draconian emissions limits for vehicles, ensuring that 67% of all new passenger cars and trucks produced within nine years will be electric. This is state coercion. It is undemocratic. We are not governed; we are managed.
In fascist economies, a powerful centralized state — often led by a demagogue who plays on the nationalistic impulses of people — controls both manufacturing and commerce and dictates prices and wages for the “common good.” Any unpatriotic excessive profits are captured by the state. All economic activity must meet state approval. And crony, rent-seeking companies are willing participants. Now, I’m not saying we already live in a fascist economic state. I’m just saying the Democratic Party economic platform sounds like it wishes we were.
The coverage of Biden’s edict has gone exactly as one might expect. “Biden makes huge push for electric vehicles. Is America ready?” asks Politico, for instance. The conceit of so much modern media coverage rests on the assumption that the left’s ideas are part of an inevitable societal evolution toward enlightenment. The only question remaining is when will the slaw-jawed yokels in Indiana and Texas finally catch on.
I’m sorry, EVs are not a technological advancement — or much of an environmental one — over vehicles with internal combustion engines. Most of the comforts EV makers like to brag about have been a regular feature of gas-powered cars for decades. At best, EVs are a lateral technology. And, as far as practicality, cost and comfort go, they’re a regression. If EVs are more efficient and save us money, as administration officials claim, manufacturers would not have to be compelled and bribed into producing them.
The problem for Democrats is that consumers already have perfectly useful and affordable gas-powered cars that, until recently, could be cheaply fueled and driven long distances without stopping for long periods of time. Fossil fuels — also the predominant energy source used to power electric cars — are the most efficient, affordable, portable and useful form of energy. We have a vast supply of it. In recent years, we’ve become the world’s largest oil producer. There are tens of billions of easily accessible barrels of fossil fuels here at home and vast amounts around the world. By the time we run out, if ever, we will have invented far better ways to move vehicles than plugging an EV battery — which is made by emitting twice as many gases into the air as a traditional car engine — into an antiquated windmill.
“I want to let everybody know that this EPA is committed to protecting the health and well-being of every single person on this planet,” the EPA’s Michael Regan explained when announcing the edicts. No one is safer in an EV than a gas-powered vehicle. The authoritarian’s justification for economic control is almost always “safety.” But the entire “safety” claim is tethered to the perpetually disproven theory that our society can’t safely — and relatively cheaply — adapt to slight changes in climate. If the state can regulate “greenhouse gases” as an existential threat, it has the unfettered power to regulate virtually the entire economy. This is why politicians treat every hurricane, tornado and flood as an apocalyptic event. But in almost every quantifiable way, the climate is less dangerous to mankind now than it has ever been. And the more they try to scare us, the less people care.
So let the Chinese communists worry about keeping their population “safe.” Let’s keep this one innovative, open and free.
David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. Harsanyi is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of five books — the most recent, “Eurotrash: Why America Must Reject the Failed Ideas of a Dying Continent.” His work has appeared in National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reason, New York Post and numerous other publications. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.