- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Professor Obama is looking to grade you on your car-buying preferences. Beginning with the 2012 model year, new vehicles will carry revised window stickers bearing ratings from “A+” to “D,” with the highest marks reserved for choices the administration endorses and the lowest for those it frowns upon. This is just the latest example of the nanny state mentality that has taken hold inside the Beltway.

The schoolmarms at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation jointly proposed the new labels Monday. The idea is to give government-subsidized electric vehicles - the only ones eligible for the A+ grade - a competitive advantage. Each vehicle will be judged by a combination of factors, including measurements of fuel economy and contributions to “smog” and purported “global warming.” Modern technology already has reduced actual pollutants in vehicles to minuscule levels. That means the measure of carbon-dioxide (CO2) output, a so-called “greenhouse gas,” takes prime importance. CO2 is essential to life on this planet; it allows plants to grow and thrive. Yet with eco-extremists at the government’s helm, the gas you are emitting as you read this editorial is labeled a pollutant to further the left’s real goal: the elimination of the internal-combustion engine.

After more than a century of refinement, the gasoline-powered automobile represents an unbeatable choice. It provides economical freedom of travel to more people than has been possible at any other time in the world’s history. This galls the social planners who prefer to restrict movement and foster dependency. That’s why electric cars are a favorite. Since they were first developed in the 1880s, they have been hobbled by range and carrying capacity limitations. The left has extracted tens of billions of dollars from the pockets of taxpayers and transferred this wealth to the companies that produce these vehicles that make leftists feel good about themselves. Despite subsidies and incentives like free solo use of high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, most families still see electric vehicles and hybrids as unrealistic options.

That’s why government bureaucrats must treat consumers as schoolchildren who need Uncle Sam to tell them what to buy. The new proposed window stickers will include a measure of estimated “fuel-cost savings” based on the operating costs of electrics and hybrids, compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. It would be far more honest for the government to report the per-vehicle federal and state subsidies that go into each car. That way, the public would see that all such “savings” are illusory.

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