May 15th, 2008 by Rightsideup

CNN’s Jack Cafferty has a column looking at the option of lowering speed limits to bring down the price of gas. Here’s an excerpt:

Cars are most fuel efficient when driven between 30 mph and 60 mph. Above 65 mph, mileage drops sharply. This isn’t rocket science. If drivers are forced to slow down, we would all use less gasoline. And if demand went down, prices might just follow.

One expert says reducing highway speeds from 70 mph to 60 mph would reduce gasoline consumption between 2% and 3%. That could translate into a price reduction of as much as 10%. At today’s price, almost 38 cents a gallon.

This is exactly what happened in 1974 during the Middle East oil embargo. President Nixon and Congress imposed a national speed limit of 55 mph. Congress repealed the national speed limit law in 1995, and today there are 32 states with speed limits of 70 mph or higher. In Texas, you can even drive 80 mph on some roads.

Marvelous. Now we’re looking to the Carter era for solutions to our problems. Apparently the last 30 years were a big waste of time and there were no valuable lessons about government intervention in the economy worth remembering. So instead we’re taking our lessons from that fabulously successful Carter era of economic growth and prosperity.

If people want to use less gas, then they’re presumably quite welcome to reduce their speed on highways to 60mph or lower. But re-introducing a federal speed limit, with no constitutional justification whatsoever, just in order to meddle in the oil market, is several steps too far. There are much bigger and more effective ways to impact the oil market, not least permitting more drilling and refining of oil domestically. Why is it that certain people’s instincts always go to increasing government limitations on freedom of behavior when it comes to solving problems? And how come our collective memories of the past results of such policies are so short?

February 27th, 2008 by Rightsideup

I note the Wall Street Journal has finally covered Barack Obama’s Patriot Employer Act, which I posted on a couple of weeks ago. It seems he’s been touting it on the campaign trail, too, so apparently he’s still keen on it and willing to admit that fact:

Recently in Janesville, Wis., he repeated his intention to make it a priority as President: “We will end the tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas, and we will give those breaks to companies who create good jobs with decent wages right here in America.”

The paper does a nice job covering the several reasons why this would be awful. Let’s hope that message gets out to the population as a whole and not just the WSJ’s already-conservative readership.

February 12th, 2008 by Rightsideup

It appears that Obama may actually have a policy we can really associate with him, albeit one which seems to be being pursued more aggressively by another Senator keen to use his name just at the moment (no prizes for guessing why). The Hot Air blog highlights an interview with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio published by the Nation in which he states the following:

I’ve talked to Barack a lot about his Patriot Corporation Act, which is not trade per se, but it’s certainly part of the economic package around globalization. The Patriot Corporation Act has not gotten the attention that I would hope it would. But, basically it says that if you play by the rules, if you pay decent wages, health benefits, pension; do your production here; don’t resist unionization on neutral card check, then you will be designated a “Patriot Corporation” and you will get tax advantages and some [preference] on government contracts.

So we have something Barack Obama apparently believes in enough that he was willing to put pen to paper (or have his staffers put pen to paper) to craft legislation to make it a reality. And is it the kind of soaring, high-minded proposal we’ve all come to expect based on that wonderful rhetoric of his? Er, no.

It’s clear where the Nation’s own William Greider stands on this – he thinks it’s wonderful. But it’s just a tiny bit shortsighted, isn’t it? For starters, it ignores the main reasons why companies offshore and outsource in the first place – high labor costs (thank you Democrats), lots of burdensome regulation (thank you Democrats), high taxes (thank you Democrats) etc. etc. It reminds me of the experience we’ve all had sometimes – we have a table or chair where one of the legs is short, so we trim the others to make them symmetrical, but then we realise we overdid it, and now we have to go back to the original one and shorten that a bit too. Pretty soon we realise the table or chair is now about the right height for a garden gnome and give up and throw it away. The Democrats’ tendency to want to intervene throughout the economy will lead to the same result – one bit of tinkering leads to another and before long we’ve completely hamstrung the entire business sector and have nothing but a mountain of unemployment and a recession to show for it.

I’m just glad we finally know where Obama stands on something, and it’s particularly wonderful that it highlights the heavily left-leaning, interventionist philosophy we all know is hiding beneath the “yes we cans” and the unity message. Now if we could just infiltrate the mainstream media enough to actually get them to report on this stuff…

May 14th, 2007 by Rightsideup

The trend which started with ever more intrusive traffic and driving regulations has now begun to spread to other areas, at least in the UK. Extensive driving regulations have had the effect of creating a whole new class of citizens who see it as acceptable to break the law and who see the police negatively rather than positively, at least in one department of their lives. This spread of regulations and the misapplication of intellectually solid zero tolerance policies is going to further undermine respect for the law and the ability of law enforcement personnel to go after the real crimes in our societies.