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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cash for clunkers: two crimes, justified by a lie

Crime 1: Another multi-billion dollar subsidy for Government Motors.

When Obama stole Chrysler from its stockholders and gave it to his union cronies, we knew he would take every opportunity to waste taxpayer dollars trying to keep this lead balloon afloat. The Cash for Clunkers subsidy is just particularly egregious, since it works by subsidizing the last people in the world who need a subsidy: those who are well off enough to buy new cars in the midst of a deep recession. Talk about a middle class welfare program!

Crime 2: Eliminating Government Motors’ competition by gratuitously slagging an expected 750,000 perfectly good used cars in the sub-$4500 price range.

The Obamacrats aren’t just subsidizing cars for the well-to-do. They are destroying the cars that the less well-off are in the market for, driving up used car prices as part of their effort to make new cars more attractive:
Some parts may be kept but the engine and drive-train must be destroyed. Specifically the engine will be injected with a liquid glass solution to permanently disable the engine and it will be the responsibility of the dealer to make sure this is done to the engine.
Injected with liquid glass? Sounds like a Quentin Tarentino murder fantasy, and the reality isn't any prettier. Witness Obama's procedure for destroying the would-be cars of the non-wealthy:

Here is another one, a spiffy-looking Volvo that holds out for 4-plus minutes. Some clunker, and check out the row of semi-new cars lined up to go next:

Take THAT all you graduate students, newlyweds, store clerks, aspiring actors, single moms, non-deadbeat dads, warehouse workers, journalists, hippies, and other assorted poor relations. You want a car, you can scrape together your savings for a down payment on the privilege of paying hundreds of dollars a month to Government Motors for FIVE YEARS, just like everybody else.

How big is this crime?

A very substantial portion of the population NEVER buys a new car. I, for instance, have never bought a new car, and I never expect to. Why would I, when California has the best used car market in the world? In the last 10 years I have bought two 1984 Toyota Vans, one with 45,000 miles, one with 115,000 miles, each for $1500. Both still run great. One is set up as a work vehicle. One converts from passenger van to camper. No new vehicles would serve as well, or look as sharp.

My two uber-vans, one extra-dirty from its recent 2000 mile trek to Seattle and back. (Shasta, Crater Lake, Boeing Museum of Flight, Blue Angels, Olympic Peninsula, Fort Stevens, Oregon Dunes, North Coast, and back across the Golden Gate. Ain’t that America?)

The vehicles that are being gratuitously destroyed are newer than my two vans (which are just outside the 25 year age limit) and they are up to three times the price. For instance, the immensely popular Toyota Previa vans (1990-96) all qualify.

A good California Previa with a hundred thousand miles left on it sells for two to three thousand dollars. The government's offer of 35-45 hundred is outbidding the market even on these top quality used vehicles. Cash for Clunkers is a misnomer. Some bottom-of-the-barrel cars will be turned in, but the rules insure that most will not be these “clunkers.”

To qualify, a car must have been registered in the name of the new car buyer for the last 12 months and it must have been insured for the last 12 months. These actively-used cars of people who buy new cars are the quality core of the used car market. Most “clunkers” will be perfectly good cars that would be prize possessions for a half million less well-off Americans, wantonly destroyed only because the Obamacrats prefer that they be destroyed. Dollar for dollar, this is the equivalent of trying to solve the glut of housing foreclosures by purchasing the houses with taxpayer money then burning them down.

Any Obama supporter who claims to be motivated by distributional justice, go soak your head. You want to subsidize the better off? Be as stupid as you want. But don’t go destroying en masse what the less well-off need to survive.

All justified by a lie

Obama’s excuse for decimating the last two generations of used vans, SUV’s, pick-up trucks and full size cars is the global warming hoax. The ascendancy of Obama was, in his own narcissistic words:
...the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.
Energy consumption must be curtailed in the extreme:
…under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.
It is all about CO2 and the phony global warming industry that Vice President Al Gore created with $10b of seed money when he pioneered and administered the executive branch’s global warming portfolio (now called “climate change,” since the earth stopped warming 10 years ago). Gore’s appointees have directed almost all of the full $79b that the U.S. has spent on climate science since 1989, and they don't care at all whether CO2 is actually warming the planet. Their real motivation is an eco-religious belief that economic activity is gobbling up the natural world, so that for the natural world to survive, economic activity must contract.

To these high priests of green religion, CO2 is the perfect fall guy, no matter how insignificant its actual impact on climate. If the CO2 released by fossil fuel burning can be framed as a threat to the planet, that provides a rationale for drastically curtailing human economic activity, thereby stopping economic activity from gobbling up the natural world, whether or not CO2 itself actually has any harmful effects.

CO2 alarmists reject the scientific method

We can say with nearly complete certainty that the bulk of 20th century warming was NOT caused by CO2. This is because we know what DID cause the warming: the “grand maximum” levels of solar-magnetic activity that obtained for most solar cycles between 1930 and 2003.

Numerous studies have found a high degree of correlation (.6 to .8) between solar-magnetic activity and global temperature. That is, solar-magnetic activity "explains" statistically 60-80% of global temperature change on all time scales. That degree of correlation, observed over thousands and millions of years, HAS to be causal, and the causation can only go one way. It is not the temperature of the earth that is causing sunspots.

What is not well understood is HOW solar-magnetic activity drives global temperature. We just know that it does, just as before Einstein we did not know what mechanism causes massive objects to fall towards each other, we just knew that they do.

We actually have some pretty good theories of how solar-magnetic activity drives global temperature but set that aside. The eco-religionists, who thanks to Al Gore control ALL of the research funds for the “climate change” industry, use uncertainty about HOW solar-magnetic activity drives global temperature as an excuse for completely omitting the solar-magnetic variable from their models. They explicitly put theory over data, exactly the opposite of the scientific method, which says that data is always supposed to trump theory.

This anti-scientific method misattributes to CO2 the warming caused by high 20th century levels of solar-magnetic activity. Put solar-magnetic activity back into the equation, attributing to it what warming has historically been correlated with high levels of solar-magnetic activity, and the levels of warming that could possibly be attributable to CO2 become small. In particular, they become benign.

Warming in general is good. When Greenland was green, civilization prospered, as did plants and other living things. Nothing gobbles up the natural world like ice. It is only by claiming that CO2 could cause some unprecedented “runaway warming” that the alarmists have been able to present CO2 as dangerous. Stop misattributing solar-magnetic warming to CO2 and that possibility is off the table.

The dominant driver of global climate is solar-magnetic activity and any modicum of warming we can get out CO2 is all to the good. If our fossil fuel burning has the side effect of making our warm times a little warmer and our cold times a little less cold, that is a happy bit of luck for a world that ALWAYS seems to be colder than the optimum, with the next glacial period due any millennium.

Proof that the IPCC completely omits the solar-magnetic variable

Just look at any of the IPCC assessment reports. They all include the following graphic (slightly updated over the years):

From the 4th Assessment Report (figure 2.4 on page 39 of the Synthesis Report).

The only "natural" climate influence accounted by the IPCC is "solar irradiance," which means visible light and other electro-magnetic radiation. It does not in any way include the solar-magnetic flux, which is completely omitted from all IPCC models, even though every climate scientists knows full well that, according to the raw data, magnetic effects are the primary driver of global temperature.

EVERY educated person who accepts CO2 alarmism on the authority of the global warming anti-scientists is failing the most basic due diligence.

Technically, the alarmists’ anti-scientific inversion of theory and evidence takes the form of what is called “omitted variable fraud,” where the omission of any important explanatory variable causes its explanatory effect to be misattributed to whatever correlated variables are included (in this case CO2 which, like solar activity, also went up in the 20th century). This is the most basic, the most common, the most familiar form of statistical fraud. Everyone who has ever studied not just any physical science but any social science at any moderately high level is fully competent recognize for themselves the statistical fraud that is being committed by the CO2 alarmists.

The educated Democrat-voting elites who are pushing to unplug industrial capitalism on the authority of alarmist anti-scientists have an obligation of due diligence to check for themselves whether the facts of the matter are beyond their own competence, and they are ALL failing this basic obligation. They are just assuming that they have to accept on authority that the survival of the planet requires the radical curtailment of CO2, when even a quick look at the facts reveals that the statistically most important variable is omitted from the alarmist models.

Why this willingness to uncritically enlist as foot-soldiers for the destruction of modernity? Because like the CO2 anti-scientists themselves, these Democrat elites also don’t care whether CO2 is actually a threat. They too are eco-religionists who are glad for any excuse to curtail the economic growth that according to their presumptions is gobbling up the natural world.

Wrong about economics too

Of course the eco-religionists are also wrong about economic growth being bad for the environment. Economic growth creates and is created by technological advance, and it is technological advance that is allowing mankind and the natural world to both thrive at once. Economic activity is not the enemy of the natural world. It is the salvation of the natural world.

Having dedicated their intellectual resources to maintaining their religious presumptions instead of following reason and evidence, our Democrat elites have become pure political animals in the lowest sense, driven entirely by their lust for power. Every excuse, be it phony concern for distributive justice or phony concern for the environment, is wielded with complete dishonesty, utterly heedless of how distributive justice or the environment are actually affected, until all that is left is their ultimate presumption: that the one thing most necessary is that THEY have power.

This pathology finds its epitome in President Obama. Cash for Clunkers is just one paltry multi-billion dollar program, but the same coming-and-going perversity is manifest in Obama’s larger jihad against CO2—his push for cap and trade legislation. If we would uncork energy, the economy would rebound tomorrow, but Obama is determined to close the energy spigot down, not open it up.

Anybody who thinks this recession is ending is out of their minds. Obama is draining the oil and pouring in the silica slurry. What part of "under my plan ... electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket," do Americans not understand?

If you want to hear where the economy is headed, listen to the “squirk” from the end of the Obama-car-death video, when the engine jerks at the end of the hangman’s rope:

This is the sound of a valuable helper being sacrificed by government to the false idols of green religion. It isn’t just barbarous. It is a clear violation of the establishment clause. Execute the worst human criminals, yes, but Mission Solano has it right: “No Death Penalty for Cars!

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