Thursday, 26 June 2008

central planning or free market?

I was just reading the Australian (I know, again ...) and found this pearl of wisdom

Charge more for guzzlers

well gosh, isn't that what rising petrol prices are doing?

While building an argument for his ultimate point "The most effective ways to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions over the long term seems to be to introduce mandatory vehicle fuel consumption legislation"

but then he reminds us that: "The US has tried to regulate vehicle fuel consumption since 1975 through its federal corporate average fuel economy legislation for new vehicles in each manufacturer's fleet."

So he makes clear how central regulation has failed before. But if at first you don't succeed try try again .. right? Well I guess that's good news for increasing administration overheads but bad news for innovation and free markets.

It seems that noone recalls how effectively we've seen centralised planing fail in our own past let alone existing examples. Heck, even the last bastions of centralized planning (Soviet Union, Peoples Republic of China) are moving towards a freer economic basis.

It all seems to drive on the punishment principle ... charge us more and we'll stop. Pitty the economy in general is so linked to transport, we'd all want our bread and milk to cost more wouldn't we now...

then the next stunner "This would only decrease fuel consumption and greenhouse gases by a miserable 1 per cent to 2per cent in the short term and can be compared with the 30 per cent reduction in fuel consumption if traffic on stop-start arterial roads is transferred to uninterrupted travel on new freeways"

I lived in Tokyo for over 2 years and (coming from Australia) was quickly weaned of car dependence and moved onto the excellent (and well used) public transport systems that exist there. Small streets when navigated by bicycle or foot were able to carry more people per meter/minute than the same streets crammed with (apparently parked) cars, no matter how 'fuel effective' they may be on test tracks. Ohh and road trauma is markedly reduced as a side effect when people are just walking / public tranporting / cycling on inner city roads.

Perhaps if the direction of policy was to drive alternatives that were cheaper and or more effective, such as (gosh) effective public transport or preventing unnecessary car traffic in city centers we might actually give up using fuel guzzling cars and 4WD's (really meant for getting you to camping locations or outdoor work) to take the kids to school.

As I see it, if government would become proactive in fostering and perhaps facilitating for alternatives, rather than spanking us for not having alternatives we might get somewhere.

I guess that Nanny isn't good at being a forward thinker.

On a side note the author makes the point: "Further vehicle regulations have reduced car emissions to 10 per cent of those in the 1970s."

Right, well I guess it depends on which specific tunnel vision you have on emissions, last I looked CO2 was a significant emission.

For example, our 1979 volvo 2.4L6 cylinder diesel station wagon uses 6L/100Km, yet a mates latest model Volkswagen 1.9 turbo diesel 4cylinder diesl station wagon uses 5L/100Km.

So tell me agin how we're emitting only 10% of the complete emission set (like CO2)? We've barely reduced those emissions to about 75%, or by 25%. Far less impressive.

So its lies, bloody lies then statistics ....

The next worthy statement is: "with the deadly 10 micron particulate emissions reducing from 1.1gm/km in 1990 to less than 0.1gm/km now" wouhh ... deadly ... gosh! Lucky Nanny is looking after me.

Well recent research seems to be showing that the filters are resulting in even smaller particles (which aren't legislated for) which have even more serious health effects, not to mention increased fuel consumption on filtered vehicles.(wiser people suggest that its more complex: "It becomes more and more obvious that the mass of the particulates may not be the most relevant index of exposure since the health effects are probably more linked to surface properties of the particles or to their number than to their weight.")

Aren't you glad we've moved forward there ... good one central planning, and thanks so much for looking after our interests there Nanny.

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