EV Mandates Bad . . . Ethanol Mandates Good!

  • October 10, 2023

Donald Trump has been denouncing the mandates forcing electric vehicles onto the “market” – in air fingers quotes to make a point of the absurdity of using that word to describe forcing people to buy things. In part buy forcing things people want to buy off the market.

He’s right to denounce the EV mandates – this forcing off the market of vehicles people can afford and are willing to buy using their own money so as to force them into having no other choice but to buy an electric vehicle they don’t want and probably can’t afford anyhow (the average transaction price of an EV – one that isn’t a subcompact such as the Chevy Bolt – is nearly $50,000) using other people’s money to help pay for it.

It’s wrong in principle – and it’s disastrous in effect.

Like the ethanol mandates that Trump defended in the same mouthful.

“Biden’s insane electric vehicle mandates will totally decimate gas-powered cars and if it happens, Iowa ethanol is dead. You know, it’s sad. You’re not going to be needing ethanol. You’re not going to be needing gasoline and you’re never going to take a trip that’s more than twelve minutes from your house.”

And they ask me why I drink, said the Greaseman all those years ago.

How do you oppose mandates by endorsing them? Trump – like most Republicans – does not oppose mandates. In principle. He (and they) oppose mandates they do not approve of. 

The distinction is important because it explains why there has been no effective opposition to mandates – in principle.

If you support forcing people to buy ethanol – almost all of the “gas” sold in this country is actually adulterated gas that contains at least 10 percent ethanol alcohol, courtesy of federal mandates requiring it – then how do you take a stand against forcing people to buy EVs by mandating that most of the vehicles available for sale are EVs?

Trump says he opposes forcing people to buy EVs by leaving them no alternative – very much as people have no alternative but to buy “gas” that’s been watered down with ethanol alcohol, which not only increases the cost of this “gas” (if ethanol were cheaper, it would not have to be mandated) but also renders the “gas” less energy dense (ethanol has a lower BTU content than gasoline) the result of which is reduced fuel economy, a double whammy.

A triple whammy, actually – because ethanol is water-attractant, which accelerates the rusting of metal gas tanks and fuel lines not designed to handle alcohol-laced “gas.” It is the bane of outdoor power equipment and marine engines as well as of the fuel delivery systems of older vehicles made when gas was still gas; i.e., before the federal government began forcing Americans to buy (and pay for, in other ways) ethanol-laced “gas.”

But Trump also says the ethanol “industry” – in air-fingers quote marks to make a point of the absurdity of using that word to describe a make-work project that uses the government to force people to buy (and pay for, in myriad other ways) a product that few if them would freely choose to buy, if they were free to choose not to buy it – is good because that is what his audience wanted to hear.

Just the same as Biden’s audiences want to hear about EVs.

Neither audience is bothered by the mandating of their desideratum – the thing they want or benefit from and which they think it’s ok for the government to force other people to buy and to pay for.

This is why the ethanol mandated will never be repealed. It is why the EV mandates will proceed. There may be some tussle over the degree and pace of them. But there is no principled opposition to either of them. Trump will never say that it is wrong – that it is immoral – to force anyone to buy or subsidize the buying of anything, because if he said that, he would lose the political support of people who benefit from government mandates that force other people to buy (and pay for, in myriad other ways) the things they’re selling.

He will only oppose the things his political opponents say his political supporters must be forced to buy (and pay for, in myriad other ways).

Thus his opposition to the mandating of EVs by the mandating of there being (by 2030 or so) no alternative to them and – in the same breath – his defense of the mandating of ethanol that has left people no alternative but to buy it and pay for it in myriad other ways, such as reduced fuel economy and increased risk of corrosion-related problems in the fuel systems of older vehicles built when gas was still gas.

But Trump is just doing the same situational-benefit (and cost) thing Republicans have been doing for decades, which is why the country moves ever farther Leftward with the passage of time. “Don’t touch my Social Security” said Tea Party activists opposed to welfare grift they resented being forced to pay for.

You cannot arrest the progress of Leftism by agreeing with it.

And that is why American elections are nothing more than a kind of advance election of stolen goods, as H.L. Mencken put it almost a century ago. But it is worse than just that because it has morphed from mere theft – the transfer of wealth from “a” to “b.” It has become something delusional rather than merely cynical.

It is honest, in a way, to advocate for theft. But it is in a very real sense insane to defend it when you favor it while opposing it when you dislike it.

Orwell called this form of mental illness Doublethink. And you just read about Trump’s latest display of it.

. . .

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