Tag Archives: auto industry

The Won and Done Act

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I love blue sky thinking. Coming up with new and innovative ideas that while may at first seem radical, are founded in logic and reason.

So with that in mind, I propose the Won and Done Act; and no, it’s not a typo.

The Won and Done Act I am proposing is legislation that would force government agencies to decrease in size and scope through time.

One of the problems is that like any group of employees, because they like a steady paycheck, they work hard at justifying remaining on the payroll—sometimes long after they’ve accomplished their mission. As a result, instead of agencies closing down after they’ve succeeded, or at least shrinking into a maintenance role, they continue to expand endlessly; competing for taxpayer dollars instead of showing concern for how that money is spent and what liberties are being taken away from the people paying for it.

EPA-LogoA most egregious example is the EPA. Before you think I am saying we should abolish the EPA altogether, I promise I am not that radical. Our government has a duty to protect us from anyone who threatens our rights. The EPA provides a very valuable service in this vein, because for example, we can’t just allow corporations to dump toxic waste into the river after all.

However, even though the EPA has largely thwarted America’s worst polluters and achieved their goals, they continue to grow like the Blob, and are equally terrifying. For instance, they raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for the automotive industry in an attempt to decrease fossil fuel usage when the free market should be the only thing influencing this—then require components to reduce emissions that negatively impact fuel mileage. On top of that, NHTSA continually adds regulations which require components that also add weight. Physics dictates more weight results in more energy needed to propel it.

So in case you missed that nuance, the EPA mandates greater fuel mileage on new cars, then NHTSA and the EPA mandate weight adding and efficiency reducing components which ultimately reduce the overall fuel mileage. It’s like requiring someone to eat a dozen donuts then requiring they lose more weight. General-Motors_11There is little wonder GM had to be bailed out and file for bankruptcy with Uncle Sam leaning on them like that.

So here’s the concept of my Won and Done Act:

If I begrudgingly accept non life-saving government agencies, all  such government agencies should have a stated and specific goal as well as a time limit to achieve that goal. All such government positions should be temporary whenever possible.

Once an agency’s goal has been achieved or the allotted time has expired, the agency may not reinvent itself, redesign itself, or search for new ways to keep relevant unless otherwise voted and approved by the legislature or the people. If their mission is WON, then they are DONE. If they cannot complete their mission, then the mission is aborted. We must incentivize elected officials to eliminate jobs wherever possible.

No government agency should be allowed to add staff or regulations at their own discretion either. Instead, let’s create incentives for them to literally work themselves out of a job. Here are a couple of ways to accomplish this:

  • Implement a completion bonus for achieving their goal, so that when their job is eliminated, they get a reasonable bonus to allow them time to find new employment, and if they find one quickly, the bonus is just money in the bank.
  • Implement a bonus for self-elimination. If an employee can make a case that his/her job has become unnecessary, they could apply with management to eliminate their own position. We would assume they would already have another job waiting in the wings and just take the bonus.
  • Provide bonuses for management to reduce staff where possible, although this one should also include a bonus for the eliminated.

One shining example of this ideal is the US Military. United States MilitaryYou find that this sentiment is quite prevalent there. In times of conflict, people step up to do their civic duty, then once the mission is accomplished, a few will reenlist to keep the peace, but the rest return to civilian life.

So then why doesn’t the rest of government have that same mindset? There are a number of factors. The military isn’t unionized first and foremost, and the military isn’t notoriously a cushy job either. The military is run quite strictly, it’s full of men and women with courage and conviction, they are very goal oriented, and they generally signed up for the honor of serving, not because it’s a gravy job. When’s the last time you felt that sense of diligence from the people giving you your driver’s license exam?

Government service is supposed to be an honor, not a career you do until you retire. As long as they are unionized, with greater than private sector wages and benefits, they will continue to grow as more and more people fight to take advantage of those massive benefits. These incentives for government to expand must be stopped if we care about liberty and freedom.

So while my Won and Done Act may not be 100% practical, it could at least start a discussion that changes the mentality of government leaders making the decisions about how agencies operate.

Getting rid of labor unions seems like a pipe dream as well, but with successful reforms in Wisconsin, and right-to-work legislation passing in Michigan and elsewhere, we’re at least headed in the right direction. But sadly, there is currently no incentive for government agencies to work themselves out of a job, so they just keep growing. Don’t believe me? The president is touting out job growth, but he’s not so forthcoming about the fact that 73% of that growth is in government.

The Beetle is Dead and Government Killed It

Any time new technology comes out, it is expensive. Completely new machines are often the folly of the affluent; the masses won’t get to enjoy them until decades later. ENIAC, the world’s first computer was debuted in 1947, but it wasn’t until 1981 that IBM brought us the PC and made the computer something we all could enjoy.

ENIAC
ENIAC

Cell phones were clunky boxes that only successful businessmen carried, and they were far too expensive for the proletariat to buy until science and the free market cut them down to size; both physically and financially.

So let’s talk about cars. 100+ years ago, the price of a car was significantly greater than the price of a horse. Plus, if you wanted a new car, you had to buy one. If you wanted a new horse, all you had to do was get your male horse together with a female horse, throw a little Barry White on the record player, and voilà! A new horse emerges months later, free of charge.

Cars were initially met with skepticism, disdain, and envy because they were loud, unreliable, and expensive. Here’s the thing though, horses have a relatively slow top speed, and even giving them the Lance Armstrong treatment isn’t going to get them up to a point where they can do 60+ mph for hours on end. So the value in cars is unmistakable. Although the technology was new, the dreamers saw that cars were the future and got to work building them, even if at the time, only the top 1% need apply.

Fast forward to the 30’s. Adolf Hitler was certainly a murderous %$@#$, but even violent psychopaths on occasion display some sort of twisted goodness, and this was his. He felt that cars shouldn’t just be for the rich and Ferdinand Porsche was commissioned to build the “people’s car” (Volkswagen) for the average Joe to buy, and the 911’s not-so-hot older sister was born.beetle

The history of the Beetle is legendary. But let’s look at what it was—a cheap car. It looked good, had character, four wheels, an engine, and occasionally brakes. That was pretty much it. The car sold millions around the world, not because it was fast, had all the options, or was an exclusive ride, but because it was affordable.

A drivetrain, wheels, seat, and steering wheel wrapped in a steel overcoat, by itself, has tremendous value to anyone needing to get from points A to B. All the other options that have been added through the years add value, but they also add price which some people simply can’t afford.

A bare bones car appeals to two types of people. Those of us who are broke but need to go to work, and those of us who race and consider Colin Chapman’s “Weight is evil” philosophy to be that which was handed down from the gods. People who are broke and people who like to race aren’t a small demographic. We’re out there, and we’re in the millions. We want a cheap, bare bones, nothing is there that doesn’t need to be, kind of car.

Colin Chapman's Brainchild, the Lotus Seven
Colin Chapman’s Brainchild, the Lotus Seven

So what am I whining about? The same thing everyone whines about; our well-meaning, yet ever meddling and oppressive government of course!

Any car you buy in America must be equipped with OBD2, air bags, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring systems, seat belts, windshields, achieve a certain MPG, meet government specified crash standards, and a whole host of other requirements our governmental overlords have legislated.

All of these gizmos and gadgets add two things; weight and cost. They have one thing in common as well; they’re not uniquely necessary on an automobile. So the ability to buy a modern-day Beetle is dead, and government killed it.

cons
United States Constitution

Our constitution was designed so that “we the people” would always be free to make our own decisions by limiting the powers of government to infringe upon our rights. So how does forcing me to buy an air bag that I can then legally turn off do an ounce of good? Riddle me that Batman!

A free market should allow us to buy whatever we want as long as we aren’t harming someone else by using that product, but none of these safety features actually accomplishes that goal. Instead they merely serve to infringe upon our rights to make decisions about how safe we choose to live our lives. As a libertarian, that infuriates me. That is not, nor was ever, the role of our government as laid out by our founding fathers.

I’m not one of those libertarians who float conspiracies like air biscuits; freely and aromatically-challenged. I truly believe that our politicians mean well. But let me give you an analogy. If we were going full-blown Bear Grylls in the wilderness, no cell phones, transportation, or means of getting help, and you fell and impaled your brain with something, it would be obvious you need emergency surgery. So armed with my hunting knife, I go to work. I’m no Dr. House however, so what is going to happen? You’re going to die; that’s what.

Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House M.D.
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House M.D.

Were my intentions evil in performing surgery on you? Of course not, I was trying to save your life! So why did you die? Because while my intentions were good, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.

This is our government in a nutshell. They do their best to protect us from harm, but many of them have never worked in the auto industry and know little about it. So they make decisions every day without having the slightest comprehension of the ramifications of them.

In a proper free market society where our government does what it is supposed to do, what would happen is that government would insist we the people had information. We don’t need cars that meet certain crash standards, we only need to know what crash standards a car meets, and then we can make our decision as an informed consumer.

Ariel Atom
Ariel Atom

It is time we the people tell our government that we choose what we want and you don’t get to dictate that to us. If I want to buy an Ariel Atom and drive it to work every day, then I shouldn’t have to buy it with “some assembly required.” Give me the information I need to be an informed consumer, and then get the hell out of my way.