Saturday, November 15, 2014

Forget "Global Warming Pollution." Legalize Direct-to-Consumer Car Sales Anyway

Tesla has been fighting New Jersey law for its right to sell its electric cars directly to consumers for about a year now. They’re still fighting. They’ve picked up an ally, recently.

Doug O’Malley, director for Environment New Jersey, argued for Tesla in a recent New Jersey Star-Ledger op-ed. The NJ legislature should abolish its laws requiring car manufacturers to sell only through dealerships, O'Malley argued, and legalize direct-to-consumer car sales. Why? To spur electric cars sales because “Electric vehicles represent a tantalizing solution to reduce both global warming pollution and air pollution.”

“Global warming pollution” is, of course, the non-polluting carbon dioxide. Regular air pollution comes, of course, from both gasoline-powered vehicles and electricity generation, so I don’t know where the reduction would come from. More electric cars means less gasoline emissions, but more generating plant emissions. Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress, in fact, argues that With the Tesla Model S, Elon Musk Has Created a Great Fossil Fuel Car.

But, hey, O’Malley’s on the right side of the Tesla issue—albeit for ridiculous reasons. So I left these supporting (sort of) comments:

Politics certainly create strange bedfellows. It’s rare that I’m on the side of environmentalism. I agree with the author’s political conclusion, though not the rationalizations.

The author didn’t have to resort to all of this childish “global warming pollution” (CO2) or “Hurricane” Sandy hyperbole to convince me that direct-to-consumer car sales should be legalized. It’s insulting. “Hurricane” Sandy wasn’t even a hurricane when it hit NJ. Nor was it unprecedented. And the idea that CO2 is a pollutant is an insult to any rational, semi-educated person’s intelligence. If global warming can be blamed for Sandy, then there’s no reason not to credit global warming for the ideal weather conditions across the American farming belt that led to record bumper crops in 2014. As the Huff-Post reported recently:

“In a typical growing season, at least some corn-growing states would have experienced drought or other production problems. But the 18 states that grow 91 percent of the nation's corn have experienced nearly ideal conditions this year, as adequate rain fell when plants emerged and cooler summer temperatures minimized heat stress.”

The constant harping on Sandy just proves that environmentalism is a religion. Just as religionists credit “God” for everything good, yet blame man for everything bad, so environmentalists blame every bad weather event on “man-made global warming,” but never credit global warming for good weather. Of course, neither is global warming. Good or bad, weather events are just weather.

But I don’t need environmentalists’ quasi-religious dogma to convince me to support free market reforms. Direct-to-consumer car sales should be legalized, but not to favor electric car sales. The government’s only proper job is to protect individual rights, including the rights of consumers, manufacturers, and car dealerships to contract with each other voluntarily to mutual advantage. It is immoral for government to use its powers of legalized physical force to favor any special interest over everyone else, as laws favoring car dealerships over manufacturers and consumers do.

Not only direct electric car sales be legalized. As I've written elsewhere, all manufacturers should be free to use whatever sales model they choose. The market—i.e., the voluntary choices of millions of consumers—will sort out which sales model prevails.

Related Reading:

Global Warming Brings 'Record' U.S. Crop Yields

No comments: