Consumer Reports Goes Full Orwell

[CR Goes Full Orwell]

… and you should never go full Orwell.

I've scanned, snipped, and provided an item from page 7 of the December 2019 issue of Consumer Reports, over there on your left. What's bugging me? The headline, "Pushing for EV Choices". Which is a lie.

CR has long been a fan of heavy government regulation of … well, just about everything. The whole point of which is to deny certain choices to consumers. You are assumed to be too ill-informed, or stupid, or short-sighted, or … well, you get the idea. You're not making the choices that CR prefers, anyway. For whatever reason, CR can reliably be found advocating strenuously for putting government bureaucrats betwixt willing buyers and willing sellers, and saying: "no, you can't do that."

I'm willing to grant that under certain limited circumstances, such regulation might be a good idea. But never, to my knowledge, has CR ever looked at a regulatory issue and said: "You know what? There's no compelling reason for the state to be involved here, so we're going to oppose additional regulations in this case."

After years of being a loyal subscriber, I'm mildly irritated by this, but I've factored it in.

So I couldn't help but be amused/bothered at this item's headline. CR is suddenly a fan of choice! How did that happen?

But, of course, they're not.

As revealed in the item's body, the item is about a new requirement imposed on automakers: they have to sell an increasing fraction of electric vehicles (5% by 2023, 6% by 2025). Buyers aren't required to buy them, though. At least not yet.

This requirement was imposed by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (CAQCC, I assume pronounced "quack"). This commission is unelected, appointed by the Colorado governor. But apparently has been "delegated" the power to mandate manufacturers' product mixes without theoretically-accountable legislators needing to be involved.

It should be completely obvious that if Colorado consumers were demanding an increasing number of electric vehicles, dealers and manufacturers would be falling all over themselves to meet that demand. So it's safe to assume that such demand doesn't exist—if it did, there would be no need for the decree.

So It's difficult to work out what will happen at dealerships if the public isn't as interested in EVs as the CAQCC thinks they should be. Ever-increasing acreage of dealer lots devoted to EVs that people don't want?

This article at the Federalist discusses Colorado's "Green Little Deal" (GLD), of which the EV mandate is just a part. They speculate on the likely outcome:

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association argues [the mandate] would damage dealers, who already lose an average $570 per new car sold. Consumers would have fewer conventional choices available as more ZEVs just sit on lots. Not enough data is available yet to show just how badly these parts of Colorado’s GLD will squeeze the economy, but basic economics tells us that the state’s economy will take a beating. GLD advocates essentially admit it.

See that, Consumer Reports? Fewer choices.

Also noted in the Federalist article (but not at CR): the Trump Administration has "put the kibosh" on the EV mandate in Colorado and other states. The states are suing. So who knows what will happen? I'd be OK with Colorado and the rest to act as a "laboratory of democracy" on this matter. Except the connection with "democracy" is tenuous at best when the mandate is imposed by an unelected commission.

I am unimpressed by CR's claim that their "survey" found that "most" prospective Colorado car buyers are "interested" in EVs. It's the easiest thing in the world to virtue-signal your greenness by giving a survey the answer they so clearly want to hear; once it comes time to whip out your checkbook for a new Subaru… a different set of incentives come into play.

Also of interest: as of 2017, over half of Colorado's electricity came from burning coal. Nearly a quarter came from natural gas. That could change, but those "green" EVs on I-70 were effectively 75% fossil-fuel powered. And, given the losses involved in electrical generation and transmission, probably not as efficiently as equivalent gasoline power.

In 1984 George Orwell notes the three slogans of the Party, engraved on the massive Ministry of Truth:

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

We can add, thanks to CR:

DICTATES ARE CHOICES