The Trump Administration’s Push For Dirtier, Less Efficient Vehicles

Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Honda, and Mercedes Benz want to make cleaner cars. Which is pissing off the President. One can’t help but wonder, given his gutting of the EPA, the proposed undoing of the Endangered Species Act, and this attempted rollback of higher standards for fuel efficiency, whether little Donald had a really bad experience in nature. A series of horrendous experiences? For shits sake, is the endgame indoor golf?

From the Verge:

Trump is. . . saying that he is giving “politically correct Automobile Companies” the option of lowering the average price of a car by “more than $3000, while at the same time making the cars substantially safer” (though the EPA and the NHTSA’s proposal has nothing to do with making new cars safer) in exchange for “[v]ery little impact on the environment.” He called automotive executives “foolish”. . . .

Many experts disagree with the Trump administration’s calculations. Some argue any potential savings on the sticker price of new cars would likely be offset by the increased fuel cost over the life of those vehicles, even if gas prices stay low. With less fuel-efficient cars, the rollback could also introduce hundreds of millions of metric tons of CO2 into the air, and increase oil consumption by more than 1 billion barrels, according to the EPA’s own estimates.

‘The clean car standards are the most effective policy we have on the books to fight climate change, and the transportation sector is the country’s largest source of the carbon pollution that causes climate change,’ nonprofit advocacy group Sierra Club said in a statement Wednesday. ‘The Trump administration’s push for dirtier, less efficient vehicles would pump more carbon pollution into our air.’

What do “experts” and the Sierra Club know? And shame on the Obama administration for thinking so positively about entrepreneurial innovation and cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles. The genius in Trump’s thinking is that the more we lower the bar the more likely we are to exceed it.

The Power Of Language

If the San Fransisco Board of Supervisors have their way, the words “felon,” “offender,” “convict,” “addict” and “juvenile delinquent” will be part of the past in official San Francisco parlance under their new “person first” language guidelines.

“Going forward, what was once called a convicted felon or an offender released from jail will be a ‘formerly incarcerated person,’ or a ‘justice-involved’ person or simply a ‘returning resident.’

Parolees and people on criminal probation will be referred to as a ‘person on parole,’ or ‘person under supervision.’

A juvenile ‘delinquent’ will become a ‘young person with justice system involvement,’ or a ‘young person impacted by the juvenile justice system.’

And drug addicts or substance abusers will become ‘a person with a history of substance use.'”

Cue the protestations of political correctness. The intent, however, is quite noble. Matt Haney, one of the Supervisors says, “We don’t want people to be forever labeled for the worst things that they have done.” Imminently sensible.

Tyler Cowen has a concern worthy of serious consideration:

“. . . here is my worry.  It is we who decide how powerful language is going to be.  The more we regulate language, the more we communicate a social consensus that it has great power.  And in return the more actual power we grant to those linguistic ‘slips’ and infelicities which remain.  It is better to use norms to regulate the very worst speech terms, but not all of them.  By regulating too many parts of speech, and injecting speech with too much power, we actually grant more influence to the people and ideas we are trying to stop.”

My worry is different. I fear the proposals open the floodgate to an unprecedented wordiness. Case in point, from the San Fransisco Chronicle article:

“The language resolution makes no mention of terms for victims of crime, but using the new terminology someone whose car has been broken into could well be: ‘A person who has come in contact with a returning resident who was involved with the justice system and who is currently under supervision with a history of substance use.'”

If that level of wordiness becomes the new normal, I will not survive this world for long.

Weekend Assorted Links

1. The future of bicycle racing is a group road/gravel ride with music at the start?

2. Minneapolis just banned drive throughs. Last sentence is perplexing.

3. A tiny house in every backyard.

4A. Trump’s America. The shining city on a hill is an ugly pile of ruble.

4B. U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act.

“. . . the revised rules appear very likely to clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.”

5. Are You Rich? Where Does Your Net Worth Rank in America?

“Why are the wealthy so much wealthier than everyone else? One reason is that the rich tend to store their wealth in businesses and stocks, and those in the middle class store theirs in housing. The top 10 percent of the wealthiest households own nearly 90 percent of the stocks in America, while those in the bottom 90 percent own a little more than half of all the real estate in America.

So you can think of wealth inequality as a race between the stock market and the housing market. . . . In periods when home prices are rising, wealth inequality tends to shrink as the wealth in the middle class grows. But during periods when the stock market outperforms real estate, wealth inequality tends to increase.

Another reason is that income inequality feeds wealth inequality. . . . Even if the rich and the poor had the same proportion of stocks and bonds, and saved at the same rate, the rich would simply put away more money.”

6. Are you sure lap swimming is safer than open water swimming?

7. The long wait for season three of Netflix’s The Crown is almost over. The Crown’s production quality boggles the mind. Like watching one movie after another. So good, it’s turned this anti-monarchist into a huge fan. And we’re getting Olivia Colman to boot. Forget football this Thanksgiving.

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Men!

After amazing veggie eggs benny at The Bread Peddler with J Hustle on her 24th birthday, I dipped into the Farmers’ Market on the way home because flowers for the wife makes for a nice life.

As I approached the stand, I saw a dude getting some beautiful sweet peas mixed with purple dahlias. A stylish hippy bouquet, perfect for my stylish, natural woman. After he paid, I said, “I’ll have the exact same.” A few minutes later, after scratching my signature on her iPad, she turned to a woman to the left of me and said, “You were waiting weren’t you?” Why she didn’t turn to her before helping me I am not sure.

Shit. I’m not sure I even saw her. So I said, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you.” To which she replied, “Yes you did.” Ouch. The fact of the matter is the man in front of me blew her off and I mindlessly followed his lead. That’s not an excuse, I hate getting cut off, so I was supe apologetic. “No, I really didn’t, I’m really sorry.” By now a second, also sixtyish woman, had materialized. “Men! What are you going to do?” she said to her aggrieved soul sister.

Upon further thought, I think I did see her, but I wrongly assumed she was just thinking through whether to make a purchase or not. Obviously, I should have checked with her. And of course, if I didn’t see her, that’s even worse.

I had just hit the ATM so I was flush with cash money. I thought to myself hell if I’m going to drag my gender even further down some cosmic sinkhole at the Olympia Farmers’ Market! Without Aggrieved Soul Sister hearing me, I told the flower salesperson I was going to buy her flowers*. Immediately afterwards, kid you not, my upset fellow human being grabbed a large bucket of dahlias and asked the salesperson how much all of them would be. Immediately, the salesperson shot me a big smile which communicated, “Women ONE, Men ZERO!” She counted the flowers and did the math while I braced myself for the economic redistribution to come. $28. As I handed her two twenties Aggrieved Soul Sister said, “No way, please give it to someone that needs it.” I insisted telling the salesperson to “Just give me $12 back.” Soul Sister protested again, at which point, not wanting to be too aggressive a male, I caved.

I think she and the other two women appreciated the effort. At least I hope.

Antipathy for males in society is deep-seated. Most of it is deserved, but in rightly deconstructing and criticizing toxic masculinity we have to be very careful of writing off the gender. Sometimes we run that risk when it comes to rightly criticizing men who treat others inhumanely.

Occasionally, we have to point out that some men are conscious of male privilege, don’t sexually abuse women, aren’t all ego all the time, don’t talk over women, and can even talk about emotions and admit when they’re wrong.

However, as a male, I’m not the best person or blogger to do this. Were I to start cheerleading for sensitive and caring men in the interest of some semblance of balance, it would come across as disingenuous. Kind of like a President saying “I’m the least racist person in the world.” Better that some women sporadically weave occasional, alternative, positive stories of men behaving humanely to create a more subtle, nuanced, and complex feminist narrative.

*sigh, of course sharing this story with you diminishes it, a price I’m willing to pay for just a wee bit more blogging glory

We Need To Stop Criminalizing Poverty

A tweet:

“A Georgia man stole a can of beer. The judge ordered ankle monitoring. The company administering it charged him more than $1,000. He sold plasma, but fell behind on his payments & the judge jailed him for non-payment. We need to stop criminalizing poverty.”

I had to read this a few times. The first time I thought the author was excusing the man’s initial act of stealing the can of beer as a result of his poverty. So I wondered, what does stopping criminalizing poverty mean? It can’t mean excusing theft can it? Otherwise, as Chinua Achebe wrote, things fall apart.

Upon closer review, the overarching problem is falling behind on his payments for the disproportionate fine. And being jailed. Stopping criminalizing poverty means a poor person should not be fined $1,000 for stealing something valued at $5. Nor should they be jailed when they can’t pay the fine on time. Taxpayers pay for the person’s time in prison and society pays when they find it even more difficult to find work upon their release.

Community service makes much more sense.

Friday Assorted Links

1. Avengers: Endgame stunt women. The pictures are worth thousands of words. Kinda athletic.

2. The Case For Doing Nothing. An argument for “total idleness”. What’s more PressingPause than that?

3. The Trouble with Mindfulness. I had this all wrong. I shudder to think, does that mean I could be wrong about something else?

4. The art of the steal: How De Gent pulls off his breakaway heists. One could probably count the Pressing Pause pro cycling fans on one hand, but damn this is a great description of a professional athlete’s multi-layered intelligence. Pro cycling is chess at 45 kpm.

“‘You have to listen to your instinct,’ he said. ‘When it’s hurting for me, it’s also hurting for the other riders. When there is not a break yet, but it’s hurting, then it’s time to go, because that’s when someone will say they will not go … when it’s painful, you have to lie to yourself – usually, that is the break that goes. It doesn’t really matter how many riders will join in. If it’s an important day, then a lot of riders will try.'”

[emphasis added so that I might remember it]

 

Abolish Billionaires?

There are about 2,200 billionaires in the world, about one-fourth of those are U.S. citizens.

Farhad Manjoo recently wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that engendered more than 1,500 comments. Most simply, he argued, we should abolish billionaires through much higher taxes and related policies.

When it comes to billionaires, I’m of a mixed mind. On the one hand, given rising inequality, I’m surprised more people aren’t agitating against members of the three -comma club. Not just writing commentaries, but taking to the streets Occupy Wall Street style.

On the other hand, as the philosopher Peter Singer points out, some billionaires are giving away the bulk of their wealth to philanthropy. Bill Gates, in particular, plans to give away 99.6% of the cash money I paid him back in the day for successive versions of Microsoft Office.

Of course, as Manjoo points out, we have to analyze whether the billionaires’ charitable giving is having positive effects or not. Anand Giridharadas style. As Manjoo explains, Giridharadas argues that many billionaires approach philanthropy as a kind of branding exercise to maintain a system in which they get to keep their billions. Especially when they put their largess into politics.

“. . . whether it’s Howard Schultz or Michael Bloomberg or Sheldon Adelson, whether it’s for your team or the other — you should see the plan for what it is: an effort to gain some leverage over the political system, a scheme to short-circuit the revolution and blunt the advancing pitchforks.”

Gates might be an outlier, but his giving is so exemplary, I’m less inclined to order a pitchfork from that billionaire with the online superstore.