Here’s an article on CNN.com about how California is suing automakers for contributing to global warming. Sometimes I think I should just become a Republican, because stuff like this pisses me off.
I don’t belong to any political party, but I vote Democrat because I’m big on the whole civil liberties thing (in case you never noticed the ACLU link on the right) and not big on religion in our government (in case you never noticed the Americans United for Separation of Church & State link on the right) and in both regards Democrats tend to be better than Republicans, which isn’t saying much. But then some Democrats go & do something like this and I find myself ranting against them. If Republicans would just get out of bed with the religious right, I might start voting for them.
Look, let’s set aside the whole question of how much cars are contributing to global warming and assume for the sake of argument that they’re the worst threat to humanity ever. Did the automakers lie about the emissions of the vehicles they sold? No. Did they put a gun to the heads of people and force them to purchase the vehicles? No. Did they put a gun to the heads of the vehicle owners and force them to drive them the number of miles that they drove them? No.
Take another look at the picture in that article. Look very closely and you’ll see something startling. There’s a person in each of those cars. I know, shocking right? There’s actually a person making a choice to drive the car. Perhaps that person could have chosen to use public transportation, or live closer to where he works so he could walk or bicycle, or carpool with someone. Perhaps none of those are an option and he really needs to drive his own car. Then what you’re basically saying is that the automobile is one of the lynchpins of American society. It’s necessary and without it, we wouldn’t succeed. And to thank them for providing us with this crucial instrument, we’re going to sue them. (Yes, I’ve read some Ayn Rand. How did you guess?)
Let’s use a different example. People are killed every day in this country by guns. Do we sue the gun manufacturers? Well people have tried, but that’s ridiculous. There are legitimate uses for guns besides murder, so when someone uses a gun for that purpose, they are held accountable for their actions.
Another example, which much of my audience may relate to better. A file-sharing service is invented. People use that service to illegally share copies of software and music. But that service could also be used to share files that are legal to copy. It is not the fault of the file-sharing service, it is the fault of the person using it. (Some of the file-sharing services advertised themselves as a place where you could conduct illegal activity, so that gets into tricky territory, but let’s assume we’re talking about a service that didn’t so advertise themselves. It would similarly be tricky if a gun company advertised that you could more effectively kill your cheating wife with their products.)
So… if car emissions really are the huge threat that California believes them to be… sue the people driving the cars so damn much. Well of course that’s crazy, you can’t sue the people of California and I don’t believe you should. So you should just sue the automakers because you can? I’m a firm believer that the ends don’t justify the means. If the only way you can achieve your goal is to sue a company that is producing a product with legitimate uses, then too bad. It’s called a free nation.
Besides, it’s not the only way. You could fine people for driving their cars too much. Make it part of the inspection process to check the mileage and make sure it’s under a certain amount. I most definitely am NOT suggesting that, just saying it would be possible and that suing the manufacturer is not the only thing you could do. And yes I’m aware garages would be bribed like crazy to look the other way, same as they’re bribed now to allow cars to pass that shouldn’t. Not really the point of this post. But of course even if a politician felt inclined to do that, it would be career suicide to pass a law like that, so he wouldn’t.
Here’s another idea: Let’s sue McDonald’s for making people fat. Oh wait, they already tried that.