Hypocrisy That Knows No Bounds

Marita Noon
Issue CC - July 9, 2009
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Each time I hear the news from our nation’s Capitol, I am reminded of the classic line from the movie Tombstone. Whether the clip is about spending or taxes, waterboarding or Gitmo, Government Motors or energy independence, I picture Doc Holliday  pinning on the sheriff’s badge as he quips, “My hypocrisy knows no bounds.” Our government leaders’ claims and actions seem extremely distant from one another. Do they think we do not notice?
While I’ve witnessed this trend increasing over the last few months, President Obama’s comments as he introduced the new CAFÉ Standards pushed me to the keyboard to pound out my observations.
Here’s the comment that got my gall up. “We’ve brought everyone together—car companies, environmentalists, California, 14 states…giving everyone what they want, and they want fuel efficient cars.”
Why does this have me so riled? How do I view this as hypocrisy?
First, the comment about “everyone” does not include consumers; those of us who will plunk down our hard earned money—lots of it—for a new car. Shouldn’t the buyer be consulted? If we still live in a free-market economy, the car-buying public buys what they want. If a manufacturer isn’t producing what the consumer wants, the product won’t sell. The government doesn’t need to mandate what we want. Last year an ad for Hyundai spelled it out clearly, “It is not that complicated. If gas costs a lot of money, let's build cars that use as little of it as possible.”
Yet, when gas prices dropped following last summer’s spike, what was the first segment of the auto industry to recover? Trucks and SUVs. The data shows that they are what the public wants.
The Auto Lease Guide (the leading source for automotive residual values and analytical data products) addresses vehicle prices: “the value of full-size pickups [dropped] below $11,000 and full-size SUVs below $13,000 in December. However, from year-end 2008 through March, the resale values for full-size trucks and SUVs jumped 40 percent.”
AutoTrader.com reports the same trend: “The most popular used vehicle on the site, once again, was the Ford F-150, followed by the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The Dodge Ram 1500, Tahoe, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford F250 all earned spots among the top 10 most researched units.” Additionally, they state, “Among new vehicles, the F-150 also commanded the most attention from shoppers, as its views on the site climbed just more than 23 percent. Meanwhile, the Honda Pilot showed the biggest upswing in the top 20 most popular new models with a 129.6 percent improvement.”
These numbers are noteworthy. Anything whose value has jumped 40 percent since December should be reported on the evening news. A 129.6 percent improvement is front- page news. But few outside of the auto industry know these figures, as they conflict with the politically popular message. If Obama’s Rose Garden comments about fuel-efficient cars being what the consumer wants are accurate, the above data would show hybrids as the value increase leaders.
I am not specifically attacking the CAFÉ Standards here, though CARE opposes them. I am concerned about the hypocrisy of claiming to have brought “everyone” to the table and giving “everyone” what they want—when clearly Americans like their trucks and SUVs.
Additionally, I am concerned that while the car-buying public was not consulted, the environmentalists were. They are considered “everyone” when the consumer is not? Why are the opinions of environmental groups more important than the consumer; more important than the voters? When did they become the public policy arbiters?  
According to Patrick Moore, one of the founders of GreenPeace 40 years ago, the 1980s ushered in the age of environmental extremism. The basic issues for which he and Greenpeace fought had largely been accomplished, and the general public was in agreement with the primary message. In order for the environmentalists to stay counter-culture, they had to adopt ever more extreme positions. “What happened is environmental extremism. They've abandoned science and logic altogether,” says Moore.
We, the public, did agree with those basic issues of the 1970s and therefore allowed them to take the lead in policy without realizing, as Moore states, that they’ve become “extremists” who no longer represent the opinion of the public. Hence, in pushing policy they, too, have hypocrisy that knows no bounds.
The CAFÉ Standards are just one example. But we, the public, can let our legislators know that we are not happy—even though they have no say in the CAFÉ Standards. Public outcry does get heard. It does make a difference. Demand that our leaders get real; that they spend their time on things that are really important to us—not on window dressing!

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