EPA Grading scheme for vehicles distorts our ability to act on our own judgment
The Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed a scheme by which vehicles would be “graded” based on fuel efficiency. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal:
“Under the system, the only cars that would receive an A-plus, A or A-minus would be electrics and plug-in hybrids, the government said.
Many compact and midsize vehicles would get Bs, while bigger and more powerful models such as sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks would get Cs or C-minuses because they burn more petroleum and pump out more carbon dioxide, officials said.”
The basic idea seems reasonable enough at first glance: consumers should be made aware of the cost of fueling their car in addition to other factors. By providing an “automobile grade” to consumers the government is offering up its official judgment in an attempt to engineer social choices viewed as desirable by bureaucrats.
Despite its seemingly benign appearance, this kind of government intrusion represents a subtle assault on freedom. As Dr. Paul Hsieh observes “it undermines man’s basic tool of survival — his mind.” These nudges present us, as consumers, with choices that have gone through a government filter such that we will make the “right decision” as determined by our regulatory overlords. But we as individuals are the only ones that can determine what the “right choice” is according to our own particular values and lives. As always, we must remember that the role of government is to protect our freedom, not direct our actions and choices however gently it may appear to do so.
The Undercurrent is a magazine distributed at college campuses and communities across the country. We release a print edition once per semester, and in the interim, regularly post additional articles, blog entries, and campus media responses reports to our website.
The Undercurrent's cultural commentary is based on Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. Objectivism, which animates Ayn Rand's fiction, is a systematic philosophy of life. It holds that the universe is orderly and comprehensible, that man survives by reason, that his life and happiness comprise his highest moral purpose, and that he flourishes only in a society that protects his individual rights.
Subscribe to TU
If you enjoy The Undercurrent, please consider giving a tax-deductible donation in support.