CEI Today: Driverless cars, Hurricane Sandy and global warming, and Obama's bungled auto bailouts
DRIVERLESS CARS - MARC SCRIBNER
Nevada, Florida and California have all legalized driverless cars, and the District is considering whether to follow suit. The goal is worthwhile, and the potential for the technology — which could be available to consumers within a decade — is great. But members of the D.C. Council have a funny way of showing their support for autonomous vehicles. In fact, a bill introduced by Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) would greatly restrict the operation and testing of autonomous vehicles in the city.
As with California’s recently enacted law, Cheh’s bill requires that a licensed driver be present in the driver’s seat of these vehicles. While seemingly inconsequential, this effectively outlaws one of the more promising functions of autonomous vehicle technology: allowing disabled people to enjoy the personal mobility that most people take for granted. Google highlighted this benefit when one of its driverless cars drove a legally blind man to a Taco Bell.
GLOBAL WARMING - MARLO LEWIS
Both the blogosphere and the mainstream media have been abuzz with commentary blaming global warming for Hurricane Sandy and the associated deaths and devastation. Bloomberg BusinessWeek epitomizes this brand of journalism. Its magazine cover proclaims the culpability of global warming as an obvious fact:
Well sure, climate is average weather over a period of time, so as climate changes, so does the weather. But that tautology tells us nothing about how much — or even how — global warming influences any particular event. Moreover, if “climate change is present in every single meteorological event,” then it is also present in ”good” weather (however defined) as well as “bad.”
OBAMA'S AUTO BAILOUTS - HANS BADER
The auto bailouts temporarily look more successful right now than they likely will be in the long-run since Toyota’s bogus safety issues, and a series of massive natural disasters that temporarily devastated Japanese automakers, gave General Motors only a temporary advantage over its Japanese competitors in 2010-2012 that won’t last (the Obama administration left serious problems at GM unresolved, and failed to implement needed reforms that would have antagonized the powerful UAW Union but were essential to make GM cost-competitive in the long-run).
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, auto industry expert Edward Niedermeyer argues the Obama administration’s costly bailouts resulted in much higher costs to taxpayers, and poorer prospects for GM’s long-run survival, than if Romney’s cheaper plan for aiding the auto industry had been followed.