Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tom and Ray on Car Talk

This morning, over on NPR's Car Talk, Ray (I think) had a Great Idea how to solve the energy crisis, at least as it relates to cars.

I love these guys, but I'm also from New Hampshire, so if you asked me to predict "Dave, what kind of a solution do you think two really smart guys from Massachusetts - Cambridge, no less - will come up with?" I would have a ready answer. Raise taxes.

Ray has this idea that raising the gas tax fifty cents per gallon per year for six years is the way to go. That will put gas at at least six dollars a gallon by then, but it will be "phased in," so it will be relatively painless. He's expecting it will raise gajillions of dollars for alternative energy research and public transportation solutions.

Now, this is what's wrong with letting smart people with Great Ideas run loose without being answerable to the village idiots. On paper, it all works great. But we village idiots have a pretty shrewd idea what the idiots in government - any government, even a good government - will do with this.

A very small portion of the gajillion dollars from year one will be put into unpromising types of research. Hamster wheel research, for example. By year two, the hamster guys will have decide that the problem is inadequate hamsters, and some other company will start in on hamster cloning research, to provide a better quality of hamster. Year three will be a banner year. We will discover that Nigerian and Jamaican hamsters have some of the qualities we need and we will start importing those to engineer the DNA of domestic hamsters. At the same time, ethical questions will be raised about cloning, alien species of hamster, and the use of rodents for work. Lots of people will need to hold conferences about all of these things.

In year four, many congresspersons are going to need to travel to both Nigeria and Jamaica to investigate the hamster situation. There will be back-cage deals involving lots of cash and those little water bottles changing hands. A fatal flaw in the hamster wheel program - namely, that it won't work - will be discovered, but no one will care.

In year five, there will be congressional investigations and investigations of congressmen, the ethical conferences will be going into their third year, electing officers, and setting professional standards in their organizations, to keep amateur hamster ethicists out. Year six a prototype hamster engine will be put out, Discovery Channel National Geographic will run specials on it, but no one will want a car with hamsters, so the government will have to set up large public relations campaigns to convince us that hamsters are the wave of the future. The congresspersons will resign, if they are Republicans, or get reelected, if the are Democrats, but even the new Republicans will find a little hamster money in their cages. Calls to end the hamster research will be resisted, because each of these wheel, cloning, and ethical organizations will all be in somebody's congressional district and need to be protected, so that all the good hamster jobs don't go overseas.

In the end, congress will decide to heavily regulate the various industries.


Anonymous said...

And wombats will be impacted, threatened with near-extinction by hamster effluvia. More conferences and regs.

Anonymous said...

Gasoline already costs $6 in Europe - $2 for the gas and $4 for taxes. I don't think the Europeans have solved their energy problems. Unless I missed something.

Steve Burri said...

Mad hamster disease strikes U.S. Accident rate soars. Bush blamed.

Anonymous said...

I snorted coffee out of my nose. Now I have to get more.

You will be expected to pay the 85 cents in lost caffeine dosage.

I'm the victim here!

a guy in pajamas said...

Yep, that about says it all, AVI.

Anonymous said...

I hate Car talk. Tom and ray keep making the same stupid jokes show after show. One would have thought that as smart, mature, middle-aged guys, MIT grads, no less, would have figured things out by now. Every shwo is the same. Same stupid jokes, same stupid puzzles, ad i nfinitum. I dont understand why the NPR-crowd love them so much.

Hiraethin said...

And the most important result:

The tax on gasoline will never be removed.

Once government acquires a source of revenue, it never lets go. He's an example from Australia: during the state of emergency declared during WW2, the federal government appropriated all state government tax revenues. Sixty-one years later, all taxes are still paid to the federal government. (On the plus side, we only do one set of taxes a year).

Why don't people realise this problem will solve itself? As oil gets more scarce, the price will go up. Sooner or later a Smart Guy will realise that petrol prices are now so high that hamster wheels are cost-effective. Bing! Hamster-wheel-powered-cars are marketed. In other words, when a more cost-effective alternative to petrol appears, people will buy it. Till then, people will buy petrol... and bitch whenever the cost creeps up.