Dead Is Dead

by Scott Cattanach

Just this year, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that CAFE (“Corporate Average Fuel Economy” - the federal government's new car fuel economy standard enacted in 1975) had contributed to the deaths of an extra 1,300 to 2,600 Americans every year in traffic accidents.  A 1989 Brookings-Harvard study estimated an annual death toll increase of 2,200 to 3,900 from CAFE. A 1999 article in USA Today estimated that a total additional 46,000 Americans had been killed in traffic accidents that would not have been without CAFE.  They didn't die peacefully in their sleep at age 80; these are violent and gruesome deaths before their time. 

The extra deaths were caused by the reduction in size and weight of cars, which reduced their gas usage and their ability to protect their occupants. The smallest cars have "occupant death rates" more than twice those of larger cars. Making every car smaller would not help.  Fewer than five percent of small car accident deaths result from collisions with large SUVs; it is car size in general that impacts death rates. 

A Republican initiative to expand CAFE passed the House of Representatives on August 1. 

The information above came from "A Crashing Failure", an article in the September 17, 2001 issue of National Review.  That article also mentions that both Ralph Nader (in 1989) and Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety (in 1972) have admitted that larger cars are safer, but support CAFE now. 

"Who gives a damn?  There's a war on." This war started when somebody else’s government (assuming the terrorists had the backing of some government) killed 6,000+ Americans.  With CAFE alone, our own government has caused the violent deaths of a September 11 attack roughly every one and a half to three years.  As far as the war goes, is it better to lose 2,000 additional Americans per year in traffic accidents during war instead of peace? Has anyone else ever seen a safety film shot during WWII, where the theme was "we need you to be careful and live, because we need you to help kill Germans"? 

"The terrorists deliberately killed American and are a real threat to kill more Americans." Traffic accidents in America kill Americans. CAFE is guaranteed to kill more Americans.  Our government is a real threat to pass more laws like CAFE. Nobody has to give a damn about what happens to Iraqi, Afghan, or Palestinian civilians to care about this. 

Our own government did not kill anyone deliberately here, but given what environmentalists have admitted about larger cars being safer (and common sense about wanting more metal around you when you hit a tree), the feds cannot wash their hands of all moral blame for these deaths. Besides, they know now that Americans are being killed. Do you see any movement toward repealing CAFE? This is not to make any claim of moral equivalency.  Criticizing stupidity is not saying that it is the moral equivalent of terrorism.  Reckless disregard for peoples’ lives is not the same as premeditated murder, but it is still criminal. 

"People like you damn anarchists would have let Hitler conquer the world."  CAFE is domestic policy.  Isolationism is not the issue when bringing this up.  CAFE is not the Price of Empire; it is merely the price of big government. 

"You can't say those killed in the World Trade Center deserved it because of our government's actions."  I'm not.  Did Americans in the World Trade Center deserve to die because the American government passed a law that resulted in the deaths of more Americans?  Hell no.  CAFE isn't something we did to any foreigners; this is something our government did to its own people. 

"How can you even talk about something this petty right now?"  If the American government causing 46,000 American deaths qualifies as 'petty', what does that say about what we have resigned ourselves to just accepting?  If something as MEGO (“My Eyes Glaze Over” – i.e. usually considered dull and unimportant) as CAFE can do this much damage, what else has our own government done to us? 

If Osama bin Ladin deserves a painful death for what he did (and to my mind, he does), can't we at least jail the politicians responsible for CAFE, or can the politicians kill Americans with no consequences?

October 3, 2001

Scott Cattanach is a computer programmer in Texas. He has earned a Master of Science in Computer Science (1991) and a Master of Arts in a business/finance related area (2000), both of which came from state colleges financed by tax dollars taken from you by force. His tax payments have more than made up for that, and anything taken from him past this point is pure gravy for the government.

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