New Op-ed at Fox News: Obama on Energy Efficiency

The new piece at Fox News starts like this:

Politicians often seem to think that they are so smart. If only they could tell everyone how to live their lives, they could make society so much more efficient. Unfortunately, Barack Obama has this conceit in abundance, and his advice on checking tire pressure is just the latest example.

Like most central planners, Obama feels that he is so much smarter than everyone else.

Obama says that “my Republican opponents - they don’t like to talk about efficiency.” Yet, he is the one who doesn’t really understand efficiency. Looking at only the number of gallons that might be saved, he ignores the other costs that real people have to face everyday. . . .

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Blogger BigHugeDave said...

Great article!

It gets me so annoyed when any politician acts like they know more than the rest of us, that they're the smart ones that need to lead us all to utopia, and if you don't agree with them then you must be selfish.

I'm not hip on either of the two big political parties right now, because they're both leading our country more and more into socialism. It's also scary how many people are okay with this, thinking that socialism is a good thing.

It just goes to show how many people don't know enough about economics, and no one is willing to investigate all sides of issues. They just jump on the bandwagon for whatever sounds good to them, whatever makes them "feel" good. And that goes for both Republicans AND Democrats.

In regards to the tire pressure issue, give me a break!

We need to drill for oil wherever the oil companies think they can get oil. The free market will work everything out if government gets the heck out of the way.

Alternative fuels are already being investigated by the free market because that's what people want, so just give it time and one day we won't need oil that much.

8/11/2008 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Jay S. said...

I agree and disagree with this article. And no not in the political flip flopping way!

I agree, if your return on investment is negative, then it's probably a loosing proposition.

However, sometimes return on investment is a long term versus short term item. Having a few kids is a long term return on investment. You put money into them so you can see them suceed and turn into productive members of society. In eighteen years or more if you're sending them to college they might begin to benefit society. But until then they are a drag on family finances, the community, etc... Raising kids is expensive.

Efficiency and solving problems is not just the role of our future president. It's also the role of each person in this country. Let's look at our grandparents. They pulled together for world wars I and II. We need to pull together and a little personal sacrifice of bending over and making sure your are driving efficiently and safely is not too much to ask.

In regards to it costing more to check your tires than savings. As a busy person working well over the standard 40 hours a week, I find that taking 5 minutes on the way home from work, 5 minutes on the weekend before going on a recreational activity, is sufficient.

John, I respect your views and I read your columns because I believe in looking at all viewpoints to make an educated decision for myself. But the part about safety is a bit of a stretch.

It's just as unsafe to have underinflated tires. Riding on the sidewall increases the chance of a blowout as well. So I think that as an arguement is ineffectual.

We are increasingly short sighted in this country, democrats, republicans, independents, and the rest. There is no right or wrong answer to the energy problems facing us. But looking at short, medium, long term, and extremely long term instead of what will help us now and in the next 5 years is going to cost us more in the long term than anyone has been willing to admit.

Global warming is a national security issue, not as urgent as terrorism or the like. But in the end it'll probably cost more in terms of life and money.

I say let's dispense with the political bs, get some cajones, and actually stop talking and solving problems.

8/11/2008 7:44 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Jay S.:

I agree that under inflated tires pose risks, but so do tires that are overinflated. Sudden blowouts seem more common due to over inflation than the reverse. The point was that in trying to insure that everyone is pushed to increase the air in their tires will lead to more mistakes in that direction than currently occur.

Respecting people's time costs is just as important as trying to save energy.

As to Global Warming, you might find this of interest:


8/11/2008 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1) the effect of tire pressures on fuel economy is tire specific, that is, many tires show no difference even at 15-20% underinflation. Further, on tires where there is some effect, it is not an absolute amount, but is a sine wave dependent on the leak rate of the tires and the distance driven between tire pressure corrections. (2)tire inflation must be performed with the tires cold, therfore must be done with the car parked, such as at home. This requires an air compressor. Few stations offer free access to their air compressor hoses. (3) tire pressures have more of an effect on ride and handling than anything else, and incorrect pressure adjustments resulting in overinflation (but still within the manufacturer's maximum specification) leads to harsh ride and longer braking distances. (4) restricted air filters do not reduce gas mileage on engines since the 1970's. they only reduce engine performance and it's noticeable only when the filter is getting plugged. In fact, a moderately restricted air filter made of pleated "paper" (actually a heat-treated, resin-cured cellulose and other fibers) does a better job of removing dirt from the air than a brand-new filter. That's something I learned in the engineering department of a major automotive filter manufacturer many years ago.

8/12/2008 2:16 AM  
Blogger A said...

So, Obama is an automotive technician now? Why doesn't that surprise me? The only advantage I can think of to proper tire inflation is so you don't wind up spending $160 each for four tires in 20,000 miles because you didn't take care of them. If Obama is concerend with something as mundane as tires, what else do you think he's going to try to make us do? This guy is dangerous to this country, folks.

8/12/2008 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

Pretty amazing that someone can fault having your tires correctly inflated. I guess that just shows that partisanship can be applied to literally anything. Who cares if properly inflated tires are safer, last longer and improve fuel economy...it just takes too damn long to do it. Maybe you'd like a little cheese to go with your whine. Here's an idea for you... Grow up, join the team of responsible adults and quit trying to denigrate someone for offering advice. It's not like you're offering up any pearls of wisdom.

8/12/2008 9:50 AM  
Blogger sherry said...

Does Obama think we are really that stupid? We know that to keep our vehicles running properly we need to do certain things but give me a break! we need to do something about our current problem and inflating our tires properly is not the answer. Obama needs to stop talking to us like we are all stupid, and start doing something to help us!!!

8/12/2008 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How funny it is that this man really thinks the american people are going to put him in the White House. He is so far out of concept with the american way. This man will kill the back bone of this country and if you don't believe that than look at what his party has done so far. Why will this man not face Sean Hannity and talk about the real issues that really matter? Look at the democratic leader Pelosi, she is dodging questions also because she nor he has any real answers. This idiot has done nothing since being in the senate but talk a good game! But in the mean time they are trying to kill this country and point fingers on the other party. How ignorant, we all know that the democrates are in control of the house and senate. They control what comes to the floor for a vote and they have blocked every attempt the republicans have made to make a change. Especially on energy. They go home with no answers and that in itself is the end of thier rule!! Thier rating speaks for itself. What ashame for what this party has done for the last two years. All thier energy went into making the republicans look at fault for all our ailments!!

8/12/2008 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All newer car engines are computer controlled. They feed gas according to the amout of incoming air. If the filter is blocked, the computer cuts back on fuel feed.

As for tire pressures, both of my cars have pressure monitors, that light on the dashboard if pressure is low.

8/12/2008 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A gasoline engine is at it's most fuel efficeint when the throttle valve is open and it is able to operate at near it's full compression ratio, so yes, having a dirty air filter IS going to reduce how much of the heat energy in your fuel you can get to turning the wheels.


8/13/2008 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto to what Jason said.

This isn't about politicians telling us how to live our lives, this is about Americas inefficient use of energy. Obama's ideas are what we need. We all need to use those funny looking florescent lights, make sure that our houses are sealed up properly, use more solar energy, etc.

Actually, this is the same issue that went on in '72. Unfortunately, the people in power in '72 didn't have the foresight to get us off our oil dependency then but now we have another chance.

There is a car that is coming out in California next year that will get 300mpg, how much would our dependence on oil go down if we had 1 million cars on the road that got 300mpg? I would go from buying ~25 gal/week to 1-1/2 gal/week. At that rate, the price of gas could go up to $75 before my cost would be equal. Do the math?

8/13/2008 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is a fool, but I don't think this article does as good a job as it could have in pointing this fact out. The article seeks to show the ridiculousness of Obama's "tire inflating" solution by showing how the costs of properly inflating tires almost outweigh the fuel savings. But this approach misses the point. It assumes there are savings to be found in the first place.

For Obama's "solution" to work (save 3.3% of our country's fuel usage) you have to assume that EVERY car, truck, and SUV in America has ALL FOUR of its tires under-inflated by just over 8 PSI. The 3.3% savings number is a maximum likely savings. The estimate is based on a 0.4% savings per 1 PSI deficiency across ALL FOUR tires. Typical PSI on passenger vehicles should be 32 PSI. How many cars do you see which are as low as 24 PSI on all four tires? Not one tire that's low, not two, but all four! In other words, how many cars do you see with all its tires 25% flat? Um, not many.

Obama is a moron and a simpleton. Not that his suggestion that tire infaltion could possibly increase fuel economy...that much is fairly well known, in fact it was already being promoted on the government's web site...but because he extrapolates from what is possible with a particularly extreme case of under-inflation to claiming it can be achieved with every car in America.

8/13/2008 11:13 PM  
Blogger ng2000 said...

Another resource for you: http://www.ng2000.com/fw.php?tp=obama

9/13/2008 10:17 PM  

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