The Motor Law

It’s strange to find myself an uncle, with a country place – and an Orange Barchetta out in the garage.

My 1976 Trans-Am.

It is a relic from the ”better, vanished time” Rush sang about in their classic Libertarian rock hit of 1981, which was inspired by a short story written in 1973 by Richard S. Foster for Road & Track magazine, about a future in which saaaaaaaaaafety mandates had turned new cars into – well, what they are today. Big Brothered, homogenized and no fun.

Older cars were banned by The Motor Law.

The Barchetta – redwood and leather, hot metal and oil and not an air bag to be found – is carefully hidden away and kept in full operational readiness by the white-haired uncle, who preserves it for his nephew as a piece of what was.

I’m not yet white-haired – and my niece isn’t quite old enough to appreciate the TA, much less drive it – but the prescience of that song – which I first heard before I learned how to drive – cuts awfully close to the bone.

There are Motor Laws – engine laws, to be technical about it – already on the books. Laws – in Europe, for now – limiting the use of cars powered by internal combustion engines in various areas, such as cities and outright forbidding their sale (as in France) beginning in 2030. Amazon.com $50 Gift Ca... Buy New $50.00 (as of 07:50 EST - Details)

And there are laws here targeting engines in favor of motors. These include directly – such as laws in force in various state requiring the sale and so the manufacture of a certain number of electric cars (*which have motors, not engines) as well as obliquely – for the moment – via the sudden characterization of carbon dioxide as an “emission.”

This bait-and-switch (or shifting of the goal posts, if you prefer) had to happen because actual emissions from car engines – the stuff that created smog and acid rain and made people cough – have been reduced to nearly nil. About a third of all new cars qualify as Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles, meaning they emit almost nothing harmful to the air or the lungs.

This fact becomes increasingly difficult to hide from the public, despite the best efforts of the EPA – and the gross dereliction of the press.

Thus, a new pretext had to be ginned up to justify the strangulation by regulation of engines – which has been the conscious goal now for at least the past 20 years. Because it was 20 years ago – back in the mid-late 1990s – that the exhaust emissions problem was solved.

This – like the collapse of the old Soviet Union – created a new problem, one very different from the air quality problem which had existed back in the ’60s and ’70s but which no longer existed by the ’90s, because internal combustion engines had been dialed in so brilliantly by then that less than 3 percent of their exhaust byproduct was objectionable on air quality or public health grounds.

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