Must View: “It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant”

Sen. Obama responds to the shameless Republican mockery of energy efficiency.

It’s good to see a progressive presidential nominee stand up for the most important energy strategy we have.

21 Responses to Must View: “It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant”

  1. Jon says:

    Heh. Nice to see some pushback on that nonsense. Increasing efficiency is the low-hanging fruit that basically pays us to pick.

    (BTW- Joe, the link to your earlier post isn’t working for me.)

  2. EricG says:

    Hey Joe,

    How about a federal law requiring tires to have built-in pressure gauges and active RFID broadcasters? Receivers at gas stations would read your tire pressure and let you know when you are low.

  3. Rick C says:

    Obama’s response was classic. I LOVE IT!

  4. “Man’s destiny is to know, if only because societies with knowledge culturally dominate societies that lack it. Luddites and anti-intellectuals do not master the differential equations of thermodynamics or the biochemical cures of illness. They stay in thatched huts and die young.” –EDWARD O. WILSON, On Human Nature, 1978.

  5. Donald B says:

    The one thing Obama has slightly wrong is that while the Republicans are taking pride in ignorance, a bigger aspect is they are taking advantage of the American public’s well known anti-intellectualism. By mocking an intelligent statement, they encourage people not only to reject its truth, but to not even question the Republican lie about it. And in way the Republicans are mocking the American people as they laugh all the way to the bank (at least as long as they haven’t bought any of those neat new investment instruments).

    Everyone should be questioning what people, no matter who they are, tell them; but they should take the time and effort to find out the facts and then re-evaluate their own beliefs as necessary to put them in line with the latest real facts.

    Then they should make a judgement of the people who gave them those tales that agree or disagree with the real facts.

  6. charlesH says:


    Those who call for energy efficiency as part of the solution:

    1) Do they assume people and companies are too stupid to make efficiency investments on their own that make financial sense (i.e. good ROI)?


    2) Are they calling on people and companies to make efficiency investments that do not have good ROI numbers?

    [JR: Honestly, why don’t you even both to read my numerous recent posts on this very subject? These uninformed, loaded questions are getting quite tedious.]

  7. David B. Benson says:

    Too much anti-enlightenment going on. :-(

  8. Paul K says:

    Keeping your tires properly inflated is intelligent. Thinking that it equals available off shore oil is not, because it assumes every car on the road has under inflated tires. I’ll bet not one person reading this has under inflated tires. Of course, the idea that we are smart, but everyone else is stupid is a standard elitist meme. Note to EricG: built-in pressure gauges with dashboard alert are available on many cars and standard on some.

    Telling people to get tune-ups is inane. No cars built since 1985 have any “tune-upable” parts. In today’s cars, if a sensor or relay that can affect mpg or a spark plug fails, the check engine light comes on and the bad part is identified by computer codes. No one should drive with the check engine light on. That would be ignorant.

    Those interested in getting the best possible mpg should also make sure their wheels are properly aligned and cambered and the front end parts, tie rods, ball joints, wheel bearings CV joints etc are in good working order. Most important is clean fuel injectors. Occasional use of premium gas is a good idea. In addition to keeping injectors clean, premium delivers better mpg by burning more efficiently.

  9. EricG says:

    Paul K:

    “Thinking that it equals available off shore oil is not, because it assumes every car on the road has under inflated tires.”

    While I’m not familiar with the research behind Obama’s statement, I expect those folks assumed some percentage of cars had under inflated tires based upon data they had gathered.

    Monitoring tire pressure with built-in pressure gauges is becoming common in the trucking industry. While it is available in autos, it is rare. I think this is something that must be required by regulation, and hope it is cheap enough that it won’t generate political opposition.

  10. Donald B says:

    Paul K has a bit of disinformation in his 6:32 submission.

    1) The most unbiased source I know, Consumer Reports, states that there is no advantage to using a gasoline rated above that required by statement in the owners’ manual. That gas does NOT burn more cleanly; in fact, the additives leave combustion products that are more toxic than straight gasoline. They do help to cause fuel to burn more EVENLY in a high compression engine, but not more CLEANLY. It is a pure waste of money to use premium gas when it is not required by the engine design.

    2) It is intelligent to monitor your tire pressure, but my wife has difficulty using a tire gage and I dare say there are men that are equally fumble-fingered. Also, it takes time that many people don’t want to use when they are at the gas station, which today charges for air and often has air machines that do not measure the air pressure, for which you should have an accurate gage, not the run-of-the-mill cheap gage. There are surveys out which I believe show that more than half the tires on the road today are underinflated (I wish I could remember the percentage but it could even be much higher). Also, to get a measurement that corresponds to the pressure that is recommended, the tires must be COLD. That means that the measurement must be made at home, not at the gas station after driving several miles, particularly at high speed. As the tires heat up the pressure rises, and therefore the needed pressure is higher than the manual calls for, but providing a pressure and temperature chart and requiring the owner to have a temperature gage as well as a good pressure gage would be ridiculous and disregarded by the average car owner.

    3) Depending on the vehicle, not all mistuning yields an exhaust measurement that indicates an emissions problem, such as severe misfiring that is leading to raw fuel being dumped into the catalytic converter. Slight mistiming or fuel mixture irregularity will not trip the check engine light but will greatly affect the gasoline mileage.

    4) How many people do you think are willing to spend $150 to $300 every 3000 to 5000 miles for the kind of maintenance to keep the car tuned. Many people, unfortunately do not appreciate the costs of not doing that maintenance and for those who are trying to choose between food and medicine, it appears, superficially, that a bit worse mileage is the least of their financial problems (and if they don’t drive much, probably true). But in the aggregate, it uses a lot more gasoline than otherwise would occur. How many cars do you see driving down the highway with a blue streak exiting their exhaust pipes (fortunately not as many as used to be the case, but I suggest it is not because the owners are taking better care of their cars: it is because cars are harder to abuse today and hold up better than they used to.

  11. Donald B says:

    One additional item:

    5) With the lack of road maintenance today, cars hit potholes a lot more often and too many people drive to fast on bad roads, which leads to misalignment of the wheels, and thereby not only poorer gas mileage but also additional tire wear, which additionally sucks up the transportation money for those not wealthy.

  12. Paul K says:

    Donald B,
    My wife is also gauge challenged. I really don’t understand people who don’t properly maintain a large investment like a car, even a used one. My current car is a 1991 Geo Storm (35+mpg in the city with California emission controls), but I’ve owned a lot of low compression 8 cylinder GMs over the years and my comment on premium mpg was based on personal experience with them. If you say it is not so with today’s engines, I have no reason to disagree. The Geo and my wife’s V6 Olds both run on regular with only occasional premium fill-ups for the detergent value.

  13. Paul K says:

    You must have a genie in a bottle because your wish has been granted. A quick Google search turned up this: “By 2008, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations will require all new cars and light trucks to be equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. The system must warn the driver if the pressure inside any tire on the vehicle is 25 percent or more under the recommended pressure.” Read all about it here

  14. charlie says:


    Funny story on that law. The nader people sued to block it. Successfully — pushed the law back 5 years. Safety — they wanted a stricter standard. My guess is not implementing the law back in 2004 cost on about 50-100K b/d of oil.


    A better strategy would be to make sure all new cars have readouts of mileage (trip computer), and move to measuring it by volume not by fuel injector sensors.

  15. charlie says:

    sorry, got cut off. That estimate of the saving was based on a harper’s factoid: in 2004, improving the MPG of all SUVs/Light trucks in the US by 1 MPG would save 900K b/d of oil. That seems a bit high — US military use is only about 700K a day — so I cut that down. However proper tire pressure can save at least 1 mpg even in city driving.

  16. EricG says:

    Hey, I did some research on this last night and discovered a few things:

    1. I could not find a single 2008 auto which had a tire pressure management system (TPMS) as standard equipment. All the car specs I reviewed (not many, as it was getting late) list TPMS as “Available”. The rule reads as follows:

    “This final rule establishes a new Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) requiring installation of a tire pressure monitoring system
    (TPMS) capable of detecting when one or more of a vehicle’s tires is
    significantly under-inflated.”

    The rule is effective for all light vehicles of model year 2008. I don’t know what part of “requiring installation” I don’t understand, but apparently I don’t understand the rule.

    2. The standard requires the system to notify drivers when tires are 25% under-inflated. This is a SAFETY rule, not an efficiency rule. Notification at 10% is needed as an efficiency standard.

    3. TPMS technology is advancing rapidly, and there are several companies focused on developing new systems. It appears the biggest problem has been powering direct systems (in which a pressure gauge is attached to the wheel with RF communication to a display on the dashboard). These systems have been using batteries in the past, which have short lives when attached to fast spinning hot surfaces, like an automobile wheel. Of course, there’s a lot of energy in them wheels, and they are figuring out ways to use that rather than batteries.

  17. Ryan says:

    ChalesH – one of the major problems with efficiency in terms of power generation (not talking about tire gauges here) is that the way the current system is set up, power companies have no incentive to be efficient. The more energy you use, the more they get paid. Being more efficient has no financial incentives. Some states are working to change that, but it has yet to be actually changed.

  18. Cyril R. says:

    Of course they take pride in it. Being obtuse is a well established profession, y’ now.

  19. charlie says:

    Eric — because of the Nader lawsuit the deadline was pushed back to 2012 or something. There is a difference between the “active” and “passive” tpms. Nader wanted Active. Detroit wanted passive. Again the debate was about safety, which is insane — the passive system detects when 25% of the air is lost.

  20. Paul K says:

    the debate was about safety, which is insane

    Maximize mpg. Pump your 32 psi tires up to 45psi for amazing results. Then as your bouncing off the road into the ditch contemplate the insanity of optimizing tire inflation for safety rather than mpg.

    [JR: Proper tire inflation increases safety and mileage.]

  21. Donald B says:

    To CharlesH:

    People are not too stupid to always do the right thing; sometimes they are ignorant of the right thing and just do what they have always done; sometimes they just forget to do the right thing and sometimes they think that doing the right thing is not as important as doing something else.

    For Paul K:

    You are taking the subject out of context: when one optimizes a variable, one considers the effects (all the effects) of each value and picks the value that gives the best performance in the multidimensional space of all the outcomes that that variable affects. That is presumably what the manufacturer did when he calculated a value for tire inflation to put in the owners’ manual. Note that Toyota chose to select not only the tire pressure but a special tire design that has less rolling resistance that the “normal” tire design.