Paper: We Love Our Cars! Defeat the Climate Change Bills!

From the mouths of college students…

Over the last couple of weeks, we read a lot of dumb newspaper opinion pieces about Mike Feuer’s legislation that would allow LA County to place a measure on the fall ballot to place a tax on vehicles that emit the most greenhouse gases.

Of all the dumb reasons to oppose transportation user fees we found, it took a student newspaper in Long Beach to get to the crux of the argument: we love our cars and won’t stop driving them no matter how much you charge us.

Now I’m over 30 and am not hip to today’s youth culture, but I thought student newspapers were supposed to be bastions of progressive thought? I guess it’s possible the paper was being so ironic that it just went over my head, but I think they’re serious. The full editorial with my comments can be read after the jump.

Just in time for tax season, assemblyman and Borat look-alike Mike Feuer has introduced a fee to help mitigate the effects of global warming.

The whimsical "climate change mitigation and adaptation fee" would either add nine cents to gas pumps or place an extra $90 on vehicle registration with "a minimum of two-thirds of [the] net fee revenues" going toward public transportation, according to Assembly Bill No. 2558.

Because many people, some even scientists, believe that cars are leading to an increased amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. The hope of the bill is that by making driving even more expensive than it already is, people will be forced to stop doing it or start using public transportation. Thus, our planet will be saved.

Borat look-alike Mike Feuer? Ooooh, sick burn.

There’s a couple of things that the paper has wrong here. The fee isn’t expected to drive people out of their cars. I can’t imagine an extra $90 registration fee is going to make someone give up their H5 with custom made baby seal skin seat covers. It’s about making the people that do the most damage to the environment with their transportation choices pay to help the people making a better choice.

We cried at all of the footage of polar bears crashing through ice sheets in "An Inconvenient Truth." And we rooted for Jake Gyllenhaal in "The Day After Tomorrow."

We don’t really believe that these lofty fees will actually change citizens’ driving behavior, though.

Maybe it’s just our cynicism, but for some reason we don’t think that the projected $400 million revenue increase for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will make the train and bus systems so appealing to Southern Californians that we’ll all just give up our cars and hop on a train.

Really? I was hoping Gyllenhaal was going to get eaten by wolves. Also, what the heck was Jerry Lee Lewis doing as a scientist? But I digress…

The total funds that would be raised by Feuer’s legislation wouldn’t be $400 million, it would be $400-$600 million per year. Eventually that ought to equal some real money.

And we definitely don’t believe that drivers will become so overwhelmed by the new fees that driving will become a rare endeavor in SoCal.


If the last few years of crazy gas prices and horrible traffic has taught us anything about Californians, it’s that almost nothing can make us give up our cars.

SoCal’s sprawling design and intricate highway system makes private transportation the ideal way of navigating the region. Those who don’t drive understand how much of an inconvenience it can be living in this area if you don’t have a car.

Besides, the set schedule and limited routes of public transportation make them an inefficient means of getting around in an area that is extremely time-conscious.

Ok, here we start to slip into Daily Dude territory. Yes, the transit system as it currently exists needs improvement, but that’s what this bill is about. Improving it. Besides, I can think of one group of people that disagree with you that it’s inconvenient not to own a car.

Sure, this bill may make some people feel better about themselves for supporting it. We bet that George Clooney will vote for it.

But expecting taxpayers to give up their carbon dioxide-emitting cars is unlikely. Until the people themselves decide to stop driving, no one will ever be able to make us stop loving our cars.

…but the best way to help them do that is to give them alternatives. And that’s what A. 2558 is about.

  • Strange how this article is written by “49er Staff” and not an individual. Do college newspapers normally do that? All the other negative articles in the other newspapers were also written by anonymous “Staff”.

    Either way, this article is very similar and just as stupid as the others, focusing the straw man that somehow this bill is meant to force people out of their cars for the sake of global warming.

  • (I tried to post this comment on their site… but it seems to be embargoed/censored for the moment)

    I have to disagree. I live in SoCal, I don’t own a car, and it’s not inconvenient. Actually it’s great. I never sit in traffic. I never pay $4/gallon for gas. I don’t spend $100/month on car insurance. I can do all my own vehicular maintenance. I never have to find a parking space. I do most of my food shopping at one of the 4 (four!) weekly farmers markets within easy biking distance and my local Trader Joe’s. On weekends I ride downtown to go to cultural events, or up into the San Gabriel mountains on fire roads to get some exercise and fresh air. Owning and using a car daily would dramatically reduce my quality of life.

    I do agree however that an additional $0.09/gallon, or $90/year registration fee alone is highly unlikely to result in a significant reduction in SoCal driving. Things that would actually make a difference? Charging drivers the true cost of their parking spaces instead of hiding the cost from them, and forcing non-drivers to subsidize parking through higher prices on just about anything you buy from a store with a parking lot or structure. Charging drivers the true cost of maintaining and expanding our freeway system through use fees (tolls!). Those aren’t taxes. They aren’t subsidies. They aren’t government meddling in the transportation market. It’s just asking drivers to pay for the services they demand, and I do not. It’s only fair.

  • Peter

    student newspapers are…student newspapers. In general, though, i’d say ‘less’.

    that said, ‘adults’ have the WSJ op-ed page.

  • Radical Transportation Engineer

    “I can’t imagine an extra $90 registration fee is going to make someone give up their H5 with custom made baby seal skin seat covers.”

    Nice, I was thoroughly amused by that line.

  • the author is a tool.

    SoCal’s sprawling design and intricate highway system makes private transportation the ideal way of navigating the region.

    have they ever been on the 10, 405, 110, 5, 710, at any random time and stuck in traffic?

    i’m sure when they were stuck in their car they were thinking to themselves, “this is definitely the ideal way of navigating the region.”

    what a load.

    when i fly by suckers stuck sucking up fumes, on my bike, people are thinking “now THAT is the ideal way of navigation.”

    finally, i don’t think objects (cars) stuck in sedintary states qualifies as navigation… its simply, existing.

  • Simon

    There’s a fundamental blindness going on here. Everyone keeps saying “That’s not gonna get people out of their cars!” or “Global warming isn’t going to be fixed by this!”

    That’s not the point at all. People in this city have no idea that we even have a public transportation system, so they can’t seem to understand that this money isn’t about punishing them for driving, it’s about giving them opportunities to get out of traffic and get to work more cheaply and efficiently, while also, as a side benefit, helping to reduce greenhouse gases.

    It’s partially Feuer’s fault for phrasing this as a global warming bill, but more fundamentally, people don’t even understand that we the voters would have to vote to pass these fees, he’s not trying to impose anything on anyone.

  • Damien Newton

    I actually think that Feuer’s strategy is a good one in the long term. We know that the Governor hates greenhouse gas, but does he hate it as much as he hates fees on car registration? I guess there’s only one way to find out.

    Besides, when the press gets rough on Mike, Fred and I will be there to try and set the record straight :)

  • LA Bike Rider

    Taxing gasoline, or taxing cars, does nothing to address the fundamental issue.

    Applying congestion-based tolls would be a more appropriate measure, that would not only generate revenues, but deter unnecessary traffic.

    But most of the folks in the legislature only care about tax money, not making sense.

    Long-term, clearly, we need to re-think our energy consumption and travel patterns and habits, as the current model is not sustainable or scalable.

    Simply taxing fuels and cars, however, does not contribute to any solution.

  • Here is how to address the fundamental issue:

    Free Public Transit.



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