John Stossel

Deans added: "By increasing that gas mileage for our auto fleet, we can cut our oil consumption in this country by 4 million barrels per day by 2030. That would almost wipe out our OPEC purchases daily. It will make our country stronger."

But we use oil for lots of things. If we cut gasoline use by a third, unlikely as that would be, we'd still only reduce our fossil fuel use by 7 percent. That does not make much difference for $7,000 a car and 2,000 extra deaths each year.

"It's not necessarily a smaller car that we're talking about," Deans replied. "You look at Chevy Malibu. That is a 3,400-pound car. It's not a small car. It's getting 33-miles to the gallon. We believe Detroit can do this."

Maybe they can. Maybe they can't. If they could, I'd think they would do it to meet consumer demand. They'd do it without government forcing it on us.

"New technologies can make cars safer," Kazman acknowledged. "The point is, if you put the technologies in a large, heavier car, that car will be safer still. ... None of the proponents of these standards would acknowledge (the lives lost). It's always win-win, and that is nonsense."

Life involves tradeoffs. If we want to minimize deaths from auto accidents, we may use more fuel than we might otherwise use. Who should make that decision, the government? Or you and I?

In the land of the supposedly free, that really should not be a tough question.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate