Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Welfare for the rich

By Donald Sensing

The WaPo finally gets a clue: Electric cars and the liberal war with science - The Washington Post

Advocates insist that the government should help them crank up mass production of electric vehicles. Once economies of scale kick in, they argue, electric vehicles can compete.

Four decades after the 1973 oil crisis, this logic is wearing thin. Any company that figured out how to build a practical mass-market electric car would be swimming in cash. That no one has done so suggests we are bumping up against the limits of nature, not just politics or economics.

Certainly the many hundreds of millions of dollars that the U.S. government, GM and GM’s competitors have poured into the effort might have been better spent on more plausible energy-efficiency efforts, such as advanced internal combustion engines.

Instead, Big Government and Big Business have focused on the Volt, the Fisker Karma or the Tesla Roadster, none of which is remotely affordable for the “99 percent” of Americans. And yet in his 2013 budget, Obama proposes to boost the tax credit for electric vehicle buyers to $10,000.

What’s “progressive” about that, I’ll never understand.
Yet even after this tax credit, the just-discontinued Chevy Volt cost $33,000, and since the $10K credit is, well, a tax credit, not a buyer rebate, it means that the few Volt buyers this year had to shell out $43,000 to drive it away, not being able to claim the $10K credit until tax filing time next year. No wonder that the average annual income for Volt buyers was $170,000. That's why I called this tax-credit scheme "Obama's Sheriff of Nottingham Plan" - it takes from the poorer to give to the richer. (And the WaPo also observes that the Volt was a car without a market, anyway, which events have proven.)

Here in Tennessee, Nissan North America makes it headquarters and in Smyrna there is a huge Nissan auto plant. So of course in 2010 then-Governor Phil Bredesen, Democrat, proposed his own Nottingham Plan for the Nissan Leaf.
Taxpayers will subsidize this car to about one-third of its sale price. Every time you see a Leaf drive by, you'll know someone else is driving it thanks to you. Once again, a technology and product that has no natural market is being favored by the political class at the expense of the rest of us. ...

The political class is devious, not stupid. They try to make sure that everyone is a moocher at one time or another. So the Leaf's rebate program lets a large swath of the producing class take a turn at mooching, too. In fact, this is one of the rare looting programs that actually comprises welfare for the rich, or at least the well off, since even with rebates the Leaf will be out of reach of the low-income earners. But the sales taxes they pay and the fuel they buy for their cars are both going to fund the rebates.
Now I point out that I voted for Bredesen for both his terms and have no regrets. He was a very good governor with a huge helping of business sense. But I have no explanation about his adherence to the Nottingham Plan except that above.

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