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Government Knows What's Best

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 21

by Taylor Ramsey

Suppose you were the manufacturer of a product and you were guaranteed to get your price, and the purchaser of your product was given a huge discount? Who makes up the difference in the “real price” verses the actual price charged? Who cares, this is a good deal for everyone. Wait, I care. I care because I am the guy, along with other taxpayers, making up the difference.

U.S., state and local government agencies are forcing all of us to subsidize the production of electric-vehicles even though most of us have no use for them. The goal is to reduce our carbon footprint. Government agencies are also using your tax dollars to market these products for the manufacturers.

California Assembly-member Marc Levine has proposed Assembly Bill 1092 and is joining the fight to make sure the earth does not become warmer. The bill will create mandatory building standards for future installation of electric vehicle charging stations in multi-family dwellings and non-residential building developments. In other words, his very well-intentioned, “feel good” legislation will require developers to include facilities to allow for the easy installation of electric-vehicle charging stations for the future. Hey, no problem. You can pay more in rent to cover the cost.

In 2009, the U.S. had about 246,000,000 cars on the road. Suppose all those vehicles required lead-acid or lithium-based fuel cells/batteries and those batteries were replaced once during the life of the car. Most lithium comes from Chile, Bolivia, Australia and Afghanistan, not the United States. Coal and oil are used to create electricity to charge those millions upon millions of batteries. Think about it.

Have you ever noticed government marketing agencies compare the carbon footprint of using gas and diesel verses the carbon footprint for the mining, production, distribution and recycling of billions of batteries? Of course not.

California has led the United States in setting high fuel consumption standards for automobiles. California has made marketing decisions that instead should have been the result of the millions of marketing decisions made by consumers every day in the choices we make when spending our money. Is it not true that if consumers desired electric vehicles our domestic car makers would have switched from gas to electricity production long ago? Of course they would have. However, the vast majority of consumers cannot use their scarce dollars on technology that will not fulfill their needs.

It was not too long ago when GMC and Chrysler failed to compete domestically and globally. Instead of allowing new car producers and stronger competitors, like Ford Motor Company, to provide a better and more desired product, the U.S. government disrupted the market place and made decisions they had no business making. Ford received the raw end of the deal. Ford produced a more desirable product at a price providing better value to consumers. Ford hired the right decision makers, engineers and technicians to kick the competition’s butt at a profit. Then our wise legislators decided that the taxpayers, the very people buying Ford products, should compete with Ford by sending millions of our tax dollars to GMC and Chrysler.

About a year ago the South Coast Air Quality Management District decided to do more to clean the air. They conducted a program to have owners of gas-powered lawn mowers trade their mowers in for electric mowers. The electric mower was offered at a quarter of the current retail price. This meant southern Californians would be buying three quarters of the purchase price for each new electric mower sold through their trade-in program via higher prices passed on to us from businesses paying AQMD fees and through our own individual vehicle registration fees. Again, give us the backup documentation to illustrate that creating electricity, batteries and their disposal for electric mowers is cleaner than using gas-powered mowers. Retailers who offer electric lawn mowers had to be very unhappy about lost sales. Sales tax revenue vanished too.

Electricity comes from somewhere. Think it though and let American businesses do what they do best – innovate to fulfill a real need and take it to market. Sometimes there is no free lunch.