President Obama's dream car: Government intervention on four wheels
If it requires government subsidies to get built, more subsidies to buy, and doesn't actually reduce pollution, what's the benefit of an electric car?
The Adam Smith Institute is the UK's leading innovator of free-market economic and social policies. Politically independent and non-profit, the Institute promotes its ideas through reports, briefings, events, media appearances, and its website and blog.
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
In one way it reminds us of the German predecessor: the Volkswagen. A car not produced according to market demand, but for dubious ideological targets. However, the new ‘Voltswagen’, on sale for $41,000, costs, when all subsidies are accounted for, about $81,000. Not only is it worlds apart from the original Volkswagen, but its creation signifies a distorted economy: taxpayers funding a vehicle which can only lead to loss and a shortage. In addition, comes the government subsidy of $7,500 for purchasers of the car, a nice addition for ‘upscale urban liberals’, some of Obama's strongest supporters.
People who are trying to justify such immense subsidies argue that this is necessary to get the electric car industry up and running, because they are in their infancy. The truth is that electric cars of some sort have been around for a century and the market still did not absorb them. Why supply when there is no demand?
But would it be a good thing if we all switched to electric cars? The point is to reduce CO2 emissions, right? But in some regions, we get our electricity from CO2spewing coal. The more electricity pulled from the grid, the more coal is burned, essentially replacing dirty oil with dirtier coal (which is why some coal backers see much promise in electric cars). Studies confirm that China – which is allegedly “beating us” in the race to a green economy – would produce vastly more greenhouse emissions if it switched to electric vehicles.
Government intervention stymies market forces. Furthermore, the creation of the ‘Voltswagen’ blatantly derives an ‘is’ from an ‘ought’: there should be electric cars, whether supply is economically feasible or demand is there.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link above.