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Out of the Frying Pan…
Edmunds’ Take on New Energy Plan

March 8, 2012 by Matt

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In response to the Obama administration’s latest push for subsidies for electric and hybrid vehicles, Edmunds offers a classic example of how to refute a bad idea with a worse one. They write:

Rather than government pushing technology, we might all be better off if government policies — and spending — were directed at creating consumer demand. If use of oil in private transportation is the problem — from the viewpoints of national energy security and/or environmental concerns — then we need to make the use of oil-based fuels distasteful enough, through pricing and fuel efficiency regulations, that American consumers demand that automakers provide alternatives. That would bring useful and affordable alternative technologies, including electric and natural gas vehicles, into the mainstream market a lot quicker than will the present system.

What an awful, awful idea. Not only does it put forth a different method of achieving exactly the same end—distorting the marketplace and pushing vehicles that consumers simply don’t want—it takes money away from families already struggling in the slow economy in the form of an added energy tax, euphemized as “pricing and fuel efficiency regulations.” Edmunds‘ solution to the lack of green vehicles on the road isn’t to shovel truckloads of taxpayer cash at them to make them affordable enough for the average family to consider—the current administration’s agenda—it’s to force consumers to want the new vehicles. If Edmunds decries the government’s efforts to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, as they do earlier in the editorial, how is their solution not to do precisely that, except with whole segments of the industry rather than individual companies? You tell me which take, Edmunds‘ or the Obama administration’s, would do more damage to the economy in general. It’s not rocket surgery.

In the end, it’s all the same wherever the government intervenes in the economy in order to engineer an outcome or push an agenda: Frequently poorly-engineered products, more expensive than we can often afford, and that we don’t want in the first place. Memo to the current administration and Edmunds: Leave the industry alone, and we’ll all be better off.

Filed under: Alternative Propulsion, Car Industry

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