Shock Therapy for Taxpayers


Want to fry some taxpayers? Take a lesson from the California Air Resources Board electric vehicle program.

First, without ever admitting that you're doing it, pass a regulation that forces automakers to build a car requiring technology that doesn't exist. Second, give lots of taxpayer money to battery makers who promise technologies that they can't produce, and make automakers spend lots more money cramming 70 years of R&D into 15 years. Then, when everybody comes up dry on the new technology, make the automakers dust off century-old electric-car technology, gussy it up with some space-age plastic and computer chips, and foist it on the market as a "revolutionary breakthrough" despite a top speed of 75 mph and a very-best-case range of 80 miles on an overnight charge.

Once you've finally got an electric car–GM's EV-1–limit eligibility to lease it to wealthy environmentalists who own at least one other gas-powered car, earn at least $100,000 a year, and have a garage (and wallet) big enough for a $2,500 wall charger. (By comparison, normal leases of GM cars don't have fixed income requirements, and don't differentially "favor" applicants based on how many other cars they own.) Next, build a bunch of $20,000 charging stations at taxpayer expense so that Jay Leno and Ed Begley can catch a quick charge on the way to a production meeting. And last but not least, use taxpayer money to subsidize wealthy EV buyers with $8,400 worth of rebates and tax credits to "ease the blow" of the $34,000 price tag.

Zzzzzzzaaaaaappppp! Now you're cooking with electricity!