Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Make Elon Musk play by free-market rules

You ought to be steaming mad after you read Jenny Beth Martin's column at The Hill about government subsidization of the big dreamer's projects:

Musk is, to be sure, an ideas man. Private, commercial space travel? Check. Washington to New York in less than half an hour in what he calls a “hyperloop” train that will travel at 800 miles per hour? Check. A new kind of tunneling engineering? Check. Solar energy? Check. Electric cars? Check, check.
As wide-ranging as these various entrepreneurial ventures may be, they all have one thing in common – not a single one of them would get funding in a competitive private capital market if it weren’t for massive (and I do mean massive) taxpayer-funded government subsidies.
A study published two years ago by The Los Angeles Times revealed that just three of Musk’s ventures – SolarCity Corp. (which manufactured and installed solar energy systems before its 2016 merger with Tesla Motors Inc.), Tesla Motors Inc. (which manufactures electric vehicles), and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX (which builds rocket ships) – had received $4.9 billion in government subsidies to that point in time. By now, Musk’s various ventures have sucked well over $5 billion from government coffers. 
But granting literally billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to Musk’s firms isn’t the worst of it. No, that honorific is reserved for this little gem: In order to induce car buyers to spend their money on electric vehicles, the federal government offers a $7,500 rebate on the purchase price.
Some states enhance that rebate with rebates of their own. In California, for instance, purchasers of electric vehicles get a state-funded rebate of $2,500 more.
There’s a phrase for that – it’s called “crony capitalism.” And it stinks.
It sure does. It's fun to have grandiose visions and act on them when you have government forcibly seizing your fellow citizens' money to provide the startup capital.

This is Exhibit A in what is wrong with

  • goofy ideas about energy production
  • collectivist notions about transportation
  • post-1900 notions about the basic role of government
  • the notion that a class of pointy-head "visionaries," "experts" and administrative bureaucrats can centrally plan your destiny


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