The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Every week of so, a Right-leaning pundit feels compelled to write an article that lambasts electric vehicles (EVs) in general and the Chevy Volt in particular. Patrick Michaels at is but one of many recent examples. Michaels revels in the Volt's poor early sales and criticizes (correctly, I might add) the government's bailout of GM. He then transitions into a critique of the Obama administration's support for alternative energy. Regular readers of this column know that I differ with the President on many things, but his support for alternative energy tech is not one of them.

I'm amused when I read pundits like Michaels criticize tax credits for EVs or government loans for their manufacturers. It's as if they're completely oblivious to the enormous incentives provided to the oil industry not only today, but for the past half century. They complain about a $7,500 tax credit for purchasers of EVs, but say nothing about tax credits to oil companies that defray as much as 70 to 80 percent of drilling costs for a new well.

I'm astonished that pundits on the right don't seem to recognize that our use of foreign oil is a national security concern of the highest order. It warps our foreign policy, it leads to ridiculous adventures like our current war in Libya. It forces us into unsound relationships with third-world thugocracies that are not our friends, and it subjects our economy to forces beyond our control. We're like a crack addict-- forced to do really bad or really dumb things -- all to maintain our addiction.

But week after week, some on the Right persist in their ill-founded critique of important new EV technologies, looking for every possible aspect of the new technology to criticize. Batteries aren't mature enough (really? Is that why the US military has adopted current EV battery tech for some its combat vehicles); the range is insufficient (really? It's only sufficient for about 60 - 70 percent of all commuters, say 70 million drivers); it's too expensive (yeah, just like the iPhone was too expensive in 2007 and now we have $49 smartphones). The critique: dumb, shortsighted, and just plain wrong.

I'm a strong proponent of smaller government, but that doesn't mean that even a small government can't incent new technology, particularly when it has such a significant upside. Forget green (if you must), EVs can lead to many new American jobs over the next decade, they can and will reduce our dependency of foreign oil, they will help us achieve a more stable foreign policy, and over the long haul, they will provide a more efficient and economically stable form of transportation.

By this time next year, I'll own one of those new-fangled EVs, and every time I drive by a gas station, I'll know just how wrong the pundits really are.