SUBSIDIES FOR SUPERCARS: Kevin D. Williamson writes that “The good people of Ontario are expected to be scandalized that subsidies for plug-in hybrid automobiles are being used to — hold on to your butts! — subsidize plug-in hybrid automobiles:”
At issue is a government tax subsidy paid out for buyers taking home an example of Porsche’s (truly awesome) new 918 Spyder, a largely electric high-tech supercar. The cars cost nearly $1 million a copy, a phenomenal sum but one that still leaves the gentlemen from Stuttgart losing money on each sale, according to many automotive analysts and the guys at Road & Track. Companies such as Porsche build cars like this one to test and refine technological innovations, and to provide a “halo” effect for the models off of which they do make money. When the technology from the million-dollar supercar shows up in your daily commuter ten years down the road, you can send a thank-you note to the rich-guy early adopters who subsidize product development in the automotive business much the same way they do in other industries.
Governments have decided, for various reasons, that they like plug-in hybrids, electric cars, alternative-fuel vehicles, etc., and that they will therefore subsidize the purchase (and, in some cases, the manufacture) of such vehicles. That is pure economic central planning and destined to result in nothing other than the misallocation of scarce resources, but leave that aside for the moment. If you create subsidies, you should not complain when people take advantage of the subsidies you created. That is what they are there for.
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One of two things needs to happen: Politicians either need to stop creating tax credits in order to get businesses and consumers to do things that politicians want them to do, or they should stop complaining when their policies work. One or the other, gentlemen. One or the other.
And if you want to have subsidies for plug-in hybrids that exclude awesome German supercars, then write the damned law that way, you miserable clods. You are, after all, lawmakers. That’s what you supposedly do.
Read the whole thing. By the way, speaking of “scandalized,” when I searched for images of the hybrid 918 at AP, this photo, one of a series of about ten, came up at the top of the list: