Mr. Elon Musk, who founded the Tesla electric automobile company among many other business enterprises, has led a life full of fascinating ideas and almost science-fictional levels of innovation. It's no surprise that he is one of today's most famous and honored inventors and entrepreneurs.
With all the interesting things he's done, it's too bad that his automobile and solar energy companies rely so heavily on government subsidies. Everyone who buys one of his cars gets an immediate federal tax credit of $7,500 which is justified by the fiction that electric cars help Save the Planet - but that's just the beginning.
California law requires that all car companies show acceptable pollution levels across all the cars they sell. The pollution created in the power plants which make the electricity that runs the cars doesn't count, so Mr. Musk's "fleet average pollution" is quite low. He sells his excess credits for not polluting to other car companies to the tune of millions of dollars per year. These aren't a tax subsidy, but they're still a subsidy: a forced subsidy from everyone who cannot afford a Tesla and has to buy, say, a Ford.
The Wall Street Journal pointed out how hard Mr. Musk works to keep government subsidies and regulatory benefits flowing:
He attacked a government agency, the California Air Resources Board, saying its members "should damn well be ashamed of themselves" for not arranging for more lucrative zero-emissions credits for Tesla.
When federal regulators were investigating Tesla battery fires three years ago, he darkly warned that their actions could "delay the advent of sustainable transport and increase the risk of global climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences worldwide."
His claim that Teslas are zero-emission and will help avoid ecological catastrophe is preposterous. Rich people who drive Teslas bask in feeling good about saving the planet while collecting tax rebates, discount parking, HOV use, and free battery charging. But British researchers have shown that this is an illusion:
In China, because their coal power plants are so dirty, electric cars make local air much worse: in Shanghai, pollution from more electric-powered cars would be nearly three-times as deadly as more petrol-powered ones.
It gets worse when you take manufacturing into account.
Over a 150,000 km lifetime, the top-line Tesla S [in Britain] will emit about 13 tonnes of CO2. But the production of its batteries alone will emit 14 tonnes, along with seven more from the rest of its production and eventual decommissioning.
Compare this with the diesel-powered, but similarly performing, Audi A7 Sportback, which uses about seven litres per 100km, so about 10,500 litres over its lifetime. This makes 26 tonnes of CO2. The Audi will also emit slightly more than 7 tons in production and end-of-life. In total, the Tesla will emit 34 tonnes and the Audi 35. So over a decade, the Tesla will save the world 1.2 tonnes of CO2.
Reducing 1.2 tonnes of CO2 on the EU emissions trading system costs £5; but instead, the UK Government subsidises each car with £4,500.
In short: green regulations are merely schemes for transferring money from middle-class taxpayers to rich greens who want to feel virtuous regardless of the facts. They don't do anything whatsoever to Save the Planet, even if you believe that it needs saving of this sort in the first place.
The British aren't the only ones who've caught on. Channel News Asia reported that the nation-city of Singapore charges a Tesla owner a large "inefficient vehicle tax" because of the environmental cost of generating the electricity it needs.
Strictly speaking, the money Mr. Musk takes from the taxpayers isn't bribery; it's a tribute to his ability to take advantage of the absurd but politically-correct notion that anything "green" has to be subsidized massively by taxpayers.
Indeed, unlike many government-subsidized fiascoes like Cape Wind and Solyndra, Mr. Musk's firm actually produces something of value - people ride around in his cars with great pleasure, albeit at ridiculous public expense.
In that, he's like Tammany politicians of old who practiced what they called "honest graft." Unlike today's Democrats whose greed knows no bounds, the denizens of Tammany Hall knew better than to become an all-consuming economic destroyer.
Yes, they fleeced the taxpayers by overcharging for construction of public works with kickbacks all up and down the chain. Yes, they tried to personally buy up land on which they knew the government was planning to build something, so as to sell it on to the government for twice its value.
But while inflating costs to several times what was really required, they made sure that the work was well thought through and of top quality. Much of the infrastructure and many buildings built in the Tammany days are in use today. The saddest aspect of this is that today's Democrats skim off or waste so much that they can't afford even to maintain the infrastructure their ancestors built from scratch while making themselves rich at public expense.
For all that Mr. Musk's cars cost their buyers a lot less than they cost with we taxpayers making up the difference, his raids on the treasury do provide some tangible benefits, unlike nearly every other government program. We only wish we were rich enough to afford to collect some of the benefits for ourselves.
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.