‘I would just be able to do the whole thing’ | EDITORIAL STAFF
The $ 1.9 trillion Democratic bill for social “infrastructure” – mistakenly called the “Build Back Better Act” – is a Christmas list of progressive spending priorities, particularly when it comes to handing out charities to special green interests.
One would expect Elon Musk, who has advocated electric vehicles for decades and relied on federal subsidies and government carbon credits to keep Tesla alive, would be an ardent supporter.
But on the contrary. Mr Musk appears to have recognized that a government that spends indiscriminately and without borders will ultimately create a climate hostile to innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Honestly, I’d just do this whole math,” Mr. Musk said during a Wall Street Journal-sponsored presentation this week. “Don’t pass it on. That is my recommendation. … rules and regulations are immortal. You don’t die. The vast majority of rules and regulations apply forever. … There isn’t really an effective garbage collection system to overturn rules and regulations, so it hardens the arteries of civilization where less and less can be done over time. “
Cynics could argue that Mr Musk is unhappy that the Democrats abandoned Tesla to pay off their Big Labor benefactors. Build Back Better includes higher subsidies for those who buy plug-ins – but only those built by union workers. Tesla is not unionized. General Motors is.
But Tesla has already shown that it can do well without subsidies – for two years it has capped handouts on the first 200,000 vehicles sold, but has still increased its market share. And, as Forbes’ David Blackmon pointed out, Mr. Musk is also critical of provisions in the bill that would benefit Tesla directly.
“When the moderator of the WSJ event pointed out that the bill contains billions in subsidies to install new charging infrastructure for electric vehicles,” wrote Mr Blackmon, “Musk responded by saying, ‘No need. Do we need support for petrol stations? We are not. I say literally, get rid of all subsidies. ‘”
Indeed, this might be Mr Musk’s most sensible point, given how loud politicians across the country are building state charging stations, even though electric vehicles only make up about 2 percent of US vehicle sales. Former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval spent money the state received as part of the Volkswagen emissions scandal to build charging stations in rural areas that are underutilized.
The point is not that no more charging stations are necessary. Rather, it is rather that private actors have proven time and again that they are better suited to responding to public inquiries than elected officials who spend other people’s money to appease noisy special interests. If the goal is to make EV drivers more comfortable, it is better to rely on private investment than to distribute subsidies to utility companies that distribute the costs among all tariff holders.
Mr. Musk is doing this right.