February 12, 2013
Green Cars and Unchecked Righteousness
The Editorial Staff are liking this Charles Lane person very much:
There’s simply no denying that the administration’s electric-vehicle project was a mistake.
But it’s worth asking precisely what kind of mistake (beyond eminently foreseeable and terribly expensive). As Bruce Springsteen once sang: “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?”
I accept the president’s good intentions. He didn’t set out to rip off the public. Nor was the electric-car dream a Democrats-only delusion. Several Republican pols shared it, too.
Rather, the debacle is a case study in unchecked righteousness. The administration assumed the worthiness and urgency of its goals. Americans should want electric cars, and therefore they would, apparently.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu, he of the Nobel Prize in physics, epitomized the regnant blend of sanctimony and technocratic hubris. He once told journalist Michael Grunwald that photosynthesis is “too damn inefficient,” and that DOE might help correct that particular error of evolution.
The department has recently backed away from the million-car target, in favor of reducing battery costs to $300 per kilowatt hour by 2015 (from $650 today). Even this seems dubious, given the APS symposium’s view that “only incremental improvements can be expected” in lithium-ion batteries.
Chu is on his way out but still dreaming. “For the engineers in the room or those who follow this, you might be saying to yourself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ” he remarked at the Washington Auto Show. “We’re not smoking anything. They are ambitious goals but they are achievable goals.”
I might add that Chu does not own a car.
If only car buyers would cease this selfish, uncooperative behavior. The President has told them what they ought to want to spend their hard earned money upon.
What more do they need to know?
Posted by Cassandra at February 12, 2013 05:12 PM
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To me, it's completely unsurprising. Socialists don't live in the real world (though, I also freely admit, neither do libertarians). For them, it's all about how if we just do what they tell us, everything will work out as it is in their dreams (and again, I think the same can be said of libertarians, but with less coercion involved). But people have this stupid habit of doing what THEY want to do, and not what other people want.
And for socialists, when their plans do not work out, it's NEVER that what they wanted was wrong. Oh no... it's that the people didn't do it properly. Or it wasn't implemented as fully as it should have been. Or that it just didn't get enough money. But it's never that it was a bad idea doomed to fail because reality doesn't run on rainbows and dreams. And all the good intentions in the world don't amount to a hill of beans when the prerequisite of your plans require everyone else to just shut up and do what you tell them.
Posted by: MikeD at February 13, 2013 08:34 AM
Or "Well, OK, it sucks, but it's still better that it's being done by selfless noble people motivated by The Good of The People™ instead of those greedy bastards motivated by money".
- An actual defense of the TSA.
Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 13, 2013 11:29 AM