Green Cars and Politicians

Complicated and expensive, cars are ideal status symbols for men. And when you’re the leader of all men in your little corner of the world, the temptation to stroke your ego and change cars made under your watchful eye is immense. After all, how can you govern the sheep and not have the guts to dictate what they drive.
They pay the taxes, you bodge some roads. They want V8s, you give them the electric driveshaft. Some people are protesting to this and demanding their God-given right to guzzle and squander, saying that no president or head of state should ever have a say in what people drive.

But it’s always been this way, government have the power to constantly interfere and they sometimes abuse it.

There are some economists that have suggested that the ideal amount of political involvement in the economy is zilch (zero). However, everybody knows that’s impossible. But there are very few industries where ‘The Man’ more influence the automotive one. The world is littered with examples of car manufacturers created by nationalist governments created to stroke a dictator’s ego, and there are even some examples where the results can be called positive.

The nazis for example, gave us a whole bunch of things that we still use today, like jet engines, rockets and the ‘people’s car’. I’m of course talking about the Volkswagen Beetle. Adolf Hitler was actually inspired by the Ford Model T when he created what we now know as the most popular car in the world. The idea was to create a car for the masses, for which the people would love and be thankful for. The German dictator is famously believed to have had a say in creating the iconic shape of the car, as rejected the original design that was too boxy.

But Hitler’s war meant materials were deviated toward making tanks and guns, so the dream the people’s car only came after he was dead. OK, I might have been a bit out of line mentioning Hitler right off the bat, but can you imagine just how much influence politicians have on the car you drive?

Of course you can - if you turn the clock back to the modern day and check out the jumbled pieces of legislation that pass off as government legislation these days. US president Barack Obama is taking a lot of heat from his adversaries that are on the campaign trail right now. Some say that the incentives for green cars like the Chevy Volt could buy a whole new vehicle, and of course they are right. The only reason to buy one of those EVs is to help the progress.

Whenever I see news of families happily living with a battery-powered car, the ridiculousness of it all strikes. Should you really pay green taxes for guzzler when the money goes to techies that can already afford an overpriced car that is basically only good in town?

Of course not, but can you imagine what it would be like to have your hard-earned dollars, yens or euros go to failing carmakers that build useless cars that you really don’t want? Of course you can, because it happening everywhere.

But why am I making such cutting remarks against electric cars? I’ll tell you why, because I never really could figure out what felt so wrong until today: they are restricting our rights to travel freely.

Yes, that’s a right and a very important one. The Chinese only recently were allowed to buy cars on mass, and rules about when you can hit the road are still in place (curfews and such). Basically, if you exaggerate guzzler taxes and EV incentives, you get a policy where you’re forced to buy a bicycle instead of a car.

I love a bicycle in a way that I can never love an electric car. You see, one has a real impact on personal freedom and the potentially the environment, while the other does not. What I mean is that before the sub 100 g/km plug-in has an impact on the environment, you have to sell a few million, which by the looks of things isn’t going to happen soon. Meanwhile the humble bicycle has been around forever and quietly saves the environment every day without the use of your dollars.

I bet that at this very moment, there’s at least one head of state thinking that he can sell you what he believes to be an inexpensive $40,000 car to his people. “Buy, if I get rid of oil dependance, that middle eastern leader will have to eat bread and ketchup forever,” he might say. Even Hitler gave great speeches about how he was going to change Germany for the better, but he didn’t get there, did he? Just let people buy the cars they want, because freedom to drive is what we pay taxes for!
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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