George Will again decries electric car subsidies:
The government already offers $7,500 tax incentives for people who buy electric cars such as the $32,780 Nissan Leaf and, more to the point, General Motors' $41,000 Chevrolet Volt. As The Post's Peter Whoriskey reported, these prices are "well above" those of "comparably sized cars with gasoline engines that can cost about $20,000."
Obama's goal of getting 1 million such cars on America's roads by 2015 cannot be met unless innovative government rigs the market. Introduced in 2008, the $7,500 bribe was limited to the first 250,000 cars. Under Obama's stimulus, it was expanded to 200,000 per manufacturer. The Levins, uttering liberalism's timeless rallying cry ("More!") want it to cover 500,000 per manufacturer.
The Levins' applied liberalism is regressive because it conscripts all taxpayers into subsidizing a fortunate few: As Whoriskey reported, the subsidy would flow to "early adopters" of a new kind of car, and they "generally tend to be affluent." But this is "all about economic and national security," says Robbie Diamond, president of the Electrification Coalition.
There is, on the surface, a basic economic logic here. In general, the government should not rig the market to subsidize product A over product B. However, if product B creates the negative externality of emitting massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, then you have a compelling reason to rig that market, one that any economist would grasp.
To be sure, there are numerous possible ways to account for the carbon emission: a tax, a cap and trade scheme, and so on. Given that the first two options are politically off the table, one option now is to directly subsidize electric cars. This does create some windfall beneficiaries, but at the same time it advances the compelling purpose of jump-starting an electric car market, hopefully leading to a large enough infrastructure to allow electric cars to compete on an even basis with gasoline cars.
Now, Will might want to argue that this method of reducing carbon emissions won't work at an acceptable cost. The problem is that Will thinks climate science is a giant hoax. And obviously if you think carbon emissions are harmless, then you won't support any program to mitigate them, because even a dollar spent to reduce climate change is a dollar wasted. So, when Will is instructing his readers to oppose this or that carbon-reduction program, perhaps he should note his scientific premises.