Rather than doing good. I think that Robert Tracinski’s characterization of subsidies for electric cars as “green paternalism”:
Electric cars never really made any sense. They are cloaked in the sanctimony of the green movement, because they don’t use nasty fossil fuels like gasoline. Instead, they use electricity, which is sent out through power lines from big power plants, which generate this electricity—how? Oh yes, by burning fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas. This is known as the “long tailpipe,” which goes from the car charging up in your garage all the way back to the smokestack of a coal-fired power plant. And don’t forget, electric cars also have giant batteries made from nasty toxic metals like lithium and cobalt, the manufacture of which frontloads carbon dioxide emissions.
So the electric car was always more an exercise in green paternalism—it is the future, as selected for us by our betters—than a serious attempt to solve any real or imagined problem.
isn’t quite correct. Electric cars are perfect for people who want to feel virtuous without actually being virtuous.
An alarming number of the agenda items on the table today fit into that category. Bans on assault weapons (especially bans that “grandfather in” weapons already purchased) will have very little effect on mass murders. Raising marginal tax rates (as opposed to effective tax rates) on the highest income earners won’t raise a lot of additional revenue. Continuing the Head Start program (which I supported for years) won’t give underprivileged children the “head start” it promises because its benefits fade very rapidly. “Cap and trade” or even a gasoline tax won’t do much about global warming. The list is practically endless—feel free to contribute your own examples.
The purpose of these laws is symbolic rather than practical. They’re primarily intended to allow their supporters to signal how virtuous they are without taking the much more difficult steps that would reduce the number of mass murders, increase tax revenues, improve the educational prospects of kids from poor families, or stave off global warming. They’re the equivalent of Ted Turner’s driving his Prius to the tarmac where his personal jet is waiting.