Jonah Goldberg

Of course, electric-car boosters say this sort of thing is necessary to get the industry up and running (To which Green responds: "Supporters claim that electric cars need subsidies because they're still in their infancy. Electric cars have been around for over 100 years. That's some infancy.")

But would it be a good thing if we all switched to electric cars? The point is to reduce CO2 emissions, right? But in some regions, we get our electricity from CO2-spewing coal. The more electricity pulled from the grid, the more coal is burned, essentially replacing dirty oil with dirtier coal (which is why some coal backers see much promise in electric cars). Studies confirm that China -- which is allegedly "beating us" in the race to a green economy -- would produce vastly more greenhouse emissions if it switched to electric vehicles.

The expected response to that is that we need stuff like CO2-free windmills to generate electricity. Don't get me started on the Volkspropeller.

Regardless, no matter how you crunch the numbers or the science, there's no disputing that this is a political car, designed to meet the demands not of an economic market but of an ideological one, directed by the collusion of big business and big government. In this sense, the Volkswagen and the Voltswagen have a lot in common.

If the government wasn't taking taxpayer money and spending it on toys for upscale urban liberals (Obama's strongest base of support outside of black voters and labor unions), there'd be no reason to care about the Volt. If rich people want to be "early adopters" and buy expensive gadgets that help them preen the plumage of their political sanctimony, that's great. It's not so great when the government gets involved in wealth redistribution, and it's outrageous when it involves redistributing wealth upwards.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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