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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Revenge of the Electric Car

"Revenge of the Electric Car" is the critically acclaimed documentary and follow up to "Who Killed The Electric Car?" The DVD of “Revenge of the Electric Car” was released today. I interviewed producer Stefano Durdic via email about the movie.

Because Rush Limbaugh is so committed to hating the electric car, I asked Durdic the following question. For the full interview, go to DailyKos.


John K. Wilson: Rush Limbaugh has argued, “there are a lot of sheep out there that think buying the electric car can save the planet. It's gonna be a fashion accessory. Driving around in one of these things says I'm better than you, I care more than you do. It just illustrates the absolute idiocy of liberals and how terribly drastically dreadfully wrong they are about things.” According to Rush, “If there were something better than the internal combustion engine, it would be there. If there was something better, more economical, cleaner, it would be there. It's not. Markets work; attempts to manipulate them do not.”
How do you respond to that argument?


Stefano Durdic: Short answer: Any fool can condemn, criticize, and complain - and most do.

Long answer: It’s amazing to me that discussions about electric cars often turn political. Liberals tend to like electric cars for their environmental appeal. Conservatives tend to dislike electric cars because liberals like them.

I agree that markets work. I know how markets work better than most. I retired from options trading at the ripe age of 40. I thrived in one of the last bastions of pure capitalism in the United States - the trading pits. The problem with Mr. Limbaugh's argument is that the market he is describing is already manipulated in favor of internal combustion. The tax incentives on trucks and SUVs (including the Hummer) passed by the Bush administration in 2004 dwarf the tax incentives offered to today's electric car buyers. It's estimated that the US government spends anywhere from $10 billion to $40 billion per year in fossil fuel subsidies. This doesn’t take into consideration the military spending--much of which is used to defend oil interests. Nor does it take into account the environmental and human costs. How does the cost of cleanup in Alaska or the Gulf region figure into the price of a barrel of oil? How do we price the human costs of our service men and women into the price we pay at the pump? If the true cost of fossil fuels and internal combustion was factored into the equation, the market cost of electrics versus internal combustion would be significantly cheaper.

What's unfortunate is that if conservatives like Mr. Limbaugh actually looked at the electric car from a political perspective, they would see that it has a lot of conservative appeal. Look at a company like Tesla Motors: It was founded by American entrepreneurs. It's headquartered in Silicon Valley and is creating high tech jobs employing home grown engineers. Their Model S sedan will be manufactured in the USA. It is the first American car company to go public since Ford. Wall Street has embraced the company--driving its stock price up to twice its IPO price. Foreign car manufacturers Toyota and Daimler-Benz have invested in Tesla, as has Panasonic. All of the energy used to propel their cars is made in the USA. It’s a shame that in their quest to oppose anything embraced by the liberals that the conservatives are forgetting their own ideals. Tesla Motors and GM personify American capitalism and appeal to the American spirit that the Republican Party once spoke to. Nissan Motors plans on building 200,000 electric car battery packs per year at its facility in Smyrna, Tennessee. The electric car industry has the potential to revive American manufacturing and create jobs, yet all Mr. Limbaugh wants to talk about is sheep.

Over 99% of the cars on the road today are propelled by internal combustion of fossil fuels. These fossil fuels are predominantly controlled by hostile governments and extremely profitable corporate giants. The support of this fossil fuel infrastructure costs the world untold billions in subsidies, and further untold billions in environmental, health, and human costs. It seems to me that the people that pump their cars full of gas on their daily commutes to and from work look and act more like sheep than the pioneers that are trying to overcome engineering and public acceptance obstacles to find a better way to propel our cars. They seem more like shepherds to me. Perhaps Mr. Limbaugh should follow the advice of his beloved Ronald Reagan: "If you're afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again. "

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Limbaugh Endorses Prison Camps for Union Organizers

Following a fawning interview with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, on his radio show today Rush Limbaugh expressed support for putting union organizers in prison camps:

You tried to unionize in China? If you try to pull off in China what they're doing in Wisconsin, it's the union that goes to jail, prison camp, reeducation, hard labor, what have you.

Limbaugh also displayed his incredible ignorance of how elections work (“if Mickey Mouse and Adolf Hitler can sign a recall petition, there's no doubt in my mind they can also vote”). Of course, anybody can sign a recall petition with any name, and organizers are obligated to turn in all of the names. But fake names aren't counted, nor can they vote.

Still, the strangest and most disturbing comment by Limbaugh today had nothing to do smearing unions, but instead was about smearing shoe polish. Fondly recalled his days shining shoes in a barbershop, Limbaugh declared: “I loved making shoes shine....it was a fetish.”

Crossposted at DailyKos.