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News Link • Philosophy: Libertarianism

Libertarians and Tesla?

• LewRockwell.com - Eric Peters

I received a letter (below) from a reader who took issue with my taking issue with electric cars generally and Tesla specifically. This reader claimed to be a Libertarian – which staggered me like a punch from Ali in his prime.

I figured it was worth an at-length reply since there are actually a lot of people out there who think Elon Musk is a Libertarian.

Which, to me, is like believing Caitlyn Jenner is a woman.

Paul writes: I'm a libertarian Tesla owner and also a writer on the costs of the car and have written on how the costs of ownership are similar to a Camry, but the car drives better than most Porsches, is safer than any other car tested and very economical if you drive a lot.

You talk constantly about the 45 minutes it takes to do a fast charge and that is a disadvantage.  But it saves time every week not going to a gas station and that adds up. My wife loves the car and the technology is so beyond anything else available.  It ready is like going from a flip phone to an iPhone.  If they weren't fabulous, they wouldn't sell like hot cakes without any advertising.  They will be very competitive and profitable once all subsidies are gone because they have such a simple design.  So few buttons in the interior to cost money and break.  So few moving parts to break.  Motor just validated to work for a million miles.

My reply: If you're a Libertarian, I assume you oppose using government force to compel the manufacture of a product and its purchase, and also the artificial favoring of a product via subsidies and such . . .? If so, then it is hard to for me to understand how you can claim to be a Libertarian and defend Tesla – or electric cars generally.

At least as they currently exist. If it weren't for all these mandates and subsidies, we might actually have economically viable and functionally sensible electric cars.

Instead, we have vehicles like the Tesla and the others have no significant natural market; they exist almost entirely because of "zero emissions" mandates and federal fuel efficiency mandates – neither of which are very Libertarian. Tesla is also the recipient of massive subsidies, as are the individual "buyers" of its cars (which are "sold" at a net loss each).

I always pose the question: If EVs – Teslas and otherwise – are such hot tamales, why is it necessary to mandate their manufacturer and subsidies their purchase? Gas engined cars are viable on their economic and functional merits; they do not need subsidies to exist on the free market. This is inarguable – because it's been demonstrated.

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