Economic Ignorance on Display – Electric Vehicle Edition

A year ago I wrote a short post on an example of economic ignorance on the part of town officials here in St. Johnsbury. Such examples are hardly rare, and today’s Caledonian Record has another one.

In June the town secured funding to install an electric vehicle charging station. A state grant will cover 75% of the $15,000 price tag with Green Mountain Power covering the rest.  The chairman of the St. Johnsbury select board is quoted as saying:

I’m not sure we need one but if it can be done at no cost to the tax-payers then I don’t have a  problem with it.

So, as in my first economic ignorance post, there is a disconnect on the part of those in government on where exactly government money comes from. As I wrote in that post, the government can only get money via:

  • Taxes, which are essentially theft.
  • Borrowing, which is essentially taxing, stealing from, the future
  • Printing, which brings about the hidden tax, theft, via inflation
  • Voluntary donation, which likely doesn’t happen very much currently but should be the only means of funding government

But this is not the end of the problems with the problems with the electric vehicle charging station.  Selectman Tom Moore originally pitched the idea despite having no belief that it will be many cars using it but supports the project because it offered the chance to free advertising in publications for electric car owners and believes that it will draw tourists from  Montreal where there are more electric cars. The problem is that the article claims that the average range of an electric car is between 70 and 100 miles while distance between St. Johnsbury and Montreal is 147 miles.

Selectman Tim Rust, who opposes the project, points out, there are only 238 electric vehicles in the entire state of Vermont and none registered in St. Johnsbury. There is not likely to be any great expansion of such vehicles give the rural nature of the area and the expense of the vehicles, not to mention the climate. A recent study by the Automotive Research Center (run by AAA) found that extreme cold or extreme heat reduces the range significantly.

So the town will be spending $15,000 to install something that there is no local need for, and unlikely to be any need in the near future, and is well outside the vehicles’ range from Montreal. But hey, at least it is not tax payer money being wasted, right?

 

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