Another chapter in the ongoing saga of Tesla Motors. Telsa sells sophisticated electric cars, and like other manufacturers of electronics, they want to sell their products directly to consumers. After all, nobody objects to the stores owned by Apple, or Sony, or Microsoft (or AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc.) selling their products directly to consumers. Tesla’s point is that traditional car dealers know little about electric cars (and even less about repairing them) and actually get in the way. Besides, does anyone actually enjoy the experience of buying a car through a typical car dealer?
Nevertheless, powerful car dealership associations have struck back, managing to make it illegal for Tesla to sell their products directly to consumers in five states (Arizona, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, plus restrictions in four others). Hypocritically, many of these states are controlled by Republicans, who claim to be the champions of free markets and haters of government regulations and other interference in free markets. As someone in a movie once said “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Indeed, in a free market, the market should decide whether car dealerships provide any value to consumers, not the government.
Now here’s the fun part. Tesla has announced that they will be building a “giga factory” to produce the batteries for their cars. The factory will cost $5 billion, and will employ up to 6,500 workers. Plus it will be powered primarily by solar and wind energy, so Tesla is looking to build it in the Southwest.
And like the whores that they are, politicians from Arizona and Texas are lining up to try to sweet talk Tesla into locating the factory in their state. Ironically, one Republican politician wrote a letter to the Tesla to encourage them to locate in Texas, touting his state because “Texas has the best climate in the country to run and grow business because of its low regulations and limited government interference.” Seriously. Texas’ “low regulations and limited government interference” won’t let Tesla sell their cars in Texas, but they are only too happy to take their sweet jobs.
In a related story, I’ve been wondering for a while why Republicans (and some Democrats) are falling over each other trying to get the environmentally problematic Keystone XL pipeline approved, which would take tar sands oil from Canada and pipe it all the way across the US to ports in Texas so it can be shipped to other countries. Like, how does this benefit the US? According to PolitiFact, this pipeline will create a whopping 35 permanent jobs.
So it was hardly a surprise to find out that the largest lease owner of Canada’s tar sands is not a big oil company like Exxon Mobile or Shell, but is a subsidiary of Koch Industries. I guess the investment the Koch brothers have made in politicians is paying off.