|The Whatcom Excavator||
What do WE hear round the clock? Shellfish protection this, shellfish committee that ... and lots of publicly paid promotion for favored' sustainably connected eco-elites like Taylor Shellfish Farms and the other local band of uber green-gangsters, BelleWood Acres. Those who sip and dine with Gang Green fly high, while others get hosed. Another sad tale of tyranny here:
Those who have recently cruised Fairhaven posh spots or the parking lots at WWU may have noticed that the pinnacle of eco-snobbery in Whatcom County is now getting about in an electric vehicle.
Bicycling or driving a hybrid like a Prius (aka"Pious") have become not only passé but déclassé. All-electric vehicles pack the triple entendre of (a) conspicuous consumption, (b) anti-carbon zealotry, and (c) 'afforability' through government subsidy. How progressive. No matter that the $7,500 per vehicle subsidies are carried on the backs of the common folk.
Among electric vehicles, there's nothing higher in the pecking order than a Tesla. Will special supercharging stations be promoted here for them? WE wouldn't be surprised a bit to see that happen... Read on.
Getting Juiced by the Roadside
A plan for keeping up with the Teslas.
October 17, 2016 | By CAMERON SMITH
Greenville, Alabama, is a small city of about 8,000 right off I-65, south of Montgomery. It’s best known for Bates House of Turkey, a popular lunch stop on the way down to the white-sand beaches of the Gulf Coast. It's also an important stop on the map for Tesla owners.
During a business trip, I happened to stay at the Greenville Hampton Inn. Arriving late at night, I saw a phalanx of gleaming white sentinels standing beneath the humming lights of the parking lot. My first reaction was to wonder if aliens had established a spaceport in Greenville. (It wouldn't be unreasonable for Bates's turkey to have an interstellar cult following.) Upon further inspection, I noticed the word "TESLA" in red letters on each of the six slender machines.
These were "superchargers," a new sort of electrical fuel pump that gives a Tesla electric car a battery charge, in just 30 minutes, sufficient to get to the next charging station. Limited range being the single biggest drawback of plug-in electric vehicles, Tesla is tackling that problem head-on: Instead of waiting for gas stations to build the electric infrastructure, the company is providing its customers with their own network of charging stations across the country.
Tesla's charging infrastructure is crucial for the vehicles to be able to drive cross-country. But the "supercharger" stations, like so much in the world of electric vehicles, are buoyed by federal tax credits and, in many parts of the country, state incentives too. Conservatives have been dubious about plug-in electric vehicles given the policy experience they've had with them thus far, which has all been about government meddling in markets. There's no shortage of subsidies and tax incentives for buying electric. Buy a plug-in vehicle and the federal government picks up $7,500 of the cost through an income tax credit. It's hard to justify such subsidies—particularly for products such as Teslas that most people can't afford even after taxpayer help.
The hope is that by expanding its charging network, Tesla will expand its customer base to the point that the subsidies will no longer be needed for the business to make sense.
But even if it does, Tesla's supercharging stations only serve its own customers. If average Americans want to buy an electric vehicle, there isn't a network of superchargers to serve their needs. That makes electric vehicles less practical. Consumers' choices are limited not by technology, but by infrastructure.
For all the progress that has been made with plug-in technology, electric cars may not be beyond the need of incentives to sell at all. Take the Nissan Leaf, the bestselling all-electric vehicle in America. With a base price of slightly less than $30,000 before all the subsidies, it doesn't have much range, just some 84 miles per charge. By comparison, Nissan's Altima costs $7,000 less and can drive cross-country, stopping only for quick gasoline fill-ups. The Leaf limps along with 107 horsepower; the Altima's base-model four-cylinder engine produces 182 horsepower. It's a measure of the market's eagerness for electric cars that they have sold at all.
How do the makers of electric vehicles compare with other disruptive technology companies? Uber and Lyft have radically disrupted the taxi and limousine business. Airbnb is a force in hospitality. But these these new businesses have done their disruption without government subsidies—indeed, in the case of Uber and Lyft, much of their progress has been accomplished in the face of government regulators trying to hobble them.
But if we want to see a functioning free market in electric vehicles, one free from distorting subsidies, credits, and incentives, we should at the very least look to remove federal regulations that throw up unnecessary roadblocks to the new technology.
For example, an obvious place to install electric-vehicle chargers is at highway rest stops. But such commercial charging stations would be against federal law. Section 111 of Title 23 of the U.S. Code severely restricts commercial activity at interstate rest stops (with exceptions for service plazas built before 1960), limiting rest-stop commerce to such things as vending machines and travel information.
Why not allow charging stations at rest stops, permit providers to charge customers, and generate tax revenue in the process? Electric-vehicle drivers would have a predictable, secure, familiar location to charge their cars on lengthier trips. And instead of subsidizing the stations, governments might charge rent. It would be a bipartisan change: Republicans could support cutting government restrictions on commerce and Democrats could support emission-free vehicle technology without pushing yet another subsidy.
We ought to look for ways to free the marketplace and encourage competition by removing hurdles to innovation. It's a harder path than subsidies or tax credits, but it's the difference between eradicating market distortions and imposing new ones.
Cameron Smith is state programs director and general counsel for the R Street Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based free market think tank.
The 1st Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." It doesn't say bureaucrats can hound and harass citizens 'til the cows come home. But these did, and lower courts have turned a blind eye. This case wouldn't have been taken-up by PLF if it didn't have substance. We'll find out how much of a banana republic this has become...
PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION
WASHINGTON, D.C.; October 5, 2016: The Supreme Court is being asked to hear the important First Amendment case of Bob Bennie, a Lincoln, Nebraska, financial analyst and Tea Party member who was targeted for retaliation by state financial regulators because he expressed political opinions in the press that they didn’t like.
In his petition for certiorari just filed with the Supreme Court, Mr. Bennie is asking the justices to hear his lawsuit over regulators’ retaliation against him, and to direct all courts, henceforward, to review such cases in a way that is strongly protective of First Amendment free speech rights. He is represented, without charge, by attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a national watchdog organization that litigates for limited government and individual rights. Also assisting as local counsel is attorney Gene Summerlin, a partner with Husch Blackwell LLP.
In payback for Bob Bennie’s exercise of his free speech rights, a vendetta campaign was launched
The regulatory crusade against Bob Bennie started after the Lincoln Star Journal, in 2010, quoted him making controversial, negative comments about President Obama, to the effect that he was “a communist” and an “evil man.” After that article appeared, officials with the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance launched a series of retaliatory actions. They repeatedly contacted his then-employer, LPL Financial, to complain about his political views and to ask LPL to sanction him; they threatened LPL by saying “the Department may invoke whatever administrative action deemed necessary and appropriate under its authority against both Mr. Bennie and/or LPL Financial to insure compliance"; and one regulator went so far as to tell a colleague that he hoped Bob Bennie “will eventually hang himself along with LPL.” Bennie was ultimately let go from LPL.
Courts give state agency a pass — even while admitting bureaucrats retaliated against constitutionally protected speech
Bennie filed the current case — a federal civil rights lawsuit — in 2011. The district court agreed that regulators retaliated against Bennie for his constitutionally protected comments. However, the court still ruled against him on the key legal test for determining whether a plaintiff may prevail in such cases — i.e., would a person of “ordinary firmness” be chilled in the further exercise of First Amendment rights by the government’s retaliatory actions? The district court held that the retaliation against Mr. Bennie would not have such a chilling effect on the average person of “ordinary firmness.” The court came to this determination despite evidence that Mr. Bennie subsequently muted his controversial comments and despite the fact he was dismissed from LPL after the state began applying pressure to the company.
The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision on a 2-1 vote. But the panel did not conduct an independent inquiry into the facts of this case, instead simply relying on the district court’s findings in holding that a person of “ordinary firmness” would not be chilled by what happened to Mr. Bennie.
“Our First Amendment rights can be cancelled out if government can punish people for exercising those rights,” said PLF attorney Wen Fa. “That is what happened to Bob Bennie — he was the victim of a vendetta campaign by bureaucrats because they were offended by his political views. You don’t have to agree with his comments to grasp the importance of the principles he is fighting for in this case. If we value First Amendment freedoms, government cannot be permitted to penalize people for using those freedoms — and the courts at every level must go the extra mile to guard against such abuses of public-sector power.
“Unfortunately, Bob Bennie’s free speech rights didn’t get the respect and protection they are due when he was before the appellate court,” Fa continued. “Instead of conducting its own rigorous, independent review of the case, the Eighth Circuit simply rubber-stamped the findings of the trial court. When First Amendment freedoms are at stake, no court can be allowed to rely on some other court’s work. We are asking the Supreme Court to take this case and affirm that, when government retaliation against free speech is alleged, every court must do its job, fully and vigorously, to protect victims and hold violators to account."
“The right to free speech is an essential element of freedom in the United States,” said Bob Bennie. “I am grateful for the assistance of Pacific Legal Foundation in fighting to protect the First Amendment. I am also thankful to the many constitutional law experts who have written amicus briefs in support of this case when it was before the Eighth Circuit. I firmly believe that if we as citizens don’t fight to protect our rights, the nature of government bureaucrats is to take those rights away.”
The case is Bennie v. Munn. More information, including the petition for certiorari, is available at PLF’s website: www.pacificlegal.org
Wen Fa, Principal Attorney PLF
firstname.lastname@example.org, (916) 419-7111
Damien M. Schiff, Principal Attorney PLF
Principal Attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation
email@example.com, (916) 419-7111
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