Cynicism? Or observation? #LSN_Opinion
THUNDER BAY, ON --- February 10, 2017 (LSN) The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. So for those non-cynics out there, here are some “observations” about Kathleen Wynne’s newest electric car subsidy scheme, which was announced on February 1st.
First, the Ontario government spent millions of taxpayer money subsidizing the purchase price of luxury electric cars. Second, they capped these subsidies to deal with public blowback for subsidizing luxury cars. Third, they got lobbied by the luxury electric car industry. Then finally, they’ve secretly returned to subsidizing luxury electric cars, now that people have stopped paying attention.
Cynicism? Or observation?
In February 2016, Wynne’s electric vehicle incentive program was changed to limit subsidies that luxury super cars had been getting from taxpayers. It was uncovered that taxpayers had shelled out $27,690 to help with the purchase of five Porsche 918 Spyders, which retailed for $1.1 million.
Indeed, between 2010 and 2016, over $14 million in taxpayer money went to help those poor people who wanted to buy electric cars over $70,000. Meanwhile, the median family income in Ontario is $78,000.
Needless to say, there was a lot of public outrage about regular hardworking Ontarians helping a wealthy few buy cars worth more than their salaries. Even Premier Wynne stated that “if anyone’s paying that kind of money for a car, they probably don’t need a $5,000 rebate, I get that.”
She proudly commented that the excesses that everyone was upset about had already been resolved and were no longer a problem. Her government had capped the subsidy for vehicles that retail between $75,000 and $150,000. Luxury vehicles would still be eligible for a subsidy, but it would be limited to $3,000. However, less expensive vehicles were eligible for a larger subsidy, of up to $14,000. But those were to help regular folks buying new Kia Soul or a Chevy Volt. Not the privileged few who could afford an exclusive $135,000 Tesla Model S.
Outrage was sated for the time being.
But as the theory of diffuse costs and concentrated benefits predicts, those luxury electric super car manufacturers were very unhappy, and the taxpaying public stopped paying attention. Sixteen days after Tesla had its subsidy reduced, they registered a lobbyist to put pressure on the Ontario government. The purpose? “Seeking to amend Ontario's Modernized Electric Vehicles Incentive Program (EVIP) to remove discriminatory barriers which prevent Tesla from full participation in the program.”
In other words, the February 2016 changes capped the subsidy for all Tesla vehicles at $3,000, and they wanted access to the new higher $14,000 subsidy.
Almost one year to the day after the premier capped subsidies to luxury super cars, she reinstated the subsidy, making all Teslas eligible for a $14,000 subsidy. That’s a 367 per cent increase to the subsidy.
But what now for taxpayers? The rest of us are not in any better a position to afford a $75,000 car, even if we can get our friends and neighbours to involuntarily cover 19 per cent of the purchase price. If anything, we’re less able to afford it. Electricity is becoming even more expensive, and cap and trade has added to the cost of our commutes and heating our homes.
Formerly middle class Ontarians are being pushed into poverty. Kathy Katula literally cried to the prime minister over her hydro bill and cap and trade, begging him for help. The premier’s response is to have Kathy, who works 75 hours a week and has a $1,000 hydro bill, to pay higher taxes so the wealthy can buy luxury cars.
Wynne’s newest plot for luxury vehicle watts is something we can’t afford, and Tesla’s new subsidy should be reversed. But the real cynicism isn’t pointing this out. Rather, it’s the premier’s belief that we won’t notice.
Winter Challenge on Snow and Ice from Tesla, Inc on Vimeo.
By: Christine Van Geyn
CTF Ontario Director
The CTF is Canada's leading non-partisan citizens' advocacy group fighting for lower taxes, less waste and accountable government. Founded in 1990, the CTF has more than 84,000 supporters and seven offices across Canada. The CTF is funded by free-will, non tax-receiptable contributions.