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Big electric vehicle drama on C-SPAN this week, my friends. Big drama.
As the United States secretary of transportation, you’d hope Pete Buttigieg knew a thing or two about cars. This week the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana made headlines for a series of comments on electric vehicles.
It began with gas prices. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they’re very high right now. The national average at the time of this writing is hovering at $4.47/gallon, according to AAA. Republicans in Congress have been looking to weaponize the pain at the pump against Biden and the Democrats, so perhaps now is a good time to remind everyone that the Executive Branch has virtually no control over the price of gas, regardless of which party occupies the Oval Office. Both parties are guilty of this, but at present, it’s the Democrats who occupy the White House, so it’s the Republicans who get to use gas prices as a political cudgel.
While testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Buttigieg suggested that some of the issues with gas prices could be ameliorated by switching to electric vehicles. "The more pain we are all experiencing from the high price of gas, the more benefit there is for those who can access electric vehicles," Buttigieg said.
Florida’s Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla. jumped on that statement, saying “So you’re saying the more pain we have, the more benefit we’re gonna get?"
Buttigieg, who did not say that, denied the characterization.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz then retweeted a video of the exchange, commenting “The cruelty is the point.” And the usual characters jumped on the bandwagon, accusing the Democrats of using high gas prices to push for green policies.
Perhaps an analogy can help explain what’s going on here. This is like if you fell overboard and someone threw you a life jacket and you responded, “You’re happy that I’m drowning.” Or, even if you erroneously think that President Biden does control the gas prices, this would be like if someone pushed you overboard and then threw you a life jacket, then you got mad at the life jacket instead of the person.
The brutal fact for senators like Ted Cruz, who took more money from oil and gas companies in 2018 than any other senator, is that having an electric car means you do not pay for gas.
Faced with this simple truth, anti-EV rhetoric is forced to take different tactics. There are so, so, so many of these, and they have been debunked over and over and over again.
Pennsylvania’s Scott Perry chose to hit back by citing the high cost of EVs. And he’s completely right. EVs are too expensive. We need them to be cheaper. However, Representative Perry chose to reference last year’s Kelley Blue Book average of $55,000 for a new EV. I’m sure that’s a legitimate average, but it tells us nothing about the minimum cost of buying an EV to save money on gas. With so few models on the road and so many high-end luxury options available, the average price is dramatically skewed.
Another analogy? Ok. This is like if we included the price of caviar in the average cost of groceries to figure out how much money should be allocated for SNAP or food stamps. We don’t care about caviar. We care about the staples—the cheap, boring, stuff that people buy when they need to feed a family.
Buttigieg is far from the first person to take the mantle of EV myth debunker, and he surely won’t be the last. Watch here as he proceeds to rattle off some very easy-to-find data about the price of Chevy Bolt and reminds Rep. Perry that used cars exist.
How long will this sort of tired myth-busting remain necessary? Probably for as long as oil and gas companies continue to contribute tens of millions of dollars to politicians (like Joe Manchin) every year. Until then checkouttheseresources for how to debunk misinformation. —David Shultz
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What We’re Reading Elsewhere...
- Anthony Scaramucci's Skybridge Capital is looking to wet its beak with some Web3 and crypto investments.
-Facebook is pivoting yet again, this time away from News to focus on the "creator economy."
-And not a moment too soon, as a new study sees TikTok beating Facebook in influencer marketing by 2024.
- CloudKitchen's new chief revenue officer has some big expansion plans for Travis Kalanick's L.A. food service startup.
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