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Half-Hearted Fanatic: Polling call from hell
Leveling the relatively nascent subsidy playing field
Sloan Shoemaker

I want a do-over. I wish that I’d had more presence of mind. Instead I let my outrage button get pushed. 

Like probably most of you, I am so freakin’ sick of all the robo calls I’m getting. But this one sounded different, like it was a legitimate polling firm trying to get an honest bead on public sentiment around an important issue. Oh, silly me. 

The first few questions seemed innocent enough, asking for some basic demographic info. I played along, curious about what knotty public policy questions the poller was trying to unravel. I didn’t have to wait long, he jumped right in on the third question, giving his first hints about where he was going. My propaganda radar alerted that there was danger on the horizon. But, if the third question was a slight head nod, the fourth was like a 30-foot high neon sign. My propaganda radar went to klaxon alarm mode, level 11, and I fired both barrels at the wanker, letting him know in no uncertain terms what I thought of his push-poll bullshit. Then I slammed the phone down. I showed him!

After a 10-minute cooling off period, I realized what an opportunity I had squandered. I should have stayed on, fielding the questions, answering as an outlier to skew the results, gotten the beta on who the polling firm was, and who the client was (if he’d say) so I could peel back the curtain to see who was trying to rig public policy in their own self-interest. 

But, alas. My outrage button got the better of me, again.

The substance of the poll was about Colorado’s electric vehicles subsidies. The poll was pushing responses to delegitimize those subsidies as if, somehow, their sole intent was transferring wealth from us poor taxpayers to the largest automobile manufacturer in the U.S., GMC. And how outrageous it is that there would be tax subsidies in a free market for these fringe, impractical forms of transportation. 

The duplicity of the manipulative questions alone pissed me off. But the policy direction he was driving was magnitudes worse – that these electric vehicle subsidies are government interference in the free market and renewable, clean energy should stand or fall on its own merits. Oh please … as if the internal combustion driven dominant auto industry is held to the same standard. 

What a load of crap. The fossil fuel industry is subsidized up the wazoo. But these subsidies are hidden, causing the price of gas at the pump to be merely one-third what it would otherwise be. If the price of gas at the pump is $2.25/gallon, the real cost is $6.13/gallon, see The difference is made up by: $.98 in defense spending around the globe protecting oils supplies; $1.73 in health care costs related to air pollution of which automobile exhausts make up the lion’s share; $.89 in the economic costs of climate change; and $.27 costs of government subsidies to oil companies and lost tax revenue. See In a May 2019 report, the International Monetary Fund calculates that the global subsidies for fossil fuels was $5.2 trillion (6.5 percent of GDP) in 2017, with the U.S. responsible for $649 billion of that! See 

I am in the market for a new vehicle and I’d like to never purchase another internal combustion engine running on dirty fossil fuels. But, it’s a daunting task to find an electric vehicle with the features and functions I’d like at a price I can afford. Hell yeah I support  electric vehicle subsidies. 

It’s time to level the playing field so that the relatively nascent and growing electric vehicle industry can fairly compete with the dominant and dirty internal combustion auto industry. Better yet, we’d eliminate all the hidden subsidies enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry and let it stand or fall on its own merits. I guarantee you that when Americans start paying three times more per gallon of gas at the pump, there’ll be stampedes to the nearest electric vehicle dealer. Count me among them. Meanwhile, can someone get me a deal on a sweet Tesla X?

Arriving in 1984, Sloan has lived in communities throughout the valley, finally putting down roots and raising a family in Carbondale. Having recently stepped down as Wilderness Workshop’s Executive Director after 20-plus years, he’s still wondering what he’s going to be when he grows up. This column may be a start.