Obama and the new Volt

by Bernard Via III

Last weekend we passed a new marker with our new electric car, the Volt. We used our first gallon of gas. With 300 miles on the speedometer since we purchased it a week ago Thursday, we used one gallon of gas. What does this have to do with President Obama and this election? Nothing – but yet everything.

Like most of us I’m sick of the Texas Two-step of gas prices going up, up, up! People are still buying big fat SUVs and Trucks and bragging about the 25 miles per gallon performance. The Volt is a RE-Volt against gas dependence. Had it not been for the energy stimulus package passed by Obama, I would never have bought one. Here’s why: with a $47,000 sticker price, I would not buy this car. The economics are not there. The dealer with slow sales at the end of the year discounted the price to $42,300-still too high.

But then there is the $7,500 tax credit passed before Republicans took over the House, which brings the price down for me to $34,800 – still high for a car, except this is not just a ordinary little gas car. We calculate a $2,000 per year gas savings over electric usage. Over ten years, gas prices – if prices stay the same, which they won’t – that is $20,000 savings. So the Volt we purchased loaded to the hilt with computer stuff, loadstar, navigation, so much stuff my wife was finally happy, we get it for $14,800!

We get it because Obama did it with us. A new book by Michael Grunwald titled The New New Deal explains that the Obama administration has fundamentally in the long term changed the underlying structure of our economy through the stimulus plan funds.

We are on the road to energy innovation and independence. GM workers are making a car in America that is the toast of the fleet. It is powered through coal, using a 110 plug, from coal mined in southwest Virginia and delivered by BVU – our utility authority – to a our car battery. That keeps the energy cost here and not in Saudi Arabia. The money circulates around our economy and into treasury coffers around the country, helping relieve the budget crises. I am not trying to sell Volts, but I am showing an example of what Obama and the Democrats have been doing under the radar with the stimulus program. Republican want to gut the stimulus programs because that will lead to oil competing with coal and natural gas. Lower prices come from a balanced economic base. Our economy will not grow based on the American military protecting the supply lines from Iraq to Louisiana. It will blossom with cheap energy derived from many available sources.

New education emphasis on this new technology in colleges and high schools will provide people with expertise to fill the new jobs created by the technology. Though everyone thought the stimulus focused on shovel ready projects, the money has been directed to long-range seed money that will modernize our infrastructure. Republicans do not want this to get off the ground, calling it socialism. Just like highways, public education, internet structure, dams and utility lines, telephone and cell phone systems, and television airwaves – all of it is tagged socialism. Any time a tax dollar is spent encouraging an industry forward it is socialism. Just like nuclear energy, airplane systems, and satellite launches, government has a hand in developing all of it. In the last century, the government was into shipping, agriculture, and railroads. Then in the 20th century came electricity and telephone systems, followed by radio and television. Higher Education for the masses and highways in last 70 years have all had major government investment. Would there be a car system without highways? Would there be a modern hospital system without the Hill Burton Act? Would there be airports without the FAA? The electric car – once a dream – is an economic reality now that the government is behind its evolution.

Lots of people say it is the private sector that creates jobs, but it is the government with the private sector that creates entire industries, as Obama has done with the passive low-emission energy sector.

The Republicans don’t like it, and when it proves successful, they really don’t like it. When was the last time the Republicans liked anything other than spending on military contracts? We just need to see the broad picture. It is not so much socialism as it is Americanism: if it works, do it. Do not let name calling get in the way of common sense progress. Dedicated to the RE-Volt-ers among us.

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