Saturday, June 22, 2013

Free Market Republicans (And Democrats) Vote to Restrict Free Markets – Keep Tesla Autos From Being Sold Direct

Is There Any of Their So-Called Principles That Conservatives Will Not Violate

The bedrock of modern Conservatism is cutting taxes for wealthy people, but in second place is devotion to free enterprise.  Economic activity should be controlled by market forces according to Conservatives, and government intervention should almost never take place.  So if Tesla Motors, a company that markets a very pricey electric car wants to sell it autos directly to consumers without having local auto dealers, then it should be able to , right?

No, wrong, at least not in North Carolina where Republicans have taken over state government and are imposing the Republican style of things on the citizens of that state.  And so when Tesla wanted to sell directly to consumers in North Carolina, Republicans (and Democrats) moved heaven and earth to say NO NO NO.  If you want to sell autos in North Carolina  you have to have local dealerships.

Elon Musk made a fortune disrupting the status quo in online shopping and renewable energy. Now he's up against his toughest challenge yet: local car dealers.

Mr. Musk, the billionaire behind PayPal and now Tesla Motors Inc.,  wants to sell his $70,000 Tesla electric luxury vehicles directly to consumers, bypassing franchised automobile dealers. Dealers are flexing their considerable muscle in states including Texas and Virginia to stop him.

The latest battleground is North Carolina, where the Republican-controlled state Senate last month unanimously approved a measure that would block Tesla from selling online, its only sales outlet here. Tesla has staged whiz-bang test drives for legislators in front of the State House and hired one of the state's most influential lobbyists to stave off a similar vote in the House before the legislative session ends in early July.

The rationale of course is a desire to protect consumers (yeah Republicans can say that with a straight face) but really, no one who can afford a $70,000 car needs much consumer protection.  The real motivations is protection of existing car dealerships, so if that means massive intrusion by government into what should be an open and free and no-entry barrier market, well, that’s just Republicans being Republicans, or as it is spelled in the Tar Heel State, h y p o c r i t e s.  And if Democrats are going along, well, why fight a losing battle and make enemies of powerful business groups.
Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal
Tesla 'galleries' such as this one in
 McLean, Va., can show but not sell cars.

The protectionists are not winning everywhere.

Many more battles remain. Tesla defeated a bill in Minnesota that would have blocked sales. But in Virginia, the state Department of Motor Vehicles has so far refused to issue Tesla a license to operate a company store.

Hm, let’s see.  Minnesota is run by Democrats, but in Virginia radical conservatives control state government.  What does that tell you about Republican principles?  Assuming of course, you could locate some.

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