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How Other States Treat Green Vehicles

by: kindler

Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 10:36:42 AM EST

If the Virginia Senate actually passes the $100 per year Green Car Tax, we would become one of the very first states in the U.S. to use tax policy to DISCOURAGE rather than encourage hybrid, electric and other alternative fuel vehicles.  

While incentives for conventional hybrids have mostly dried up as these cars have become common, incentives for plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars remain widespread.  Here, from Plug In America, are a few examples -- focusing, just for fun, on Republican-dominated states:

- Louisiana: Tax credit for 50% of cost premium for electric/plug-in hybrid purchase, 50% of conversion cost, or 10% of cost of a new vehicle (max. $3,000) -- or can be applied to charging station costs.
- South Carolina: Income tax credit equalling 20% of federal credits for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
- Utah: Up to $750 credit for electric and plug-in hybrid purchases and up to $2,500 credit for conversions.
- Georgia: Income tax credit for up to 20% of electric vehicle cost (max. $5,000) or 10% of conversion cost (max. $2,500), plus carpool lane access. Electric vehicle supply equipment installation tax credit of 10% of cost (max.$2,500).
- Arizona: Lower licensing fees and carpool lane access available for electric vehicles and some plug-in hybrids. Tax credit up to $75 for vehicle charging outlet.
- Tennessee: $2,500 rebate for first 1,000 vehicles sold in state.

So with this new DISINCENTIVE for green cars, Virginia could go beyond just being one of the worst states in the nation on energy and sustainability policy -- and make a serious play to be the absolute worst! Hey, We're Number One!

kindler :: How Other States Treat Green Vehicles
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My understanding is that one state.... (0.00 / 0)
...Washington State, levies a special fee on electric vehicles, but that it's defined VERY narrowly and doesn't impact hybrids or plug-in hybrids.  

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Good catch (0.00 / 0)
Per Seattle Times,

Washington's gas tax stands at 37.5 cents per gallon and is the state's largest source of transportation dollars. It costs the average motorist, driving roughly 12,000 miles in a vehicle that gets 23 mpg, about $200 a year.

So a little different context in a state with many strong clean energy incentives and a high gas tax.  But I'll correct above...

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[ Parent ]
Right, there's no comparison. Washington State is much (0.00 / 0)
better on pushing to reduce pollution, improve vehicle fuel economy, etc.

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[ Parent ]
another sign of the darkness (0.00 / 0)
Thank you, kindler, for pointing this out. You've brought into relief just how perverse this is. The same party that contorts itself to put obstacles in the way of talking about the sea-level rise that shows what's happening on the planet, and on the shores of Virginia in particular, is now passing a transportation bill that provides incentives for people to drive more, but especially in vehicles that are part of the problem and not those that are part of the solution.

In the context of my concerns --those being articulated in my series, "Swinging for the Fences," which seeks to establish on a logically sound, empirically based, theoretically grounded basis the idea that "An important part of the human drama can meaningfully and appropriately be described as 'the battle between good and evil'"-- what you have provided here is a specific instance of a vast pattern of what we've seen over the past decade from the atrocity that the Republican Party has become.

Sometimes, since I first saw this dark force operating at center stage of American politics back in 2004, I have asked myself:  If one wanted to work systematically through American politics to do as much damage as possible to everything good about this country, and as much damage as possible to the global and ecological systems in which the nation is embedded, how would one go about it?

And the answer seems to me to be:  Do pretty much what the Republican Party of today -- through the Bushite regime for those eight years, and now the Republican Party in opposition for the past four years, and these statewide powers in Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc.-- has been doing. It's hard to see how this Republican Wrecking Crew could do a better job, for achieving that goal of destruction.

So....the question is, how much responsibility do you assign (0.00 / 0)
to the people who vote for Republicans? Previously, you've argued that many of the people who vote Republican are "good people," yet you simultaneously argue (and I agree!) that they are contributing to the destruction of our country and our planet. So, don't they bear responsibility for electing these nihilistic wackos, like Morgan Griffith and Bob Goodlatte and Ken Cuccinelli, again and again?

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[ Parent ]
Note that I'm strongly influenced by existentialism, in which (0.00 / 0)
you are, ultimately, defined by your ACTIONS. See "No Exit"  by Jean-Paul Sartre for an excellent, dramatic illustration of this principle.  

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[ Parent ]
their vulnerabilities and weaknesses are exploited (4.00 / 1)
How much responsibility to assign? That opens its own can of worms-- the whole issue of responsibility, blame, free will, etc.  I've been wrestling with that one since I was 14, and I've got a lot to say about it, but let me leave that nest aside and hatch a different kind of bird.

The "good, decent conservatives" of whom I talk, and among whom I live, really do manifest goodness and decency in parts of their lives. In those parts of their lives, they are operating from a part of themselves that's oriented toward the good-- e.g. toward that "Sermon on the Mount" about which I posted here a week ago today.

But they are not people of one piece.  They've been socialized into a culture that is not of one piece. Along with "love thine enemies," they've been socialized into a culture that teaches vengeance in the name of honor. They've been brought up internalizing a morality that is in some fundamental ways antagonistic to the natural needs of the human being.  It's a culture fraught with contradictions, and is systematic in preventing those contradictions being brought to light because there are too many interests --power interests in the society, and psychic interests in the individual-- arrayed against any such confrontation.

So these people have vulnerabilities.  They embody patterns that at various times in American history have served the good, and other patterns that at various times --slavery and Jim Crow and imperialism and holy war-- have fostered darkness in the history of this civilization.

So they are both good, decent people AND broken people. Like most of us, but they are broken in ways that are especially vulnerable to being exploited by a destructive political power. They fit into a hierarchical, warrior society in which those lower in the hierarchy are supposed to give unquestioning credence and obedience to those above.  Hence, if they get seduced by bad leaders, they've got little in the way of putting them in service of whatever their bad leaders are serving.

And today, that's service of a "sick and broken spirit" that's systematically destructive and dishonest.

We are now living in a time when the forces on the right have exploited the defects of their followers.  They've exploited their tendency to believe what their "superiors" say.  The force on the right has exploited these people's tendency to project onto others what they cannot face in themselves. It's exploited their tendency to identify with the wounding power on top, rather than with that which has been wounded below. It's exploited their ethic of loyalty and solidarity with the "Us," however that gets defined.

In good times, when the power they are following is basically benign --e.g. FDR-- those tendencies are not so dangerous, because they make these people strong allies of the group will.  But when they're seduced, they can march behind wolves in sheep's clothing.

And when they're following the wrong leaders, the good parts of themselves get starved, and the bad parts get magnified by their continuously being fed-- by the likes of Limbaugh, and by the likes of the Bush/Cheney/Rove/Gingrich gang.

[ Parent ]
In the end, perhaps conservatives really are just more fearful, (0.00 / 0)
as a number of studies have shown, and not "good" or "bad" per se (whatever those words even mean exactly). See this article for instance:
First, in the American Journal of Political Science, a team of researchers including Peter Hatemi of Penn State University and Rose McDermott of Brown University studied the relationship between our deep-seated tendencies to experience fear-tendencies that vary from person to person, partly for reasons that seem rooted in our genes-and our political beliefs. What they found is that people who have more fearful disposition also tend to be more politically conservative, and less tolerant of immigrants and people of races different from their own. As McDermott carefully emphasizes, that does not mean that every conservative has a high fear disposition. "It's not that conservative people are more fearful, it's that fearful people are more conservative," as she puts it.


And if Hatemi's and McDermott's research blows your mind, get this: Darren Schreiber, a political neuroscientist at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, first performed brain scans on 82 people participating in a risky gambling task, one in which holding out for more money increases your possible rewards, but also your possible losses. Later, cross-referencing the findings with the participants' publicly available political party registration information, Schreiber noticed something astonishing: Republicans, when they took the same gambling risk, were activating a different part of the brain than Democrats.

Republicans were using the right amygdala, the center of the brain's threat response system. Democrats, in contrast, were using the insula, involved in internal monitoring of one's feelings. Amazingly, Schreiber and his colleagues write that this test predicted 82.9 percent of the study subjects' political party choices-considerably better, they note, than a simple model that predicts your political party affiliation based on the affiliation of your parents.

So much for "free will," huh?

Also see The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker, which I just finished reading a few days ago, and which gets at a lot of this as well. From the synopsis:

Pinker argues that the key to explaining the decline of violence is to understand the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away. Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence. Pinker will force you to rethink your deepest beliefs about progress, modernity, and human nature.
Note that the right wing strongly, even violently, OPPOSES the "spread of government," is not a big fan of "cosmopolitanism," has a strong streak (dominant in today's Republican Party) that rejects science and learning, etc. In other words, it's progressive values (and people) which have made the world a far less violent and nasty place than it used to be, while it's anti-progressive values (and people) that work in the opposite direction. I'm not sure how you can be called "good" or "decent" while supporting the "bad old days," when women were chattel, gays were viciously persecuted, heretics (and witches and whoever else they didn't like) were tortured and burned at the stake, etc.

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[ Parent ]
the nature/nurture issue (0.00 / 0)
My impression is that a lot of people draw the conclusion from studies like what you report about differences in fear level and differences in brain function that we're dealing with inherent, genetic differences:  born to be liberal, or born to be conservative.

If I could place a bet down on this issue, I'd wager that the great majority of such differences are due to differences of environment, which means differences of experience.

Brain function is clearly not just genetic.  And more and more, people are learning that even the expression of our genes is shaped by the influence of experience.

So a culture that fosters more fear will also foster more conservatism, one would conclude. And the more we can create a world in which traumatic experience can be minimized, the less we'll be governed by fear-based political forces.

[ Parent ]
No doubt, nature and nurture interact in complex ways (0.00 / 0)
It's hard to tease out what's what exactly, but I'm pretty sure that you're right about cultures that foster fear (and greed? despair?) will tend to be more conservative, while those that foster hope (and selflessness? compassion?) will tend to be more progressive.

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[ Parent ]
be not afraid (0.00 / 0)
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the guy who said "Be not afraid" would vote Democratic in today's America. (He might well have voted Republican in 1860, however.)  

[ Parent ]
Parallel (0.00 / 0)
A parallel example, only the sides flipped, might be the Vermont situation where as many as 40% of some kindergarten classes aren't properly vaccinated because of (mostly liberal, almost certainly well educated) parental fears.  This is truly unscientific, and there are many people trying to properly educated parents about this, but there is an irrational, and almost religious intensity on this issue in some areas that is hard to understand.

These are almost all clearly good people, decent people, who are, from any objective, trying to do right by their children.  But it's still very much the case that they are not only putting their children at greater risk, but doing so at tremendous risk to the community at large.  But they are terribly afraid.  And no amount of education, income level, or progressive voting record seems to be able to counter-act this.

There was an article on this in SLATE not too long ago.  You might want to take a look.

[ Parent ]

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