The Corner

Santa Is a Hoosier

You’d better not pout. You’d better not cry. The real Santa Claus knows if you’ve been bad or good, but when Barack Claus comes to town, he doesn’t care about the past. His eye is on 2010 and 2012 as he steers the reindeer hither and yon, dropping cash (and other things) upon those who promise to be good. And if he shows them the money, they’ll be as good as he wants.

For Barack Claus, if it’s Wednesday, this must be Indiana. The state’s recreational-vehicle industry is hurting badly — the local unemployment rate is around 17 percent — and his empathy knows no bounds, particularly since the land of the Hoosiers is a swing state. But what sort of gifts should he bring?

One might think that tax credits and other such tools, however distasteful as industrial policy, would be a good place to start. They might be employed to expand the use of existing industrial facilities and worker skills, in an effort to smooth the RV industry’s ride through its current rough waters. If you’re going to pander, at least do it in a way that causes less damage rather than more.

Yet Barack Claus’s wisdom also knows no bounds. Recreational vehicles? Do you have any idea how much carbon dioxide they emit? (Actually, far less than Barack Claus’s plane, helicopter, and motorcade excursions, but never mind.) And RVs actually allow people to go places while relatively free of government control. Can’t have that.

Sorry, but being good next year will mean spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, the type of smugmobiles that (a) cannot actually take people anywhere and/or (b) cannot make any money and/or (c) speed the path away from traditional American culture. That’s more like it. Hoosiers will miss their old Renegades and Gulf Streams, but pour enough dollars into the state, and Indiana will learn to adjust.

Of course, as the feds shift more resources towards batteries and battery-powered vehicles, other sectors of the economy will necessarily have less. Even Barack Claus knows that, I think. But those sectors are unseen, and thus unworthy of empathy.

Benjamin Zycher is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

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