Tesla Short Seller: Protect America! Ban Electric Cars!!

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Is there something in the water? Has some virus invaded the bodies of otherwise rational people and turned them into complete babbling idiots? There is clearly some dynamic afoot which has inverted logic and reason and stood them on their heads.

Writing in a publication known as The Street, commentator Anton Wahlman, who used be a financial adviser but now seems to have no regular occupation other than writing screeds for Seeking Alpha and The Street, has come up with this syllogism — or silliness, if you prefer.

Cobalt And “Rare Earth” Metals

Electric motors and batteries use rare earth minerals and cobalt. Before we go further, we should note that “rare earth” minerals are not necessarily rare, just as “political leaders” are not necessarily leaders. Though, it is true China controls a large portion of the market for rare earth minerals and cobalt. Therefore, some people claim that the United States should immediately:

  1. Stop subsidizing, incentivizing, and mandating clean electric cars.
  2. Tax electric cars heavily. Put a 200% special tax on electric cars.
  3. Ban the sale of any more electric cars in the U.S.

Oh, dear Lord. Where do these nut jobs come from?

According to Wahlman, the US didn’t trade with Germany, Italy, or Japan during World War II, so it makes sense we shouldn’t have any trade with those bastards in Beijing now. Most of his argument hinges on this tweet by Hu Xijin, who ostensibly is the editor of the Global Times of China:

The Oil Embargoes

According to Wahlman, electric cars first came about as an alternative way of getting around that did not require gasoline back in the days of the Arab oil embargoes. (Never mind that electric cars were a major portion of the US car market much earlier.) Since America had an abundance of coal-fired generating plants and nuclear power facilities during the ’70s, it had more than enough electricity available for electric cars even though there was a critical shortage of oil. Why not go electric (again)?

Today, thanks to what Wahlman calls a “miracle,” America has figured out how to extract large quantities of oil and gas of its own. Therefore, the argument goes, oil is no longer a matter of national security, which means there is no further need for electric cars. He conveniently glosses over the shortened lifespans and increased health risks associated with fossil fuel pollutants. Nor is there any mention of a warming planet or what should be done about it.

He points out that the Democratic Republic of Congo is the source of 60% of the world’s cobalt. “Now the Chinese are buying up all of this cobalt supply,” Wahlman says. “The CEO of Glencore recently said that means the Chinese are on a path to become the dominant player in one of the materials necessary to make electric vehicles. So why are U.S. automakers so stupid, making electric cars that are only a tool to enable China to potentially control the U.S. transportation system?”

Wow. Good question, Anton. Maybe we should run and tell the king? And here’s the answer, according to him. (Cue the Koch brothers “government is the enemy” soundtrack.)

Counterproductive Policies

“Because the U.S. Federal government and California are forcing them to, that’s why! Specifically, via these four counterproductive policies:

  • A few (it’s actually Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia, Anton, but let’s not be sticklers for accuracy) U.S. states have joined California in mandating electric cars and plug-in hybrid cars. For 2018 it’s 4.5% of the number of cars sold; by 2025 it has to be 24%. Look at page 32 of California’s presentation where it dictates how many electric cars automakers must sell: Basically, regardless of consumer preferences or willingness to pay for these cars, this will be the electric car sales mix, increasing from 4.5% in 2018 to 24% 2025. This is what we used to call ‘a planned economy’ — in which politicians decide what products consumers must use, and in this case what producers must sell.
  • A Federal U.S. tax credit of up to $7,500 for those who buy an electrified automobile over a certain battery size.
    U.S. state incentives that vary widely from state to state.
  • Many U.S. states offer no incentive, especially the ones in America’s heartland. Some U.S. states have cash rebates that can often be around $2,500 per car (again, California) and up to $5,000 (Colorado).
  • Some U.S. states give electrified automobiles other privileges, such as being able to drive in the carpool lane alone. This is a huge draw for prospective electric car buyers.”

Clean Air Mandates Are Bad For America!

Practically frothing with righteous indignation at this point, Wahlman wipes the sputum from his chin to continue with venomous attack on California’s clean air mandates, which he claims are hurting one of the stocks he owns. “This hurts the FCA stock price and its employees, and it benefits only China’s monopoly play in the cobalt market. It has now forced FCA into a proposed merger with Renault — selling out the iconic U.S. assets of RAM, Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler to the French. The French! The losers are the U.S. economy, U.S. net worth and U.S. national security.”

Oh, those dirty bastards, those wine-swilling, cheese-eating citizens of France. How COULD they do this to right-thinking, God-fearing Americans? The shame of it all.

And where did they get the money? They are a disastrous European country with gigatons of social services and social safety nets. They surely cannot have a business successful enough to swallow up Fiat Chrysler Automobiles!

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Sucking Up To Trump

Wahlman concludes his tirade with this mellifluous prose: “Why should the U.S. subsidize a kind of car that doesn’t solve a problem (oil dependency) anymore, and only makes the U.S. dependent on China instead? No, the Trump Administration needs to stop this practice immediately. Trump should propose an immediate ban on the sale of electric cars, in the interests of U.S. national security and avoiding the U.S. transportation system becoming beholden to the Chinese government.

“On balance, GM, Ford and FCA — as well as all other established automakers — would also be major winners, as they would no longer have to sell electric cars at a loss in California and the other zero emission vehicle states.”

Hold on, Anton. Breathe into a paper bag while you wait for the disoriented express to come whisk you away to a nice quiet rubber room deep in the bowels of Koch Central. You have served your corporate masters well and will be suitably rewarded, rest assured.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, what can you do but laugh at such ravings? The way things are going in the US today, this Wahlman character could be the next Secretary of Transportation, where he would fit right in with the rest of the thieves and lunatics in the Trump maladministration — on Muck Rack, his bio reads, “unemployed gambler.”

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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