Most people are not aware of the true notions of altruism. In true altruism one must sacrifice one’s self. I think few progressive/statist/”altruists” are prepared to do that. Generally, they think of “altruism” as being “nice.” Altruists “help the needy” or “flush their toilet a few less times” to save water or “drive a hybrid car” to emit a little less CO2 or “recycle” to fill landfills a bit more slowly. I do those things, but, I assure you, I am not an “Altruist.”
When notions of altruism drive statist legislation, the results are rarely what the “altruistic voter” who elected those statist representatives think they will be. An excellent example is “green energy.” The Americans who elected the progressive/statist/”altruists” that passed the laws that ensured a large “investment” in green energy did not think that these laws simply provided a large pot of cash to be drawn upon by the wealthiest Americans. It should have been a “benefit to all” and “particularly low income Americans.” That would be “nice.” Au contraire, mon ami!
[Source: The distributional effects of U.S. clean energy tax credits, by Severin Borenstein and Lucas W. Davis]
The study was conducted by the University of California. Therefore, if the study is biased in any direction it would favor progressive/statist/”altruism.” The study found the following facts:
- The US federal government paid $18.1 billion in tax credits since 2006. These were aimed at encouraging American households to install energy-efficient windows, air conditioning schemes, rooftop solar in their homes and buy electric and other hybrid vehicles.
- The bottom 60 per cent US households by income received about 10 per cent of the value of the these tax credits. The top 20 per cent extracted 60 per cent of the benefit.
- The top income quintile received about 90 per cent of all credits for the purchase of electric vehicles. (You remember our President’s promise to have one million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015. He’s only 690,000 short and 90% of the tax credits offered went to the 20% of Americans with the most money – RF.)
Let’s think about how hard this would have been to predict. The vast majority of these “investments” come in the form of tax credits. Think about it, all of my progressive/ statist/”altruist” friends. Who gets “tax credits?” Right – people who actually pay taxes. For all intents and purposes the bottom half of Americans on the wealth scale do not pay taxes (other than payroll taxes). It is difficult to enjoy a benefit from these policies if one has no income tax liability.
Additionally, the overwhelming majority of purchasers buy energy efficient appliances and install solar panels to save money – not to be altruistic. They would almost certainly have purchased them anyway to heat their swimming pool. Have you seen a lot of swimming pools in Blackwater, AZ or Muniz, TX or Beattyville, KY? They certainly could use them. It’s hot in Arizona, Texas and Kentucky. (I mention these as they are the three poorest communities in America.)
[Source: US Green Energy subsidies ‘Unfair and Ineffective,’ study finds, by Adan Creighton]
“While there may well be political or other rationales to prefer this approach, it would seem to be difficult to argue for these policies on distributional grounds,” the professors said.
“We were struck by the… inequity of these programs,” the authors said.
Their study… found installations of energy efficient household items had soared but couldn’t conclude the tax credits were responsible. “If credits do not induce additional sales, then the primary effect is just to transfer cash to participants in transactions that would have taken place anyway,” they said.
And who were those “participants?” The wealthiest Americans, not the poorest. My friends, the examples of the folly, foolhardiness, brainlessness, thoughtlessness, inanity and absurdity of “altruist” notions of government abound. Again I will say, if you want to be an altruist, my hat is off to you. But it is no way to run a government!
And thanks to HP for sending this to me.