Subsidies and vehicle development

Seldom do I side with The Bulletin’s editorial staff, but I must respond to the criticism levied by Jeff Allen of Drive, Ore. Allen falsely believes subsidization was also the history of gas-powered vehicles. Steam and electric vehicles actually preceded gasoline-powered ones, with electric power even being used in the early 19th century. The vehicles were heavy, slow, expensive, and needed to stop for recharging frequently (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). Both steam and electric road vehicles were abandoned in favor of gas-powered vehicles. Gas-powered vehicles became the norm, not because of subsidies but because of practicality and popularity. Roads outside of major cities were toll roads (demand first, then supply). Later highway “subsidies” for free highways? Primarily from gasoline taxes. However, talk about a subsidy for electric vehicles — they don’t pay a tax to help build public highways!

As far as energy independence goes, Allen seems unaware of what’s going on in places like North Dakota. Even if we don’t become totally energy independent in the near future, apparently Allen would prefer burning coal, the main source for Portland’s electricity as well as Bend’s, to gasoline. Let’s not forget the rare earths in those batteries — they come from China and certainly coal is burned somewhere in that process, too.

Harold Shrader

Bend