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Transportation Politics

How Car Dealership Lobbyists Successfully Banned Tesla Motors From Texas 688

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-mess-with-texas-unless-you-can-float-some-benjamins dept.
Funksaw writes "In a political op-ed on his blog, long time Slashdot reader and contributor Brian Boyko (the guy who did that animated Windows 8 video) — now a candidate for state representative — explains how lobbyists from car dealerships successfully banned Tesla Motors from selling cars in Texas. From the article: 'Tesla Motors doesn't just present a case study of why a lack of campaign finance reform blocks meaningful reform on the issues that Democrats care about, like climate change and health care. A lack of campaign finance reform blocks reforms on both the Left and the Right. Here's the big elephant in the room I'd like to point out to all the "elephants" in the room: With a Republican-controlled legislature, a Republican executive, and many conservatives in our judiciary, why the hell don't we have free markets in Texas? Isn't it the very core of economic-conservative theory that the invisible hand of the free market determines who gets what resources? Doesn't the free market have the ability to direct resources to where they can most efficiently be used? I'm not saying the conservatives are right in these assumptions; but I am saying that our broken campaign finance system makes a mockery of them.'"
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How Car Dealership Lobbyists Successfully Banned Tesla Motors From Texas

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  • by EMG at MU (1194965) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @04:21PM (#44812153)
    This is exactly how neoconservatives view the free market. Politicians and laws are part of the market and fair game. A company will always strive to maximize profits, if buying laws and legislators maximizes profits so be it.

    This is the free market as neoconservatives see it, whoever has the most capital wins.
  • Austin showroom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 605dave (722736) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @04:31PM (#44812347) Homepage

    Tesla is not banned from Texas, they are banned from having dealerships. I just test drove (and will probably buy) the Tesla sedan last Friday here through the Tesla showroom at the Domain in Austin. I now have to simply go online and order one, and it will be delivered right here to Austin, Texas. In addition Tesla has an agreement with a local repair shop for any servicing, and they are building a charging infrastructure here in the state. So you can't say they've been banned, only that they have been prevented from having a tradition all in one place solution.

    And I find it so amazingly ironic that all of the Republicans in this state who pontificate about the free market and demonize regulation would fight to keep the dealership system. It is exactly the kind of regulation they usually abhor, and prevents the capitalist system from working. The hypocrisy is unfortunately sadly predictable for those on the right in Texas. This is the same group that has passed a voter ID law to suppress the voting rights of the disadvantaged, even though in the last ten years there have only been 4 cases of voting fraud that could have been stopped with the ID law.

  • Re:Read the article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @04:38PM (#44812449)

    In Tesla's defense, would you willingly let your wares be sold by dealerships that are out to make the most money possible from the customers often with dishonest tactics? Car sales people are among the most despised, least trusted people on the planet. I don't think there are any auto manufacturers that wouldn't kick independent dealerships to the curb if they could.

  • by sasquatch989 (2663479) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @04:51PM (#44812621)
    The issue is that Republicans are liars and at the end of the day are all just homophobic Democrats. Bush was not a conservative, not by any real economic measure, but that is Rove and Ailes fault. Of course when you look at the war-agitprop and unapologetic positions of Democrat leadership then you sson realize that democrats are just hedonist war-mongers. Their common fault is that they all believe that their party can fix what the other party has broken. I always refer to politics with the same analogy: It is just like professional wrestling. When the cameras are on and the stage is set they are bitter enemies, smashing each with rhetorical chairs and over-the-top storylines. When the lights are turned down and the crowd goes home, they are all backstage drinking beers and swapping wives. In the end its because the biggest corporatist-whores are the media themselves, the media that has never known a war that it at first didnt love and cheer-lead for, the media that always implicilty calls for legislative action, the same media that can get caught red-handed in a lie but never apologize or be punished. #CNNMakesYouDumb
  • by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @04:52PM (#44812639)
    Actually, I think it's also an inadvertent liberal construction as well. First everyone agrees on "no taxation without representation." Then you decide to tax corporations. But you don't let them vote. Consequently the Supreme Court decides that corporations can make campaign contributions as their form of representation.

    Eliminate this inconsistency and you can remove corporate (and foreign) influence from politics. Get rid of corporate income taxes. For an individual to benefit from that corporate income, at some point it has to become their income. So whether you tax the corporation or tax individuals is immaterial - the net result is the same.

    Then you make it illegal for anyone/anything who can't vote to contribute to campaigns or run political ads. They can still hire lobbyists, but without the carrot of campaign donations they'd be reduced to an amicus curiae advisory role. If a company/organization has a political issue they care deeply about, they can pitch it to their employees/members. If the pitch is effective, those voters will make the campaign donations on the company's or organization's behalf.
  • by deviated_prevert (1146403) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:31PM (#44813093) Journal
    Up in BC Canada at one time you had to be approved by the largest car sales mafia organization to be on a the BC public transit board. Rather like Milo Minderbinder .INC. Basically the same thing was true on the legislative side of the equation. There was and is not any real "PUBLIC" oversight of services it is all controlled behind the scenes. This state of affairs is spreading into every aspect of the political economy of the province. Essentially to paraphrase a well known American politician "The business of business is politics".

    My wife who knew Alex Fraser and went to his wedding heard all about this situation. Since then not much has changed except Milo Minderbinder saw the light of day around the time of expo 86 and let the transit board build advanced public transit but only in the lower mainland, from which his organization(s) are profiting nicely to say the least. So far he has not approved any real rapid transit for his empire on Vancouver Island though as it would cut into car sales there to say the least.

    So Texas is definitely not the only place where the politics of the car dominate things. I was offered an opportunity to run for the organization up in Northern British Columbia against the incumbent socialist MLA. I turned them down. However the individual who did accept the free ride into automotive politics, Al Passarell [wikipedia.org] an NDP turn coat didn't live to make a difference. Though he could have and most likely would have. It is almost as if someone up there is pulling the strings in BC. The ghost of WAC Bennett is up in the clouds working a remote control and this is how the Sky Train really works it is not run by computer at all

    Funny but in the many years since the Milo Minderbinder political organization magically disappeared from the landscape, in the background the same organization is still pulling the strings just under a more liberal banner!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:44PM (#44813259)

    Correct! Tesla cars are not banned in Texas. There is one driving around my neighborhood. Yes, I live in Texas.

    That said, this is par for Texas politics. I, along with most people I know here, see Tesla and their need for direct sales as a legitimate argument. EV's are not widely available like regular vehicles are, so we need to have a test bed to see how introduction that into the marketplace works. Tesla is that test bed.

    Really, this is about stagnant Republican cronyism that keeps Texas from progressing in areas of economic opportunity. There is a LOAD of oil money flowing in Texas right now, and Texas politicians, apparently here anyways, seem to hate upcoming markets. Ironically, that same oil money elected thes idiots blocking this.

    I'll take a guess and say the right people were not influenced enough for this to pass. In short, they didn't pay enough, or the right people to get this changed.

  • by gb7djk (857694) * on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:47PM (#44813299) Homepage
    Did you know that, here, we can go to one of several websites and buy a new car from any manufacturer, usually with a significant discount over list, together with a mandatory manufacturer's warranty that has to be honoured by that manufacturer's service outlets?

    The Health Service is creaking a bit though...
  • Re:Read the article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AaronW (33736) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @06:25PM (#44813827) Homepage

    As the owner of a Model S I looked in to the battery longevity. The battery pack should be good for a minimum of 8 years and likely considerably longer. From what information I have been able to gather, the cells are good for 3000 full charge/discharge cycles. Being very conservative and giving 200 miles of range per full charge (which is usually a fair amount more) that works out to 600,000 miles.

    Plus it has been shown that replacing a battery pack is trivial with an automated system that can replace a battery in about 90 seconds.

    The maintenance should be considerably less. The motor won't need an "oil change" for 12 years according to a tech I spoke with at the factory. Tesla has also stated that their goal is to not make a profit on service and maintenance, which is a far cry from the dealerships.

    Right now the only way to buy a Tesla is online through their web site. It was a far more pleasant experience than dealing with dealerships trying to get a car in the color with the options I wanted then having to haggle over the price.

    The maintenance schedule suggests taking the car in once a year for service. The warranty covers everything, including wiper blades and brake pads. Brakes shouldn't need service since they're hardly used. About the only thing they have to do other than inspections are to rotate the tires, change the cabin air filter and the wiper blades. The only other part that might need servicing periodically is the lead-acid 12v battery.

    There are far fewer things to go wrong mechanically with the car considering that there's no transmission (just two gears with a 9.71:1 gear reduction) and an induction motor. As it is, the entire drive assembly can be easily removed and replaced (it takes them under 5 minutes to bolt the whole assembly in place at the factory). There's coolant, but it probably needs changing far less frequently. The AC should be a lot less prone to leaking since there's no engine mounted compressor with flexible hoses. There's no spark plugs, oil pumps, fuel pumps, fuel filters, air filters (other than cabin), EGR valves, oxygen sensors, catalytic converters, etc to wear out. Similarly, there's no oil changes, problems with warped heads, valves, camshafts, piston rings or all the other parts that wear. The only thing that can basically wear is the differential and bearings and the standard suspension stuff.

    Dealerships are just a way to insert middlemen where they're not needed, and they're a monopoly by design. Usually you can't put in a competing dealership within a certain distance of an existing dealership unless they sell a different brand of car. That gives dealerships a local monopoly.

  • Re:Slashdot Canidate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @06:31PM (#44813893)

    Your not talking about Libertarians, you are talking about the hypocritical ultra-conservatives that call themselves the Libertarian Party of America. They have nothing to do Classical Libertarianism.

  • Re:Slashdot Canidate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lgw (121541) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @07:39PM (#44814481) Journal

    I'm a libertarian and I believe none of those things you attribute to "Libertarians". You're stereotyping and confusing classic libertarianism with the writings of people like Rand.

    Only naive ideologs argue for "no government regulation" or "no taxation" or "privatize everything". It's a sophomoric position, easy to spew but it doesn't make any kind of sense.

    Classic libertarianism asks "how can we do that with a little government as possible". How can we have the set of communal services we want with as little government oversight, as little taxation, as little public ownership as possible and still make it work. How can we ensure free and fair markets with little fraud, but do it with the minimum government presence? Of the many ways we could provide public safety nets and ensure access to health care, which requires the least government participation?

    Solving real world problems requires trade-offs, and the extremes are always (ha!) the wrong answer. But view any government power as a negative in the assessment. We want some service or oversight, great, what the least cost way to get what we want, viewing centralized power as a significant cost?

    You're confusing that I think with people who don't want the services in the first place, and use "no government" as an excuse. There are very few such people, but they are noisy.

  • Re:Slashdot Canidate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tipo159 (1151047) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @07:49PM (#44814593)

    Only naive ideologs argue for "no government regulation" or "no taxation" or "privatize everything". It's a sophomoric position, easy to spew but it doesn't make any kind of sense.

    That's nice to know. However, most of the people who I know who describe themselves as libertarian promote some combination of those ideas to me. Should I be telling them that they are not really libertarian?

  • Re:Free market, LOL! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @07:50PM (#44814611) Journal
    Civilizations are measured by how they treat their weakest citizens..

    Over here in communist Australia my government health care levy covers myself and about 6 other people for less money than I could insure a family of four in the US. UHC has received bipartisan support in Oz since the right wingers gave up the fight to get rid of it in the late 80's (after it had been running for over a decade), according to numerous polls 80% of voters would now vote against a candidate who tried to fuck with it. Recently a similar scheme for the disabled was instituted with bipartisan support and strong voter approval. Personally I am proud to be part of those schemes in communist Australia.

    Seriously, writing "communism" to describe the above state of affairs felt wrong even though I was aiming for sarcasm. Americans already pay about the same per-capita tax on health as Aussies do and have much better economies of scale, but then they have to go out and buy health insurance, wtf? We have statistically superior health outcomes to boot, so someone in the US must be making huge profits from other people's misery, I wonder who?
  • Re:Slashdot Canidate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @08:06PM (#44814719) Homepage Journal

    I'm also a 'moderate libertarian' here, and oh heck is "There are very few such people, but they are noisy." true.

    Classic libertarianism asks "how can we do that with a little government as possible". How can we have the set of communal services we want with as little government oversight, as little taxation, as little public ownership as possible and still make it work. How can we ensure free and fair markets with little fraud, but do it with the minimum government presence? Of the many ways we could provide public safety nets and ensure access to health care, which requires the least government participation?

    Very much so.

    Let's look at schools and prisons. Both are something that you can, in theory, privatize. However it's been my experience that while private schools(especially religious ones such as Catholic schools, and I'm an atheist) can often educate a child better for less money, private prisons tend to be a mess. Ergo - private schools are okay, I support vouchers, though you constantly have to monitor said private schools to make sure they start and remain effective. Prisons, on the other hand, need to be public - but there's a lot of space because an overly powerful prison guard union can drag down a public prison as effectively as corporate greed can drag down a private one. It's all about balance, because once you get into colleges 'for profit' schools suck majorly - delivering low value education(worse rates at jobs/lower salaries) at high expense. They spend proportionally more on advertising and such...

    I think it's because parents concerned enough to send their child to a private school, even profit ones, is a step removed, but they're there more or less constantly to do quality assessment. But I still prefer non-profits(not necessarily religious).

    I don't think it's too much to ask that we regularly review various programs for effectiveness. If it's not effective, it should be dropped. If it's not the most cost effective way to do something, why aren't we using them? Not everything is about profit, but look at our prisons - other countries and even some states within the USA have shown that an emphasis on reform, alternative punishments like house arrest & ankle bracelets work and can cut the time you need to toss somebody into prison for by 2/3rds while producing a released prisoner that's 2/3rds less likely to offend again. That's HUGE, and I have to ask: How can we afford to keep paying for our current system?

  • Re:Slashdot Canidate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @08:46PM (#44815001)

    Should I be telling them that they are not really libertarian?

    yes

    They are no different than rich kids wearing Che shirts who think they are communists while they enjoy their life of starbucks, designer clothes, affluence, and consumerism.

  • Re:Slashdot Canidate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @08:47PM (#44815015)

    The fact that you choose Ayn Rand to be the representative of libertarianism in general is your problem. This is probably why your view of libertarianism is very juvenile.

    Yes there are a lot of crazy people claiming to be libertarians lately. That doesn't mean that the entire spectrum of libertarian ideology is flawed.

    I could say that liberal philosophy as expressed by Karl Marx is flawed. It assumes that people will all be willing to work hard regardless of how much they are paid, and will never attempt to exploit this system.

    This would not only be an unfair characterization of liberalism, but also an unfair characterization of Marxism. The fact that there are many Marxist ideologues out there does not change this.

    I am a libertarian. I recognize terms like "public good". I don't think everything should be privatized. A libertarian who thought *everything* should be privatized would just be an anarchist.

    Furthermore, libertarianism today is basically what classical liberalism was during the enlightenment. It was the progenitor of the modern liberal/progressive movement. Yes tehre are people out there who call themselves libertarians but are really just people who don;t want to pay taxes, just like there are people out there who call themselves socialists, but really just want to mooch off rich people. This isn't an accurate representation of the ideology they claim to represent.

    Core libertarian ideals include:

    Autonomy, Freedom as a virtue in itself (The denial of a freedom must be justified rather than the granting of freedom)

    Legal equality of opportunity (e.g. as opposed to equality of outcome)

    Equality under the law (e.g. gay marriage)

    Ownership of ones own body (e.g. legalization of drugs)

    Decriminalization of victimless crimes(e.g. prostitution)

    Free markets as a tool for economic efficiency

    Maybe you don't think some these are ideals that should be limitless. Well I don't either. Just because some simple minded people calling themselves libertarians want to relive Atlas Shrugged doesn't mean that is all there is to libertarianism.

  • Re:Slashdot Canidate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lgw (121541) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @08:55PM (#44815055) Journal

    I find it works best to use "classic liberalism" when talking to those on the left, and "classic libertarianism" when talking to those on the right; otherwise people often dismiss you before even understanding your position. I mostly talk politics with people on the right, so that's the first term that leapt to mind.

  • Re:Wrong party (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @09:53PM (#44815411)

    You can't claim "no true Scotsman" just because now there are a lot of tea party retards who call themselves libertarians.

    I have been a libertarian since 1998. I was a bit naive back then (I was 18 and more of an idealist), but I will not concede that the entire libertarian ideology is reducible to this current crop of tea party retards who don't give a shit about most of the ideals of libertarianism.

    The free market has no solution to the tragedy of the commons.

    Neither does major league baseball. That doesn't mean that major league baseball sucks. It just means that major league baseball should be in charge of what it is good at and not solving the tragedy of the commons. There is lots of problems the free market doesn't solve. It solves 1 problem which is figure out how much goods and services should cost through supply and demand without any oversight. If you have a different problem then you need a solution beyond just the free market.

    Anyone who claims the free market is the solution to everything is an idiot. Anyone who claims the free market isn't a good solution to anything is an idiot.

    Any mature libertarian perspective acknowledges the tragedy of the commons. Even the acknowledgement of a limited government is a concession that there is such a thing as a public good that is worth preserving even if it is limited.

    It is possible to believe in preserving public goods and still be a libertarian that doesn't want the price of corn to be set by the government.

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