Frontiers of the welfare state: Free use of electric cars for public housing tenants

Now that health care is a "right," statists are anxious to pioneer new ways to take money from productive citizens and give it to people who didn't earn it, but want to spend it.  The pattern is familiar by now:

  • Identify a group that can be portrayed as "victims."  There are already several lists that can be used for this purpose: food stamp recipients, school lunch program recipients, public housing residents, and any number of demographic groups, whether based on immutable characteristics such as race or based on behavior.
  • Identify something that the designated victims lack (or have less access to) that arouses feelings of sympathy, and portray whatever that is as a "right" – because people who earn money to fund their purchases would not like to do without it.  In fact, continued access to that purchase may be one of the reasons they drag themselves out of bed every morning and go to work, whether or not work is the most attractive way to spend their time at that particular moment.
  • (Here is the technical part.)  Find some "grant money" to fund a "pilot program" that provides the good or service that is the purported "right" to people who have not earned the money to pay for it.  Calling the taxpayers' money used to pay for this exercise a "grant" is critical.  That way, it is off the books, so to speak.  It is not part of an ongoing program, clearly identified as an experiment ("pilot").  And "grant" sounds so benevolent!  Who could object to a grant?

So that is where we stand with the following, as reported by Anita Chabria in the Sacramento Bee:

Residents at three public housing areas now have a mini-fleet of free Zipcars to make their way around Sacramento.

On Friday, Sacramento launched a pilot program that put eight shared electric Kia Souls at public housing sites. Up to 300 residents can apply for on-demand access to the vehicles, with no charge for maintenance, insurance or juicing up the battery.

The program is funded through a $1.3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board using cap-and-trade funds that businesses pay to offset their carbon emissions.

Local leaders said it will provide green transportation options to disadvantaged areas where even simple tasks like getting groceries can be a challenge.

"Not having a car … it can be a real strain to get places safely," said Thomas Hall, spokesman for the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, which is running the program in partnership with car-share company Zipcar and other governmental agencies.

I agree: living without a car can indeed be a "real strain."  When I was too poor afford one, it took a lot more time and muscle power for me to shop for groceries and lug them home, to get to work, and to visit friends or otherwise have some chance at recreation.

There are so many sources of "strain" in life!

I am really glad that the public housing residents won't have to feel shame at driving an internal combustion engine vehicle.  That would have been quite a strain, I am sure, and goodness knows, poor people face a lot of strains already.

2016 Kia Soul EV at a charging station

Brace yourself.  We are heading toward a car as a basic human right.  After all, our governments have so much extra money lying around that we have to come up with new rights that involve taking money away from people who worked for it and giving it to those who didn't earn it so they can have the same stuff.  Otherwise, they will be victims.