Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Government fixing the problem of the environment? What a fine idea!

It must be considered a relief when politicians have only two sides of their mouths from which to speak. From Andrew Coyne, via EclectEcon:

With the environment on everyone’s agenda and Canada groping for a strategy to deal with global warming, the government of Ontario has stepped up with an imaginative, far-seeing response to the challenge that confronts us all. While others are content merely to debate the issue, the McGuinty government has bet hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds on a revolutionary new form of mass transit that maybe, just maybe, holds the key to a greener future. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s called the Camaro.

Based on a leading-edge, eco-friendly technology known as the internal combustion engine, the Camaro concept car may seem like something out of science fiction, but in fact starts production in just three years. Using the advanced industrial wizardry of rear-wheel drive — whatever will they think of next? — the Camaro’s whisper-quiet 400 horsepower engine can carry its two passengers as many as three kilometres on a litre of gas. Take that, climate change!

But this sort of technological breakthrough doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s the fruit of the kind of dynamic, creative partnership between business and government that naysayers typically decry as “corporate welfare.” Left to the short-term obsessions of the marketplace, Detroit would probably just turn out a string of gas-guzzling muscle cars, high-octane Viagra for aging babyboomers recalling their carefree youth. Whereas with government money they can pretend it’s about jobs.