Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

John McCain’s $300 million alternative car battery prize is cheesy, but specific

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Originally published on on Tue, 06/24/2008 – 9:16am

$300 million.

I’m so excited that John McCain is giving me a chance to make $300 million. It will fulfill my lifelong, er, well, six-month dream:

To be richer than Cindy McCain.

I didn’t think it was possible to ever be in this situation. Sure I could play the lottery, win $20 million or $40 million, and be set for life. But Cindy McCain could still look down at me. Reaching $300 million would allow me to climb beyond Cindy McCain’s fortune.

Yes, Sen. John McCain announced a $300 million prize to the person who can develop a battery that will “leapfrog” what we get from current hybrid and electric cars.

Now, McCain didn’t make it clear what standard of battery would qualify, and unless Cindy is putting up part of the money, nobody is getting rich right now. But according to Toshiba’s press release, the battery charges 90 percent full in 5 minutes, and can last 10 years.

So is Toshiba $300 million richer if McCain is elected?

When McCain says, “in the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure,” does he really know his subject matter?

There has been work, not always government-sponsored, to find better solutions. For anyone who has seen “Who Killed the Electric Car,” they know there have been better options that government has not embraced. There was a line, and I’m paraphrasing Ed Begley Jr. when he talked about the electric car and whether it was practical to have a car that could only travel 250 miles on a charge. He essentially said that it would be applicable to 90% of car trips.

McCain also says, “From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success.” But the insincerity of the $300 million prize is what is troubling. Yes, we need to invest in alternative energies (not just for cars), and government needs to do its part to make that investment.

But that $300 million needs to be spread out over a number of ideas, some of which might fail. But success often rises through failure. And hydrogen cars might be viable long-term, but electric cars can come around now to help short-term. And there are cars such as this one that boasts 300 miles to the gallon in typical driving conditions.

McCain did have some good points, calling for $5,000 tax credits for buyers of alternative energy cars. And he spoke out in favor of ethanol alternatives to corn-based ethanol, specifically tariffs on sugar cane-based ethanol from Brazil. And it’s good to see a Republican presidential candidate try to make a mark for alternative energy cars.

But Obama seems to have a better handle on this pursuit away from being handcuffed by the price of oil. A few more specifics from Obama would be nice, and you have to wonder why McCain is first with specifics? And it’s virtually guaranteed those ideas won’t be as cheesy as a $300 million prize.


Written by democracysoup

June 24, 2008 at 9:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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