I Think We’re Doomed

Every morning, I scan the headlines of the various news sites I consult, and it is a rare day when I don’t shake my head in disbelief over some crazy measure introduced in some state legislature. These bills are generally introduced by elected officials who clearly didn’t run touting their superior policy chops. (Don’t get me started on the intellects of those who voted for them…).

For the past decade or so, the vast majority of these brainiacs have been Republicans.

Allow me to share a recent example, picked up by the liberal site Daily Kos.

Lawmakers in North Carolina have introduced a bill to eliminate free charging stations for electric vehicles. Why? One of the sponsors tweeted his rationale:”Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for ‘free’ electric vehicle charging stations on state and local government property unless the same locations offer gasoline or diesel fuel at no charge. We need to do more to increase American energy production.”

I’d like to ask him whether taxpayers should be footing the bill for free streets and highways, since citizens using public transportation have to pay for that method of transport…

The bill–sponsored entirely by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature–is a mishmash of odd provisions. As the author of the article writes,

I’m having a hard time getting through HB 1049, the North Carolina House Bill that basically demonizes electric vehicle charging stations because consumers aren’t getting free fossil fuels alongside them. The bill was sponsored entirely by Republicans: Reps. Keith Kidwell, Mark Brody, George Cleveland, Donnie Loftis, and Ben Moss. It requires businesses to disclose the percentage of what they’re charging customers that is “the result of the business providing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at no charge.” Businesses more than likely would be handing customers receipts showing 0%, given the Energy Department’s estimate that it costs just $6 for an EV with a 200-mile range and a 54kWh battery that is fully depleted to be completely recharged.

The bill also requires publicly-funded EV charging stations on state-leased or state-owned property to come with free gas and diesel pumps. The same goes for county and city property. And if anyone in those groups with EV charging stations on their property can’t adhere to those terms, the bill requires the Department of Transit to develop a system to disperse $50,000 for the sole purpose of using that money to dismantle EV charging stations. Make it make sense.

Making that measure “make sense” is probably beyond the capacity of rational folks.

The electricity provided by charging stations is produced using fossil fuels, so they aren’t a panacea for the environment–but their availability encourages people to purchase electric vehicles. You’d think getting internal combustion engines off the roads–an environmental plus– is something government should encourage.

That said, even climate change deniers would have trouble making sense of this bill, and it has come in for its share of snark. As Ezra Dyer wrote in Car and Driver, 

Politicians have to run on some kind of platform, and Ben Moss—my incoming state House representative here in North Carolina’s District 52—decided that his animating principle is Being Mad at Electricity. To prove his animosity toward this invisible menace, he’s sponsoring House Bill 1049, which would allocate $50,000 to destroy free public car chargers. It contains some other enlightened ideas, but that’s the main theme: We’ve simply got to do something about these free public chargers, even if it costs us $50,000! Those things cost tens of cents per hour, when they’re being used.

Of course, there’s a caveat here. Moss isn’t saying that free public Level 2 chargers—of which there are three in my town, with plans in the works to convert to paid kiosks—definitely need to get crushed by a monster truck. That rule only comes into play if a town refuses to build free gas and diesel pumps next to the EV chargers. So anyway, warm up El Toro Loco, we’re smashin’ some car zappers!

The last time I checked, this wacko bill had passed first reading, so I assume the North Carolina legislature has a GOP majority.

Measures like these are what happens when people running for office are utterly unserious (not to mention unknowledgeable) about governing. I don’t know what “floats the boat” of the sponsors of this particular bill, but far too many aspirants to public office are either culture warriors uninterested in the mundane nuts and bolts of governing, or empty suits wanting to “be someone.” And these days, in the GOP, “being someone” requires peddling beliefs like the Big Lie, QAnon, Christian Nationalism and a grab-bag of other irrational and illogical “alternative facts.” it sure doesn’t require expertise or common sense.

I think America is screwed…..


  1. Thanks Prof. MORE proof that we must vote blue no matter who from coast to coast at every level. The Rs have committed to crazy. Bat shit crazy. The recent vote in Kansas gives me hope that RATIONAL people can still be found who are motivated to vote for rational government. Now we need to duplicate what was done in Kansas. The 60/40 vote for rational government in a TRUMP state gives me hope.

  2. I think you’re right. And maybe Homo sapiens, since we seem to have abandoned the second half

  3. Don’t let the Indiana GOP read this because they will likely try the same thing in their race to the bottom with other like-minded legislatures.

  4. There is no political will to confront the #1 problem facing life on earth…..our environment. The politicians and the voters are still re-arranging the deck chairs and in almost total denial. As environmental deterioration accelerates the chances for a ‘fix’ remain at nil. I give human life on earth another 100 years.

  5. When a bill undergoes first reading in the Indiana legislature , that simply means the reader begins reading the title of the bill, the gavel falls and it is assigned to committee. Every bill, whether it’s authored by a Republican or Democrat, “passes” first reading . No vote is taken on the bill. From reading the legislative history of the bill in question (oldest action is at the bottom, newest is at the top), it appears that NC uses the same process.

    Ref to the Com on Transportation, if favorable, Appropriations, if favorable, Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

    Passed 1st Reading


    The bill has been pending in a NC legislative committee for 9 or 10 weeks and hasn’t so much as gotten a hearing. (Even if it was heard favorably in the Transportation Committee, it would have still had to go to the Rules Committee.) I don’t know the NC deadlines, but that bill is likely dead.

    Every legislative session involves bills which are filed that are frankly nutty. Sometimes they’re filed to make a point, with the author not expecting (or wanting) them to get a hearing. Other times a legislator or legislators has a crazy idea that goes nowhere. Trying to blame an entire political party or entire legislative body for a handful of legislators authoring a nutty bill is a stretch. I think the Daily Kos article is overblown to say the least. If the bill had actually gone somewhere, it would be a story.

    When I worked at the legislature, we made a list of “stupid bills” that had been introduced. This sort of thing has been going on since the first legislature met and it doesn’t matter which party controls the chamber.

  6. The Daily Kos produces political fodder for Democratic Party worshippers. Tossing red meat chunks to a bunch of party cheerleaders. America calls that “political warfare.” LOL

  7. Our gang will throw in a clause so the AG can prosecute violators who dole out the ‘free’ electricity. Give Todd something to do in between press releases and Fox appearances.

  8. Paul,

    The problem with your “there are unserious ideas on both sides” argument is that increasingly bills that should be filed in the “bat shit crazy drawer” are being enacted into law – particularly in Republican states. We are seeing an increasing number of Republicans who are not tethered to facts or reality – but instead are hyper-motivated by tribalism and identity.

    A very large majority of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen – or at least are very willing to repeat it to garner the support of voters. Q-Annon has gone mainstream in the Republican party. CPAC is featuring an anti-democratic authoritarian White Christian Nationalist that they are swooning over.

    At one time, people like Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, or even someone like Marjorie Taylor Green would be understood to be putting on “a performance”. We doubted THEY even believed what they said… but it was profitable theater. Things are different now. The jesters, the clowns, the nutcases and the extremists are actually the majority of the Republican Party now. It’s not simply that the elected Republican officials are un-serious but benign — as you seem to suggest– it has all become very dangerous.

  9. Anyone who has read the press about the Kansas abortion vote wording has to be suspicious that many voters who voted “no” thought they were voting “no” to abortion. Don’t get too happy too soon.

  10. Minus all the hostility and nonsense – I don’t disagree that people who charge their electric vehicles should pay for that. Free chargers are a very near-term incentive to assisting in a difficult transition, but it’s not sustainable going forward. If businesses want to provide free chargers as a courtesy (incentive to shop, etc.) that’s fine. But if a reliable and available charging infrastructure is going to exist, it has to be make economic sense for private enterprise to build, maintain and power these things. At some point, government provided free charging becomes counterproductive to a ubiquitous public charging network.

    We are seeing standards for charging infrastructure – including payment – developed now. Charging infrastructure that will access federal funds to build will meet these standards. I think that you will see free charging disappear as standardized charging infrastructure gets built out — crushing by monster trucks isn’t going to be needed.

    A minor point to be made: “The electricity provided by charging stations is produced using fossil fuels, so they aren’t a panacea for the environment…”

    The electricity produced is made with a mix of renewable, non-carbon producing (nuclear), and fossil fuels. The renewable portion is growing quickly and the portion generated by coal is shrinking. Batteries in vehicles will increasingly become part of a smart grid that will help to even out electrical supply and demand. Your car battery will store “excess” renewable energy from the grid during the day, for example, and sell a portion of it back to the grid at night.

  11. I guess it’s okay to thank God that North Carolina has a Democratic governor. On the other hand, how difficult would it be to charge those powering up for the privilege? It seems to me that very few poor people own electric vehicles, so asking owners to pay just $6 to charge their batteries doesn’t seem like too much to ask. The difference in costs alone should be enough to entice more people to buy electric. The bill might be bat shit crazy, but the basic idea isn’t.

  12. Sense of doom pervades nearly every day. This is the greatest damage that Trump has done. To credibility, to truth, to reality, to fairness. When one looks at professional sports, politics, government and more, how dos one speak to a child about right and wrong?

  13. Rush Smeckens needs to get a new theme; his current one is getting boring.

    “I think America is screwed…..”

    No denying we are being raped and forced to carry the results of the rape to term. What will November 8th give birth to with those who are supposed to be working for the country are continuing the rape of democracy, Rule of Law and the Constitution?

  14. Yes, America is screwed if We the People keep electing candidates elected by the two extremist parties. But the clear majority of Americans are all for common sense solutions, a process promoted by ForwardParty.com. The crazies are a problem with Root Cause in the two-party system.

  15. The Democratic Party IS NOT the crazy part, specifically because their crazies are marginalized by the majority.

    The Republican Party IS the crazy party because their crazies ARE their majority.

    Stop playing the “it’s both sides” game. That’s just an excuse for Republicans to get away with being the party of evil.

  16. What we’re actually seeing among Republican politicians is what the cost accountants with corporate/banking America are willing to pay for their puppets. In a bottom line environment, only the cheapest labor will be hired. These Republican knuckleheads are what the bribing culture is willing to pay. Dumb? You bet. Smart people wouldn’t do dumb and stupid things like they do in Republican-controlled legislatures.

    Of course, Todd does their bidding for free, so there you are.

  17. lets see the percentage of tourists who spend money,and drive electric. now figure they have more pocket money to spend on a local level, main street gets a boost. theres a percentage of people who enjoy driving those battery packs, and laugh at the gas stations. and of course,theres the percentage of people who just boycott stupid. tourist boards should curb stupid.

    in NoDak,theres a vanity plate with a huge drag line on it,i can see three of these from my yard,( to be so sure that coal will stay awhile,they are,building a new unit and retiring the old one as i write..BNI coal)..and a big hole that moves north every pass. and two others in the distance(appx 120 feet deep for 20 feet of lignite) and the best funny,the teslas that are driven in bismarck,have a sun screen ad across their back window, with a drag line in the pic,this vehicle is powered by coal..

    bismarck and burligh county also have a sales tax on everything,along with state tax. (i beleive its the only city tax other that fargo)now hurry up and spend your hard earned money in,NoDak.. now wasnt the right wing so uptight about taxes..this place is blood red..and taxed to death..

  18. Here’s a thought: when the electorate in a democracy becomes informed by entertainment, the wealthy and powerful use them to redistribute more wealth to the wealthy and powerful.

  19. if there is no profit in something in America,the greed system will find a way.. seems its mostly on the republican side of that isle…wall street musta complained.

  20. Pete:
    seesm every day you come up with a one liner that grabs the….facts are facts though..
    wealth distribution between themselves,yea, massive to,than its all locked up out of the

    theres a buncha stories on heat related workplaces.im involved in a hot asphault system. either hauling it of loading/unloading, my job i can step away from the heat. those people who operate and work that asphault are in intense heat being over it or around near it. with temp of 90+outdoors now, and the asphault being 350+ or better, look carefully at the crews if you can, they are literally killing themselves to provide for you. respect the road crews its a damn tough job,and always has been.thanks…

  21. Todd:
    i trIed reading kos a buncha times, seems it leaned so far left,it went past me,(im alt left,at the end of the jetty) just looking up stuff on their site is a challenge. though i respect the perspectives,it seems to vogue with the gen z or whatever is the latest earbud gnome.

  22. We should probably means-test those needing the use of automobile battery chargers.

  23. Lester, I read the actual ballot initiative, and while it might take seventh grade reading comprehension skills, it is decently clear that yes, means that state legislature can regulate abortion, and no, means that no they cannot regulate abortion.

    But again, this is another example of how a poorly worded proposed law made it past a lot of people before it ended up in print a state ballot.

  24. Well now you’ve gone and done it. The hillbilly with one of them monster trucks are going to see this and get mad. What do you mean it’s going cost us 50k to remove a charging station? I’ll go downtown wit my truck and do it for half that. Make it a show on tv, like their dictator.
    45 would love that.

    Now, it’s copy cat time. Bring your side arm and chewing tobacco. Let’s take monster truck down and destroy the free charging center. Hee haw

  25. Dan – at one point in my life, I remember reading that the average high school graduate reads at the 6th grade level…not sure if it is still true. A quick online search suggested maybe 7th so….

  26. Might guess about the origins of the bill would be it was written for them by ALEC. They have enabled this kind of feces to infect America for years.

  27. I agree with Stephen Smith’s hunch that ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is the probable source of this bill. They in fact brag about their ability to introduce legislation that their think tanks have composed for numerous GOP controlled state legislatures. ALEC is a powerful force in the Republicans play book to win the culture wars at the individual state level.

    As one organization, The Nation, puts it “traces of the Koch brothers DNA can be found in many of their model bills and resolutions.

  28. Rambling as usual
    It isn’t surprising that a bill trying to delay or destroy the eventual demise of big oil was proposed.

    As for the wording of the Kansas referendum, it was done on purpose and that is an old trick that I have seen over the years – many years. Yes, one can read the wording and understand it, but there is a cultural prejudice for “yes” to be for something and “no” to be against it. Nobody was advertising “Vote YES to ban abortions”. It was done on purpose with the desire to confuse. Just because it failed does not redeem the dishonest intent.

    Giving free charging to encourage use of electric cars may not be such a bad idea. Few remember that electric companies gave free light bulbs. That was to encourage the switch to electric lights. The last to go was Detroit Edison that was sued by a light bulb merchant — OK, he was a pharmacist, who insisted that he couldn’t make a living unless he could sell light bulbs for a profit.

    I suppose that having ‘for fee’ charging kiosks will eventually happen. They U.S. government used to sell government reports for cost until a “everything most be sold for a profit capitalist” insisted that this was “restrain of trade”. Funny, our tax dollars paid to produce the reports.

    I wonder – when I was in Edmonton, Alberta, some decades ago, I noticed that every parking lot had outlets to plug in the ubiquitous engine block heaters. I didn’t see any pay stations, but I don’t know how that worked. It makes me wonder. The idea that everything must be sold for a profit is … I’ll leave it there.

    On a similar thought, everyone who wants to “means test” all over the place, do you ever consider the bureaucratic cost of means testing, the people who “deserve” the assistance bu are too proud or embarrassed to avail themselves, or the general humiliation we heap on those who do? Just asking.

  29. A few comments on the comments. AES (formerly IPL) does free energy assessments for households, replacing all lightbulbs with LED bulbs for free. They also are currently offering “$0.00” smart thermostats for a limited time. Someone pays for them, probably the customers, somewhere down the line. Shared costs so the corporation profits?
    BBC reported today that the French nuclear power plants are reducing output because the temperature of the river water used to cool the reactors is too high. Climate Change?
    China is backing out of all kinds of environmental talks supposedly because an old smart American woman politician spent less than 2 days on a small island they claim as their own but do not have any actual power to govern. Since they control all media access within their country, the intended audience is the rest of the world, especially smaller Asian countries. Is it because they fear that woman’s power? Of course not. It is a none too subtle message to the Pacific rim and a convenient distraction for their continued degradation of the environment, aggressive expansionism and iron-fisted control of the population with very unpopular draconian measures to control Covid spread. Their economy is declining and the fear of domestic unrest is a powerful driver of autocratic motives.

  30. Potpourri Observations -JD, well said. All is not well in Xi’s pasture, and his draconian attempt to fight off Covid and its derivatives which is cooling off the Chinese economy will prove not to be his numero uno problem what with the visit of our Speaker in Taiwan, to which his response is a sign of weakness, not strength, and is manufactured primarily for domestic consumption.

    His numero uno problem has to do with the Chinese youth who, learning what the rest of the world is doing, are beginning to openly question his dictatorial bent, and I suspect without knowing that many other countries (including ours) are being rather quietly subjected to the same restlessness of a youth newly informed of world wide news via social and other media.

    As to the topic today, silly legislative offerings if offered enough gain a certain amount of legitimacy and if offered enough and with a few amendments offered in a show of normalcy can become law. Our task is to interrupt such offerings from day one and each time such silly bills as amended are re-thrown into the legislative hopper. Free gas? Free electricity? Nothing is free; somewhere down the line someone has to bear or share the brunt of the cost of all goods and services.

    Personally, as to electricity for motor vehicles, I would prefer that all of us share the costs via taxes. States would lose their fuel tax takes but could perhaps tax aggregate electrical use within their jurisdictions. Those who have no vehicles may complain that they should not be taxed but they will depend upon other electrical vehicles to supply food and other services for their households and are thus benifitted, and besides, the tax and other codes we have often benefit a certain class of taxpayers that excludes others – comes with the territory.

    Waxing philosophical in response to what some are suggesting in response to Sheila’s blog today > We are not doomed, yet, as suggested by the outcome of the vote in Kansas a few days ago. . .

  31. JD, great comment.
    We know a Chinese couple living in southern Germany and were planning a family to go live in China to raise the “kid(s).” But covid happened and the man lost his grandmother to the disease this past spring. They could not visit here and the stories of the population in lockdown convinced them that the Chinese govt is evil. They have lived long enough in Germany to apply for citizenship and have started the process. They don’t want to go back now. I thought that was interesting considering the man was a former trump supporter because of his economic policies but turned against him after J6. He knows what dictatorships look like, apparently.

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