Readers might have heard that lower maintenance costs are a major electric-vehicle advantage. As Hertz discovered, the opposite it true. Even minor accidents can require batteries to be replaced, which can cost $20,000. Many EV parts aren’t readily available, so cars have to sit in the shop for weeks.
The bigger problem is that Americans don’t want to plan trips around the locations of electric-vehicle charging stations—often to discover later that the chargers are broken. Nor do they want to download multiple apps to charge at different stations, or worry about their battery range degrading in cold temperatures.
These are the same reasons most Americans haven’t warmed up to electric cars. A Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Survey last week found that 67% of U.S. consumers said they would prefer an internal-combustion engine for their next vehicle purchase. Only 6% said they favored a battery-powered EV—down from 8% last year.
Electric vehicles simply aren’t practical for most Americans and won’t go mainstream until they are. This inconvenient truth has finally dawned on corporate execs and investors who were drinking the same punch as Hertz in 2021.
Liz Wolfe writes about parking lots. A slice:
At least in the U.S., parking minimums are to blame for the overabundance of lots and garages. First mandated in the 1950s, with the intention of alleviating some of the demand for street parking, they forced developers in most municipalities to build preordained numbers of off-street parking spaces. L.A. requires one parking space per five seats in a pew, and two spaces per hospital bed. Even in dense New York City, where I live, and where only 45 percent of households own a car, such things are frequently mandated: “On average, for every 100 new housing units built in the city, 43 off-street spaces are created,” reported Bloomberg‘s Eric Jaffe in 2012, using data from the New York University Furman Center.
What drives these folks? Humans have an almost infinite capacity for self-inflicted dread, distress and dismay. We simply must have something to worry about: global cooling, global warming, a zombie apocalypse, eternal damnation. The end is always near. We are Chicken Littles running around with our heads cut off.
Effective altruists thrive off such fear-mongering. Their roots are in the rationalism movement, whose followers say actions should be based on truth, not on beliefs or emotion. That sounds fine in principle, but effective altruists take this a step further. They try to apply a probability number to everything. In his book “Going Infinite,” Michael Lewis explained that SBF applied “expected values” to everything: Should he attend a meeting? Should he continue dating co-conspirator Caroline Ellison? He even calculated he had a 5% chance of becoming president. Sounds more like emotion than truth, like hedging your bets by building an underground apocalypse shelter.
Effective altruists have also talked themselves into “long termism”—giving money away today to save distressed people 100 years from now. Initiated by William MacAskill and other Oxford philosophers in 2011, some call effective altruism, or EA, a cult. I think it’s more of a system to redistribute wealth from billionaires and newly enlightened workaholics to hyperventilating hustlers. The causes are so far into the future that they can’t have quantifiable results. Expected values rule.
Politico quotes a former effective altruist, Robin Hanson: “They’re giving pretty abstract arguments about a pretty abstract concern, and they’re ratcheting up the stakes to the max.” Expected values made them do it!
If you look under the covers, you’ll see that the fate of economic progress is being determined by money from a bunch of 30-something fear-mongering effective altruists, probably using made-up expected-value calculations to make themselves feel better about their misplaced fear and anxiety over AI wiping out mankind. Is this how the world now works?
Is there some way to short the idea that restaurants will be illegal in 10 years because of cooties?