800 Miles on a Tank

We just took a road trip to South Dakota to fetch an old VW Jetta. It’s really not something we need but who needs a ski boat or a tuba either? It’s a collector car. The 2003 Jetta TDI is a unique car and as our mail lady says, “It’s a diesel!”

My interest in Volkswagens began in high school. There were two directions from which to choose. U.S. made muscle cars were in their heyday in the sixties. But some of my mom’s post depression era frugalness rubbed off on me. I wasn’t going to be pouring a bunch of 25-cent gas through a vehicle if I could help it. I could build surfboards with the cash I saved. Besides, trying to carve the canyon roads around Southern California with a battleship isn’t nearly as fun as lifting a front wheel and proving Ralph Nader wrong.

The sellers of the Jetta, Chris and Sharon, are like us. They get to work together in their own business. They live just over the border from the dying state of Minnesota and were selling the car to finance an expansion of that business.

Job creation is something that happens more frequently in South Dakota than in Minnesota. Minnesotans like controlling other people and that doesn’t breed confidence in future plans. For instance, Minnesota has a 9.85% income tax rate. South Dakota has none. If you were to choose, would you prefer being a slave through 9.85% of your workday or a free man?

Minnesotans like to tell drivers what kind of fuel they may buy as well. A ten percent biodiesel blend is forced on drivers in Minnesota. While searching for our ideal show car, I learned that many diesel owners in Minneapolis drive to Wisconsin to fuel up in order to preserve their expensive injection systems. Is it worth it that a few soybean farmers and indoctrinated faux-environmentalists will be happy?

In a ten year period of high tax and draconian government control, Minnesota has seen a 3% growth in the number of wealthy taxpayers (otherwise known as chumps and victims of thievery). On the other hand, South Dakota, with fuel choice and no income tax, showed nearly a 24% increase in that demographic. Have you ever been hired by a poor person?

Favors to influential groups cost the public in unseen ways. The warped minds of statists like to look at these favors as economic development that “broadens the tax base.” But pretty soon the chumps wise up and cut back. Minnesota is seeing reductions in tax revenues through relocation and attrition of job creators. Now what? Raise rates on the remaining productive class on their way to bankruptcy?

What would an article about a Volkswagen and government waste be without the following conclusion?

Almost 600,000 excellent cars will soon be crushed because they were engineered to evade an arbitrary standard that any scientist would tell you doesn’t cure the problem it was written to address. The 2009 Cash For Clunkers Program took affordable cars out of the hands of poor people to benefit unions and car companies. The VW Dieselgate scandal makes that program look infinitesimally less destructive.

So once again, it’s cui bono (who benefits)? Much energy will be used and pollution produced while transporting and crushing the perfectly good cars. The replacement cars will be produced by someone (likely union labor since VW workers, coincidentally, voted out the union in Chattanooga). The replacement cars will burn 30% more fuel, so fuel sales will increase.

Who pays (quis solvit)? You do.

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