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George F. Will: Why we're near the cliff

Published: December 13, 2012
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You should know Fisker because you have helped to finance the Anaheim, Calif., company that makes — well, has made a few — electric cars. Its only model, the Karma — really; Obama administration green investments are beyond satire — costs $110,000. Your subsidy helped Justin Bieber, the fabulously rich Canadian adolescent (he sings), buy one. No one ever said saving the planet one electric car at a time would be easy.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in spite of Fisker's $192 million in Energy Department loans, the Karma “has been hobbled by recalls and quality problems” and Fisker has sacked half its employees. But perhaps Fisker's biggest problem is that its source of batteries, A123 Systems, has gone bankrupt in spite of its $249 million Energy Department grant. The administration that in the fiscal cliff drama is demanding control of much more of the nation's wealth is the author of many Solyndra-style debacles.

American politics has generally been about allocating abundance, not scarcity.

It has, however, occasionally confronted issues not susceptible to compromise — e.g., expansion of slavery into the territories. The fiscal cliff argument is about splittable differences — this or that tax rate or entitlement rule — but also about the proper scope and actual competence of government. This necessary argument should not be truncated until the cliff is even closer.

George Will's email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP