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April 25, 2005


You can say nothing about how "wasteful" it is to buy a hybrid car. You do not have the ability to know which resources "should" be allocated where. The average working American pays very little for what they receive, and the government is stealing money at a much greater rate from SSI than from carpool lanes. I would venture to say a rich yuppie has paid more than his fair share to drive in the carpool lane, if you want to get quantitative about this issue.

Why don't you respond to the question I asked you on mises blog too.

The free market should allocate resources.

Unfortunately, the government has distorted the free market by giving tax and regulatory incentives for the production and purchase of hybrid cars, so there isn't a free market.

If we HAVE to have a government policy that encourages gas conservation, the most logical way to do it is by putting a hefty tax on gasoline, which would cause Americans to figure out the most economical way to conserve.

But there's no logic in government.

And I'm not sure what question Andy is talking about at Mises.

No, the government has distored the market by taxation, not lack of it. The government doesn't care how much gas is used, the politicans care about being re-elected. It would be much quicker and easier to end gas consumption by destroying the gasoline infrastrucure of the world.

My question was this: Sigma, what is the basis for that statement about the size of retail outlets? Can you prove that the Big Box stores are more ineffcient and will suffer great economic losses in the near/far future? If you can, I'll sell my house to short walmart,target, etc.. stock and I'll gove you 10% of my profits. Its under the 23APR post not about gay marriage.

But i'm glad you think the free markets should allocate resources. That's the first step :)

Michael Franks at Forbes did a similar comparison between hybrid and non-hybrid Honda Accords here. He gets a somewhat less drastic number: at $2.50 a gallon, the breakeven is around 100K miles. (I didn't check his math.)

Paul: Franks was comparing the hybrid Honda to a big gas guzzling SUV. People who buy big SUVs aren't interested in saving money anyway because if they wanted to save money they'd buy a smaller car.

There's an inverse correlation between the cost of the car and its gasoline efficiency. The more the car costs, the more gas it uses.

Andy: big box stores are something maybe I'll write about in the future.

Half (may I call you Half?): I think I've read the article carefully, and I'm pretty certain Michael Frank's calculation at Forbes was comparing the hybrid and non-hybrid (EX V-6. specifically) Honda Accords.

One big difference (by the way) between the Echo and the Prius seems to be curb weight. The Echo is around 2050 pounds, the Prius up at 2900 or something. I don't know how much of that is due to the electric motor, batteries, etc., but that's a kick in the pants to gas mileage right there.

Sorry, looked at the first paragraph of the article where the writer was talking about an SUV.

Yes he compared two Accords, but the price difference between the two was only $3,290, while I calculated a $9000 price difference between the Prius and the ECHO.

And because the ECHO uses so little gas in the first place, you have to have much greater fuel efficiency in the hybrid to reap any savings.

But here's a bigger point: you don't buy a $30,000 Honda to be frugal! You buy an $11,000 Toyota ECHO to be frugal.

And an even bigger point: the regular old gasoline powered little ECHO gets BETTER MILEAGE than the big heavy Honda hybrid.

Regarding Hybrid Cars - Check out the gas savings calculator at MixedPower.com to see how much you can save with a hybrid vehicle. Most people are prety surprised at how quickly you recoup the "extra" cost, especially with rising gas prices.

If you are interested in Hybrid vehicles there is a lot more information there as well.


Savings money doesn't mean you help the environment. Suppose you were a rich yuppie who could afford a Prius and bought a cheap Echo instead. That money saved could go into an investment fund that encourages logging. If that money is "wasted" and ends up at Toyota maybe the execs at Toyota will do something with it that is less wasteful. Or maybe not.

I'd rather give my money to Toyota execs than GM execs. At least they seem to make better cars. If Toyota were to actually become powerful enough to get market power, they'd lose their incentive to produce quality cars, and I'd try to buy a Honda.

Overall, whatever the psychological costs of extreme conformism (and even then I wonder if I might prefer being a sarariman with clearly defined rules for social interaction to having to make weak attempts at being an extrovert in America), I have to say the Japanese business culture of long-term greed seems less destructive on a societal level.

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