By Paul Chesser, nlpc.org
Among the objections about taxpayer subsidies for the high-profile Chevy Volt, manufactured by Government Motors, is that the many grants, loans and tax breaks that lowered the sticker price on the electric hybrid car facilitated its (paltry) sales for the benefit of wealthier individuals who were purchasing it - those with average annual salaries of $170,000. So can you imagine how happy the affluent customers (like Leonardo DiCaprio) of the heavily subsidized, $102,000 electric Fisker Karma are, to be able to purchase their gimmicky sports sedan at a discount, with a $7,500 tax credit to boot?
Undoubtedly they are much happier than the 65 poor souls that Fisker just laid off. Will there be more?
Passing it off as "a bump in the road," company spokesman Roger Ormisher chalked up the cutbacks to the difficulty in starting a new car company and what would appear to be trivial missed deadlines and sales targets. But Fisker, already the recipient of $193 million of a total $529 million loan from the Department of Energy - not to mention a reported $850 million in private investment - shows disconcerting signs of incompetence and poor stewardship with the resources it's been trusted with.
So far the $193 million has been allocated mostly for the production of the Karma - therefore it can be deduced that taxpayers have subsidized a six-figure status symbol for the wealthy. The car serves no practical purpose, but instead provides "wow-factor" fodder for discussion at cocktail parties. According to Fisker, the company had 650 people toiling away at its headquarters in California (before 40 or so were laid off), plus another 125 that were refurbishing a former General Motors plant in Delaware (where 26 were laid off).
Something seems askew with the numbers, however. Fisker has said "not a single dollar of the DOE loans has been, or will be, spent outside of America" - an assurance that PriceWaterhouseCoopers is allegedly tracking for DOE. But the Karma is assembled at Valmet Automotive in Finland, so if the $193 million has been mostly spent on that project (as Fisker said in an official statement put out on Monday), how could at least a significant portion of that money not have been spent overseas? And if it wasn't, then the evidence looks even worse. Consider: