Tesla wants to sell you a car directly, with no middle man. My personal opinion is that this is a great idea. The problem is that since before Henry Ford there has been a cartel in this country of one sort or another that gets to decide who makes cars, and how they sell those cars to you. I support Tesla’s fight to undo a century of laws, but it is hard for me to get my brain around only Tesla getting an exemption. Most Teslarati seem to be totally cool with the idea of only their special interest getting its way. I could explain why they think Tesla should have this special treatment, but it is completely obvious, isn’t it?
The latest insult to Tesla fans comes in New Jersey. The general story line is that, like all US states, New Jersey has laws that say only car dealers can sell cars. Everyone was cool with this, and nobody really thought it was an affront to our cherished free market economy until Tesla came along and decided it wanted to sell cars direct. Tesla somehow was given a couple of franchise licenses from New Jersey to open two Tesla Stores despite the laws. Its third application got hung up. Then, according to the Tesla side, the executive branch two-timed Tesla and went back on its behind closed doors agreement to let - just Tesla - keep breaking the law (or changing the law somehow, even though that is the exclusive domain of the legislative branch of government in New Jersey). So now, the Tesla folks all hate Chris Christie, which is all the rage anyway these days, so welcome aboard the bandwagon.
For fun check out the Tesla comments under the news stories about this, or if you have unlimited time on your hands join a Tesla group or on-line forum. The comments are all about Republicans are bums, support the free market, and please let Tesla keep breaking the law, because it is just so obvious it should be allowed to. The fact that the legislature and the rest of the New Jersey government are democrats, that government controls the distribution of everything, from milk to pseudoephedrine (cold medicine), and that the businesses that have invested generations of effort in their dealerships have another view of the situation is beside the point. It is just so obvious that only Tesla should have an exemption to the law.
Ignoring the laws we don’t like is becoming a very popular thing these days. Want to buy and enjoy some marijuana? That’s totally cool in Colorado and Washington. “Ere…” There are places you can go to buy it there that have state approval. This despite the fact it is against federal law and we have a lot of people in jail for selling drugs. Our US Attorney General made a speech this month that helps explain the correct mindset for out forward-looking times. In the speech, which was way above my head, people tell me he basically said that if you are an attorney general, you should not enforce all current laws. Rather, just ignore those that are unpopular, or may someday soon be changed. Never mind the implications of such a move away from a law-based society. It just makes good sense, right? If you’re not following this you must be dumb.
The last fight before the New Jersey fight for Tesla was in Washington State. There Tesla was doing OK. Public opinion is waaay on Tesla’s side there, and rightly so in my opinion. However, there were these inconvenient distribution laws making what Tesla was doing illegal. The Tesla folks were crowing loudly about the free market, and how a company should be allowed to sell you its products however it wants to leading up to the resolution. My understanding of how Tesla won that fight is this. First it got a limited exemption to the law. Next it successfully lobbied to have the law amended. The law was amended to basically say that anyone with a special exemption prior to such and such date could sell electric cars directly. Only Tesla had such an exemption on the date listed, so this new law applies only to Tesla. All the noise from the Tesla folks immediately stopped after a quick round of celebratory stories and such. Georgia just did basically the same thing.
This new normal sounds good to me. I want to start my own lottery and sell the tickets to your children. At their school. The winner of the lottery gets free solar panels for their home, which is clearly the right thing for everyone. Turns out, my business plan is (currently) against the law in a lot of places. I’m not worried though, because if enough people are on my side I just need a temporary exemption, then an amended law that says only I can start a child-focused school lottery. The attorneys general already understand my plight and they will support me by looking the other way because the law discriminating against me is unpopular and likely to be changed sometime soon. If you don’t agree with this you must be dumb. What part of the free market don’t you get?