Green Energy: Subsidies for Affluent Liberal Yuppies
Since 2006, U.S. households have received more than $18 billion in federal income tax credits for weatherizing their homes, installing solar panels, buying hybrid and electric vehicles, and other “clean energy” investments. We use tax return data to examine the socioeconomic characteristics of program recipients. We find that these tax expenditures have gone predominantly to higher-income Americans. The bottom three income quintiles have received about 10% of all credits, while the top quintile has received about 60%. The most extreme is the program aimed at electric vehicles, where we find that the top income quintile has received about 90% of all credits. By comparing to previous work on the distributional consequences of pricing greenhouse gas emissions, we conclude that tax credits are likely to be much less attractive on distributional grounds than market mechanisms to reduce GHGs.One example, the Chevy Volt: According to autoblog (writing in 2011):
In order for the Chevy Volt to really be a success, the car needs to be affordable for the masses.Median family income in 2011 was $50,502.
But for now, the car is mostly the province of the wealthy. General Motors, which makes the Volt, said Monday that the average income of Volt buyers is a whopping $175,000 a year. That rarefied space is usually reserved for buyers of German luxury cars.
“The Volt appeals to an affluent, progressive demographic,” says Bill Visnic, senior editor for Edmunds.com “It’s rare. It’s hard to get one. ... It’s the same reason that people buy the really rare exotic cars: Because other people can’t have one.”
So the liberal Yuppies have it really good. They get to feel very self-righteous, and do so largely with the money of people at whom they look down their noses.