Some time ago I read a book entitled “When Prophecy Fails”, which was a social and psychological study of an actual cult in Oak Park, Illinois (are you surprised?) in the 1950’s that predicted the destruction of the world and the adjustments they made when the prediction failed to materialize. (Spoiler alert: they doubled down.) The researchers found that those who clung to their beliefs had the following traits:
- They held their belief with deep conviction and it had some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he behaves.
- The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it. He must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo.
- The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.
- Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.
- The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of disconfirming evidence that presented itself. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, the belief would be maintained, and the believers would attempt to proselytize or to persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.
If this sounds eerily familiar to you, it should. After all, it’s Groundhog Day and we’ve seen this story play out in many contexts for years. Now it’s coming from those who are taking us down the path to a Green New World by government fiat instead of through organic change. This week I would like to talk about this in the context of the Governor’s decision to throw millions of dollars into an EV battery factory in the face of mounting evidence of its folly and which is going to cost the people of Illinois an awful lot of money.
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If you own an electric vehicle and tried to drive during January up here in Illinois, I hope you have boundless amounts of patience and a sense of humor. We’ve all read about the problems EV owners had during the polar vortex. But they aren’t alone. EV owners in warm weather climates are having their problems too, and we’re finding out that electric vehicles have a tendency to catch fire when salt water hits the battery. And good luck trying to find a charging station that works.
The bloom seems to be off the EV rose. Deloitte’s Global Automotive Consumer Study has just reported a “rise in U.S. consumer interest in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and a decline in hybrid and battery electric vehicle (BEV) purchase intent.” Interest in buying fossil-fuel cars rose nine points, to 67 percent, while interest in hybrids fell to 21 percent and in EV’s to 6 percent. GM has announced that almost half of its Buick dealers took buyouts in 2023 rather than spending the $300-$400,000 needed to sell and service electric vehicles. Hertz is selling 20,000 of the electric vehicles in its fleet to raise money to buy gas-powered vehicles, because nobody wants to rent EV’s and Ford is cutting production of the F-150 Lightning to “match customer demand”, which won’t be helped by stories like this.
On September 6, 2023, the Governor signed an agreement with Gotion, Inc. to build EV batteries at a plant yet to be constructed in Manteno, in which the state and local governments offered Gotion more than $536 million in incentives and tax breaks. The state will provide $213 million in tax credits to the company over the next 30 years, contingent on a minimum investment by Gotion of $1.9 billion. The deal also comes with an agreement by Kankakee County to cap property taxes at $2 million per year for 30 years.
(I love this comment from the chairman of Gotion’s parent company, who said that the company was drawn to Illinois because of “an enabling business environment” and “a supportive state government.” I too would be drawn to anyone offering me over $500 million.)
As part of the deal, Gotion is also set to receive $125 million for capital funds from a $500 million “closing fund” overseen by the Governor’s office. This money was paid to Gotion in 2 chunks in December and January.
Much of what has been promised by the government is dependent upon performance by Gotion, such as actually building the plant and meeting various hiring goals. Without getting into the issue of Gotion’s relationship to the Chinese Communist Party (after all there are plenty of people looking at that angle) or the fact that the Biden administration has proposed rules that would cut subsidies for vehicles (making EVs more expensive) that contain Chinese-made battery components or are found to be produced by a company with strong ties to the Chinese government (After all, the Governor said this deal with Gotion had been in the works for over 2 years. He’d have considered those things before doing the deal, right?), let’s just focus on the $125 million that’s already been spent, because that’s the only money that to this date has been paid out.
The agreement provides (pp. 28-29) for a return, or “claw-back” of a portion of the $125 million if certain hiring levels are not met, or if they fall below that threshold at some later date. However, it does not appear that the full amount of the grant will be returned if the project never breaks ground. Nor does the claw-back provide for anywhere close to an adequate refund if the plant does in fact open, hire the requisite number of employees, and then reduces payroll. Any way you slice it, Gotion is getting a very generous amount of upfront money that doesn’t appear to need to be to be fully repaid if it doesn’t fully fulfill it’s part of the bargain. With the Foxconn fiasco so fresh in our memory, pardon me for being skeptical.
So let’s recap the Governor’s action against the doomsday prophecy described above.
- They held their belief with deep conviction and it had some relevance to action: Check. However, you aren’t being cynical if you consider the possibility that the conviction is political.
- The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it. He must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. Check. The problem is that he’s committed all the taxpayers of Illinois to this as well.
- The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief. Check. The events may not yet be unequivocal but they’re sure piling up.
- Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief. Check. I wonder about this because there are none so blind as they who will not see.
- The individual believer must have social support. Check. You can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting a group of Very Influential People who are predicting the end of the world unless we do things their way.
It wasn’t my intention to go on a rant about this, but it’s an itch that I’ve needed to scratch for a long time. I hope you’ll indulge me for having done so. To make up for it, next week’s report will be full of sunny optimism about what we can expect in the Governor’s budget address.
It’s Always Groundhog Day in Woodstock
If you’re looking for a place to celebrate Groundhog Day, there are several opportunities in Woodstock this week! There are multiple showings of the movie “Groundhog Day,” a bags tournament, a dinner dance, bingo, a pub crawl, a pancake breakfast and of course the traditional Groundhog Prognostication on Friday morning. You can find more details here.
Transportation Services Are Available for Seniors and Disabled
MCRide Dial-a- Ride is a great way to get around McHenry County. Whether you need transportation for work, school, shopping, medical appointments or just to visit a friend, MCRide provides an affordable and flexible way to travel! It is one of the best kept secrets in McHenry County.
As a dial-a-ride program, MCRide service is a coordinated countywide paratransit service, and vehicles do not travel in a fixed route each day. Riders schedule their trips in advance and the vehicle provides curb-to-curb service from the rider’s desired pick-up and drop-off destinations. MCRide is a shared-ride service, so vehicles may make stops for other passengers.
Our office has fare cards available to District 63 residents, and it is our policy to make these cards available only to the disabled and senior citizen population. We can offer 5 cards per constituent per month at no charge. A fare card is good for a single-ride from one point in the MCRide service area to another point in the service area. MCRide fare cards are NOT valid on Metra, CTA, Pace fixed bus routes (e.g., 806, 807, 808, 550) or any other dial-a-ride program.
For more information on this program, including hours, fares and contact information, visit the McHenry County Department of Transportation’s website:
If you would like to obtain cards from our office, please call us at 815-880-5340.
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