John McCain has proposed a $300 million prize to the first person who can develop an automobile battery that "far surpasses existing technology." In addition, U.S. automakers will receive a $5,000 tax credit for every zero-carbon-emissions car that they can develop and sell.
Well this is pretty vague. But more importantly, it's really silly.
The incentive for alternative fuel technology already exists, and the first person to develop and market a practical alternative to the standard combustion engine will be rewarded much more than a mere $300 million. McCain argues that this would amount to about one dollar per U.S. citizen, and is "a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency." I, personally, would be willing to pay a lot more than $1 for a practical alternative to fossil fuels. But no politician has the right to make that decision for me (or for any other taxpayer). The government shouldn't be in the business of deciding good and bad business ideas. We already have a pretty good system in place to do just that.