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Tuesday, January 15

Tiny Cars and a New Governor

Here are two interesting pieces, both with a connection to India, oddly enough:

  1. Last week, the Tata Motors introduced the smallest, cheapest car on the market: the Nano. Anne Applebaum at Slate brings up an interesting conflict: the opposition of the anti-poverty movement and the environmental movement. As Applebaum correctly outlines, the technology that creates cheaper important goods--like the Nano, the world's cheapest laptop, new agricultural techniques that improve food production--will improve the quality of life of the poor.

    The company hopes that the car, available for only $2500, will be used by Indians who currently often pack an unsafe number of family members on scooters or bicycles. The car would never pass the safety regulations in most Western countries (including the U.S.), but the lack of extra safety features allows it to be sold for so cheap. While that trade off is certainly interesting, But those same technologies will also damage the environment very greatly. Thousands of Indians will now be able to drive around the Indian countryside with the Nano. But the increase in pollution and emissions from such a cheaply made car could be enormous. Likewise, many of the new agricultural techniques that are used to feed more people in the world have significant environmental drawbacks, too.

    Applebaum doesn't do much in her article except point out the conflict, and refute the central argument put forward by both sides (that the two sides are not actually in opposition to each other). I can see how environmental activism can help the poor, including advocacy for more fair location of power/manufacturing plants. But what about when correct environmental policy, such as clean air, directly conflict with the struggle to help the poor climb out of poverty?

  2. Louisiana's new Governor, Bobby Jindal, was inaugurated yesterday. Even if you don't support him, you should at least have a clue about his plans for governing the state. His inauguration speech focused on ethics and economics, unsurprisingly. Here's the somewhat fluffy T-P editorial on the speech.

1 comment:

Chad Carson said...

India should nip the Tata Nano in the bud and not allow it to go to market. The last thing a nation of over 1 billion needs is more cars and the pollution that they bring.

Time to pass stringent emissions laws, India. Be a global leader. You can do it even if we (the USA) can't.