EV DreamsFri, 31 May 2013 00:00:00 -0700
Many people are passionate about their cars. “I'm a Ford man,” one says or, “Camaros rule!” says another. But does the depth of that passion extend to your retirement account?
Electric car advocate Paul Scott is putting his money where his mouth is. Scott has been a strong environmentalist his whole life and a fierce supporter of electric cars for more than ten years, decrying the cost of gas-powered vehicles in terms he describes as pollution, health and wars fought over oil.
But when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, Scott decided he had to do something more with the rest of his life and ratcheted up his dedication to the cause, forming the non-profit electric-car support group Plug In America.
While he beat that first round of cancer, new medical problems have again showed him that life may be short and he wants to make the most of what time he has left. So when a democratic fundraiser e-mailed him with an offer of a few minutes face time with President Obama in exchange for a $32,400 donation to the Democratic Party, he figured he had to do it.
“For $10,000 you could attend the lunch. For $16,000 you got lunch with a photo. For $32,400 you got the lunch, the picture and face time with the president,” Scott said. “I stared at my computer. I had something to tell him. I had something that could move the needle on this thing.”
So he contacted the organizer.
“I said, 'I'm a man of modest means can I really talk to him?' The guy said, 'Yes, two to three minutes.' So I thought, 'Okay, I'm gonna do this.'"
Scott raided his retirement account. The 32 grand represents “a large percentage” of that account, but it was something he felt he had to do.
“I, and thousands of other Americans, have been practicing solutions to these seemingly intractable problems by driving electric vehicles (EVs) on renewable energy. I want to tell Obama about the economic benefits of this transition away from oil.”
Sounds like a fairly basic message the President may have heard already from more than a few sources. Is this really the best way to get results? Will Scott really speak directly to the POTUS?
“Well, I'm gambling yes,” Scott said. “I'm going to be in a room with 25 people, all of whom are very rich. That's pocket change to them. For me it's a serious percentage of my net worth. I have information I feel will help the administration move the needle on this thing.”
How is he going to stand out in room full of politically-saavy donors who are most likely pretty good at speaking up?
“I don't know,” he said. “I paid my money and I was told I'd have two to three minutes. I'm going to be the only guy in the room who does his own laundry. He's going to look at me as something different. I'm also sending material to Obama's people beforehand. I think he'll give me some room to make the case that I need to make.
“My hope is that he asks questions and he expands on the answers I give. I have no idea. I have a feeling that I'll sell some cars on it at least. Probably all Teslas.”
Scott reasons that half the cost of the lunch will come from savings he's realized after ten years of driving an electric car powered by solar panels on the roof of his house, an amount he pegs at $16,000.
He also thinks it's the only way to deliver his information undiluted.
“As we all know, money drives the political game,” Scott said in an open letter to whoever wants to read it. “Those with a lot of money are given access to politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, and those of modest means are only heard at the ballot box. Adding to the problem is the use of vast sums of money spent to pollute the democratic process with massive slur campaigns filled with misinformation and outright lies. The truth rarely gets heard.”
Scott knows Obama may have heard points of view similar to what he hopes to say – that EVs offer an escape from foreign oil and pollution.
“He's aware, but his people are not using the arguments that I'm using,” Scott said. “I'm just tired of letting it ride and hearing people talking about electric cars and they're either speaking out of ignorance or they're purposely misleading people. I don't need filters. I'm going straight to the guy.”
His two to three minutes come Friday, June 7 at the undisclosed private home of a West LA democratic party roller. Scott promises to call back after lunch and tell us how it went.