Recently I spotted this electric car parked outside a nearby DoD office building- with an orange extension cord charging the owner’s battery on Uncle Sam’s dime.
I was alerted to it while talking shop in the lunch room- I just HAD to walk outside and have a look for myself. Unlike my coworkers who noticed and said nothing to the individual, I walked right in to the building and asked if I could also have some of the Free Gasoline being handed out in the parking lot.
The offender heard my question and walked out of his office with his tail between his legs. I told him that while I was sure there was a valid excuse that I didn’t want to see it again. He walked outside and unplugged his Nissan Leaf electric vehicle (EV).
I’m sure it was not his original intent to buy a vehicle with an 80-mile range for his 100-mile round-trip commute. On this particular day, he probably had to swap cars with the wife or forgot to charge his EV in the night before.
I returned to my office and informed my colleagues that I had ‘fixed the glitch’. Some of them were in a state of amazement, but my supervisor asked me the loaded question, ‘Isn’t what he was doing the same as what you are doing using the TIP voucher?’
No, not really.
In defense of the TIP-wielding commuter, the TIP is a congressionally-approved benefit administered by each federal agency. TIP is designed to incentivize Federal Employees to use public transport or vanpool. The benefit to the nation of TIP is that it reduces congestion on highways (a benefit to all in reducing commute times) and it reduces overall fuel consumption (a benefit to all in reduced fuel demand/prices and reduced reliance on imported oil from nations who prefer to have us wiped off the face of the earth). For those who use the TIP in concert with running/walking/biking to public transport, there are also added benefits in reduced health care costs (which are also paid by the Taxpayer in support of FEHB).
As for the electricity-siphoning EV driver, there’s no defense for a privately-owned EV charged at the expense of the Taxpayer. The EV driver was stealing energy from his employer (Uncle Sam) through his office outlet. There’s no benefit of this to anyone other than the driver. In California, EV drivers get a state-issued bumper sticker that let them drive an EV in the carpool lane without the inconvenience of carrying a carpool passenger. The argument that the EV is ‘cleaner’ than a gasoline car is rubbish- an EV uses electricity that was generated by a fuel mix of over 90% fossil fuels, and this is before you take in to account additional efficiency losses in the power transmission lines. This is probably why there is no government-wide program providing free charging outlets for Electric Vehicles parked on government property.
So no, using the TIP is NOT like stealing gas from Uncle Sam. If you’re using TIP, don’t feel the least guilty about it- You’re helping reduce highway congestion, and the reduction in fuel consumption enhances our national security. This is probably why TIP was authorized by Congress in the first place.
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