A little more than a week ago, Texas republicans had an a-ha moment.
After decades of servicing the auto dealership lobby like a truckstop hooker on meth, a handful of politicians realized that they no longer had to pimp themselves out for an industry that is simply no longer relevant.
As reported in the Dallas News, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) recently won an endorsement by state GOP convention delegates to allow the company to sell cars directly to customers. Such a practice is illegal right now.
This has been an ongoing battle in Texas, as well as in a number of other states, where the very powerful auto dealership lobby has argued against the practice of selling directly to consumers. Turns out, free market-loving republicans only like free markets when they benefit them.
In any event, as the Dallas News piece noted, nearly 90 percent of the more than 8,000 delegates supported the Tesla-backed language in the party platform.
While I’m thrilled to see these folks coming to their senses, there is still little justice here. After all, the good folks over at Tesla have had to pony up millions to lawyer up against these communists in elephant clothing.
And don’t think for a second that this battle is over.
Last year, Governor Greg Abbott told a reporter that the state of Texas had a very effective automobile sector that seems like it’s working quite well.
And he’s right. It works very well. Especially for the dealerships.
But you know what else used to work well? My typewriter, my rotary phone, and my VCR. Three things that are now about as relevant as Ted Cruz.
Like Henchmen for Chairman Mao
Here’s more from the Dallas News piece …
When cars break down, they need repair, the Republican governor noted. Abbott questioned the ability of Tesla, maker of a niche product, to provide that service. Tesla wants to have regional service centers, saying its cars rarely break down.
At what point did we decide that it was the government’s responsibility to decide where and how consumers get their cars repaired?
Dealers contend that they’re the last remaining “Main Street merchants” in small Texas cities and towns and give $50 million in charity a year.
So the suggestion is to stifle innovation because “Main Street merchants” donate money to charity? Really?
The dealers, though, say that granting the wishes of Musk and his company would imperil some of the 1,300 businesses they run in 300 Texas towns, especially in less-populated areas.
I think that’s what the horse and buggy companies said after the first Model T rolled off the line.
San Antonio dealer B.J. “Red” McCombs has said the state’s franchise dealer law is “as sacred as Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.”
I’m not a religious person, but I suspect that statement hints of blasphemy. And it’s just fucking stupid.
Under the state’s occupations code, consumers may look at Tesla cars in the company’s three “galleries” in Dallas, Houston and Austin, but can’t test drive them without an appointment. They also can’t buy the cars onsite. A Tesla employee can discuss the technology but cannot discuss price, take orders or direct the customer to the company’s website.
So basically, it’s easier to buy a Tesla in communist China than it is in Texas. I thought Texas was supposed to be “open for business.” I guess that’s only if you’re selling something the auto dealership lobby doesn’t care about.
So what’s the moral of this story?
Hell if I know.
I just like making fun of republicans who claim to support free markets, but when called to do so act like regulatory henchmen for Chairman Mao.
And I also like the fact that it looks like Tesla may finally be able sell its cars directly to Texans who want them – without going through a dealership.