The Detroit Free Press reported today that the White House announced yesterday that it will buy the first 100 plug-in electric vehicles to roll off American assembly lines before the end of the year. Surprise: The only car to meet that qualification is the Chevy Volt, which coincidentally started production at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant on the same day of the White House announcement. Apparently, federal purchasing requirements have been creatively constructed to allow the U.S. government to purchase the vehicles from General Motors, of which the federal government has a 61 percent ownership.

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The White House announcement should send chills down the spine of Ford executives in Dearborn as well as executives from other auto companies that are still privately owned and cannot expect the same favored treatment. While the purchase of 100 hybrid vehicles by the federal government may be a relatively small purchase, the message it sends is not small.

Favored treatment by government at any level undermines free markets and should be considered a serious threat to both the freedom of our citizens and the future economic prosperity of our country. Crony capitalism is expected in a banana republic, but should not be tolerated in America. A political system that encourages companies to curry the favor of the government rather than meet their fiduciary responsibility to stockholders should be repudiated.

This is a dangerous time in American history, as the signals sent by an activist government can do great harm to the U.S. system of capitalism that relies on free markets and the rule of law to properly function.