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October 7, 2019

Profits Not Included

Jason Miller

Recently some Maryland politicians took to Facebook to boast of the nation's first fully converted gas-to-electric refueling station for electric vehicles located in Takoma Park, Maryland. The station is owned by Depeswar Doley, who also owns another business.


In a news article that was attached to one politicians glowing Facebook review, a startling admission of truth was revealed.


The article said that a call came from a public city official last year who apparently suggested the idea to Mr. Doley.


My question is this. Since when do public officials solicit business investments?


Mr. Doley suggested in the piece that he had already been upset with how contracts in the oil and gas industry were structured.


The article went on to tease that this was a major reason that the future owner of the electric refueling station didn’t immediately dismiss the radical idea outright.


The world was so abuzz with the news that CNN picked up the story.


“It’s good for the environment,” Mr. Doley told in an interview with CNN.


He went on to profess in the CNN interview that: “I’m not doing this just to nickel and dime, thinking about how much money I’m going to make — no."


The question on my mind is why not?


Why would a successful business owner go on CNN and declare for the nation “I’m not doing this just to nickel and dime, thinking about how much money I’m going to make — no."


Anyone who appreciates a free market can applaud innovation and the insight of business owners who identify the potential opportunity for profit in an underserved customer base. Americans are always looking for the next big thing.


You don't need an MBA to see the flaw in the unveiled business model described by Mr. Doley to CNN. Basic addition and subtraction knowledge are enough to suffice.


I continued to read the news article with this further curiosity. As I did, it became crystal clear to me why a businessman would be so cavalier with overall investment and overall profit.


A grant of $786,000 was awarded to Mr. Doley from both the Electric Vehicle Institute and Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) which undoubtedly assisted in making the conversion from gasoline to electric possible.


It's easy for anyone in business to say “I’m not doing this just to nickel and dime, thinking about how much money I’m going to make — no." when the Maryland taxpayers remove a good chunk of the startup risk.


Especially when a public official pitches the idea which would imply on its face a government interest in the venture.


Traditionally, our markets normally decide the products we buy and the services that we use on a normal basis.


With a little more than 20,000 electric cars registered across Maryland, one can only wonder how many of those electric cars will make the pilgrimage to Takoma Park to fill up.


Such a statement by Mr. Doley seems to imply a $786,000 waste of taxpayer money at best. At worst, a public perception of insider business dealing that was subsidized by the Maryland taxpayers.


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