It is my understanding that the new energy bill making its way through Congress promises a prize for the inventor of a car that will get 70 miles to the gallon. What has happened to America? There has always been a prize for people who develop technologies that can do things more efficiently; it’s called profit.
Unfortunately, profit is now a bad word in America. It is something that we should never put over people, something that should be ignored when writing a moral business plan. I don’t understand why motivation for prizes is considered more appropriate than profit. A prize is still a profit, it is just a profit awarded to only one worker. Meanwhile, all the other inventors are expected to work for no compensation.
Contests have always been a sneaky way to get more for your buck. It is common for comedy clubs to run contests for the “Funniest Person in [your city here]” because the club owner can get a lot of stage time filled for a very small investment.
In the private sector, prizes are occasionally illegal, because they can be vehicles for fraud. Rather than sell a house, one could sell raffle tickets that would net far more than the value of the home.
The law often looks the other way when the proceeds go to a good cause. But I hardly think that a government-owned motor company qualifies as a charity. And if it does, it is a charity that should fail.