The problem is that as the image makers go full speed using our money to dupe us, the internet is weakening the media's ability to control the message. The Volt won't be out for another year, and that's a long time in cyberspace -- it's a long time in the world of innovation, too. The odds are that by the time the Volt hits the market, all symbolic value will be burnt. We'll all be on to other things and the government will have wasted billions more trying to engineer our choices. Government doesn't understand dynamism, and unless the government becomes radically conservative, stops all change and forces its vision regardless of what people want, the Volt will be a decade late and a bunch of dollars short.
This brings up a concern regarding the present direction of government. In order for government engineering to take place as planned, innovations in the market have to de discouraged or thwarted -- otherwise, dynamic change will upset government plans. For instance, if Ford or Toyota respond to what they see as a demand for a product which is contrary to the government plan for smaller more energy efficient cars, will the government then need to prevent this change in direction and block the public from what it wants? Would this make government, in general, conservative? The more government expands into economic choices which reflect cultural imperatives set by the government, the more forceful government will need to become in order to realize its plans. If consumers decide that environmental concerns are less important than style, comfort and performance when it comes to vehicles, the government will have to prevent the offering of cars which make the Volt look like an expensive, green Edsel that doesn't make economic sense to buy.
The same holds true for healthcare -- the government will need to attack any competition which thwarts its endgame. Government becomes a competitor in healthcare provision with the coercive ability to favor its own plan through regulation, and I don't see how innovation can survive in this environment. A conservative system of government engineering is set up which is vulnerable to dynamic change, so change becomes a threat which must be blocked.
The battle is between image and economic reality. It's going to be very expensive to fund image over reality, and in the end reality will win, but the problem is that government will not be the only loser -- we will all be losers if we don't have the choice to respond to reality and are forced to accept the image.
A good article from George Will: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/05/AR2009060502835.html