Cash for Clunkers

Perhaps I’m missing something… but this program basically seems like the best thing ever.  Why on earth would people be opposed to it?  Let me list some reasons why it is awesome.

  1. It encourages people to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles.
  2. (This is good because it is good for the environment.)
  3. (This is good because it reduces our dependency on oil.)
  4. (This is good because more small cars on the road means that their drivers are less likely to be in an accident with, say, a Hummer that will kill them versus another small car that may not.)
  5. It stimulates the economy, especially the auto industry, which as you may recall hasn’t been doing so well lately.
  6. It is a good deal for folks who may want or need a new vehicle, but cannot readily afford it, and given the state of the economy lately that is a whole lot of folks.
  7. It is the most tangible use of Federal stimulus dollars that I am aware of.
  8. (This is good because it means that you, yes YOU, could directly benefit from the stimulus package.)
  9. (This in turn is good because it shows that stimulus money is, in fact, getting into the hands of everyday folks who drive cars and not being sucked into corporate black holes.)
  10. It is proving to be immensely popular, because the initially-set-aside $1 billion was sucked dry within a week.  Popular things done by the government are good.

Seriously folks, wake up.  Incentives like this are exactly what the country needs.  Live long and prosper, Cash for Clunkers program.  Live long and prosper.

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7 thoughts on “Cash for Clunkers

  1. I think your praise is a bit over the top…

    I agree with 1-3. Smaller cars and better fuel economy are all great things. I have some problems with 4 (there aren’t very many Hummers driving around anyways, and there are still fatal accidents with small cars), and 5 is technically true.

    On 6, a $4500 discount (maximum) is not going to fully offset the cost of a new car, especially one with better mileage. In my experience, people either flat-out buy (and in this case, have enough liquid cash around that the $4500 is helpful, but not necessary) or finance (and again, the extra money is helpful, but doesn’t change that you’re still spending $200-400 a month).

    Also, this is only really significant if people are trading in their primary car. An interesting article in BusinessWeek (http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/aug2009/db2009085_823256.htm) reports a survey suggesting that most people are trading in their second or THIRD car – and frankly, having that many cars isn’t helping out the environment in the first place, and replacing them isn’t going to significantly change one’s carbon footprint.

    Another point from that article is that really, this is only a tiny drop in the pond to changing anything about our impacts on the environment. You could argue that, well, we should just spend more money because it was popular in the first place! The problems with that are 1) we don’t have endless cash reserves and 2) it’s not a long-term solution. Frankly, I think the money could be better spent on educating people rather than wasting it on people replacing their extra vehicles, or on some sort of balance between the two.

    Mmph on 7-9. I’ve written enough already without going into top-down or bottom-up stimulus schemes.

    And really? Popular things done by the government are good?? Sometimes, yes. But I find that it’s better when the government does something that is right rather than something that is popular. (Not that I think this is a bad program, I just don’t think that a measure of something being popular is worthy of saying that it’s a good thing.)

    In spite of its limitations, it is a step in the right direction, and I can give it props for that.

    • Your point about people trading in a second or third car is interesting – hadn’t seen that. Still, if they’re going to be driving SOME vehicle, I’d rather have it be a fuel efficient one.

      Regarding #4, I’ve heard many folks argue for an SUV because more mass = “safer,” so the more we can tilt the balance toward one size of car (ideally smaller), the better. But of course you can still be in a fatal accident regardless of vehicle.

      I do think it is good that the program is temporary and not indefinite (re. your “tiny drop in the bucket” paragraph), because it’s not a permanent or long-term solution – just an overdue step in the right direction.

      It’s true that popularity is certainly not always a measure of goodness or efficacy. Perhaps I should rephrase to say, a competent government that makes available options which many people want to choose is good. Because that’s more what I meant. :)

      • Wow, Karen vigorously objected to something you wrote instead of me? I’m impressed! :P

      • You’re also missing the other part of this, in that the cars traded in must be destroyed. Which somewhat offsets the ecological gains, since the resources required to make the new car are probably more significant than the difference in fuel consumption between the two.

        Also, this really only front loads demand, as eventually the old car would be traded in/break down and a new car would be purchased anyways, in which case we’re just throwing money at a non-existant problem just to say ‘We’re doing something’.

        Why does this thing want my email address? Regardless, it’s not getting it.

  2. David – yes, I was surprised too.

    Pokey – well, I’m going to pretend that all the cars are recycled and turned into Priuses. Or Pri-i. Whichever. Which is to say, you, too have a point. But my ten reasons still stand. This is another reason why I don’t think it is a good program to have indefinitely, just for several weeks or so. Also, if there is an environmentally responsible way to take so-called clunkers off the road and replace them with more fuel efficient cars, I don’t think a program that encourages that is addressing a “non-existent problem.”

    …And I think it wants your email address so it can notify you of my reply. :)

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