Friday, September 4, 2009

Cash For Clunkers

It may be one of the most ridiculous government-sponsored programs ever. What sets it apart—besides the government paying people to go into debt—is that so many people are thrilled about it.

“A new car for you!”

“A new car for you!”

“A new car for you!”

What is this, Oprah II?

Of course everyone wants a new car. But if you cannot afford a new car (on your own), then you do not need one.

Cash-for-Clunkers is a boon for people with money who yearn to buy a new car anyway. It is a bust for people who cannot—and never planned to –buy a new car. The latter end up helping the former, buy that which they, themselves, cannot afford. The cars they hope to afford—the used cars they traditionally waited for the “well-off” to discard—the government crushes.

The government calls if “getting less fuel-efficient cars off the road.” I call it, “waste”. Many of these “crushed cars” are solid vehicles, able to go another 80-100,000 miles. Here, “fuel-efficient” becomes a smokescreen behind which the government, tell “poor” taxpayers to “suck it up.” It is elitism: Make the poor help the wealthy get what they want, then, give the poor nothing in return.

Add this: Destroying good used cars, which are the staple of many working class communities, necessarily limits the choice of used cars on the market. Decreased inventory automatically raises the value (i.e. price) of the used cars left on the lot. So, not only do poor people get no help, but they end up paying more for what they need—a good used car.