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Category: rant

07/31/09 01:32 - 75ºF - ID#49426

just say NO!

How to make the clunker debacle ((e:chico,49418)) worse: throw good money after bad.

(Well, "good" depends on your opinion of government stimulus spending.)

From the Wall Street Journal Online:


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) told Democratic lawmakers that a bill to transfer $2 billion in emergency funding from the economic stimulus plan to the program will be voted on Friday, according to a senior Democratic House aide.

The legislation would shift $2 billion from the $787 billion stimulus plan to the clunkers program, which appears to have exhausted its $1 billion in funding after just one week.

While the House, which is set to begin its August recess, will vote on the bill, the Senate is unlikely to do so until next week, according to Sens. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.). The Senate is in session next week.



No!!!
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Category: rant

07/30/09 04:15 - 78ºF - ID#49418

A Real Clunker

Mike Niman writes in this week's Artvoice about the cash for clunkers program and manages to capture some of my complaints about it (while also using a deeply flawed extended example from Cuba...).

His column is titled, "Landfilling old gas-guzzlers for new gas-guzzlers isn't green-it's a subsidy" -- and it's worth readingin its entirety. Here are some excerpts:

Let's be honest and get one simple fact straight. The Obama administration's "Cash for Clunkers" program is a $1 billion subsidy to the auto industry. We can debate whether or not that's a good thing and how it will or won't help pull us out of our economic morass. But let's not make believe this is about protecting the environment.


...

Putting more people in busses and subways, not crushing 16-miles-per-gallon clunkers and replacing them with 18-miles-per-gallon clunkers, is the real green solution. In this light, the billion dollars that the Obama administration plans to spend subsidizing the purchase of personal automobiles is a billion dollars not spent on mass transportation infrastructure or operations.



The Cash for Clunkers program also really doesn't address the smog issue, since you can only trade in a vehicle that is 25 years old or newer. Hence, all the clunkers will already be equipped with catalytic converters and will be relatively clean. The oldest of these cars, whose pollution control systems have already failed, will stay on the road, since their poorer owners will not be able to afford new cars, even with the cash incentive. If smog was the issue, some of the clunker cash could have been better spent as grants to repair anti-pollution systems on cars whose owners could not otherwise maintain them.



And my personal favorite rant that I've been going on for weeks now:

... the Cash for Clunkers program... rewards past irresponsible, and dare we say, anti-social behavior. If you bought a gas-guzzling SUV, say, 10 years ago, when it didn't take an Einstein to figure out the environmental footprint of such a pig, you now get up to $4,500 dollars as an unearned reward.

The more selfish you were back then, and hence, the lower the miles-per-gallon rating on your clunker, the more selfish you can be today, with your new clunker only having to best your old clunker's lousy fuel efficiency by two to five miles per gallon. Hence you can trade in your used 16-miles-per-gallon vehicle for a new 18-miles-per-gallon SUV and get $3,500, or best your old pickup by two miles per gallon for a $4,500 windfall. If, by comparison, you shopped responsibly 10 years ago and bought, say, a 35-miles-per-gallon Ford Focus, and you now want to trade up to a 50-miles-per-gallon car, there's nothing here for you, since the program only buys cars getting less than 18 miles per gallon-and that new car will cost a few grand more due to all the clunker cash flowing into the new car market.


Finally, why the program discriminates against the poor:

This program only benefits those who can afford a new car. And it hurts those who can't, since the crushing of hundreds of thousands of perfectly good used cars will tighten the bottom end of the used car market, causing prices to rise. Hence, the oldest and dirtiest cars will have to stay on the road a bit longer since their owners can't afford to replace their 20-year-old car with a 10-year-old model.



The influx of all this clunker cash into the new car market will also cause prices to rise as the market heats up with more new car buyers. Hence, where automakers were offering deep discounts to lure consumers into showrooms, they now can simply advertise that they'll give you $4,500 of the government's money for your junker-and ditch the deep discounts. In this scenario, the Cash for Clunkers program becomes a direct subsidy to automakers who can now sell cars at higher prices to newly cash-rich buyers. Again, if you never bought a gas-guzzler in the first place, this gravy train ain't for you, and all you get is higher new car prices.



Cars are like anything else. Throwing away usable things so you can replace them with new "green" products isn't green. It's just a way for you to feel good about being a consumer at a time when the world can no longer afford consumerism. Only now, the government will pay you to consume, and bless your new gas-guzzler with a green aura.



Amen, brother.

Sorry if this offends. I don't begrudge anyone who has decided to take advantage of the program. At the same time, I don't have to like the program itself.

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07/23/09 10:35 - 69ºF - ID#49365

grrr...stupid weather, stupid Buffalo Pl

Am angry that Buffalo Place canceled the Neko Case with Jason Lytle Thursday in the Square tonight! Naturally there was no rain or thunderstorms between 5:30 and 9:00 pm, precisely when the concert should have gone on. Periods of sunshine, even... so disappointing.

In other, better news, Social Distortion at Town Ballroom on Sunday 4 October. Mike Ness = good stuff.


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