Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pet Peeve of the day -- Cash for Clunkers Program!

Has anyone read about this thing?

On the surface, it SOUNDS like a good idea -- get people out of their gas-guzzling, low-emissions cars, and into showrooms to buy a shiny new car, with its lower emissions and lower pollution, right? And this isn't chump change we're talking about, it's either $3,500 or $4,500. It'll be like Wheel of Fortune; come on, big money!

But, read the fine print -- your vehicle has to be newer than 25 years old, you've got to have owned and insured it for at least a year, and, here's the big one, the EPA has got to say that your old vehicle has to get NO BETTER THAN 18 MPG COMBINED.

Seriously, that is a pathetic standard. Since the embargo of '74 days, passenger cars were required to get their act together, shrunk dramatically, and began to resemble the moddern auto. After a lot of whining and lobbying, the government continued to subsidize "utility vehicles," including both pickup trucks and the then-nascent SUV market. Because of this, costs remained low, and SUVs were allowed to have powerful, smog-churning engines to their hearts' content (though SOME regulation was added in later.)

This, more than consumer demand, fueled the boom in the tanks that dominate the modern road. What was once a working stiff's rig -- have you ever seen an old truck, with bare metal interiors and a single bench seat? -- became the leather-interior, quad-cab, twenty-inch-chrome wheeled beasts that continue choke the roads. Wow, this got a little more vehement than I expected.

Um, anyhow, if you feel like it, take a look here and see what passenger car mileage was like for the past 25 years. If you want to hunt down one with that bad of mileage, you can, but you'd have to delve deep into the archives to find this.

That's about it for the few remaining land-yachts which qualify for the program. Because of this, and the requirements that you have to improve your gas mileage by FOUR MPG, this is not the "Cash for Clunkers" program at all. Instead, they should call it the "upgrade your truck" program. We'll be swapping out a whole bunch of battered (but drivable, says the program) 80's and 90's pickups for shiny, ridiculous modern trucks so that everyone can feel secure in suburbia and be glad that they have four wheel drive, high clearance rigs, because "they like to go to the mountains sometimes."

Of course, I have a bit of a personal stake in the matter, I admit. While Yours Truly lives only on a bicycle, and might have a bit of opposition to continued subsidy of single-occupancy vehicles to boot, his -- erm, that is, my -- significant other has what would seem like a perfect candidate for the CARS program. It's a 1990 Chevy Corsica. It's got a V6 engine and an automatic without overdrive. It leaks oil. It's got no paint on it. It's everyone's definition of a "beater."

And, yet, it's a no-go. This terrible beast is far too efficient for CARS'. Why, it gets a whole twenty miles per gallon. Twenty!

Nevermind that she'd be trading it for a Honda Fit or something else with over a 50% improvement in mileage, not to mention the dramatically lower NOX, et cetera, it would emit.

You see, the CARS program is binary; you either meet all of its criteria and get the bonus, or you get nothing; there's no way to get a slightly reduced benefit from trading in a fairly okay mileage vehicle into a great one, as opposed to a crappy milesage vehicle into an okay one, even if the net benefit is identical.

But, I guess, those American car manufacturers that the government just bought out of bankruptcy, what was it that they were hurting the most with? Oh, that's right! All of their unsold truck inventory.

Funny, that.


  • At 12:42 PM , Blogger James said...

    Better than nothing, I suppose. I wonder how much waste they will generate scrapping all those old vehicles, and the waste created from making the new vehicle that is purchased. Will it offset the improved fuel efficiency?

  • At 8:58 PM , Blogger Andrew said...

    That closing comment:
    Nail. Head. Striking motion. Hammer.

    Why is 'the left' so uncritical of these pathological fiscal expenditures that selectively benefit certain factions of the capitalist class, otherwise functioning as ineffective band-aid solutions?


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