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August 11, 2009
Cash for Clunkers 2

An addendum to my Cash for Clunkers Post...

There are a lot of recent articles about the "success" of the Cash for Clunkers program, as indicated by the number of applicants and the money being dispersed. But the goal of the program was not to disperse money, but rather to reduce pollution. (Remember? Saving the Earth?) We've seen absolutely no evidence of that. So no, it's not successful.

In the New York Times, Aug 7, 2009, Mathew L. Wald's article Doing the Clunker Calculus, seriously questions the success of the Cash for Clunkers program:

Economists say that most buyers simply moved up the timing of their purchase, and that the projected gasoline savings are exaggerated because many of the trade-ins were seldom used.

In the Associated Press, Seth Borenstein writes in Cash for Clunkers Effect on Pollution? A Blip how the potential environmental advantages of the Cash for Clunkers program are negligible:

The total savings per year from cash for clunkers translates to about 57 minutes of America's output of the chief greenhouse gas.

For CNN, August 7, 2009, Peter Valdes-Dapena's article Trucks Win in Cash for Clunkers Game describes how the government's "arcane measurement method" makes the results of the Cash for Clunkers program look better than it actually is:

The government's results showed small cars as the top choice for shoppers looking for Cash for Clunker deals. But an independent analysis by Edmunds.com disputed those results, and showed that two full-size trucks and a small crossover SUV were actually among the top-ten buys.

The discrepancy is a result of the methods used. Edmunds.com uses traditional sales measurements, tallying sales by make and model. The government uses a more arcane measurement method that subdivides models according to engine and transmission types, counting them as separate models.

Of course the New York Times, the Associated Press and CNN are all heavily biased toward Obama, so it's especially surprising that they would let this out.

Always looking for the silver lining, in the Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2009, Kevin Helliker writes The Killer App for Clunkers Breathes Fresh Life Into 'Liquid Glass' and describes how sodium silicate, the chemical used to kill clunker engines, is selling like hotcakes.

More Orwellian Doublespeak

The proper title of the law is the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009. Now I understand how difficult it can be to make a clever acronym work out work ("CARS", get it?), but the words recycle and save in the title simply do not apply as absolutely nothing is being recycled or saved. It's exactly the opposite; good cars are being destroyed and rendered incapable of being recycled.

Before this legislation, the automobile was the most recycled consumer product in America -- it got repaired when it broke, it got replacement parts when they wore out, it got sold to new owners, several times, and when it was finally junked as a vehicle, the old parts are used to repair other cars, and then the metal is melted down and reused. But this law is, in practice, an anti-recycling law. The car cannot be repaired, it cannot be resold, and the major components (engine, transmission, and related parts) are legally and physically kept from being recycled.

Isn't anybody just a little concerned when the title of a piece of legislation is the exact opposite of what it does?

Also, in a similarly crazy Orwellian twist, did you know that the Hummer H3 is on the Cash for Clunkers Eligible New Cars List? I'm not kidding.

And as I mentioned previously, real clunkers, cars manufactured before 1984 are not accepted in the program, while recently manufactured cars are.

This is really sad.

Posted by DonTillman at August 11, 2009 12:45 PM

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