Friday, July 31, 2009

Cash for Clunkers: Money Pit #314

Okay, I've been secluded at church camp all week. It took me an incredibly long time to realize that the "Cash for Clunkers" program was a real government program and not some right-wing conspiracy exaggeration to make administration officials look like imbeciles. They really did start doing this. What a week to be out of the loop. Your car is worth $500, but this week only the government will buy it for $4,500. It's like Tony Rezko, but for car dealerships!

I also missed shocking development #2: The program ran out of money before the week was out. You know anybody else that can turn $500 into $4,500? That won't lead to incarceration? So, let's review: First, the government buys worthless loans. Now they're buying worthless cars. What other worthless items will be "invested in" next? Maybe they could buy my old sofa or my old lawnmower. What if we had this big yard sale for the whole country next Saturday? Special "expert" government shoppers could show up and start handing out $50s for all your junk.

You know it's bad when even the New York Times is getting in on the fun. This article contains several jewels:

"Barry Magnus, the general manager of DCH Paramus Honda, told us he was owed more than $80,000, and he wondered if he would ever see it. The government has said it would take 10 days to reimburse the dealers, but that was before the program apparently ran out of money and devolved into chaos Thursday night."

"Mr. Kurkin, the lawyer in Miami, said that many dealers are attaching clauses to their sales agreements, saying that if the government money does not come through, the customer will have to make up the difference."

". . . the dealers’ plan says only that the replacement car be more fuel-efficient, so it could get just one more mile per gallon. That may help sales, but is likely to do little for the environment. But experts said the government plan would do little for the environment either."

"Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law, said in a statement that the cash-for-clunker program is not a cost-effective way to reduce fuel use or greenhouse gas emissions. Any energy savings, he said, could take several years to realize, considering the time it takes the fuel savings from a new car to exceed the energy cost used to make it."

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