toys for tots 18

I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a story on the Cash for Clunkers program being pushed by the Obama administration as a green initiative.

Here are important details from that story that don’t seem to have made it into the public narrative.  Pay special attention to the table midway down the page on minimum required gas mileage.  I can buy a “large light-duty truck” that gets as little as 15 MPG and if it does at least 2 MPG better than my current “clunker” I get a $4,500 rebate!

That is quite a deal for me and the car dealers, though I fail to see what polar bears or the American people get out of the transaction.

The only way this idea could possibly deliver on its stated goals is if they mandated that we buy a particular type of car with a minimum MPG rating, like a Focus Hybrid or a Prius or even a modern diesel.  Since that sort of mandate is unlikely and probably unConstitutional to boot, the true motivation for this fairly expensive piece of corporate-friendly fraud, waste and abuse remains murky though far from unclear.

This is a boondoggle, pure and simple.  Spending four billion dollars on this is unlikely to make a bit of difference for anyone but the auto manufacturers and the few million people who will use the program.  It has less common sense attached to its structure than just about any public initiative I have heard of in a long time.

Just who the hell is running this program anyhow?  OK.  That makes more sense now.

The Obama White House seal of approval doesn’t make a program automatically progressive or effective or even smart.  This program is a stinker by just about any objective measure.  We need to stay on top of this sort of stuff or it could be used to torpedo legitimate environmental efforts in the future.

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18 thoughts on “toys for tots

  • ClosetLuddite

    Here’s my gripe: Why the (*)&^ are people allowed to buy foreign made vehicles with this program? It’s our tax money subsidizing this crap so why are we enriching Hyundai and Kia when we really need everyone buying American Made?

    I hate everything about it.

    • Lalo35adm

      Maybe it’s because we’d like to sell a thing or two to those far far away craplands?

      P.S. Jason – you’re on a roll!

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I am more interested in outcomes than brand names on this one. It should be about a minimum MPG rather than country of origin.

    • Nebton

      “American Made” doesn’t mean what it used to. Most (if not all) American brands have parts made overseas, and most foreign brands are made right here in the United States (also with parts made overseas), by American workers.

    • kenga

      Um. Not to seem condescending, but are you not aware that just about every foreign car manufacturer has plants in the USA? Just like Ford and GM have plants in China?

  • ~flowerchild~

    All this cash for clunkers program was ever about was unloading the pile of vehicles left unsold at dealerships across the country because of the economic downturn. That’s all it was meant to accomplish. It was a boost for the Big Three.

    The poor person driving a 15 year old pick up that burns oil like crazy and gets 13 mpg, who should really be the one to benefit from this program, cannot take advantage of it because a poor person cannot afford the monthly payment no matter how many incentives are thrown out to entice.

    It’s a bullshit program, plain and simple.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Too, true, flowerchild. If they really wanted to make a difference, I should be able to apply the check to a used car that gets great mileage. I hate that this can be used to discount other, smarter, environmental measures in the future.

    • tao

      BS for sure flowerchild. Still, they will get a number of people who can’t afford a 30K picumup to sign up for monthly payments who barely pass credit screening. It is what car dealers do best. In light of job insecurity, taking on a 5 of 6 year payment book is not a great idea. Factor in possible medical expenses, or full coverage insurance payable to the lender, and there is considerable financial risk. The smart money is on fixing the old truck or buying a good used one from a private party.

  • Donal

    All my vehicles have been well above 18 mpg combined, so I was never going to benefit from this anyway, but it does seem like a way to let middle class suburbanites get a deal on a slightly more fuel-efficient SUV. I don’t have the link, but I read an article claiming that the first guy to use the program turned in an 18 mpg Explorer for a 20 mpg Explorer.

    Hmm. Last Friday, the official rules for the CAR Allowance Rebate System (CARS, also known as the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009 and the “cash for clunkers” bill) were released. Also last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “refreshed” the combined mpg ratings on its Fuel Economy website. Why does this matter? Turns out the refresh bumped some vehicles from the qualifying 18 mpg limit into “sorry, no good” 19 mpg territory.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      The more I learn about this program, the less I understand what the goal was to begin with and where they went wrong.

  • Obey

    Great set of blogs, Jason!! Highly rec’d both. More things I won’t argue with you about, though for somewhat different reasons than previous occasions…

  • brantlamb

    Turns out this is actually working out pretty well. It’s getting old smoke-bechers off the street and putting more fuel efficient cars on the streets in their place. How horrible!