Taxpayers paid $24,000 per Clunker. THIS is why I refused to accept the Cash for Clunkers blood money

Although my license plate is pretty cool, my car is not. I drive a 1997 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan with 140,000 miles on it.

This past Summer, when the government launched the Cash for Clunkers program, I was intrigued. My car qualified for a $3200 credit, and dealers were adding incentives on top of that. My car worked just fine, and I didn’t really need a new car. But if I could get $6,000 off the price of a new car, and junk my Soccer-Mom car, I considered it.

After much moral vacillation, I reluctantly decided to participate. I was planning on going to a dealer to look at a snazzy new Ford Escape on Saturday morning. On Friday night, the Obama Administration, unexpectedly announced that they were suspending the Program late Friday night. They were running out of money to fund the program.

At first, I was enraged. Why should those who quickly utilized the rebate get it, while I don’t?

But then I realized something. I was no different from a Soviet who had to wake up at the crack of down in order to be the first on the bread line before they ran out of rations. I was instantly repulsed. I am not a serf. President Obama will not dictate to me the terms of when, where, and what kind of car I should buy. I would not participate in this travesty.

Ultimately, Congress jumped into action and added some funding for the program. I did not care. I was resolute.

People tried to coax me into accepting it. They would tell me, “you pay taxes, get some of your money back.” No. This is not my money. This is the money from taxpayers from across the Country. Their hard earnings were taxed, like the yoke on a donkeys back. I would not partake. While I will concede there are some public goods that justify taxing (roads, national defense, schools, etc-though that etc is not unlimited), subsidizing the destruction of perfectly good cars to replace them with marginally better cars aint a public good I can support.

Now, I realize I was right. CNN reports, Clunkers: Taxpayers paid $24,000 per car:

A total of 690,000 new vehicles were sold under the Cash for Clunkers program last summer, but only 125,000 of those were vehicles that would not have been sold anyway, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the automotive Web site Edmunds.com.

The Cash for Clunkers program gave car buyers rebates of up to $4,500 if they traded in less fuel-efficient vehicles for new vehicles that met certain fuel economy requirements. A total of $3 billion was allotted for those rebates.

The average rebate was $4,000. But the overwhelming majority of sales would have taken place anyway at some time in the last half of 2009, according to Edmunds.com. That means the government ended up spending about $24,000 each for those 125,000 additional vehicle sales.

I won’t even get into the insanity and economic stupidity of this program. The program paid car owners to junk their older cars in order to purchase marginally more environmentally friendly cars. See the Broken Window Fallacy for more details.

My opposition was largely centered on the fact that I did not want to encumber my fellow citizen with any additional tax burden. And the numbers bear out. Each vehicle sale cost America $24,000. Spread out among hundreds of millions of taxpayers, this is negligible, but quantifiable.

Who is John Galt?

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3 Responses to “Taxpayers paid $24,000 per Clunker. THIS is why I refused to accept the Cash for Clunkers blood money”

  1. Iris Hershenson Says:

    You are vindicated! The american people however are not!

  2. Adelle Says:

    I really, really wish that the recovery act had given my agency some of those dollars. We could do a lot of amazing things with the wasted $20k/car. Sigh. As it is, my agency is looking at budget cuts, meaning that less parolees in DC will receive drug treatment, educational assistance and job training. Fab. Let’s cut something that means people in DC will be more likely to return to a life of crime….because that’s exactly what DC could use.

    Your minivan is hot – don’t let people tell you it’s a soccer mom vehicle. I’d be thrilled to have room to cart around furniture again. Getting rid of my little SUV for a tiny sedan was a giant mistake (especially considering I did it a few months before the cash for clunkers program).

    I’m glad you feel vindicated. I thought you were silly for turning it down at the time, but even I – a rabid liberal – think this program was a mistake.

  3. Ed Says:

    ….And don’t forget that those who had previously bought environmentally friendly cars were not even allowed to partake: In other words, amongst the population of people with cars over a certain age, the program rewarded those who had been LESS environmentally friendly Also, note the huge energy costs involved in building new vehicles vs the marginal difference in cost per mile travelled.


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