Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cash for Clunkers?

Washington is now debating a bill that would offer vouchers to people in order to spur car sales. The vouchers would give a cash voucher to anyone who buys a new car with a rating of at least 2MPG more than their old one, and even more for a new auto that gets 4 or more MPG than the old one. Now how on earth is that going to help consumers? Most people in the "real world" don't make enough to buy a new car, even with the help of a voucher. With our "clunkers" paid for, we can continue to drive them to our jobs, and in some cases, our old rides get better mileage than the new ones! Worse yet, the goal is to get us into alternative energy cars. Last time I checked, the now Chevy Volt was supposed to be priced at over $40,000 (plus tax), and the Tesla retails for over $120,000!
That's more than my house cost! Other than Wall Street executives, who can afford those prices?

Take for instance, the truck pictured above. It has 208,000 miles on it, and is going on 17 years old. It was purchased for under $15,000, and has been a reliable friend and companion. Even it's clutch is original! It has a V-8, and standard transmission, and gets 22MPG, doesn't burn or leak oil, and in fact is very finance friendly. Where can you get the same thing today, and afford to pay for it? I haven't seen anything offered that I like more, and the last I've heard, automakers aren't giving them away for free. With more and more people out of work, folks just aren't foolish enough to get rid of something they've paid for in order to buy a new one.

So I'm wondering why the government wants to even get into this debate.
There are other HUGE wastes of petroleum going on that never even get a second look.

For example, let's look at the "frequent fliers" that flit all over the world, wasting precious resources, when they could stay home and teleconference. Or the airlines themselves for that matter. Are some flights really necessary? Do there need to be a couple dozen flights from airport A to airport B, going off half full?
If our leaders really wanted to make a change for the better in our oil consumption, they would move forward on electric high speed rail (which they're doing), and eliminate the wasteful short hops the airlines make. Instead of vouchers, give subsidies to the rail lines in order to lower ticket costs.
Americans have become a nation of people who rely on instant everything, air travel included. Would it kill us to wait for the train? I wonder.

This whole debate seems centered about forcing the people who can least afford it, to make the changes envisioned. From my point of view, that's just plain wrong!

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