Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Clunker of an Idea


I taught environmental biology for over 20 years, and I’m just not sure how this program stacks up to be good for the environment. I’m also not sure why anyone is surprised that it was highly successful in getting people to participate. “Hey, you guys! Come line up and get a free $4,500!” Okay. Where’s the mystery?


What I do know is, while those who participated got a booster shot in the pocketbook, and some dealers saw in increase in sales, the long term effect will prove to be a mere drop in the bucket, if not an overall failure.

1. Just for your information, hybrids and battery technology is NOT a break from fossil fuels. These cars must be plugged in and recharged with existing power supplies, which means burning coal in most instances! They are great for tooling around, but not for highway usage. Yes, new models may reach desirable highway speeds, but they don’t have a range that would last me a week in town, much less a trip to visit any of my relatives! I can’t stop every 100 miles and hope to find a plug!

2. Scrap metal dealers in America are getting the short end of the stick! The scrap is being shipped to China, where they will burn fossil fuels to convert our wastes into products that they will sell back to us.

3. Charities will already hurt under Obama’s proposals, but this will be a blow to many who have depended on the donation of old cars for either income or a way to transport the poor or infirmed that they serve.

4. Used car dealers have a legitimate business serving those Americans who, especially now, can’t afford new cars. There is a market! There should be free enterprise to pursue products and to carry out business, without a government (with vested interest in the automotive industry) strapping them down.

5. Most of the cars that have been purchased have been foreign cars. So Japan and China are the big winners!

6. It is being reported that many of these clunkers are being sold 'through a legal loophole,' and the opportunity for corruption, black market deals, etc. is rampant. (Raise your hand if you are surprised.)

In the 1970s, Volvo introduced a car that would get almost 100 mpg. A few prototypes were produced, but they never reached the public. Oil companies bought the patents and shelved them. For our cars to be getting 30 mpg forty years later is disgraceful.

My thanks to my Senators, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, for voting against extending the program!

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

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