Friday, July 31, 2009

A Good Idea, But...

Only one week into a program that was ostensibly supposed to last into the fall, The Washington Post reports that the "Cash for Clunkers" bonanza may be already out of funds. This program -- which provides vouchers for consumers who trade in gas guzzling cars for new ones with far better gas mileage -- is one that sounds good on first mention, but isn't so great if you think about it.

As an avid environmentalist, I'm all for programs, policies and strategies that seek to move our nation in a more sustainable direction. Unfortunately, the "Cash for Clunkers" program only represents a tiny drop in the bucket. More importantly, it does nothing to help the majority of people who -- because of their financial standing -- drive the least gas efficient vehicles out there.

When you're financially poor, you don't have that many choices in the kind of vehicle you will purchase. Basically, your choices are centered on society's throwaways. In the current climate, that's trucks, SUVs and fuel-inefficient cars.

While a voucher of up to $4500 may sound significant, it means absolutely nothing to those who earn $30,000 per year or less. The price tag on a new fuel-efficient vehicle is prohibitive! Let's get real. If you make $25,000, you simply don't have the ongoing cash flow to afford a car that costs that same $25,000 -- even if $2000 - $4500 is shaved off the price.

So, in essence, all this program turns out to be is a transfer of public funds into the pockets of the well-to-do -- the people who need the money the least! The people who could benefit the most are the very same people left out in the cold again.

3 comments:

  1. Hmmm ... My Yaris gets 35 to 42 MPG and it cost 13000.00. Of course that was in 2007. I don't know how much the price may have increased since then.

    I got a stripped down model - manual door locks and windows, but it still has air and a CD player. I love it and I only fill it up every two weeks (if that).

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  2. Kay,
    While it's true that there are a FEW cars out there reasonably priced, most of the new fuel efficient models are in the $20 - $30K range.

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  3. Yeah, I agree. Just thought I'd point out that there are options for us poor folks. :)

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