Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Banish me from the blog, if you will

But I’ve taken advantage of this program to purchase a new mobile soda can, trading in a decrepit minivan for a hefty sum (roughly what it would have taken to repair it). I thanked my children and as-yet unborn grandchildren and great-grandchildren for my new car.

Discussions - 28 Comments

My husband called to inform me that we missed the cutoff on our V6 '96 Camry by just one year. So there but by the grace of one year go I. But our qualifying (and almost qualifying) for this "assistance" rather demonstrates the idiocy of it, don't you think?

It is idiotic, in that any one of us feels we must try to take advantage of these federal programs in order to get back some of our tax dollars that have been coerced from us. We have no choice about the taxes, but to retain some level of prosperity we must take every option of advantage available. It is simply good economics in the very old-fashioned meaning of the term.

Even so, although the tax burden for that particular program is spread out over the whole population, don't you wonder (I wonder) how much of your tax dollars would be at work in the program if the tax for it was assessed only on those participating in the program? I suppose you could find the total cost of the program and divide it by the number of beneficiaries and have an approximate number.

Probably, you do not want to know.

There was a program like this in California maybe a dozen years ago or so that was exactly like this. Turn your clunker in, get paid handsomely (relatively speaking, for a clunker) for it. It was quite popular. Amusingly, it was widely derided by leftists who whined, in their normal screechy manner, that this was a deeply cynical exercise, because the point of the whole thing was that getting these old polluting cars off the road bought pollution "credits" for polluting businesses trying to meet California's hyper-regulated environmental guidelines. Guess it's OK when the approved pals of the regime get the benefits, eh? Hypocrisy? Whoda thunk it?

Those conservative principles run deep. They apparently end at wallet-depth.

The rebates run from $3,500 to $4,500. To simplify, let's take the average--$4,000. If my math is right, that's 250,000 cars. In 2007, slightly over 16 million liught vehicles were sold in the U.S.. The CARS program covers less than 2% of annual sales. Let's be generous and assume that half the buyers wouldn't have purchased without the program (count me among them; I was planning on driving the van until it crumbled under me). So we're talking about a 1% bump in automobile sales...perhaps.

Then there's this. According to the EPA, my old car consumed roughly 19.7 barrels of oil per year, while my new one consumes roughly 11.8. Let's be generous and say that that's a savings of 8 barrels a year. Multiply that by 250,000 and you get 2 million fewer barrels of oil consumed per year. According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. petroleum consumption is roughly 19.5 million barrels per day. So the program probably saves us less than 3 hours of our annual petroleum consumption. Stated another way, it saves us 0.02% of our annual petroleum consumption.

My old car put out 10.2 tons of carbon dioxide a year; the new one puts out 6.3 tons, a savings of around 4 tons. Again, multiplied by 250,000, that's 1 million tons of carbon dioxide less a year. According to the EIA, in 2006 the U.S emitted around 5.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. So we're reducing our carbon dioxide output by less than 0.02% per year.

I realize that I'm taking my case as standard, and I'm sure it isn't. But I've done enough to convince myself that the CARS program doesn't offer much in the way of stimulus, much in the way of fossil fuel savings, nor much environmental benefit. I'm not taking my new mobile soda can back to the dealer, but I am apologizing much more profusely to my children and as-yet unborn grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I vote for banishment.

I note that you haven't yet said what kind of car you bought. Did you buy an honorable Ford because it's an American car and is not under government control like Chrysler and GM? Or, did you sell out completely and buy an import which is cheaper and gets even better gas milage. A Prius or any form of hybrid should drive you straight out of the conservative nation.

Also, your math fails to account for your individual savings on gas and maintenance because this new car frees you up to inject that money into other sectors of the economy. Not to mention confidence in the car will encourage you to travel more and for longer distances, decreasing your net impact on fuel savings, but with the added money injected into the economy through the costs associated with gas, gas taxes, convenience store purchases and possibly hotel stays and restaurant purchases.

As for my conservative principles, I only regret that my McCain/Palin sticker will be scrapped along with my old car (appropriate in some ways, no?). The magnets--the yellow ribbon, the support homeschooling banner, and the "swim" oval--all fit nicely on the back of the new car.

My insurance company will get a little more money, since the car is worth more and I'm paying for comprehensive coverage again.

As for travel, we use our other car (a mere 100,000 miles on it) for family trips; this one is mostly for commuting, so I can't imagine any really stimulating changes in economic behavior. And since I have a car payment again, I'll spread a little less of my meager wealth around town in discretionary spending.

So, the CARS program stimulates government more than it stimulates the economy?

One thing our stimulated government ought to do to ease the burden on children, grandchildren, etc., is to encourage the Fed to ramp up some inflation and devalue our debt. If they do that fairly soon, it will spread the suffering back to our generation as inflation acts as a hidden tax.

That's dismal, but perhaps the unusually cheery economist from #9 has a better idea.

I must agree with Independent. If you truly oppose the spending of the government, you would not participate in the CARS program at all, with the hope that not all of the government money would be used. By taking advantage of the program, you are simply saying that the program isn't as bad as you would have us believe. I'm not sure I can stand behind you if your conservatism only applies when government spending doesn't apply to you. Shenanigans anyone?

Did our pseudonymous commenters send back their "stimulus" checks or otherwise refuse the benefit of government programs for which they were eligible?

Joe has such a good point. Consider, we could all refuse Social Security. If conservatives believe it is really in trouble, they will opt out of the system, won't they? By taking advantage of the program, you are simply saying that the program isn't as bad as you would have us believe. Perhaps all of the governments money in SS (is there any?) would not be used. What is the depth of your wallet?

Notice my pseudonym is "independent" not "ideological".

I took my paltry $185 stimulus check and I'm fine with that.

But conservatives, with all of their "principles" really should consider passing on such things, including Social Security...

Okay, "Independent", but only as long as I get to pass on paying the taxes that fund those things as well.

@ Independent: You know an argument starts to start ridiculous when you can plug in any initiative and have it sound like this: every feminist who backs Roe v Wade should get an abortion, every illegal alien should be deported, every liberal should pay higher taxes, etc

apparently I don't know my own username or how to write (*starts to sound like this)

The governmetn did not "give" us anyting with the stimulus. They just slightly reduced what they had already stolen.

T-Hag, I think you're taking his point to the extreme. Deporting illegal aliens? How about, "Christians shouldn't defecate on the Bible" or something like that? I mean, there are definitely some decisions that can be generalized from someone's adherence to particular principles (or else polls tracking Democrats and Republicans, or who still likes Sarah Palin, etc. would be completely ignored). Knippenberg's title for the blog-post admits the clash of his ideals with his actions.

But I think pretty much everyone's got their limit. There's lots I try to do (like shop locally, recycle as much as I can, buy union-made products, etc.), but I'm not going to break my mobile plan with Verizon even though they consistently donate to the Republican party and Republican candidates. It would be expensive. Maybe I'll switch when my contract expires. I pay taxes which support military interventions I find unnecessary. Sometimes I click on a news story that takes me to Fox News and gives their website a "hit" which helps to fund their version of news media. I don't immediately click away.

So props to Knippenberg for giving in and admitting it. It's not like (on a regular basis) socialists go out and create communes or libertarians refuse to pay their bloated taxes. Everyone works within the predetermined framework they've inherited. Unless you move out of the country (or the world?), you're going to have a tough time rejecting the welfare state or capitalism in practice, regardless of how you feel "in principle."

Part of my salary is paid by students who use Georgia's lottery-funded HOPE Scholarships. I happen to think that a lottery (which relies on people's economic ignorance and unreasonable hopes, and happens also to redistribute money from the less well-off to the more well-off) is exceptionally bad public policy. But I don't refuse my paycheck, nor would I encourage my institution to turn away HOPE "scholars."

@ Matt: Well, I was trying to sound ridiculous. But, you get it. Obviously I don't think those things. I think it is absurd to say no conservative should use cash-for-clunkers, just as you note it sounds crazy to tell every illegal to go home. I agree with the props to Knippenberg.

Does that mean he can stay?

Haha, I guess? Who are we talking about? Lol

The title of the post is "Banish me from the blog, if you will". There are some attacks on Joe's conservatism, above, from independent and J, as well as Concerned. Yet, here are you and Matt giving Joe "props" and I wondered if that meant we had come to a negative verdict on his banishment.

If Knippenberg was really looking for feedback, I vote no. Keep him! Your party needs smart Catholics!

Ah, but I'm neither smart nor Catholic.

For a variety of reasons, I have had little sleep in the past several days and my brain feels as sharp and capable of clear thought as the seat cushion I am sitting on. My daughter's cat is more cogent than I am this morning. Maybe therefore, to me, this thread has come unraveled.

I cling to my comment #2, which Pete says is like a WFB argument and therefore I presume it to be clear. Thank you, Pete.

I am very impressed with the uses Joe Knippenberg has put his post and comments to in more public settings, as noted in his more recent post on the front page. That is wonderful and smart.

Ah! I mixed up Lawler and Knippenberg (on the Catholic thing)! Apologies!

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