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Cash for Clunkers: Ending is Better than Mending?

Cash for Clunkers is a fantastic program to think about. We could spend hours talking about it. Consider the angles:

“Ending is better than mending.” That was the theme of the best under-read book out there: Brave New World. It “Ending better than mending” really a good societal value to teach? Next up: Cash for Trophy Wives.

More debt in a society with too much debt. If you’re driving a clunker, you likely don’t have $15,000-$50,000 to throw down on a new car. You can get credit to purchase it, though. Assume more debt. Good idea?

The Ponzi nature of our society. Our society really would be screwed – at least in the short term – if people stopped purchasing things. How can anyone say our economy is not similar to a Ponzi scheme? In a Ponzi scheme, you need new money to pay off existing money. Isn’t that what the entire U.S. economy is based on? Is that a sound economy?

Government incompetence. Computers crashed. The program ran out of money. The government really doesn’t have a clue about anything. They just throw jell-o at the wall. “Oh, crap, this program works! Now what?!”

Should we really put this same government in charge of health care? Or hundreds-of-billions of dollars in stimulus programs. “Oh, but the government really knows what its doing there,” you’ll say. What? If someone fails in small things, why should he get larger things? In real life, you give people small projects. See how they perform. Only then do they start handling the big stuff. Why should governments be different?

Unintended harm: The Poor. I won’t be selling my clunker to a poor person for $2,000 or whatever. Although the person could use the car. Instead, the car will be trashed. Why not give the cars to charity or something? Sure, there’d be graft. But at least the poor would have cars they wouldn’t otherwise have!

Unintended harm: Other industries. It hurts car repair persons. I won’t be taking the clunker into Midas for repairs.