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Transportation Government News

Feds To Offer Cash For Your Clunker 740

Posted by kdawson
from the distressed-assets dept.
coondoggie sends along a NetworkWorld piece that begins, "The government... wants to motivate you to get rid of your clunker of a car for the good of the country (and the moribund car industry). A 'Cash for Clunkers' measure introduced this week by three US Senators, two Democrats and a Republican, would set up a national voucher program to encourage drivers to voluntarily trade in their older, less fuel-efficient car, truck, or SUV for a car that gets better gas mileage. Should the bill pass, the program would pay out a credit of $2,500 to $4,500 for drivers who turn in fuel-inefficient vehicles to be scrapped and purchase a more fuel-efficient vehicle."
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Feds To Offer Cash For Your Clunker

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  • by Ssherby (1429933) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:38AM (#26504081)
    I don't see this helping the Big Three very much. Foreign makes have better fuel efficiency and more variety to choose from.
    • by glitch23 (557124) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:40AM (#26504091)
      Not only will it not help them but it won't help car owners. People who have a 10-20 year old car usually do so because they don't have the money for a new one. Giving them less than $5k for it (probably not worth more than that anyway) is not going to be incentive enough for most I would think to help them get a car to replace the one they are giving up.
      • by Tyrion Moath (817397) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:26AM (#26504287)

        Maybe the person with the junker will buy a used car that costs them about how much they're being reimbursed by the government for, and then the person who just sold their car will buy a slightly newer used car, then that person will buy a new car? In the end a new car is bought, it just might take a couple sales to get to it.

        GP is right though. Foreign is where it's at right now.

        • by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:56AM (#26504415)
          That's not very good economics, though.

          Say A buys a used, more fuel efficient car from B, B buys a used, more fuel efficient car from C, C buys a used, more fuel efficient car from D, and D buys a new, more fuel efficient car.

          All the old cars are exactly as fuel efficient as they always were, one new fuel efficient car was bought at the cost of 4 vouchers for a total of $10,000-$18,000, and one old car is either being scrapped, or more likely is put on the market for someone else to drive.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 18, 2009 @05:31AM (#26504523)

            It says you have to scrap it. So no, it's not going back on the market. That would defeat the entire point...

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Peet42 (904274)

              He's not suggesting it goes back on the market - the car at the bottom of the "chain", for which the voucher is issued, is scrapped. What he's suggesting is that the voucher goes towards a used, rather than new, replacement.

            • by Brianech (791070) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @07:36AM (#26505065)
              Yep exactly, 4 vouchers means 4 scrapped cars. He almost had the point, but got caught up in thinking the cars could be resold. A, B, and C could go out and buy used cars which may not be much better on fuel, and A buys new. But thats 3 used cars being scrapped, and 3 current market used being purchased. It IS good economics though because its ridding the market of used cars. If there are 3 million people driving used cars, and 1 million used cars on the market, all 3 million can't use the voucher on a used car obviously.

              Now I have no clue of the actual numbers or averages, but I cant see this being bad. Even if everyone goes out and buys a used car with their vouchers you are still ridding the market of their previous used cars, and there is a good chance some would(or would have) to get a newer car. If you think of it, the only people that will go after the vouchers are people that will profit from it. For example they can get more money from the vouchers than selling the car. This means you will be getting rid of very low value cars which are most likely the bottom of the barrel for fuel usage (excluding vintage cars).

              Anyways going back to the GP if you want to keep that example it would be A uses a voucher and buys off B, who in turns upgrades and buys off C, which pushes D to buy a new car. That would be 1 voucher for 2500-4500, and 1 car being scrapped, with 1 new car sale.
              • by cayenne8 (626475) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @08:56AM (#26505399) Homepage Journal
                PLEASE, with the govt quit trying to come up with new and creative ways to waste and spend our tax dollars!??!!? What good is getting rid of old cars for new, if we don't have dependable bridges to drive over? (Remember that one that collapsed a couple years ago?).

                I'm also afraid a little over this required scrap clause. It might cause us to lose more of some classic cars that can and SHOULD be restored.

                Someone might have what is currently a 'junker' GTO or Camaro...and with this, the car is scrapped, and a piece of history is lost.

                If they have to do this law, maybe they can make some provisions that antique and historically valuable cars can be saved if they are to be restored.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                  What good is getting rid of old cars for new, if we don't have dependable bridges to drive over?

                  You understand that it is possible that the government could do more than one thing at a time, right?

                  We fought a war in Viet Nam and sent a man to the moon (supposedly) at the same time.

                  I know it's an unpopular thought among the neo-Randian, faux-libertarian, techie subculture that believes writing an iPhone app is accomplishing something, and who believes in less government but wants it to look just like Star Tr

                  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @11:02AM (#26505981) Journal

                    It costs about 50,000 miles worth of gasoline, at 25mpg average, to build a new car (energy cost). Even if you upgraded from a 25 mpg old car (like mine) to a 50mpg hybrid, the gas savings are not going to be enough to offset that initial manufacturing cost.

                    A wiser solution is to simply impose a mandatory minimum of 60mpg on car manufacturers. They can continue building their SUVs, but their "top" car must be able to get at least 60mpg (instead of the current U.S. peak of 40mpg). That way those of us who care about the environment, when we finally decide to buy a new car, will have the option of a 60mpg or better vehicle.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by Firethorn (177587)

                      but their "top" car must be able to get at least 60mpg (instead of the current U.S. peak of 40mpg). That way those of us who care about the environment, when we finally decide to buy a new car, will have the option of a 60mpg or better vehicle.

                      Ever consider that you can't generally get something for nothing? IE the costs of making a mass market 60mpg car would make it either so expensive or feature sparse that they can't make their development costs back from it?

                      We're still stuck with physics, thus it's not like we can just legislate a XXX mpg car into existence.

                      That way those of us who care about the environment, when we finally decide to buy a new car, will have the option of a 60mpg or better vehicle.

                      Ah yes, the ecoleaner 2010. 60mpg, comes

                • I'm also afraid a little over this required scrap clause. It might cause us to lose more of some classic cars that can and SHOULD be restored.

                  If there is a good enough reason to restore a car, that car will be worth enough to somebody to buy one for more than the voucher is worth.

                  In all honesty, though, unless you're a museum, you aren't providing ANY worth by doting on your antique.

                  • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @12:57PM (#26506961)

                    In all honesty, though, unless you're a museum, you aren't providing ANY worth by doting on your antique.

                    Very few hobbies have anything to do with worth. Old cars can be fun.

                  • by sumdumass (711423) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @05:34PM (#26509453) Journal

                    Lol.. Do you think? And your the honest judge of the worth other people contribute to society?

                    I guess old cars should only be relegated to people who have money then. I purchased a 69 Chevelle for $1200, several years ago. It took me around 8 years to put it back into cherry condition and when I purchased it, I had to barrow the $1200 to do so. It's won a placement in two thirds of the shows I have put it in and it had to double as a daily driver for a year when everything else was going south.

                    So realistically, I have done nothing to contribute to anything and my effort aren't worth anything. Ok, I can buy that. Just please excuse me when I arbitrarily decide you aren't worth anything and scheme to make your hobby twice as expensive if not out of existence for your income range. Now, don't get mad, I didn't get mad at you, but computers as a whole on average use way more electricity in a year then any antique or collector cars so maybe we should arbitrarily impose restricted taxes on them and make them 2 to 3 times as expensive as they are today. We can call it an electronic tax and apply it to all electronic like big screen TV and dual core processors and all. Then only the rich can afford those things and we save a bunch of energy. How does that sound?

                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  by quist (72831)
                  • Junkyard receives old car
                  • Junkie sorts; lists "interesting" carcass
                  • Motorhead buy rusting hulk
                  • ...many weekends later
                  • Motorhead retitles vintage gem as "Salvaged"
                  • ...much dancing and joy at local Sonic
          • by bhima (46039) <Bhima.Pandava@gT ... m minus caffeine> on Sunday January 18, 2009 @05:37AM (#26504539) Journal

            It *is* good economics. Maybe it does not lend an astonishing improvement in fleet efficiency but it does spark car sales.

            Another way to describe what you have is 4 people trade in their clunker and buy increasingly expensive replacement vehicles. One guy buys a car with the same price as the value of the voucher, another adds in some from their savings, the third takes out an auto loan equal to value of voucher, and the forth uses the voucher as a down payment for a 3-5 year Auto loan. That is a lot of money changing hands.

            What would improve fleet efficiency if all this happened with fuel being over $3.00 per gallon. So paying for the program with a national fuel tax would dramatically strengthen the effects... 1: it would encourage participation 2: it would make vehicle efficiency a more important factor in future purchases 3: It would allow for a larger program (more clunkers off the road).

            • by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @06:52AM (#26504879)

              One guy buys a car with the same price as the value of the voucher, another adds in some from their savings, the third takes out an auto loan equal to value of voucher, and the forth uses the voucher as a down payment for a 3-5 year Auto loan. That is a lot of money changing hands.

              Huh? Are you claiming that the voucher will *encourage* people to spend money they don't have? If they need the voucher as a downpayment to get a loan, they probably can't afford to pay off the loan to begin with. So you're setting yourself up for lots of defaults after some time, once the vouchers are used up.

              Sorry, but economics that encourages people to take out loans they can't afford is even worse than what I was imagining.

              • by repvik (96666) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @12:43PM (#26506823)

                No, he's right. Take my example. I'm in the market for a new(er) car, but I'm not going to go out and take out a loan for the whole sum. But, if I had a somewhat sizeable lump of money, taking out a loan is more reasonable.
                I can afford taking a loan for 100% of the car, but I just plain *don't want to*. A loan for 60-70% of the car OTOH, makes a lot more sense to me.

            • by tepples (727027)

              Maybe it does not lend an astonishing improvement in fleet efficiency but it does spark car sales.

              If you want to promote a measure to "spark" transactions in the market, you have to be very careful that your measure won't cause a perverse effect due to the broken window fallacy [wikipedia.org]. When money changes hands for the sake of money changing hands, it distracts the people involved from actually putting value into their products or services.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by bhima (46039)

                If bad cars were not taken off the market and crushed. If emission control laws and safety laws were not enforced. If people were not motivated to buy cleaner more efficient cars (i.e. If now that gas is temporarily low, all those folks went out and buy SUVs). Then, yes you are correct.

                This can be avoided by enforcing existing emission and safety regulations; Ensuring all cars in this program are crushed, dismantled, recycled, or in some other way really removed from the market; and keeping a price floor

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by tacocat (527354)

              I disagree. You are looking at too small of a picture here. People who drive junkers do so for a reason. Either they can't afford it or don't want to afford a new vehicle. There is a good used car business simply because they don't purchase new cars and don't want the expense of payments.

              What you are doing is trying to get people to invest in loans, now they have a financial burden making them less resilient to future financial shifts. You are also shifting their financial expenditures from somewhere t

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by brian0918 (638904)
              Dear God read Economics in One Lesson. To think that the fed taking money from everyone in order to give it to some is somehow "good economics" is absurd. Your error is in only looking at the results with respect to one group in the short term, and not with respect to the whole community and in the long-run.
      • by zoney_ie (740061) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @07:25AM (#26505021)

        Such a scheme worked here in Ireland, but it was about the era of the dot-com boom, and also the start of cheap credit (and we all know where that led...)

        However, it has meant that once and for all we got rid of all the bangers. This allows the government to get away with bringing in a "National Car Test" to ensure cars are a certain operational standard. As a result, most cars on the road are no older than 10 years. The few "bangers" nowadays are maybe 15 years old and they have at least passed the NCT.

    • Old Stereotypes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOsPam.Gmail.com> on Sunday January 18, 2009 @05:10AM (#26504449) Homepage Journal

      Foreign makes have better fuel efficiency and more variety to choose from.

      Not really. Japanese companies are putting more emphasis on hybrids (and have better developed hybrid-tech), and so they get a lot of press in that regard, with some models topping 50mpg in fuel economy. But most cars sold are still conventional gasoline models, and in that regard, Japanese and American models are broadly similar in terms of fuel economy. Compare for instance, two competitors in the sedan market, a 2009 V-6 Toyota Camry, and a 2009 V-6 Ford Taurus. The Camry gets 19/28 mpg, and the Taurus gets 18/28.

      As for the "more variety"... where? The beauty of Japanese car company philosophy is that they offer few models. Instead of offering vehicles for every possible niche, the Japanese companies have a few, well-designed and well-built models. Part of the problem that American companies have(and especially GM) is that they'll sell 3 to 5 versions of the same car, sometimes with little difference in the sheet metal. American car companies take "platforming"... using a base car platform to make multiple models... to ridiculous extremes.

      • by js_sebastian (946118) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @10:57AM (#26505953)

        Foreign makes have better fuel efficiency and more variety to choose from.

        Not really (...)

        Actually, pretty much all companies that operate in both US and EU markets have different models for each market, with a BIG difference in fuel efficiency. This includes american companies... At least, Ford has a decent market share in Europe and the cars it sells here are "european" cars, meaning that they go by european standards of size and fuel-efficiency... But even the asian car-makers sell huge boxes in the US that nobody would buy here in europe.

        By the way, last I read the auto fleet in europe is currently about TWICE more fuel-efficient than the US fleet... although the numbers themselves are not that impressive. I think it's about 14 vs 7 km/l.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gordonjcp (186804)

      I don't see this helping the Big Three very much. Foreign makes have better fuel efficiency and more variety to choose from.

      Don't forget that it takes far more energy to make a car in the first place than it does to actually use it. Despite their heavy fuel consumption, old Volvo 240s are one of the most ecologically-friendly cars ever made. They have a design life of over 20 years, and many of the earliest ones are much older than that. Furthermore, because they're easy to repair, it's possible to keep

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MtViewGuy (197597)

      That would be true in the past but with Ford coming out with the new Fiesta for the US market at the beginning of 2010 and a new Focus with more fuel-efficient engines by fall 2010, that benefit Ford as they will have a ready product line to take advantage of people buying more fuel-efficient cars.

      Ford is working on a new technology called EcoBoost (essentially much-improved turbocharged engines) that will offer very good fuel economy without sacrificing power. Don't be surprised that Ford offers a 1.4-lit

  • by isBandGeek() (1369017) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:41AM (#26504097)
    Regardless, encouraging sale of old vehicles to scrapyard means that people will buy new cars. A portion of this will go to the domestic manufacturers, who at this point are not as worried about selling more cars than their foreign competitors, but rather just selling more cars.
    • by xstonedogx (814876) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:25AM (#26504273)

      This proposal would not help the Big Three, because it won't encourage sales of new cars. People are not going to trade in a $200 clunker in exchange for $2,000 of a $20,000 debt on something that depreciates if they can even get a loan in this environment.

      This proposal will help used car dealers at the expense of pretty much everyone. The demand for used cars will skyrocket as people try to trade in their $200 clunkers for $1,500 used cars. Of course in that $1,500 won't buy them what it would buy them now.

      There _may_ be environmental benefits as people dump less fuel efficient cars for already existing more fuel efficient cars, but it's certainly not obvious that is going to be the case.

      Unless you are a used car salesman, the only real benefit here is reducing our demand for foreign energy. But the amount of oil this is supposed to save after 4 years is only 40,000 to 80,000 barrels per day. That's not even a drop in the bucket. It's not even a drop in the bucket of how much our demand will have increased during the same time period!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by couchslug (175151)

        "This proposal will help used car dealers at the expense of pretty much everyone. The demand for used cars will skyrocket as people try to trade in their $200 clunkers for $1,500 used cars. Of course in that $1,500 won't buy them what it would buy them now."

        You are dead fucking right.

        For one thing, dealers will lawfully sell clunkers to their buddies (repos, trade-ins,running wrecks) who will lawfully tag and register them. They will then lawfully use the money from turning them in elsewhere to buy rides fr

  • by smchris (464899) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:45AM (#26504125)

    Frankly, I think the 'ism supported here is consumerism, not environmentalism. Let old cars die their natural death.

    • by davester666 (731373) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:27AM (#26504289) Journal

      Here in BC, they have a ScrapIt program, where you 'sell' your car to a scrapyard, and in exchange you get either a big discount on a bike, bus passes for a number of months, or a relatively small amount of cash. So it encourages switching/using a alternate form of transportation.

      Of course, when I put my car into ScrapIt, I resold the bus passes and bought another car...

    • by lxs (131946) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @06:03AM (#26504667)

      "Let old cars die their natural death."

      What's wrong with a yearly mandatory test? Fail the test either fix it and get a certificate of compliance or your heap of junk will be taken off the road, as is the case in parts of Europe.

      Would improve road safety too.

      • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Sunday January 18, 2009 @06:47AM (#26504869)

        I was stunned that there's no national mandatory MOT for cars in the US.

        Although, as a British motorist, I hear the daily moans from newspapers about how "britain's motorists are being milked for every penny!" - but a £50 test every year to meet a minimum safety and emissions standard can only be a good thing.

        Some of the deathtraps I've seen clanking through car parks in the US made me wonder just how insane you have to be to drive them, even if you're poor, there are other options for cheap, low-maintenance cars that would be much safer to drive.

  • My old car is fine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DarkNinja75 (990459) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:48AM (#26504141)
    My '93 Corolla gets 34mpg. Not too many cars made today get better than that.
    • by Big Bob the Finder (714285) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @05:11AM (#26504459) Homepage Journal

      My 1995 Saturn SL1 gets 40 MPG (overall- probably 43-44 on the highway) in the winter (less in the summer when I need to run the a/c, of course). That's a full-size sedan that seats 5, and can fit almost two bodies in the trunk.

      The first engine and clutch (on a manual- my first manual transmission) lasted 231,400 miles, and the first time it stranded me for anything other than a dead battery was at that point. Drop in a used engine, and it's back on the road- getting 40 MPG while meeting the county's stringent air quality laws by nearly half.

      What the heck, Detroit? What did you do to our cars? (I know- gave them decent acceleration and class, but- dangit, I like my Saturn. Even if everybody else laughs at me, it's saved me a lot of money and hassles over the years.)

  • Opposed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shiftless (410350) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:51AM (#26504147) Homepage

    I am totally opposed to this bill. As a hot rodder the last thing I or my fellows want is for everyone to turn their old cars in for scrap. It is better for them to remain in junkyards where they can be used as spare parts to keep other old cars in good running condition. Really guys, there are not THAT many older cars on the road compared to newer ones, so the older cars really aren't contributing a whole lot to emissions. If all these cars are scrapped then the result in millions of car enthusiasts will have a tough time restoring their older cars, all the scrap steel will go to China, and you and I will have to foot the bill for it all through taxes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:52AM (#26504153)

    By making it less and less efficient! Yay for progress!

  • Just a question (Score:3, Informative)

    by papabob (1211684) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:55AM (#26504165)

    Is this the first time the US goverment give helps to replace old cars? In Europe is a common practice and I though it was a worldwide routine.

    (If I recall correctly, it started here in mid 80s to help the transition from leaded to unleaded gas and to improve the general safety of the cars - you know, in those days people drove those 70's tiny tin-'cubic'-car with sharp edges and no safety belt)

  • by silentbozo (542534) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:08AM (#26504207) Journal
    "Should the bill pass, the "Cash for Clunkers" program would reimburse drivers with a credit of $2,500 to $4,500 for drivers who turn in fuel-inefficient vehicles to be scrapped and purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle."

    Sounds like an automotive version of gun buybacks, and equally as silly.

    If the goal is to save the environment, tying the credit to the purchase of a new vehicle just takes a perfectly good car whose environmental costs have already been incurred out of circulation.

    If the goal is to reduce oil consumption, using taxpayer money to fund the purchase of new cars, instead of getting affordable, useful mass transit, seems like a horrible waste of money.

    Clearly, this is designed to prop up the auto industry. By reducing the number of used cars on the market, which compete with new cars, and using taxpayer money for what normally would be the trade-in value of their car, they're artificially reducing the supply of cars in the country in order to drive sales of new cars. This has the effect of screwing over people who would never be able to buy a new car, since there will be a reduction in the supply of used cars.

    But that's ok. The government wants you to get deeper into debt to buy things you can't afford. That's the ticket out of this recession!
    • Not QUITE... (Score:5, Informative)

      by denzacar (181829) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @07:33AM (#26505045) Journal

      From TFA:

      The catches:

              * The traded-in vehicles must have a fuel economy of no more than 18 miles per gallon;
              * Auto needs to be in be in drivable condition, and have been registered for at least the past 120 days;
              * The voucher needs to be used towards the purchase of a vehicle that has value of less than $45,000, is model year 2004 or later, and meets or exceeds federal emissions standards;
              * Vouchers could also be redeemed for transit fares for participating local public transportation agencies.

      For traded-in vehicles that are model year 2002 and later, drivers would receive a voucher for: The purchase of a new vehicle: $4,500; the purchase of a used vehicle: $3,000; a transit fare credit: $3,000.

      For traded-in vehicles that are model year 1999 - 2001, drivers would receive a voucher for: The purchase of a new vehicle: $3,000; the purchase of a used vehicle: $2,000; a transit fare credit: $2,000.

      For traded-in vehicles that are model year 1998 and earlier, drivers would receive a voucher for: The purchase of a new vehicle: $2,000; the purchase of a used vehicle: $1,500; a transit fare credit: $1,500.

      So... you are free to buy a USED car as well - only you get less cash for that. Then again - a used car WILL be cheaper.
      And you can even use the money for public transport - if you want to go really green and give up your car completely.

  • by tangent3 (449222) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:12AM (#26504225)

    To encourage car owners to scrap cars before 10 years, we have

    1. Road tax increases for cars > 10 years old [lta.gov.sg]
    2. Rebates for cars unregistered before 10 years [onemotoring.com.sg]

    The majority of the cars on the roads here are 10 years old. Cars unregistered are either scrapped or exported to another country for resale.

  • by SashaMan (263632) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:14AM (#26504235)

    Back in 2000, I bought a Toyota Echo that gets about 40 miles/gallon. In 2002, even though I could have afforded more I bought a small condo, skipping out on an ARM to get a 30 yr fixed rate. Now I'm learning that I should have bought a gas-guzzler so I could get free cash down the road, I should have taken out a huge ARM on an overpriced house because the gov would get my lender to reduce the principal anyway, and maybe I should have tried to run a company or two into the ground to get a mammoth bailout. Why is the government trying to take away every incentive to act prudently and responsibly?

    • To shut up the whiners who didn't act prudently or responsibly?

      Unfortunately, the majority of the US population are children over the age of 20.

  • Tax dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:15AM (#26504239)

    So they're going to offer us our own tax dollars we've paid them, to get rid of the cars we have?

    • Re:Tax dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:25AM (#26504275)

      It's called a pyramid scam for a reason.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:16AM (#26504241) Journal

    May I humbly submit that a bit of money invested in public transport infrastructure, could pay off handsomely in terms of quality of life? Less people would even need cars, which would save them money. And it would help to decongest the roads, so people would get to work faster.

    The huge decrease of pollution and need for fossil fuels is just an added bonus.

    I don't say this works everywhere in the US, but certainly it would work in many cities.

  • by socsoc (1116769) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:26AM (#26504283)

    So those of us who already made a choice to purchase an efficient vehicle aren't getting any incentives.

    I am barely scraping by with my mortgage, but because I am not in arrears, I get no assistance. This is so similar, why are we coddling the idiots of society?

    I thought Idiocracy was a fictional movie, not a crystal ball into the future.

  • by GnarlyDoug (1109205) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:30AM (#26504309)
    If you read to the bottom, they will over the higher dollar amounts for the 2002 and later vehicles. These will be the most modern and least polluting cars, so they are paying more to junk the least harmful cars.

    If this was about reducing emissions, they would pay more to get older, dirtier, and less fuel efficient cars off the road. The worse the mpg, the more they would pay. This is about encouraging people that proved they have the money to buy a newer car to cycle into another newer car a lot sooner than they would. It's proof this is about encouraging consumerism, not ecology.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @05:46AM (#26504585) Homepage Journal

      >>If this was about reducing emissions, they would pay more to get older, dirtier, and less fuel efficient cars off the road.

      The sad fact is, older (10+ year old cars) are at least, if not more, fuel-efficient than modern cars. I drive a '98 Buick Regal. The equivalent 2009 model has 1MPG less efficiency than my model. Let alone cars like the early 90s Civic hatchbacks, which still have MPGs which are only reached, if at all, by hybrids nowadays. Do we really want to remove a 94 Civic from the road and replace it with a lower-MPG modern Civic?

      • One caveat to the proposed bill is:

        * The traded-in vehicles must have a fuel economy of no more than 18 miles per gallon;

        So, the program wouldn't really replace those fuel efficient cars with gas wasters. Additionally, emissions are a priority in this program. Although those old civics, etc. were super light and nimble, many of them have been poorly maintained over the years and the piston rings are worn, etc. which reduces fuel efficiency and increases their emissions footprint.

        I agree, though, that I'd r

      • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Sunday January 18, 2009 @08:13AM (#26505217)

        > The equivalent 2009 model has 1MPG less efficiency than my model.

        You're not comparing the original sticker mileage of a '94 with a '09, are you? Remember that they changed the rules a few years back, and newer cars on paper tend to be less efficient than the original values of older cars.

        c.

  • by SPQRDecker (762669) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @04:51AM (#26504397)
    This has nothing to do with the environment. It is simply a greenwashed incentive for boosting the ailing auto industry. Not that there's anything wrong with that given our economic woes, but it's kinda dishonest. Not only does the production of a new car produce more pollution (as another commenter pointed out), but many older cars are still fuel efficient, especially small ones that are well maintained, while new cars other than hybrids are no more fuel efficient than they were a decade ago. My aging stick-shifting Saturn, for example, still gets around 40 mpg on the highway even though it is now 11 years old. If they were really interested in environmental issues, they would instead propose an investment public transportation and give those who scrap their cars free train/bus passes. In most cities public transport is a joke. There's limited or no rail service and a network of depressing buses. Would I scrap my carbon belcher for a few years of free rides on an expanded and convenient public transit system? Maybe. But is this the point of this bill? Probably not.
  • Limited government (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kmac06 (608921) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @05:30AM (#26504517)
    What the fuck happened to the concept of limited government? 50+ comments on here, and not one asking what business is it of government to make people's decisions for them? I understand that /. tilts way to the left, but a total lack of outrage or even acknowledgment of the underlying problem here is just depressing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xstonedogx (814876)

      Pick your battles. Speak to your audience. You're not going to convince a crowd "tilted way to the left" of the flaws in this measure by basing your argument on libertarian ideals.

      In this case the measure is so obviously flawed that it won't even achieve its own stated goals. Showing how this measure won't live up to your audience's own ideals is much easier than asking them to abandon those ideals in order to agree with you.

    • by kklein (900361) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @06:45AM (#26504851)

      This is about a bill that gives people the option of getting a little extra money if they want to replace their cars with one that is more fuel-efficient.

      How is government making a decision for people?

      Furthermore, what is government for, if not to protect shared public assets, such as, I dunno, the entire earth, which, if my geography serves, includes the United States of America? And if by doing this, the cash flow to enemies of the US can be reduced, that's following another major charter of the federal government: defense.

      And Slashdot tilts way to the right. If you think it's left, then... how the hell did you get internet access all the way out in that highly-fortified shack in the woods?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Acer500 (846698)

        How is government making a decision for people?

        As usual, by spending other people's money.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tuxedobob (582913)

          Isn't that true of everything government does? Local governments "make decisions" to save your house in the event of a fire by "spending other people's money" too, yet somehow the fire department is viewed as a good thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zoney_ie (740061)

      Government is there to govern.

  • by GnarlyDoug (1109205) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @05:55AM (#26504631)
    One thing I've alwasy thought would help a lot would be better traffic control systems. Governments don't really have a big incentive to really optimize these systems and I think that great strides could be made in improving them. I always wind up spending several minutes every time I go to work sitting at lights when there is no traffic going the other way. That should never happen. Better and more intelligent systems would mean faster commutes, less idling at red lights, and fewer cars on the road at any one time since travel times would be shorter.
  • Bozo Economics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @07:50AM (#26505125)

    This reminds me of a program the police had in California to reduce guns by offering several hundred bucks, no questions asked, for each firearm turned in by a citizen. People were going out to Walmart, buying all the cheapest rifles in stock, and exchanging them for bundles of cash. I think the program went bankrupt (having burned through all the taxpayer money available) without actually reducing the number of weapons owned.

  • Already works... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kindaian (577374) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @10:17AM (#26505737) Homepage

    For years in Portugal...

    And it's a very good program.

  • Who pays? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc...paradise@@@gmail...com> on Sunday January 18, 2009 @10:37AM (#26505841) Homepage Journal
    So will the big three be the ones to repay the multi-billion dollar cost of this plan, once their sales pick up?

    Or will we just continue to heap it onto the debt with promises of paying it off some nebulous day in the future?

  • by FatherOfONe (515801) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @11:13AM (#26506045)

    Seriously people... The "Fed" is YOU AND ME.

    The "Fed" has no money, it is our tax money. So some idiot elected official wants to take your money and pay someone for their old car.

    Is this really Capitalism?

    To repeat again, someone is going to take your money and give it to someone else for a reason that most of you don't want. This is why taxes must be cut. If these idiots don't have our money then they can't do idiotic stuff with it. If they have the money, they have the power. Simple as that.

    Now this shouldn't be surprising given that the Democrats have controlled two branches of the government for a while, and are about to control everything. That and Bush hasn't acted at all like a conservative has put us in this mess.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chryana (708485)

      I agree with you as far as to think that this is a stupid idea, but I don't see the reason for Democrats bashing. One of the three proponents of the measure is Republican. Besides, the Republicans ran the two branches of the government long enough in recent years for everyone to see they don't know how to administrate the treasury any better.

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." -- George Bernard Shaw

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