January 5, 2013

"Cash for Clunkers" environmental cost/benefit balance seems to have been negative.

"According to the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), almost 100% of a vehicle can be recycled."
Even the fluids can be reused.... Transmission and brake fluids, anti-freeze, oil, gasoline, diesel and Freon from air conditioners are harvested at scrap yards for use in other vehicles. However, still-functioning engines are the most valuable part of a scrapped car....

Many of the cars that were traded in during Cash for Clunkers were perfectly functioning cars in good condition, and excellent candidates to have their engines and other parts recycled. With the engine destroyed, many clunkers bypassed the recycling companies and went straight to junkyards to be crushed and shredded.... [The engines were] destroyed to prevent the vehicles from being resold and taking the road again.....

[Cash for Clunkers] mandated that the clunkers be crushed or shredded within 180 days, regardless of whether all the usable parts were salvaged or not... Cars that are shredded are turned into small, palm-sized pieces of metal... For each ton of metal recovered by a shredding facility, roughly 500 pounds of shredder residue are produced, meaning about 3 to 4.5 million tons of shredder residue is sent to landfills every year....
Well, that's the perspective of the recycling industry, and it's all information that was known when the program was adopted. This isn't news, just an industry press release. That should make us skeptical, but also, if it's true, more critical of the government, since (I assume) they knew all this and did it anyway.

55 comments:

Dust Bunny Queen said...

DUH!

Who didn't know that this program was a huge waste of money and waste of perfectly good used cars. Waste of parts that could be recycled and reused by people who can't afford to buy NEW cars.

WASTE. Criminal waste.

wyo sis said...

There were stories at the time about somereally beautiful older cars that were crushed as well. My husband, who loves old cars, was pretty upset at the time. I think It's too bad all the cars with that horrible paint from the 70's didn't go, but they are still rusting away all over the place.

Erika said...

Yeah, we know.

Big Mike said...

... but also, if it's true, more critical of the government, since (I assume) they knew all this and did it anyway.

The ability of politicians to hear precisely what they want to hear and disregard the rest is truly awe-inspiring. This is one place where we can all be bi-partisan. In my experience it's characteristic of all politicians.

SteveR said...

Anybody who believed the fairy tale also likely believed things like "most transparent government ever" and "cut the deficit in half in my first term", etc. (a long list).

MathMom said...

Cash for Clunkers hurt the poor. Since they cannot afford new cars, and all the used, more affordable cars were destroyed, this left the poor with fewer, more expensive choices for transportation than they would have had if the idiots in our government who failed Economics 101 had just left it alone.

It's just like PETA. They kill animals to "save" them.

Michael K said...

More evidence that Obama and Congress (at least Democrats) never heard of Frederic Bastiat. Why should they ? He's dead white man.

The parable of the broken window was introduced by Frédéric Bastiat in his 1850 essay Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas (That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen) to illustrate why destruction, and the money spent to recover from destruction, is actually not a net-benefit to society. The parable, also known as the broken window fallacy or glazier's fallacy, demonstrates how opportunity costs, as well as the law of unintended consequences, affect economic activity in ways that are "unseen" or ignored.

No. That is Obama's economic policy so why should they know ?

Pettifogger said...

The recycling industry press release is obviously self serving. But in evaluating it, I come down to whether I trust more government programs or self-serving press releases from the private sector. In this case at least, the self-serving press releases win out.

FleetUSA said...

Obama's policy ideas don't need research as he considers himself so brilliant.

He wanted to give a superficial (i.e. media) boost to GM and the unions and this seemed just fine. Never looked at the details.

jr565 said...

If you look at almost any proposal suggested by the greenie/lefties it doesn't really do much for the issue it's supposed to address but does a hell of a lot of harm as a byproduct.
Whether this is side effect is known or unknown at the time is actually debatable. I would say in many cases its known, and either the grenie/lefties don't care or that is the actual intended result.

Chuck Currie said...

Eliminating the old, gas guzzlers, was the green-weenies objective. It was a feature, not a bug.

The green-weenie goal is to pedestrianize the world - especially the U.S. They don't want the poor to have cars, they want them on public transportation. It's easier to control a pedestrianized society than it is an automobile society.

Cheers

Maguro said...

Of course, it was always about the cash. Specifically, getting it to the politicians' auto industry cronies.

The clunkers were just a handy means to that end.

traditionalguy said...

Americans have grown to accept the delusions fed to as they mistakenly believe the Government wants good for them like it once did before The New World Order began moving pieces on the chess board.

Now telling the truth about Government's latest tall tales gets you slandered as a "Denier."

As soon as the internet censorship is in place and our guns have been confiscated, then the rebel North American colonies will be deemed serfs of the World Emperor.

70 Years ago when an Emperor named Hirohito tried that at Pearl Harbor in Oahu and he only got the wrath of the USA.

But Emperor Obama emerging from Oahu has no fear of us at all.

jr565 said...

The green-weenie goal is to pedestrianize the world - especially the U.S. They don't want the poor to have cars, they want them on public transportation. It's easier to control a pedestrianized society than it is an automobile society.


Exactly. They also want energy prices to be high. They WANT the economy to shrink.

Pogo said...

Krugman gave them intellectual coverage. That Nobel economist actually believes in breaking windows for growth.

F said...

The other thing I saw about the Cash for Clunkers program, something I don't see mentioned in any discussion of it, is how much of it was used by people with sufficient funds that they really didn't need an incentive to trade in the old car. This is anecdotal, of course, but the two examples I saw were people who didn't really need a push from the government. When they decided to trade in a car (usually 2-3 years old) they just did it, and paid cash for the new one. Both, however, had an old clunker sitting around that they didn't need and were getting ready to give to some charity. When this program was announced they jumped on it as free money, which it was. So a charitable donation was lost, a poor person who could have benefited from the help was left out, and taxpayers coughed up a $3,500 bonus to the wealthy person who bought a new car. In both cases, BTW, they bought a foreign car, so American automakers were not helped either. The whole program was ill-conceived and did nothing to improve our economic situation. But it did benefit some political cronies, so I guess it wasn't a total loss.

Kenneth Burns said...

I've heard it said that the greenest car is the car you don't buy. In the Cash for Clunkers time I considered trading in my old truck and spending my Jeopardy! winnings on a new car. Still have my old truck.

Drago said...

It is racist to point out that an obama administration policy is actually counterproductive to the specified goals of the policy.

Carol said...

It's not just the poor can't afford new cars, it's that people like my husband can't find recycled parts, either. He routinely calls the wrecking yards first for parts. The metrosexual pussies in the admin are so far from ever fixing their own cars that they never thought of that.

Carol said...

Oh, that was the point, wasn't it.

NM

Tim said...

Another Obama failure. And not surprising.

Some day, if we are lucky, and our political culture calms down and we can revisit the Obama Administration with open minds and dispassionate reason, Americans will appreciate how ill-prepared Obama was (and remains) to be president, and how poorly and irresponsibly he and his Administration "governed."

I'm not holding my breath.

jimbino said...

I know it was virtually impossible to find a replacement used motor for my otherwise perfectly good 1989 Honda Accord.

It's quite obvious that any departure from reliance on the free market results in great economic loss, including programs such as cash-for-clunkers, farm price supports, anti-gouging laws and rampant pro-natalism.

Joe said...

My daughter just bought an old car. As we looked at ads and drove around it became obvious that cash-for-clunkers reduced the number of good used cars, but that scarcity significantly drove up the price of the ones which remained.

Steve in Philly said...

Cash For Clunkers is little more than a transfer of cash from citizens at large to Obama supporters (in this case, the UAW) pretty much like everything Obama's done in his career (see Grove Parc Plaza.) I think of it as forcing my children to unknowingly join a consortium of IOU signers, owing real funds, so that one guy at the end of the block can get a $4K break on a new car. It also damaged frugal people who actually seek transportation via used cars, and the very large parts of the auto industry where workers aren't represented by the UAW. Think of it as Grove Parc Plaze write large - or of Nationalized Health Care writ small - it's the same game, over and over again: Donors help politician get power, and politician gets them cash in return, all with a public face of 'helping deserving people' who actually aren't helped much if at all.

Roadkill said...

Environmentalism is a faith-based ideology, and Cash for Clunkers was a program designed by and for the faithful. That the program made no economic sense is of no consequence; its intentions were good and that's all that matters. Just consider economic waste by design to be one of the many mysteries of their faith.

Roadkill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
campy said...

Some day, if we are lucky, and our political culture calms down and we can revisit the Obama Administration with open minds and dispassionate reason, Americans will appreciate how ill-prepared Obama was (and remains) to be president, and how poorly and irresponsibly he and his Administration "governed."

I'm not holding my breath.

As long a Wikipedia is on the Net, Obama will be revered as the wisest, most effective leader in human history.

chrisnavin.com said...

Quick, someone send this link to Obama.

Oh wait, it's like a religion, a way for all the Left to regulate the economy, a system of money and politics, a uniting ideology deep in the American public mind.

A way to get reelected and signal the base.

Oh well.

bagoh20 said...

Hmmm. I'm seeing a pattern: failure here, failure there, things never seem to happen as promised. Wait! Binders of women? Oh, hell no!

EDH said...

Romney should have walked voters through all this Obama first term nonsense in his campaign.

The visuals of these cars being destroyed were particularly powerful symbols of a wider patter of perverse government waste.

ddh said...

Chris Matthews thinks "junk" is a dog whistle for racists.

Levi Starks said...

Who do you think will be writing the history books that detail the Obama years? Books that future generations of students will be forced to accept as fact? heres a hint, It won't be the people who read and post to blogs like this one.
As a conservative today I see 3 choices, Banging my head against the wall for the next statistical 30 years of my life, figuratively walking away, or revolution.
I can only hope that the revolution is brought to me by the victims of failed progressive policy. (otherwise known as Obama supporters)
And If I could make a special request, maybe it could happen while I'm young enough to still enjoy the show.

MathMom said...

I remember watching this video of the murder of a Volvo back then. I say murder, because after a few minutes, it felt like a snuff film and I had to stop watching. What a fecking waste.

Michael said...

The greens always leave out the environmental cost of building the new green car they want you to buy. Old gas guzzlers kept on the road for many more years are more environmentaly friendly than constructing and shipping a new PRIUS.

edutcher said...

It was a Lefty idea and you expected it to work?

R. Chatt said...

The program was also sold as beneficial for the environment, removing cars which are big polluters and encouraging people to buy new more fuel efficient (American) cars. According to the Obama administration the program was a great success. Of course. Not everyone agreed, "As an environmental program, Cash for Clunkers is basically overpaying for the environmental benefits," said Christopher Knittle, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis who analyzed the Cash for Clunkers impact on the environment."

'Cash for Clunkers' Environmental Benefits Are in Doubt

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And....coming soon to you, the newest ethanol blend of gasoline that will destroy your older vehicles, eat holes in those home and garden tools, weed eaters, lawn mowers etc. Things that used to be able to last for 10 to 20 years, now to be eaten away by ethanol made from corn that people could actual consume as food. Burning our food in caustic blends of gasoline, while people world wide are suffering higher food prices and shortages.

Can ANYTHING be more shortsighted or destructive? Probably, they just haven't thought of it yet.

Mark Nielsen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Nielsen said...

We bought a used minivan just before CFC and paid about $10K. A few months later, thanks to a shortage of used cars, we could have sold it for $14K.

Anyone shopping for a used car is *still* paying the price for that fiasco.

Gahrie said...

The only thing Cash for Clunkers accomplished was to remove perfectly good used cars from the market and make used cars more expensive.

Chip Ahoy said...

All the talk of racism, I woke up to it, turned on the tv and blam a woman caller averred all criticism of Obama was people just not being able to stand a black person being in the white house. Color contrast there. So I woke up then to the kind and humanifying thought, "fuck you." But this Clash for Clunkers is where our president showed early his truly divisive color, deep maroon.

Rusty said...

jimbino said...
I know it was virtually impossible to find a replacement used motor for my otherwise perfectly good 1989 Honda Accord.

As I recall Honda Accords got pretty decent gas mileage.

It's quite obvious that any departure from reliance on the free market results in great economic loss, including programs such as cash-for-clunkers, farm price supports, anti-gouging laws and rampant pro-natalism.

Yes it does.

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DADvocate said...

Anyone who knew anything about cars knew this program was a fiasco from the start. My sister traded in a mid-80s Dodge Ram Charger similar to this one. People love to take them and "pimp" them up or customize them.

I offered her $3,000 for it. Which is what she paid for it, but I couldn't afford to match teh $4,500 she got through Cash for Clunkers. Still pisses me off to think about it.

Balfegor said...

That should make us skeptical, but also, if it's true, more critical of the government, since (I assume) they knew all this and did it anyway.

Why would you assume that? One reason to be suspicious of government power in general is that bureaucrats and politicians know a lot less than they think they do.

bagoh20 said...

"That should make us skeptical, but also, if it's true, more critical of the government, since (I assume) they knew all this and did it anyway."

While this is of course true, it is also not a problem with 90% of the regulars on this blog, nor about half the country. Our nation's problems are nearly all due to the half of the country that is either ideologically crazy or just stupid, and both will fall for this stuff every time. I don't see anyway around that until the failure is smack-you-in-the-face bad, so that at least the stupid will be shamed into voting responsibly, because it's the stupid who care most about being seen as stupid.

The most effective political tactic for both sides is the mocking portrayal of the opposition as stupid. The left have had an easier time with this because in the past it was a sign of intelligence to not have to get you hands dirty. Today hardly anybody does, the stupid have a lot of cover. They assume that if they have a desk job or work with words or paper that they must be in the smarter half. That has never been less true than it is today.

Sam L. said...

That was a given, and had the greenies not been so corrupt, they would have insisted those cars be recycled.

Sam L. said...

Drago, the correct spelling is

r aaaaa cist. Five (count 'em, 5) 'a's. More than 5 for emphasis is allowed.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Dad advocate

I feel your pain. THIS is my project car 72 K5 Blazer and my previous project car which I am still kicking myself for selling (I DID make a nice profit.)

To crush either of these for a mere $3500 in the name of global warming is a CRIME. The whole cash for clunkers thing made me physically ill. Literally.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Another view of my baby...the Blazer.

Biff said...

During the past few months, I've noticed a few articles in the traditional press discussing the current shortage of used cars in the marketplace. They all seem to blame Hurricane Sandy and the poor economy, but only a handful mention Cash for Clunkers as a possible cause of the shortage, and it is clear that while the shortage may have been exacerbated by Sandy, it's also clear that the shortage pre-dates Sandy.

As for Cash-for-Clunkers hurting the poor, isn't it obvious that the poor are supposed to take public transit for reasons of class and environmental protection?? (That was sarcasm, in case it wasn't obvious.)

DADvocate said...

dbq - nice Blazer. I love the old big ones.

wyo sis said...

DBQ
Our Blazer is the '70 model same color. We've had a lot of people want it, but we keep it even with its leaky gas tank.

Fernandinande said...

"... cost/benefit balance seems to have been negative."

Why would anyone ever think otherwise? The stupidity is financial as well as environmental.

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