August 22, 2009

Do you understand the massive destruction the government is paying for?

The destruction of perfectly operable cars?

Here, look, this is a Corvette, being destroyed pursuant to government policy. I'm skipping ahead to the really destructive part:

The government, which took over General Motors, wants us to hate Corvettes?

Look at all that smoke! Does anyone care about actual pollution anymore? (As opposed to carbon dioxide.)

And look at all the waste! What about all the energy was used producing the car? That is being squandered now, on the theory that a new car will use less gas (assuming it's driven the same number of miles). And energy was used to manufacture the new car. Using old things longer — preserving things — is a way to decrease the consumption of fossil fuels that are used in production. I don't see how Cash for Clunkers factored in all the energy use that is involved in destroying one car and making another.

And it really pains me to see the destruction of something beautiful and good.


save_the_rustbelt said...

If someone is trading a Corvette it probably had a very sick engine and would cost too much to fix.

Of he was clinically insane.

Ann Althouse said...

I think to qualify for the program, the car must be operable.

And the customer gets the trade in value of the car plus the $4500.

Bissage said...

The government is never the place to look for efficiency, except when it comes to health care.

SteveR said...

Having worked in the environmental field for 20 years, this program lacks anything close to a scientific justification.

As a regular person, its stupid.

WV: gogic- government version of logic, five letter short of the real thing

traditionalguy said...

How offensive it seems to us producers to see destruction of good products just to kickstart the Industrial Producers back into functioning again. It is a small example of the destruction that happens in a war. During WWII 50,000+ beautifull warplanes were produced in 3 years, and in another 3 years they had all been all destroyed in combat or by their surplus discarding as obsolete machines. But the economy had escaped from 10 years of Great Depression.

paul a'barge said...

OK. I'll say it again.

All those who voted for Obama, raise your hands.

How's that working out for us now?

wv: hymean .... not even going there.

paul a'barge said...

By the way, that engine is probably one of the best designed and manufactured by GM in their entire history.

People have been deliberately installing Corvette engines in their non-Corvette cars for years.

wv: humperso .... wow, 2 in a row not going there wv's.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

84 Corvette. No newer than an 85 with current market value of about $3000 assuming the car had never been wrecked.

If ...big if....the engine was any good it would be a nostalgia engine and good for a transplant into a more desireable car. Parts could have been recycled to repair other similar used cars. Speaking from a car/hot rod view point it is a huge waste.

The entire cash for clunkers shows just how stupid this administration and the idiots we have in Congress actually are. Althouse is absolutely correct. The destruction of perfectly good cars that are affordable to someone who might not be able to pay for or qualify for a new car financing is just wasteful, almost criminal.

It takes more energy to MAKE a new car than it does to just use the old one until it completely dies.

In addition to all of these costs, we have had to hire contractors from private industry and bring on government employees at OVERTIME wages to try to get the paperwork throught the system for the Cash for Clunkers rebates. Probably adding thousand to thousands of additional dollars to the $4500 the taxpayers are already being hosed for for this boondoggle. The end cost for this idiocy will balloon by more billions of dollars.

Anytime they try to shove public health care/ public health insurance down our throats we need to remember this abortion of a government program.

bearbee said...

Do you understand the massive destruction the government is paying for?

Government doesn't pay for anything.

AllenS said...

South side of Chicago, here we come.

traditionalguy said...

The only true job stimulus program that passed in the entire Porkulis Bribe bill was the Cash for Cclunkers, and they won't even pay out that money since it is not going directly to the Democrats Cabal Of Theives. They say writing checks is too hard to learn how to do.

KCFleming said...

And it really pains me to see the destruction of something beautiful and good.

Althouse's artisitic sense is also an economic fact.

Caroline Baum describes it pretty well at Bloomberg: Cash for Clunkers Is Just a Broken Windshield

"The “broken window fallacy,” as it is known, can be applied to all government spending. The $787 billion fiscal stimulus enacted in February transfers money from taxpayers to the government to allocate as it sees fit. The effect of the government’s expenditures shows up as growth in gross domestic product. Auto manufacturers produce more cars to meet the juiced demand, adding to GDP. This is what’s seen.

What is unseen is what would have been produced by the private sector had the government not confiscated future revenue via taxation.

Bastiat decribed this elementary fallacy 150 years ago; I wonder if the Nobel Economist, Obama pimp, and former Enron adviser Paul Krugman ever heard of him.

Mebbe not.
Another economist, Henry Hazlitt, confirms Althouse's instinct:
"the basic truth that the wanton destruction of anything of real value is always a net loss, a misfortune, or a disaster, and whatever the offsetting considerations in a particular instance, can never be, on net balance, a boon or a blessing.".

rhhardin said...

It's the broken window theory of stimulus. Broken windows make work for the glass industry.

Darcy said...

Pogo, that was excellent.

This is insane. And we're supposed to feel good about this somehow?

PatCA said...

But they're sinners! Er, polluters!

A few hundred years ago, they used guillotines.

mrs whatsit said...

Also, by decreasing the supply of operable used cars, the price is driven up for those who can't afford new ones. So compassionate, those Democrats.

wv: walliz -- getting emptier.

Beta Conservative said...

My teen years were late 60's and early 70's. I remember thinking of the Corvette as unattainable, mythic perfection. Not only fast and beautiful, but something rich guys used to impress their hot blonde dates. Iconic in every way.

My taste now runs to roomy, comfortable vehicles, and I've never owned anything particularly sporty or agile.

That's why I was surprised at my reaction when I first saw this video. It stopped me in my tracks and made me physically upset.

That this is being done in the name of some kind of environmental and economic progress is truly wretched. That this stupid program is being hailed as a great success is even worse.

Whenever the feds decide to give away other people's money, there are plenty of takers. By this standard Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are huge "successes".

They are also massively inefficient, fraud laced, and headed toward insolvency.

It's hard to watch this video and not contemplate the forthcoming wonders of Obamacare.

Dumb Plumber said...

Paul, I'm sorry but you confuse the iconic "small block V8" used in every Vette from '55 to today. With the '84 and maybe the '85s Chevy built a bastardized injection system that they abandon almost immediately, along with the 4+3 overdrive tranny. If, as you say, the engine was so superior, why wouldn't they still be using it today? Performance and economy says it all. The new fuel management systems and computer enhancements have made the '84 and '85s nostalgia motors and nothing more.

Fred4Pres said...


Shanna said...

"Do you understand the massive destruction the government is paying for?"

That is the most irritating of the 15 reasons this program is idiotic. I HATE to see all this waste! God.

Tank said...

Wait, don't forget.

Obama is the smartest president EVER. Really.

And Damn You Pogo for beating me to that Bastiat post. You and me, we're the last two people in America to read The Law.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Mrs Whatsit is correct also. There are many people who would have loved to purchase those cars that are being destroyed. Not everyone can get a new car for a lot of reasons. Not everyone needs a new car.

By destroying perfectly good used cars the cost to the less affluent segement of our society for used cars is going to go up.

They are also destroying used parts that people need to repair their own older cars.

vw = cratoria

what our economy is doing right now

kjbe said...

In the eye of the owner, there's always something wrong with a trade-in. I don't think anybody made this owner cash this in.

And it's my understanding that junkyard dealers are having a field day in the parts (not engine) department.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And it's my understanding that junkyard dealers are having a field day in the parts (not engine) department.

It was my understanding that the motors were destroyed and the car crushed so that there would be no resale or anyone could profit from the program.

I hope I'm wrong?

al said...

The wreckers are doing some minor parting out of the cars but for the most part the cars are destroyed. A true waste for the clueless in chief.

Wince said...

My grandma the clunker?

The economic and environmental madness of the C4C program is vividly demonstrated by these videos on YouTube.

Americans instinctively bristle at the idea of committing such waste, especially at the public's cost.

As such, I think these videos could be used effectively in the next election cycle.

The not so subtle inference that grandma might be next wouldn't even have to be mentioned.

Unknown said...

I have never once, now will I, buy a new car. Buy one used, run it until it dies, buy another. Cheap for me, cheaper on the economy and cheaper on the environment.

The same tree hugging morons who whoop it up at the wonder of this farce will also teach classes wherein they expound on the evil of corporations using resources and hiding the environmental cost.


wv: vinessed - I vinessed the idiocy of the current admin in my imagination over a year ago. I had thought it a bad dream.

Unknown said...

It's easy to ridicule the Clunkers debacle, and it deserves to be ridiculed. The most salient point, I think, is that Clunkers is entirely representative of almost all government programs. Governance depends on bureaucracy. Bureaucracies are inherently incompetent. Bureacracies are inherently inefficient and corrupt. Take what many consider the most functional, that is, competent arm of our government--the armed forces. While there are undeniably incredibly competent individuals througout the military, recognize that the age old expression, SNAFU, didn't arise from nowhere.

It follows then, that if we want our health care effed up, we should turn it over to a bureaucrat.

That's what all the town hall screaming is really about. We know in our bones that the proposals are frauds and that, regardless, whatever passes will inevitably be botched and corrupted.

Steven said...

"In our new Medicare cost-cutting measure, if you decline further non-palliative care for your grandmother, we'll give you a check for $4500."

mrs whatsit said...

Cash for Crones!

Anonymous said...

I just graduated from law school, so we're up to our ears in student loans. I got a clerkship, which is great experience, but lousy pay.

We had hoped my husband's car, which had has had for 12 years, would hang on for another year, so we could replace it with something nice. It didn't. All we want is a clunker, something in the 3-5K range, to hold on to for a year or two until we are more financially well adjusted.

Guess what you can't find right now, to save your bloody life? Poor people need cars, too.

John Kindley said...

Yes, upon reading the title of this post I rushed to comment about Bastiat, Hazlitt, and the "broken window fallacy," but quickly saw that Pogo had beaten me to it in exemplary fashion. Those who like Obama are ignorant of economic "history" are doomed to repeat it. But really, I doubt that he and his advisers are truly so stupid. They and the typical politicians like them just don't care about what is "unseen," because the unseen effects may not completely manifest themselves until they're out of office and can be blamed on their successors. And even then, the causal connection between the harmful effects and prior asinine policies can easily be "missed" amidst the general climate of political malfeasance and voter ignorance.

Paul said...

"the basic truth that the wanton destruction of anything of real value is always a net loss"

So true and especially in the case of the wanton destruction of the most successful political and economic system in history.

It's nice we don't have to see President God Damn America for a minute while he celebrates Ramadan at least.

WV boliemis...he makes me want to puke.

bearbee said...

"In our new Medicare cost-cutting measure, if you decline further non-palliative care for your grandmother, we'll give you a check for $4500."

How much if I outright toss her under a bus?

Anonymous said...

The next time I hear about the White House "vetting a nominee", I'm going to assume they're talking about a process analogous to this.

Caroline said...

"I don't see how Cash for Clunkers factored in all the energy use that is involved in destroying one car and making another."

O's programs are based on wishful thinking, not mathematical models. His "Economics of Hope" is not a dismal science.

Rialby said...

You can hear the sense of loss when the first guy says, "wow..."

I'm no huge car enthusiast but looking at them kill that beautiful car is a bit painful.

Caroline said...

So what if reducing the supply of affordable used cars hurts the poor, and means they are less likely to afford any car?

They can ride the new monorails that will be built.

holdfast said...

Part of the plan to make us more like Europe is to make personal motor vehicles a luxury that only the wealthy can afford.

The days of teens buying and fixing up beaters will be over - thanks Dems for destroying another piece of the American dream. Of course, though Obama was born in America, he is not OF America - he doesn't get it - he and his Tranzie buddies like the Emmanuel brothers want America to be just like the rest of the world.

Wince said...

Beside being wrong-headed on the merits, the problem with government programs like C4C is fraud, and to combat fraud, you get this invasion of privacy.

Chip Ahoy said...

Dear Obama,

Broken window fallacy. GOOGLE IT !!!!1111!!!

PatCA said...

Dust Bunny Queen,
There's fraud somewhere. This stinks to high heaven.

Well said, Mrs. Whatsit! LOL. Cash for Crones, not death panels!

d-day said...

Look at all the other "clunker" videos on YouTube. At $3B for the program, that's 600,000+ fine cars that are going to be destroyed, parts and all. I can't think of anything better designed to galvanize the non-voting average Joes into voting. Just imagine the ads the Republicans can run at election time. They should go get some good high-res "clunker" destruction video now.

This is sad and wrong.

dbp said...

This is kind of an automotive snuff video.

Moose said...

Buddy of mine is getting Cash For Clunkers for his '93 Lexus V8 - $3500, I think. What is he using it for? A BMW SUV.

Heh. Heh, heh, heh. You can't write stuff this good. Only in America...

BJM said...

Did anyone notice Obama's NASCAR photo op last week. The car czar canceled GM's NASCAR program after the 2010 season. Guess they've never heard "race on Sunday, sell on Monday".

Actually I'm ambivalent about the clunker crushing as 99.999% are pieces of crap produced by the millions, but the anti-car drumbeat does not bode well for vintage car collectors. Eventually those of us with vintage iron will not be allowed to drive it on public streets.

However it's not just clunkers the govt is trying to sweep off the streets and markets.

The Feds are planning to monitor your garage & yard sale to stop resale of recalled products.

Collectibles and historic memorabilia are going to become rare if this nanny bullshit continues.

I think it's more about crushing the cash economy than clunkers and safety, but then I may be overly cynical.

Dody Jane said...

This clunker stuff is a metaphor for what is coming if he has his way with healthcare. I am 51 and very wary of the future, say thirty years from now.

EnigmatiCore said...

"And it really pains me to see the destruction of something beautiful and good"

You have distilled down to the true essence of leftism.

Liberalism may be well and good, but leftism is destructive.

Ralph L said...

If they were concerned about pollution, they would have restricted the cars to ones that failed emissions tests and get those bad-ringed oil burners off the road. Of course, then everyone would screw up his engine to qualify.

I hadn't realized you get the trade-in value in addition to the $4500.

Anonymous said...

This program encapsulates the impenetrable idiocy, incompetence and arrogance of Obama and the congressional communists. Gold help us.

Unknown said...

DBQ: "84 Corvette. No newer than an 85 with current market value of about $3000 assuming the car had never been wrecked."

Actually, it's an 86. Look at the wheels. 84/85 were black in the center around the lugnuts. In 86 they stopped painting them black and left it brushed aluminum.

I had an 86 and it was a great car. They smoothed out the 84's rough edges and produced a fun all around sports car that handled well, had acceptable horsepower and torque, yet got reasonably good mileage. Mine was rock solid reliable with zero problems in eight years.

I woo'd my wife in that car. Took her on an Autumn evening top-off drive to Lake Tahoe just to see the moon and stars from lakeside and to be with each other...

Good times.

Anyway, CFC is stupid, counter productive, wasteful of money and good things - and a tiny taste of things to come.

El Presidente said...

The engine still ran, the lines were dated but still attractive in their own way, the suspension and the upholstery started to sag a while ago but were still serviceable.

Just like Grandpa.

MadisonMan said...

Best headline I've seen this week: Clunker Program to end Monday

Joe said...

And the customer gets the trade in value of the car plus the $4500.

No; the customer gets $4500 (or $3500 depending on the mileage of the new car) flat in lieu of any trade in value. Trade in value only makes sense when a dealer is reselling the car.

In practical terms, this means that even a car worth $4500 on the open market would be worth junking, considering it's zero hassle (heck, even a car worth $5000 might have been worth junking just to avoid hassles of selling the damn thing.)

blake said...

Where are the defenders of this program?

Surely someone thinks it's a good idea.

[h/t John Hughes]

Peter Hoh said...

Cash for bankers burned through a hell of a lot more money than cash for clunkers, but didn't produce video like this that demonstrated that it was a bad idea.

Peter Hoh said...

I believe that Althouse is incorrect in her 10:47 comment. The customer does not get the trade in value of the car in addition to the $4,500.

The customer and the dealer must have agreed that the value of this car was less than $4,500.

Text from a CFC FAQ page:
A: The program would not provide any benefit if a car dealer would give you more than $4,500 for your trade-in. If you want to purchase a new car, do not wait on this bill if your trade is worth more than $4,500 since it will not provide any upside relief.

Skookum John said...

And Damn You Pogo for beating me to that Bastiat post. You and me, we're the last two people in America to read The Law.

No, there are at least three of us who have read our Bastiat, though it should be pointed out that his brilliant exposition of the broken-window fallacy comes not from The Law but rather from the essay Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas, or "That which is seen, and that which is not seen", from his Essays on Political Economy.

For my money, this is the most important analysis of economics and public policy ever published. Hayek, Friedman, Hazlitt, and Sowell are all brilliant, but every one of them would acknowledge the debt they owe to Bastiat. His name is unknown to nine hundred and ninety-five of every thousand Americans, and to practically all of his countrymen in France, but he deserves to be one of the most famous economists who ever lived.

If you don't know Bastiat, go read this essay. It will take less than half an hour, despite the typically wordy 19th-century style of writing, but its lessons will stay with you for a lifetime. It is on WikiSource at:,_and_That_Which_Is_Not_Seen

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