Cash for Clunkers?
I'm dipping into quasi-political matters here, in violation of my own policy--but this is just too apropos to Car Lust for me to pass up.
SEMA, the aftermarket performance part/accessory trade group and organizer of the behemoth SEMA trade show, is very active in legislative lobbying. This morning it sent out a legislative alert with the following warning:
"Washington lawmakers are drafting a large economic stimulus package to help create jobs and rebuild infrastructure. They want to include a nationwide scrappage program which would give U.S. tax dollars to consumers who turn-in older cars to have them crushed, as a misguided attempt to spur new car sales. The lawmakers need to scrap this idea.
"The stimulus package is being drafted right now. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wants to introduce the bill on January 6 and have it approved by Congress by January 20, so that President Obama can sign it into law after he is inaugurated."
Amazon.com has no official position on this, and neither do I, but speaking as a private citizen who harbors lust for older cars, the idea of a systemic scrapping of older cars sends shivers down my spine.
In its alert, SEMA included some germane talking points--i.e. scrapping older cars reduces options for people who can't afford new cars, it hurts small business, likely will have a minimal effect on fuel economy and emissions, etc.--but my viewpoint is characteristically smaller and more selfish.
Most of the cars I've publically adored in this space could be fairly described as clunkers. From Renault Fuegos to 1970s Impalas, the cars after which I lust tend to be old, unpopular, and, to put it mildly, not very good. The idea of rounding up these cars and systematically scrapping them puts a tear in my eye. I have no interest in living in a world in which the roads are filled with anonymous late-model jellybean cars, with nary a Plymouth Valiant in sight.
Besides, who determines what a clunker is? If the motivation is to drive demand for new cars, might we not see the age cutoff moving forward rather rapidly? Who will protect the rights of the older-car owners?
I was horribly tempted to paraphrase Pastor Martin Niemoller's poem, starting with the line "First they came for the Studebakers, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Studebaker owner." You'll be glad to hear I resisted the impulse to paraphrase a poem discussing fascism and political bravery to make a point about old cars.