Cash for Clunkers: Rewards for bad choices

Written by Rosa Colucci on .

Cash for Clunkers is yet another example of Congress rewarding those who made poor decisions at the expense of those who didn't. While some were buying hot-rods, behemoth SUVs, luxury barges and pickups for their daily commute, others were buying their primary vehicle not as a fashion statement, but as a practical means of economical transportation, i.e., small cars that get high mileage.

When vehicles with poor mileage disproportionately drove up the demand for gasoline, everybody paid higher prices at the pump. Now, Congress is compounding the injury and rewarding the owners of gas-guzzlers by giving them money to buy a sensible, economical car. Who will pay for that? Everybody. But since people who don't own a gas-guzzler cannot benefit from the program, they are in fact being punished, while the irresponsible and self-indulgent are rewarded for their frivolous choices.

If Congress wants to encourage people to buy economical, sensible transportation, maybe it should instead impose a $4,500 per year obscenity tax on anyone driving a gas-guzzler, while giving a tax credit to anyone driving a fuel-efficient car. When Congress bailed out Wall Street, nearly everyone opined it was wrong to reward the people who had made the bad decisions that caused the economic crisis.

Yet Cash for Clunkers is hugely popular. I guess the shoe feels different when it's on the other foot? Compared to the Wall Street bailout, Cash for Clunkers is even more egregious, because it rewards conspicuous consumption, punishes conscientious living and redefines rightness as, "What's in it for me?"

New Freeport, Greene County


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