Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

Everyone complains about government spending, but the recent performance by auto dealers and the driving public when given a billion dollars to play with demonstrates what happens when we get to take part in it.

The government offered dealers a chance to give a big boost to drivers trading in gas guzzling junk. This would stimulate auto sales and remove wasteful vehicles from the road.

A billion dollars seems huge to most of us. It seems as big as a million used to. It's so vast you shouldn't be able to see the other side of it. So write those checks. Make those deals. Happy days are here.

The idea behind the program was no better or worse than any idea concocted by our citizen government. The original proposal called for four billion dollars. The senate whacked it back to one billion in an admirable move to conserve taxpayer funds. It was still a billion dollars. How often does the business person on the street get to dip directly into a billion in federal money?

So the auto vendors made deals, deals, deals! Free billion, folks! A billion! A THOUSAND MILLION! Wow! A bi--! Shit! It's almost gone!

In this case the program seems benign. I'd rather see the money go into circulation than into intricate killing machinery we hope we never have to use. It's just an interesting study in the citizen expenditure of public funds.

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