“Cash for clunkers” = votes from plunder

“Cash for clunkers”?  I’d call it “votes from plunder.” This program is a great investment – for politicians seeking reelection. It combines new-car gift cards for consumers, corporate welfare for car manufacturers, and jobs for the politically-powerful United Auto Workers.

“Cash for clunkers” is robbery – not just of our money, but our freedom. One person’s “clunker” is an other’s affordable car. Cars provide freedom to go where you want, when you want. But politicians are using your tax dollars to buy and destroy affordable used cars.

Politicians justify this with seemingly virtuous reasons such as fighting pollution and climate change. But the Associated Press reports that the effect is negligible: equivalent to shutting down “every automobile, every factory, every power plant — for an hour per year.”

Compare this to traffic congestion, which costs each traveler three weeks’ worth of gas annually, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. It also costs each traveler more than $750 in wasted fuel and productivity and “nearly one full work week” in wasted time per year.

Traffic congestion not only pollutes, but it robs us of precious time and resources. To remedy this, politicians should promote market pricing mechanisms such as toll roads, as Drew Carey describes in his on-line video “Gridlock.” Yes, comedian and game show host. Charging more at peak driving times can remedy traffic jams if … “the price is right.”

A version of this was published in the Boulder Daily Camera on August 8, 2009.

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