Socialized car buying? Awesome! Where are the conservatives when you need them?
Update: I've read through the comments thus far. One in particular, by MeteorBlades, was especially enlightening, in that it directed me to his (her?) diary on the same subject. Blades makes a lot of arguments on how the existing Clunkers program could be improved. Instead of summarize, I'll direct you there. In particular, he very clearly illustrates out how screwed up the incentive system is (that people who had the foresight to buy low-mileage vehicles to begin with can be inelligble, and that there aren't enough incentives to buy especially high mileage vehicles).
Second, I've posted before on the importance (and feasibility) of reducing the amount people drive, and I ALWAYS receive about 50 comments stating, "Not everyone has another option, city boy," which is funny, because I always acknowledge that fact. It's amazing that anyone could label him or herself a "progressive" and have a total inability to imagine what COULD BE, rather than what is.
Please remind yourself how much your car costs to operate, how much space it consumes (roads and parking included), what an immediate and long-term threat it is to others, and seriously consider whether there might be a better option. Even if you live in a suburb. I'm not saying lets take every car off the road -- I'm saying let's seriously consider every oppurtunity to take cars off the road.
In this case these comments are especially outrageous, because I am focusing on the fact that a Cash-for-Bikes/Public Transit system would appeal in particular to city dwellers -- and local pollution is a big problem for city folk like myself. I imagine, in these hard times (and in cities where living is expensive), a surprising number of people would give up driving altogether for $4,500 and a chance to stop paying 200-300/month for a parking space for their old POS.
Last, I'm aware conservatives have protested, in a weird roundabout way, cash for clunkers. Mostly I was being tongue and cheek on that point.
I don't like cars, and I stopped driving one a while ago, but I live in a city, so this is possible for me. I realize it's not possible for everyone, and so I try not to demonize people for simply trying to get from point A to point B. But I like to think that the majority of the government's funding of transit should be for public transit, or at least transit that does the least possible harm (say, bicycling).
It's funny to watch the conservative protests of public health care. If you look at the top ten cars traded in the Cash for Clunkers program, they're almost all American SUVs. I have to believe that at least 50% of those cars are owned by conservatives. Granted, the bulk of the protesters at the health care rallies are likely on Medicare, but hypocrisy hasn't stopped them there. So, why are they so chill about socialized car buying?
Now, onto you, progressives. Why are you so damned pleased about the success of the cash for clunkers program? Why are you OK with the fact that people haven't been encouraged -- haven't even been given the option -- of trading their clunker in for a bicycle and money to put toward public transit. Bicycle and bus use creates jobs too. It is also a hell of a lot better for the environment than the most efficient hybrid.
Cars take up a lot of room, and cities are crowded. It would be a huge boon to urban centers, which happen to house the majority of this country's population, if people were encouraged to lose their car. Honestly, I'd rather have a bunch of kids skating around my office than a bunch of adults parking their cars there. Public transportation systems are struggling. Bike initiatives are popular and cheap. 4,500 bucks from each car owner would go a long way.
But no -- rather than build up this country's public transit infrastructure, you're content that $4,500 of your tax dollars are perpetuating an albatross around this country's neck -- the American auto industry. You're content to reward everyone who made the horrible decision of buying a gas guzzler ten years ago with $4,500 for their troubles. Never mind that they've already made my air harder to breath, destroyed the roads I need to use too, and generally consumed far more space than any one human should. Never mind all of that.