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Oppose Federal “Cash for Clunkers” Program! Part II

Reatta Man

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In addition to your talking points about how the old car hobby needs these so-called "clunkers" for their supply of invaluable spare parts, we should remind Washington lawmakers that all we are asking them to do is to allow us to do what THEY already do.

Case in point: Davis-Monthan AFB near Tucson, AZ is a critical supply link in the Air Force's ability to keep its' aging fleet in the air.


The "boneyard," as many call it, stores and often returns to flight status 4,400 aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines and other federal agencies, including NASA. The Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group is an invaluable source of parts for many aircraft where other sources of parts are no longer available.

They also return aircraft to flight status for the U.S. and our allies as missions change or flight demands dictate. For every $1 it spends to maintain the facility, the Air Force saves $11 from harvesting parts and selling off inventory.

Go here to get more info about them:


If Congress sees the value in maintaining these "clunker" aircraft to keep their own fleet of military and government aircraft flying, why shouldn't we, the old car hobbyists, be allowed to and supported in our desire to keep these old cars around, either to restore or use for parts?


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Joe, old cars are a more convenient whipping boy than old aircraft. Ms. Pelosi and her ilk hate cars (read "hate the freedom and independence they offer the American public who should be in public transportation") and old car scrappage has always been a liberal tenet. You cannot make them understand the truth about old car enthusiast drivers and usage- that they aren't driven enough to make a difference in pollution.

Case in point- none of my four Oldsmobiles were driven more than 50 miles total the past year, so I certainly can't be accused of contributing to gross pollution.

Now, the hot air coming out of Sacramento and DC... that's a different story.

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Hi GLenn Mabey we should get all the old car's club's (G.M FORD MOPAR ROD'S) AND MORE TO DESEND ON D.C.IN PROTEST to get a little more respct for our hobby and keeping the heratage alive.(Dame good car show too)A week day in the spring .how about it.

have a great BUICK day


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I agree that Pelosi and her "force them to ride the bus" crowd will NEVER see the hypocrisy of their desire to scrap old cars. But, I think there is still lots of hope for the senator or congressman who comes from a district or state outside the liberal areas of the northeast and the West coast. One of the things that we can all "hope" for is that when some in Congress wish to overreach with their extreme wish lists, they will look ridiculous and loose the support of the heartland.

Frank and Wayne: As for a car show, how about a Beach Boys (or multiple 60's groups) concert in conjunction with a collectible car show on the national mall? The Beach Boys used to do the concert in conjuction with the 4th of July for years during the Reagan administration. Seems like every other social and political cause can lock down DC any time they want a few hours of free publicity. Maybe we could call it the "Million MILE March"?

Wouldn't that be something if the Corvette, Mustang, Camaro, Mopar, Cadillac, Buick, Imperial and all the other national marque clubs decided to have a one-day all club national rallye? WOW!!!!!!!

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Greetings on this first day of 2009!

In researching this new and emerging issue, I found two articles via Google. One is an article from the Center For American Progress Action Fund, which describes the proposed program in depth. www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2008/cash_for_clunkers.html should get you there. I recommend that everybody read that article to see what "they" are proposing and at what cost. This article is dated November 20,2008. From what I see there, the proponents of this program speak in glowing terms about how great it will be and how much it will help the lower income demographics of our society by putting them in new(er) vehicles that get better fuel economy and have less pollution out the tailpipe. Interestingly, they put some new percentage figures out about how much older vehicles contribute to the existing air quality issues . . . and then do NOT reference where that data was obtained.

There was another article at blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2008 that takes a more balanced approach, with "If Approached Sensibly" in the title. That article mentions the vehicles going into the salvage pool for dismantling for sale/recycling of used parts from the donor vehicles. Unlike the other article, the Edmunds article lists names and provides links to where the data they mention comes from. A few key items they note: "The Auto Futures Group, an industry consultancy, suggests that 225,000 auto sector jobs in the U.S. would be created, or retained, for every one million cars and trucks scrapped in such a program." "Green Car Advisor took a look at auto recycling this past summer and found that it's the 16th largest industry in the U.S., generating about $10 billion annually and employing approximately 100,000 people." "We have found that recycling one car reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 9,000 pounds - the equivalent of not burning 475 gallons of gasoline." "Problems develop, however, when regulators try to force people to cash out their old cars, or require complete demolition of the clunkers to prhoibit re-use of certain parts, such as inefficient, smog-producing engines." This article ALSO mentions the legislative operatives who are at the center of advocating this program (other than Ms. Pelosi). This article was authored by John O'Dell, Senior Editor on December 22, 2008, 12:01AM

From what I see, the Center For American Progress Action Fund's commentary has it all laid out in somewhat utopian "win-win" terms. The lower income demographics are usually seldom not considered in any programs, so this is one they can benefit from . . . at least on the surface. They can get the funding to upgrade to a newer vehicle that will save them money on fuel plus clean the enviroment at the same time, the article claims. No mention that the new(er) vehicle that might save them fuel costs might cost more to insure (required in many states, which are clamping down on uninsured motorists) and maintain (many times needing more quarts of oil for an oil change than their prior vehicle did).

In the middle 1980s, Toyota had a "Cheap To Keep" advertising theme. When I obtained a list of what it would cost for the first four years of ownership (from a local North Richland Hills, TX Toyota dealership at the time), there were some surprises. For the first 3 yrs/36,000 miles, there were many "checks" that were "no charge", but after that, they figured to replace the battery, change the rear axle grease, and other checks that were previously "no charge" were now generating projected replacements that now cost something in parts and labor. Hence, the cost of factory recommended maintenance went up significantly after the factory warranty period.

Compared to a, for example, 1985 Chevy Caprice V-8, the total "down the road costs" were higher . . . by observation. Some of the items on the Toyota maintenance list were reasonable (the battery replacement, for example), but changing the rear axle grease was virtually unheard of OR required on USA brand rwd vehicles of that time (at least in our Texas climate). Similarly, a choke pulloff for the Caprice V-8 was about $25.00 at the time, but a similar part on a Chevy Citation V-6 (and many import brands) was $85.00. So, although the Chevy met the same emissions standards as the Toyota, might get 20% less fuel economy on the highway than a larger Toyota sedan, the Chevy Caprice V-8 would be much less expensive to keep for 100,000 miles as the fuel saved with the Toyota would not compensate for the greater repair parts costs . . . when they happened as a normal matter of course. If you figure in the larger cargo and passenger volume of the Caprice, IT could make more sense for many lower income demographic customers as the larger size and larger trunk would make it more useable for hauling some of the same cargo that would requre an addition vehicle in the Toyota owern's situation.

The CFAPAF article puts a cost of the "Cash For Clunkers" program at $5 BILLION ANNUALLY, which would fund the scrapping of 2 million vehicles. They claim that with the price of shredded auto scrap at $565/ton as of June 2008, with a scrapped older vehicle weighing 4,000 lbs would have a scrap value of $1000.00, which would be used to help fund the program. They seem to believe that with more scrap metal coming into the pipeline, the price of such scrap steel would remain the same. They claim that such a vehicle would really weigh 4,000 pounds after many of its fluids and other non-steel components are removed and use the stated weight to be representative of an older car coming into the scrappage program.

This article mentions that Texas, California, and elsewhere have early vehicle retirement programs. It appears that this group has not studied the many aspects of the current Texas program (which has been highly popular by many accounts), to become aware of the many "outs" to complete vehicle crushing OR that vehicles coming into the program MUST have been duly registered in its very recent history, pass a driving test and other inspections, PLUS have been driven from its residency to the salvage contractor's location under its own power. The Texas program, now like other programs, allows the vehicle to be resold when and if it can come into emissions compliance. In other words, the Texas program has many "outs" to keep the vehicle in emissions compliance AND to allow estate vehicles to be resold rather than artitrarily scrapped.

In the early days of the vehicle scrappage frenzy, during Texas Governor Ann Richards' time in office, legislators were drafting a vehicle scrappage program in Texas which, as was popular in other states, would have required the crushing of offending/not-desired-to-be-repaired vehicles as a matter of course . . . in the name of "clean air". What they were proposing followed current trends . . . UNTIL something else happened.

That "something" came from the involvement of Texas Vehicle Club Council Legislative Laison, (the late) Don Hornbeck, who requested the addition of one sentence into their existing proposal. The request was for all vehicles coming into that program to be allowed to be dismantled for the sale of repair parts for other vehicles, vehicles with collectible value, and vehicles being repaired in order to keep them in good running order. At the time, certain emissions equipment/components were not allowed to be resold due to Federal EPA regulations. This also meant that the engine could be sold in dismantled pieces, but not as a complete assembly which might be immediately put into another vehicle. It was acknowledged that the vehicle was in the program as the engine was a "gross polluter", but an engine that oculd yield repair parts for rebuilding and fixing other similar engines or be completely rebuilt (from the disassembled items of the complete assembly) to again become emissions compliant. This dismantling orientation, rather than "crushing", helped make this a much more hobby-friendly piece of legislation.

As for the new vehicle purchase vouchers provision in the Texas program, certain income requirements MUST be met in order to qualify. Repair assistance has probably been where most of the state money has gone, I suspect. The availability of these vouchers has NOT, by observation, helped keep all of the Texas new car dealerships "thriving" or increase their foot traffic, although MOST of the dealerships participating in this program had individually advertised the program themselves. The Texas voucher program specifies a new car, or a used car not more than three model years old. Hence, a vehicle with higher insurance costs, typically.

By observation, in reality, new vehicle dealers are not having a hard time due to JUST a lack of new vehicle sales, but from consumers delaying not only new vehicle purchases, but also used vehicle purchases and/or the repair of their existing vehicles at said dealerships. Not to forget the dealership's monthly expenses involved with paying their utility and insurance bills. Many can pare things back to compensate for the fewer sales issue, but little if anything can be done for the monthly overhead expenses.

A closed dealership is a huge economic drain upon the areas it serves, especially in smaller towns, not to forget about decreased sales tax revenues and other local tax payments which help keep Main Street USA able to keep streets fixes and other infrastructure projects funded.

Here's an alternative proposal: Use the projected $5 billion annually to help keep local new car dealerships operating. Help with financing their floor plans, help with paying their utility and insurance overhead expenses, and help them get through this time of troubling economic history. This would help keep new vehicle sales, at least, happening in the areas more distant from the larger metro areas, plus the multiplier effect in the local economies that would help keep OTHER local merchants in business, too. KEEP people working, rather than otherwise, is BEST.

The manufacturers desiring to pare their "underperforming" dealership ranks is not a good orientation, either. Identifying, in realistic terms, the reason for their underperformance is necessary. Is it salespeople? Ability to get the customers financed? Vehicle product issues in that particular market? Or other factors? There HAS to be a reason that can be worked through to build their business rather than let it die!

Each dealership will have a certain number of sales people that can sell a certain amount of vehicles each month. Eight sales people, each selling 16 new vehicles per month should be somewhat average for many dealerships, I suspect. Larger dealerships, with more salespeople and more financing possibilities might do more.

Many proponents of the "fewer dealerships" orientation like to point to the dealership performances of Toyota stores as a benchmark they want to achieve. The folly with that is that if a smaller town has a Ford or GM or Chrysler dealership and one or more of them close down, then the existing USA brand customer MIGHT consider driving farther to buy an alternative brand rather than drive that far to purchase a domestic brand. Them driving farther gives them more choices in how to spend their money. Automobile dealerships are, after all, RETAIL entities. So, if that USA brand dealership goes away in the smaller towns of the area, it can motivate the customer to consider the purchase an alternative brand as they might be perceived (in the USA media reports) to be more viable entities. Hence, no amount of bridge loans to the USA brands can keep consumers spending their money on these USA brands if the local (AND more convenient dealerships) close down.

As many might notice in passing, but it might not register with them, Toyota has been expanding their dealerhship network outside of the metro areas . . . and using existing GM dealer/entrepreneurs as partners in these new ventures. Not as a subordination issue, but as the GM dealerships in each areas market are generally the stronger dealers in the area. Ford has had many Ford dealers who have also sold Mazdas as an import line, as Ford and Mazda have been associated with each other for about 30 years.

So, as many "experts" keep advocating that GM should downsize its dealership ranks, Toyota has been quietly expanding theirs over the past 5 years or so . . . into markets where they did not previously have a dealership. Why does "More dealerships = More vehicle sales" work for Toyota and not for General Motors or Ford or Chrysler????

The "We need fewer dealerships so that we can better support them" (paraphrased) comment keeps coming up, too. I have not figured out what that really means OR that dealerships are currently under-supported by the USA manufacturers (as it might imply). GM has done MUCH to increase its support of dealerships and dealership employees in the past 20 years, vastly increasing the amnount of information from and interactions with factory engineering operatives and other support functions in their normal course of doing business. How it could be better is something of a mystery at the present time. Each of these changes has obviously decreased the corporate overhead from what it was previously.

Keeping existing dealerships OPEN should be a prime concern rather than otherwise--period!!!!!!!

So, let's use the $5 billion annually to help KEEP THE DEALERSHIPS OPEN rather than fund vehicle salvage/scrappage operations. Normal vehicle attrition from wrecks and normal demise issues is putting a much more fuel efficient vehicle fleet in place . . . at NO cost to the Federal government. It might be becoming a slightly older fleet due to current economic issues, but it's still a less-polluting fleet and more fuel efficient fleet than anytime in the past.

Vehicle scrappage is NOT a sudden magic bullet that will give us better air to breathe or decrease the use of foreign oil at the national level. There are other and more cost effective ways to decrease our trade deficit and help get our USA national economy to grow (even considering the depressed situation it has been in for longer than many might like to admit, being more segmented this time than in the past).

Therefore, it is recommended that everybody contact ALL of their respected elected representatives at the Federal level, plus the named committee heads mentioned in the Edmunds.com article. Using the SEMA.org website is one avenue to do this.

On the SEMA website, in the Fed-Leg listings, usually is a link to a listing of all of the "auto hobby friendly" legislators in Washington, D.C.. They would be good people to contact, too. Therefore, rather than just Ms. Pelosi, there are MANY OTHER LEGISLATORS that can also be contacted to voice your comments to on this proposed "Cash for Clunkers" section of the total proposed 2009 Economic Stimulus Package. Plus the other people mentioned in the Edmunds.com article.

I believe that we are not opposed to the idea of a national stimulus package, just the "Cash for Clunkers" section of it. Nor, I suspect, are we opposed to helping or desiring to be good stewards of our environment (as automotive hobby enthusiasts). After all, automotive enthusiasts were some of the first recyclers in our society.

It appears that many legislators now suggest electronic communications rather than hand-written communications. The electronic items don't have to be (obviously) quaranteened for hazardous materials or content, which can result in up to a month's delay in their receipt by the intended operatives. This issue is one where expediency is necessary, as the final versions of the stimulus package are now being finalized.


Willis Bell 20811

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WOW, man, did you get a case of Red Bull for Christmas? I think that may have been your longest post ever.

Now, as for the figures; keep in mind that nearly all "green" or "eco" figures use ONLY the utopian examples. Why do you think everyone is 'hugging' the green movement? I think this is what Rush is talking about when he says that when these programs fail to produce results, they are not held to account for their results because their advocates had good intentions.

By the way, previous recycling programs for other 'polluting machines' like gasoline lawn mowers ended up showing that the number of projected turnins or whatever they are called don't come up to the estimates, didn't really get recycled or both.

Now, as for the Toyota dealership logic, don't you know by now that American=Bad, Foreign=Good. Simple, huh?

The reasoning is that Chevy only sells those bad old Suburbans and Silverados while Toyota is selling save-the-earth cars, so more is better for them. See how dismissing facts and making decisions on feel-good emotions is so easy?

Oh, I just can't wait for hope and change to get here.....

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Heh. I've seen Willis post longer, but every post of his I've read has been full of common sense and insight. He and Ivan Saxton are two of my favorite reads on here, because you know they will always post useful information, in a conversational way.

Back to topic: when there's public transportation between here and my job that meets my work schedule and budget, I'll be more than happy to ride it. As it is, no bus service runs that way, though I AM able to car pool once in a while.

The trouble with the "public transportation is the answer!" crowd is that they don't consider rural areas. They can't see past the outer beltlines of whatever city they live in. Guess they think everyone lives and works in cities, which reinforces my opinion that most of them are innately stupid. Ignorance can be fixed.

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Guest imported_Thriller

Glenn - your comment about public transportation is bang on. Happily, I live about a mile from the office, so I walk whether it's 30 C or -30 C. As a result, my 3.5 year old diesel truck has just over 40,000 km (say somewhere in the 25,000 mile range).

I have a similar fight with my city councilor - she's always getting high and mighty when talking about "subsidizing" auto transport from the suburbs (let alone outside the city). I once asked her what makes me, as an "inner city" resident, better than one who lives closer to the outskirts...I never got an answer. Actually, the houses are bigger and more expensive out there, so they probably pay more property tax than I do as well.

Common sense isn't all that common, unfortunately. What makes these high and mighty folks think that "lower income" folk are going to jump on the bandwagon just because there is a program of sorts? While fuel costs <span style="font-weight: bold">may</span> go down on a newer car (how about those 10 year old GMs with 3800s?), maintenance and insurance costs need to be taken into account as well. Many of the older cars on the road are simpler too - I was recently nearly run off the road in the Rainier - rather than plowing through the Grand Prix, I elected to avoid them and hit the curb instead - the retail price on the alloy wheel is over $800. Give me a nice chromed steel wheel any day.

While this doesn't directly impact me (yet), I will be watching closely to see how things progress. I've always been curious about these cash programs to see how much I could actually get if I wanted to offload a parts car.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">the proponents of this program speak in glowing terms about how great it will be and <span style="font-weight: bold">how much it will help the lower income demographics of our society by putting them in new(er) vehicles </span>that get better fuel economy and have less pollution out the tailpipe.</div></div>

Pfft. Isn't that the same reasoning and mentality that created the mortgage and banking crisis?

I maintain these people are innately stupid, and misguided on top of that.

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This program has been proposed in various forms over the years here in Texas. The difference between this and the mortgage situation is that they proposed either subsidizing the cost of the car repairs for the poor, or giving them a voucher for up to $3500 towards the purchase of a car.

It puts the poor into debt, only this is worse. We subsidize part of the cost.


Of course, in a slow economy, even a gov subsidy is not enough incentive:


Guess the next program will be to just give the new cars away.

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