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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Cash for clunkers: Is it really helping the environment?

In clunkers program, forgetting the three Rs

It seems people remember only two of the three R’s: Reduce (what’s that?), Reuse (huh?), Recycle (aah, there we go).

Many people seemed to have adopted a mindset like this: “I never reduce anything I consume, or reuse old but still workable things, but I throw that empty gallon in the green bin every time, so I can feel self righteous about my environmental efforts.”

This same flawed mindset about helping the environment by recycling while not reducing or reusing is as flawed as the Cash for Clunkers program. People trade in perfectly good used cars for newer ones with better gas mileage, and although there is a benefit to better gas mileage, it doesn’t offset the bad environmental impact that comes with destroying a good used car that could be reused.

This is simply a taxpayer-funded bailout of the auto industry that ultimately is going to cause a short boom followed by another hard bust. And the low-income folks, or just those trying to not live off credit like me and my family, now have fewer good used cars on the market to choose from, and with less supply there is more demand and higher prices.

Sure this will help the auto industry, but what about the auto-repair industry, which now has fewer used cars to maintain? People forget these government actions that help one group always hurt another group.

A better alternative is HR 1768, which would give tax rebates to those trading in for more fuel-efficient cars. This would allow those who trade in to keep more of their own money through a tax rebate, while not causing the taxpayer to be billed for an environmentally unfriendly program. It would also give those with less money more used cars to choose from.

— Seth Copeland, Edmonds

Comments | More in Congress, Economic stimulus bills, Economy, Environment, Federal government, Politics, Recession, Taxes, Transportation

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