Saturday Links

Saturday, August 8th, 2009
  • Feds choose interesting way of tabulating the “Cash for Clunkers” program that conveniently allows them to omit the fact that the top vehicle bought through the program thus far has been . . . an SUV.
  • Speaking of Cash for Clunkers my post criticizing Jon Stewart got a few links around the web, which then brought in a flood of pissy comments from lefties. It’s kinda’ fun to criticized by lefties again. Apparently I’m just angry because Stewart doesn’t like Bill Kristol. Or something like that!
  • NY Times fires Ben Stein over his affiliation with a shady credit report company.
  • My very smart friend Tim Lee has a new blog. You should add him to your RSS feed.
  • Crows are smart. Not to be confused with The Black Crowes, who just plain rock.
  • Celebrate and be glad, for the death of the annoying blow-in subscription card is near.
  • Because that’s what Iraq needs right now–a smoking ban.
  • Obama’s top anti-trust appointee wants to turn Google execs into libertarians.
  • Another round of thick-headed local authorities shutting down a kid’s lemonade stand.
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  • 40 Responses to “Saturday Links”

    1. #1 |  JS | 

      My mom says I can’t read your blog anymore because its making me too angry.

    2. #2 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Speaking of Cash for Clunkers my post criticizing Jon Stewart got a few links around the web, which then brought in a flood of pissy comments from lefties.

      Those lefty comments (about the C4C and menu labeling) certainly did reinforce the stereotype that lefties see no restrictions whatsoever on what constitutes a legitimate function of government and, even more than that, it showed that they think nothing of enslaving generations of their own offspring to pay for new programs intended to help them avoid the consequences of past government programs. It brings a while new meaning to the phrase “me generation”.

      Of course, an identical program instituted by a Republican administration would be attacked tooth and nail by the lefties while being praised by righties, so it’s probably not about greed so much as mindlessly defining one’s own politics as simply the opposition to whatever the other party does.

    3. #3 |  Dave Krueger | 

      We shouldn’t be so concerned the the C4C program anyway. It’s a measly $3 billion, pocket change by today’s standards. Hell, that much probably falls into the cracks in the government couch every day.

    4. #4 |  MacGregory | 

      The next time I vacation in Iraq, I will feel so much safer knowing that I won’t be subject to the hazards of SHS. Finally, I can enjoy my meal at one of their 5 star restaurants without someone blowing smoke in my face. Ofcourse, the risk of getting blown the fuck up…well, thats just a given.

    5. #5 |  Michael Pack | 

      The government owns two thirds of the U.S. car industry,of course their going to use the treasury to support their sales.Health care will be a hoot.

    6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I might also add that, the C4C is part of the stimulus for the auto industry, saving them from annihilation and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in an industry known for subsistence wages, benefits, and pensions that just didn’t provide any capacity for workers to save or adapt to the unforeseeable over-night decline in the industry.

      It’s just like when the auto industry put an end to the market for horse powered transportation, throwing thousands of people out of work. In all fairness, we, as a nation should patriotically show our autoworkers exactly the same level of compassion and support that the government and auto workers showed to the huge industry that kept us supplied with horses and all the related services and products.

    7. #7 |  justaguy | 

      #2 Dave Krueger

      Its just scary at this point, how ‘lefties’ react to these things. I nearly got in a fight because I described obama as a war president who expanded the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I described him as ‘continuing the failed bush policies, and refusing to prosecute the bush admin for their crimes.’ I mentioned giving trillions to banks that caused the economic problems, rewarding them rather then punishing them.

      Rather then admitting these things, for some reason they feel that they have to defend the indefensible possibly. Then they call me racist. And I am not exaggerating. I only discussed policy. And apparently, since I disagree with obama’s policy. I am racist, nutty, out of touch.

      I point out that these are just insults, and not addressing my position. Then the anger begins.

      It reminds me of how neocon repubs reacted when you pointed out bush’s failed policy.

      I suppose as the two parties are so alike, so are their supporters.

    8. #8 |  Tim Lee | 

      Thanks Radley!

    9. #9 |  Mike | 

      What no one has really commented on regarding the C4C program is why the money ran out so fast and how to fix that for the next 2 billion. Now I disagree with the whole C4C concept but hypothetically if the government wants to stimulate the economy by having its citizens buy new cars in hindsight they definately
      seem to have over-incentivized the participants.

      A program that was given 1 Billion dollars that was supposed to last for several months ran out of money in the first week. That says you have a high demand situation. I’m sure you could have lowered the payouts to 3K to 4K (down from 3.5K to 4.5K) and gotten 12% more stimulus for the same price or alternately saved us 100 Million dollars.

      Now they just added another 2 billion to the pool with not much thought it appears. Aren’t the great super economists who know more than us regular folk thinking about how much stimulus should be added? How is it that tripling it is a still a good idea? If this runs out in another week should the Gov add another 9 billion?

    10. #10 |  Jim Henley | 

      Radley, according to Toyota’s C4C website, the eligibility requirement is that the trade-in be rated at 18MPG or below. According to Ford’s Escape website the standard – not Hybrid – Escape’s fuel economy is rated at 20 city/28 highway. (The base-model manual is 22/28.)

      Since 18MPG is the *ceiling* for C4C trade-ins, you have to figure the average MPG of traded-in vehicles is lower than that. It would be interesting to know the average fuel economy of traded-in vehicles under C4C. Because the science (I recollect we’re allowed to use science on this blog) tells us that the biggest environmental “bang for the buck” comes from fuel-economy increases at the low end. Put qualitatively, trading in an Escalade for an Escape has saves much more fuel than trading in a Camry for a Prius.

    11. #11 |  Marty | 

      The irony of the lemonade article-

      ‘However, the city needs to enforce vendor laws, Vandegrift said, “otherwise we’ll have people on every corner.”‘

      so… if cities lighten up on bullshit vendor codes and enforcement, there’ll be businesses starting up all over the place? naaaaaaaaaah… way too simple!

    12. #12 |  KBCraig | 

      I won’t miss blow-in cards, but they’re a ton better than glue-in cards, which have to be ripped out (but still leave a stub that interferes with leafing through the magazine).

    13. #13 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

      #7 justaguy:
      “Rather then admitting these things, for some reason they feel that they have to defend the indefensible possibly.”

      This unfortunate phenomenon is summed up pretty well, in my opinion, in a line from the Radiohead tune “Paranoid Android”:

      When I am king, you will be first against the wall
      With your opinions which are of no consequence…at…all

      This attitude is perhaps the best recruitment tool available to libertarians, or left-leaning fellow travellers like me.

    14. #14 |  perlhaqr | 

      Dave: Yeah, but I’m getting really tired of them taking my money to spend on stuff I don’t want that directly makes stuff I do want more expensive!

      Much like I’m tired of them taking my money to pay people to make me not do stuff that’s none of their business anyway.

    15. #15 |  Aresen | 

      #3 | Dave Krueger | August 8th, 2009 at 11:56 am
      We shouldn’t be so concerned the the C4C program anyway. It’s a measly $3 billion, pocket change by today’s standards. Hell, that much probably falls into the cracks in the government couch every day.

      A billion here, a billion there.

      Pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

    16. #16 |  Mike | 

      #9, It certainly is a true statement that one person trading in a 18MPG car for a 22MPG car would save somebody more gas than another person WHO DRIVES THE SAME # OF MILES a Camry for a Prius. The point is that there are 2 variables in that equation. A study has already shown hybrid drivers drive more than non-hybrid owners. I would guess the opposite is true as well. Clunker owners probably drive less than non-clunker counterparts. If they drove more they would have traded the car long ago to save on gas.

      The # of Miles driven before/after would have to be figured in as well to get any real gas savings data. I’m sure there is somebody who has a 100 mile daily commute who drives a camry who would have saved as much as somebody trading in a clunker. I don’t doubt that there will be some gas savings generated by the program but I also don’t doubt that some people are trading cars that they don’t currently drive reguarly because they are getting well above market value, and then selling their current used daily driver (MPG unknown) and getting a new car.

      Still the whole Gas Savings thing seems like a secondary goal of C4C added at the last minute. The main purpose was to get people to inject another 15 billion into the auto industry.

    17. #17 |  Chris Berez | 

      I rather like the “blow-in” cards that come with my issues of [i]Reason[/i]. They’re just inserted, so I don’t have to rip anything out and they don’t interfere with the magazine. And I use them as bookmarks.

    18. #18 |  Ryland | 

      The “blow-in cards” and the junk mail come in pretty handy in the wood stove when winter time hits. The ones with glue on them smell funny when they burn.

    19. #19 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      Government gaining the spotlight by going after Microsoft, Google, hell…just wait until that bastard cures cancer…oh, he’ll get the fist alright.

      Capitalism my ass. Never is the backward and self-important nature of government more on display than when it goes after successful companies.

    20. #20 |  Zargon | 

      Well, Google cheered on the government when they beat Microsoft with the antitrust stick, and helped them build their case for that, presumably because they stood to gain from it.

      Not that it makes it right, an eye for an eye and all that, but it is some tasty irony.

    21. #21 |  James D | 

      The funny thing about C4C (that as usual the ecomically-challenged Democrats/all politicians must not have considered) is that some of the dealerships are taking the C4C cars and reselling them as used cars instead of trashing them ‘for the environment’. :) Just awesome ….

    22. #22 |  autumnLeaves | 

      The funny thing about C4C (that as usual the ecomically-challenged Democrats/all politicians must not have considered) is that some of the dealerships are taking the C4C cars and reselling them as used cars instead of trashing them ‘for the environment’. :) Just awesome ….

      Any proof/links/sources for this? A dealership doing this would be breaking federal law, but no biggie I guess, when you can post baseless accusations on a blog :/

    23. #23 |  billy-jay | 

      I wonder what Obama’s presidency will do to race relations in the future.

    24. #24 |  Bob | 

      Let’s look at the basic rules for Cash for Clunkers.

      Trade in must be:

      At least 25 years old.
      Not market valued at more than 4,000 dollars.

      I don’t care WHAT new car you buy, replacing any of these cars with a new one makes hard core, solid sense both economically and environmentally.

      25 years ago, regardless of whatever the MP/G a car had, engines were pollution dumping crap compared to what’s being produced today.

    25. #25 |  MacGregory | 

      #24 Bob
      This is the rule from the government’s site:
      “Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date”

      http://www.cars.gov/

    26. #26 |  billy-jay | 

      The Richard Garcias of this world just need to go away.

    27. #27 |  Fluffy | 

      I like the article about crows.

      Speaking of crows, does anyone besides me think that crows are also a lot physically larger than they were 30 years ago?

      I remember crows looking like big black pigeons or black seagulls when I was a kid. Now they look like small black vultures.

      They say that carrion-eaters will naturally evolve to be bigger, but I wouldn’t think it would happen that fast. Maybe crows used to mainly steal from farm fields [hence the term “scarecrow”], and the growth of suburbia made them all switch to eating roadkill, and fighting for carrion is naturally selecting for size?

      Giant supersmart crows might be a bigger potential threat than superevolved talking chimps, in the long run. Sci-Fi writers really need to get on top of this.

    28. #28 |  DesertRat | 

      Fluffy, are you sure you aren’t looking at a raven? The spouse and I got into a knock-down, drag-out argument over this; he swore the birds in our area were crows and I was convinced that they were ravens because crows are much smaller birds. Praise be to Google, that’s one bet I won in a walk-away. Scary-smart bird, the raven, and it looks like it could seat 6 without breaking a sweat. 8 if the passengers were skinny.

    29. #29 |  Cynical in CA | 

      Crows, ravens — they’re all scared of their shadows.

      Nothing to worry about here, move along …

    30. #30 |  Fluffy | 

      Maybe I’m seeing ravens. If I live in New England and I drive up to a dead possum or woodchuck or raccoon in the road, and there are gigantic black birds picking at it, and said birds don’t even bother to fly away until my car is right on top of them, is it more likely that I’m seeing ravens or crows?

      If it’s ravens, there are a LOT of ravens these days. I thought the raven was basically wiped out in the northeast at one time, but these big black mofos are everywhere.

    31. #31 |  David Nieporent | 

      Well, Google cheered on the government when they beat Microsoft with the antitrust stick, and helped them build their case for that, presumably because they stood to gain from it.

      Google barely existed when the government was going after Microsoft. Several competitors of Microsoft — particularly Sun — were heavily involved in pushing the antitrust case, but Google wasn’t one of them.

    32. #32 |  James D | 

      Talk to someone who works for a dealership autumnleaves. As the usual the ‘market’ finds a loophole around the government BS. The guy I know says there is no provision in the law for any verification by the junk dealers that the clunkers have actually been scrapped. There appear to be a lot of loopholes in the program, and that means there is likely to be a whole lot of fraud. If you believe everything is hunky-dory about this program then you are probably perusing the wrong website (like those hundreds of newbie posters on Radley’s original thread).

    33. #33 |  Mike | 

      “I don’t care WHAT new car you buy, replacing any of these cars with a new one makes hard core, solid sense both economically and environmentally.”

      I personally drive my car about 5000 miles per year. I have a 3 mile commute in the morning. My gas mileage sucks partially because I drive an old car and partially because the engine never runs long enough to warm up (especially for new england winters). Howeve it makes zero sense for me to replace this car economically and I am not sure it makes much sense to replace this car enviornmentally.

      Economically the car is completely paid off and as I only fill the tank once/twice a month gas prices don’t bother me. I certainly don’t want to take on $15K in new debt for a new car.

      Enviornmentally you have to balance the small excess pollution caused by burning perhaps an extra 30 gallons a year and as its my old beater probably 3 quarts of oil, vs not insignificant costs of manufacturing a new car and delivering it to a car dealer near me.

      So while it certainly makes sense economically/enviornmentally for SOME C4C cars your claim that it makes sense for ALL is most certainly not true.

    34. #34 |  Mike | 

      I’d go one further and say the economically it would always be smarter to buy a used car than to buy a new car. The only reason it may make sense economically to buy a new car is that the gov. is subsidizing it.

      By economics I am of course refering to microeconomics as you appear to in your post. I am not refering to any macroeconomic effects that while a bad personal choice may be good for the nation.

    35. #35 |  Dave Krueger | 

      This morning on NPR they were speculating about whether our current financial crisis would have occurred if the big financial corporations in the U.S. had had more women on their boards. They pointed to Norway which passed a law requiring corporate boards to consist of 40% women.

      Just like in the C4C debate, the entire report focused on whether the new rule was beneficial, avoiding completely the issue of whether the government should be passing those kinds of laws to begin with. Apparently, the argument for limited government has been lost and the only restriction on government now is that new laws be arguably beneficial for the country in general.

      Maybe it’s just as well that we grow up and move beyond our naive belief that the size and influence of government is controllable. As Menckin said, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

    36. #36 |  michael | 

      Losing subscription cards is a good first step. Next lose the ads on thicker paper than the rest of the magazine. If you want me to see the ad, put some content that I want to read on the opposite page.

    37. #37 |  James J. B. | 

      Re Fluffy:

      Google the movie “KAW”

    38. #38 |  Ken | 

      I am not defending Ben Stein in any way, but an institution that refuses to return Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer has a lotta noive….

    39. #39 |  supercat | 

      //I don’t care WHAT new car you buy, replacing any of these cars with a new one makes hard core, solid sense both economically and environmentally.//

      The requirement is that cars be NO MORE THAN 25 years old. There are a lot of vehicles that are worth less than $3500/$4500 and get less than 18.4mph, but are nonetheless useful. There is no legitimate reason to destroy them.

      I would posit that the vast majority of C4C vehicles fall into three categories:

      -1- A primary vehicle whose owner can afford to buy a new vehicle with the trade-in allowance. Most such people would want to replace a primary vehicle if its reliability became dubious, so any primary vehicle owned by such a person is likely to have a value close to the payoff amount.

      -2- A secondary vehicle whose owner can afford to buy a new vehicle. If a vehicle isn’t driven very much, its fuel economy doesn’t really matter; replacing even a 10mpg vehicle with one that gets better gas mileage won’t save much gas if the vehicle was only going to be driven 200 miles/year. Such vehicles may run the gamut in quality, from barely drivable to thoroughly decent.

      -3- A vehicle whose owner really can’t afford to buy a new vehicle without being encumbered by a debt that will be hard to repay. A dealer’s bottom line today may look good if he sells a car to such a person, but it won’t look so good if the car gets repossessed. As with #2, such vehicles may be of any quality.

      I don’t think case #2 fits with any possible objective for the program. Case #3 represents a loss to society, but a boon for Obama, if Democrats can push through a bail-out program for people who took out stupid loans. Case #1 represents a loss to society, since destroying a good car instead of selling it on the market will deprive several people of a chance to upgrade their vehicle (if a car is sold for $3,000 instead of being junked, someone who drives a car worth $2,000 could spend $1,000 and upgrade his vehicle to the $3,000 one; someone whose car is worth $1,000 could spend $1,000 and upgrade his vehicle to the $2,000 one; someone who doesn’t have a car could buy the $1,000 one). I suspect that case represents the real objective.

    40. #40 |  ASPECTRATIO | 

      Stein should have know better and to try to blame the NYT for dumping him because of his own failure to fully disclose would make Ferris Bueller, and his old boss, Richard Nixon, proud.

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