Morning Links

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
  • Popehat has a more serious and relevant take on that DEA call for “Ebonics” translators.
  • An American barbecue pilgrimage. Nashvillians: Had some fantastic barbecue last night at a place called Martin’s Barbecue Joint in Nolensville. Get the “red neck taco.”
  • Facebook blocks ads supporting California ballot measure to legalize marijuana.
  • Earth and the moon, as seen from Mercury.
  • Cash for Clunkers fallout: Price of used cars jumps 30 percent. So we have a government program whose stated aim was to shore up huge, failed corporations by giving public money to mostly upper-income people that in the end will penalize low and middle-income people. But remember folks, it’s the libertarians—who opposed C4C—who are greedy corporatists who hate the poor.
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101 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  SJE | 

    C4C made used cars more expensive. “Support” for the housing market has made houses more expensive. Student loans have fueled a rise in the cost of college. Health insurance hides the true cost of medicine and thereby permits an increase in its price.

    Why do the well meaning hate the poor so much?

  2. #2 |  Marty | 

    I agree with popehat that the ebonics story is evil, but I still think it needs to be made into a snl skit. snl could make a weekly production out of making fun of all these idiots- they could have chinese ebonics translators, toothless bite mark interpretors, pet eliminating safety patrols, etc.

  3. #3 |  Marty | 

    I wish I didn’t like using facebook so much…

  4. #4 |  Mattocracy | 

    I wonder how many people ended up in Gitmo because of poor translation.

  5. #5 |  Mattocracy | 

    From the Facebook article…

    “Conservative college students condemned the site’s restrictions. “Our generation made Facebook successful because it was a community where we could be free and discuss issues like sensible drug policy. If Facebook censorship policies continue to reflect those of our government by suppressing freedom of speech then they won’t have to wait until Election Day to be voted obsolete,” Jordan Marks, the head of Young Americans for Freedom, told HuffPost in an email. YAF was founded in the 1960s and William Buckley’s estate; Buckley was a longtime supporter of marijuana legalization. Marks is a member of the Just Say Now board.”

    How about that.

  6. #6 |  Brooke | 

    Facebook also blocked ads for a Facebook Page I help out with about a policy debate on FDA regulation of tobacco. Even though the page doesn’t promote any particular product–it’s just called “Save Menthol Cigarettes,” which is clearly a political message and not a marketing one–FB won’t let it run any ads at all.

    Also, Ryan Grim gets it wrong in HuffPo–he says that “Facebook’s ad rules, however, only ban promotion of “[t]obacco products,” not smoking in general.”

    Not true.

    From the FB ad guidelines: 5. (d): Ads cannot contain, facilitate, promote, or reference the following: (iii) Tobacco.

    That’s much stronger than “ban promotion of tobacco products.”

    It’s annoying that the restrictions are so strong (unnecessarily so) and a bummer that the marijuana folks got caught up in it. But it makes sense given the federal restrictions on tobacco advertising and the punishments for non-compliance. With the number of minors who use Facebook, from their perspective, it’s better to err on the side of caution than get caught in the crosshairs of the FTC and Big Anti Tobacco.

    Although I resent it a great deal (and think the policy could be less stringent while still protecting Facebook), I have a hard time blaming them on this.

    Interesting side note: it seems pretty obvious that when it comes to blocking political speech online, there’s more to fear from content companies and websites than there is to fear from ISPs.

  7. #7 |  bob42 | 

    I changed my Facebook profile pic to a cannabis leaf and started a group for those who have done or support doing so:

    My Profile Pic is a Cannabis Leaf Because Facebook Banned a Prop-19 Ad

  8. #8 |  Matt I. | 

    While C4C has had an effect in raising the price of used cars, there are other factors at work as well.

    The recession means that people have less money to buy new cars, increasing demand for used vehicles. A tight credit market means fewer people are getting leases for new cars as well.

    The cycle of freshening models/releasing new ones has slowed down as manufacturers opt to introduce fewer newer models than they might have, meaning that the cars that are about 2 or 3 years old are more or less the same as the new ones on the lot.

    Also, increased reliablity means that cars a few years old can be expected to cost about the same to maintain as a new car, which means less value is detracted from them.

  9. #9 |  Mike T | 

    The poor are the main market for used cars. How effin stupid do liberals have to be at economics to not understand that paying people to just get rid of their used cars will reduce the supply of used cars which will increase the scarcity of used cars?

  10. #10 |  GregS | 

    It should have been obvious that the cash-for-clunkers program would remove large numbers of decent used cars from the market, not actual clunkers. Since you could trade in your used car to get a rebate on a new car, only people able to afford a new car would participate. And those people tend to be driving relatively recent cars already. The guy driving the 1989 Dodge that he got for $500 isn’t likely to be able to afford a brand new car. It’s the guy with the 2004 Dodge who wants a new car that could participate. And as a result, his 2004 Dodge got scrapped and the guy with the 1989 Dodge now can’t buy it.

  11. #11 |  qwints | 

    Yet another reason I’m glad I ditched facebook. I really miss the days when the internet was actually free.

  12. #12 |  Babatunde | 

    Another beautiful example of how laws are for the little people:

    http://www.cp24.com/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100825/100825_handicapped_spot/20100825/?hub=CP24Home

  13. #13 |  Andrew S. | 

    Aw, c’mon Babatunde. I’m sure they wouldn’t give a ticket to a non-officer in the same exact situation! Nope! No…

    ok, can’t keep a straight face anymore.

  14. #14 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “Popehat has a more serious and relevant take on that DEA call for “Ebonics” translators.”

    I suspect this would be counter-productive.
    Any juror with even one iota of common sense would probably nullify
    on the sheer corniness of the following scenario:
    “We now call to the witness stand Fred Jones, a world
    expert on Ebonics and Negro Culture.”

  15. #15 |  When Government Programs Misfire | Preserving Democracy | 

    [...] In addition, government programs, while reducing freedom, don’t always accomplish what the framers of the bill set out to accomplish, as demonstrated by the Cash for Clunkers program.  It appears now that this program has forced up the price of used cars, thus negatively impacting lower and middle people who often buy used cars to save money.  The story comes via WIOD NewsRadio.  (HT:  The Agitator) [...]

  16. #16 |  karl | 

    Good points from #8 and #10. My question: do you think prices never fluctuate in the absence of government programs? Get real.

  17. #17 |  bobzbob | 

    C4C bought 0.7M cars, yet new sales were down by 5M last year. So why are we blaming C4c when the real problem is the 5M fewer used cars available from trade ins?

  18. #18 |  MDGuy | 

    @ Karl: Way to respond to an argument that no one here is making. Of course prices fluctuate in the absence of government programs. It’s just that they fluctuate in response to what people want to buy and what they’re willing to pay instead of in response to a program that was at best ineffective and at worst downright wasteful, both in terms of the vehicles destroyed and the administrative costs associated with running the program. Yes, there are other factors causing the price increase but that isn’t any kind of indication that C4C was sound policy.

  19. #19 |  flukebucket | 

    The poor are the main market for used cars.

    I always thought it was the intelligent.

  20. #20 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Didn’t any of you view that image of Earth and Moon as seen from Mercury? It renders all this strife over piddling human conflicts meaningless.

    Seriously, why don’t we put it down for a day? The problems will still be there tomorrow.

    Off to the beach!

  21. #21 |  Marty | 

    #12 | Babatunde

    ‘Const. Wendy Drummond says the vehicle was not parked in an “authorized” disabled spot, which requires clear markings on both the ground and a posted sign stating the bylaw.’

    first I’ve ever heard this- does anyone know if this is common practice everywhere?

  22. #22 |  shecky | 

    C4C isn’t sound policy. But the absence of factoring the rest of the economy in that article’s equation makes it seem seem woefully incomplete on it’s face. I wouldn’t be comfortable arguing this point against C4C unless I could get some kind of reliable numbers.

    As for the ebonics, while it is a joke, it’s a pretty sad joke.

  23. #23 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    If you read the story Radley linked to, it’s clear that the 30% rise is in higher-end and larger cars, and that smaller cars’ prices only increased about 10%. This makes sense, because greater credits were offered for a greater net fuel efficiency increase.

    As bobzbob notes, it seems a stretch to blame most or all of this pretty modest increase on C4C in light of other factors at work.

    I would also take issue with Radley’s statement that the programs stated purpose was “to shore up huge, failed corporations by giving public money to mostly upper-income people.” As I recall, its actual stated purpose was to increase automotive sales, and to increase the fuel efficiency of the American car fleet. It achieved both ends.

    The law advantaged neither “failed corporations” (even profitable import companies benefited: Toyota had the largest market share; Honda came in third after Ford), nor did it necessarily cater to “upper-income people,” since even assuming that only the wealthy participated directly in the program (an unfounded assumption, I think – e.g., the low-priced brands Hyundai and Kia account for 12% of new car sales under the program), many of the beneficiaries of the program’s macroeconomic effects are poor and lower- to middle-income folks.

  24. #24 |  Aresen | 

    flukebucket | August 25th, 2010 at 12:11 pm
    The poor are the main market for used cars.

    I always thought it was the intelligent.

    My practice is to buy new at the end of the model year and drive my car until the wheels are about to fall off. I’ve got 160,000 miles on my 93 Mazda 323. I hope to get another couple of years out of it before I replace it. I buy new because that allows me to know everything that has been done to my car since it left the lot and I am not mechanically inclined.

    But I have sufficient cash to buy new, or could easily qualify for (and afford) a loan for a new car. Poor people often do not have that option, so they must look for a good quality used car.

  25. #25 |  Aresen | 

    @ Cynical in CA | August 25th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    I liked the photo as well, but wasn’t there a better one taken from about a million miles out that allowed you to see the moon’s craters and the cloud patterns on the Earth? (Can’t find the link.)

  26. #26 |  PeeDub | 

    Marty, it’s common practice around here at least (NC). Often times I’ll park in a spot with a painted HC sign, but only if I can tell that they’ve changed the parking lot layout and just haven’t gotten around to painting over the old stencil. (i.e. there are other spots with paint *and* posted signs)

  27. #27 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Threadjack:
    What do citizens do if a law is not ruled Unconstitutional
    but it so damn annoying, obtrusive, and Big-Brotherly,
    that everyone (even the morons who came up with it) wants to get rid of it. But can’t.

    Kyleigh’s Law.
    http://www.examiner.com/essex-county-conservative-in-newark/nj-legislators-having-second-thoughts-about-kyleigh-s-law

  28. #28 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Huh. I guess I need to be in a lower tax bracket since my last 2 car purchases were used…why, my Lancia is a 1981. I wonder if the IRS would accept this.

    I would argue that used cars are not directed “to the poor”. Used car loans are for only a portion of the total price, while new car loans are for the full purchase price. So, you have to ante up saved cash before you can even get a loan. And if you have that much cash, it makes a great down payment on a new car. Used car loans are short term, while new car loans are long term, which helps keep monthly payments low.

    Of course, your Craigslist special may be for someone extremely short on cash and is handy with a wrench.

  29. #29 |  Marty | 

    #22

    ‘As I recall, its actual stated purpose was to increase automotive sales, and to increase the fuel efficiency of the American car fleet. It achieved both ends.’

    you’re the first person (outside of the administration) that I’ve seen say this. most of the reports I’ve read show the program being inneffective and the cost to benefit ratio was ridiculous. can you show me how you concluded that the program’s a success?

  30. #30 |  MDGuy | 

    As I recall, its actual stated purpose was to increase automotive sales, and to increase the fuel efficiency of the American car fleet. It achieved both ends.

    The temporary increase in sales over what was projected was promptly followed by a commensurate decrease in sales under what was projected. I believe Radley linked to a graph of vehicle sales over time awhile back but I can’t find the link (if someone can find it please post). So in terms of sales it was pretty much a wash. When you factor in the cost of the program’s administration and the destruction of usable automobiles, it was a net loss. In terms of environmental consequences, I don’t really know if the increase in fuel efficiency balances out the impact of building new cars that wouldn’t have been built but for the destruction of older cars; I haven’t read anything that attempts to quantify that one way or the other.

  31. #31 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    My conclusion is based on NHTSA’s analysis (yes, they’re part of the administration) and Maritz’s research.

  32. #32 |  J sub D | 

    >Cash for Clunkers fallout: Price of used cars jumps 30 percent. So we have a government program whose stated aim was to shore up huge, failed corporations by giving public money to mostly upper-income people that in the end will penalize low and middle-income people. But remember folks, it’s the libertarians—who opposed C4C—who are greedy corporatists who hate the poor.

    Just like 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. It will harm small businesses, the Mom and Pop organizations that everybody on Capitol Hill pays lip service to, we cried.

    Now we have Hasbro expensively testing one out of a toy production run of 100,000, while Gustav’s Wooden Trains has to run the same expensive testing on one out of a production run of ten. But we are all big corporation supporters and apologists.

    People just don’t get it.

  33. #33 |  J sub D | 

    Facebook’s ad rules, however, only ban promotion of “tobacco products,” not smoking in general.

    Which brings up the question, why ban promotion of tobacco? Last I checked, it was a completely legal product sold and taxed in all 50 states.

  34. #34 |  Gerald A | 

    C4C in no way helped the situation. Depending on who you want to believe, a large number of people were in the new car market already. Those who weren’t at sometime were going to replace a vehicle anyway. Either way a large number of used cars were taken from the market.

    Once the government starts screwing with the natural supply and demand of the market place, prices almost always go up. Paying farmers not to grow crops comes to mind.

  35. #35 |  hattio | 

    Mike Leatherwood says;

    “I would argue that used cars are not directed “to the poor”. Used car loans are for only a portion of the total price, while new car loans are for the full purchase price. So, you have to ante up saved cash before you can even get a loan.”

    Mike, I don’t think you are thinking used enough. Most poor people I know don’t get loans, and the amount they buy their cars for (often under $1,000, certainly under $2,000) is not really enough to be a down payment on a new car. Also, most people who are truly poor don’t want long term payments because they know financial emergencies can arise any time. People who are buying a two to three year old car off the lot, are not truly poor.

  36. #36 |  Aresen | 

    J sub D

    I believe it is because the owner of Facebook wants to be trendy socially responsible and tobacco is teh eeevvviill.

  37. #37 |  hattio | 

    MDGuy says;

    “The temporary increase in sales over what was projected was promptly followed by a commensurate decrease in sales under what was projected. I believe Radley linked to a graph of vehicle sales over time awhile back but I can’t find the link (if someone can find it please post). So in terms of sales it was pretty much a wash……In terms of environmental consequences, I don’t really know if the increase in fuel efficiency balances out the impact of building new cars that wouldn’t have been built but for the destruction of older cars; I haven’t read anything that attempts to quantify that one way or the other.”

    If it was a wash, then there were no new cars built that wouldn’t have been built otherwise. If there were new cars built that wouldn’t have been built otherwise, then it wasn’t a wash. Doesn’t mean it was a wise policy, but this sounds like you’re complaining about everything the government does, regardless of whether those complaints make sense when put together.

  38. #38 |  claude | 

    Well i joined bobs group but it wont let me post unless i fork over my cell number or credit card. :(

    Fat chance of that happening.

  39. #39 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    Once the government starts screwing with the natural supply and demand of the market place, prices almost always go up.

    You do realize that C4C was conceived as a crisis measure, right? I don’t think there’s a lot of economists who would describe the consumer market place in the spring and summer of 2009 as “natural.”

  40. #40 |  JS | 

    I’m pretty sure Cynical is going to see something at the beach that pisses him off or get in an argument with someone.

  41. #41 |  MDGuy | 

    From the NHTSA report linked to above:

    “The CARS program most notably affected three industries: light vehicle manufacturing, new car dealers, and the salvage yard, auction and vehicle recycling industry. Business was also generated in industries related to the manufacturing and distribution of new vehicles such as steel, aluminum, rubber, plastic and part production, trucking, and numerous other sectors.”

    In classic fashion, the government report focuses only on, to borrow from Bastiat, what is seen. What is unseen is that the program affected other industries negatively: used car dealerships, automotive repair shops, used parts manufacturers/distributors/retailers, and as others have already mentioned, people who would like to buy a used car.

  42. #42 |  MDGuy | 

    @ Hattio: it was a wash in terms of automotive sales for dealerships: they got a temporary boost over what their projected sales were, followed by a drop below their projected sales when the program ended. In terms of actual commodities it was not a wash – cars with plenty of life left in them that would have been valued by somebody somewhere were destroyed instead. My wording might be a little garbled but the basic argument is pretty simple: you cannot create wealth by destroying wealth. That is essentially what C4C was trying to do.

  43. #43 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    MDGuy – your evidence for the statements nos. 40 (i.e., that other industries were negatively affected) and 41 (i.e., that it was “a wash” for dealerships) is… what, exactly?

  44. #44 |  MDGuy | 

    That other industries were negatively affected is simply a matter of logic – if the number of people with used cars decreases the market for industries and businesses dealing with used cars decreases. I’ll try to find the data on dealership sales and post a link later. Lunch break is over so I gotta get back to work for now.

  45. #45 |  MikeZ | 

    “The guy driving the 1989 Dodge that he got for $500 isn’t likely to be able to afford a brand new car. It’s the guy with the 2004 Dodge who wants a new car that could participate. ”

    Actually its this that I’m almost more likely to worry about. How many people did the Government tempt into buying new cars they couldn’t afford because the were offered $3500 for their old Dodge. It would be interesting to see some stats showing loan default rates for C4C vs non C4C purchases.

  46. #46 |  The Pale Scot | 

    I’ve sold cars for a living and still check out dealer websites for shits and giggles. from what I see C4C isn’t a factor, Escalades Subs and Beemers aren’t going get turned in unless the car is spent. What it is is that people aren’t turning their cars after the lease is up or it’s paid off. Go compare a dealer’s price to Kelly’s for a Camry or an Accord, they’re getting 1500 to 2000 more than marked for 3-4 yr old cars, and they’ll laugh at you if you bring up bluebook values. It took me 2 months to find what I was looking for (one owner, clean with a verified maintenance history) from off the street. But I had cash and a second car, most people don’t have that luxury. Hell, Early 90’s models with low mileage were even higher priced relatively. A 1500 buck premium for a 2000 car is ridicules. The quality of most cars now and days is good enough that buying a new car is dumb, let some other sucker pay the drive off premium and I’ll take the car after they pay it off.

  47. #47 |  The Pale Scot | 

    I’ve sold cars for a living and still check out dealer websites for shits and giggles. from what I see C4C isn’t a factor, Escalades Subs and Beemers aren’t going get turned in unless the car is spent. What it is is that people aren’t turning their cars after the lease is up or it’s paid off. Go compare a dealer’s price to Kelly’s for a Camry or an Accord, they’re getting 1500 to 2000 more than marked for 3-4 yr old cars, and they’ll laugh at you if you bring up bluebook values. It took me 2 months to find what I was looking for (one owner, clean with a verified maintenance history) from off the street. But I had cash and a second car, most people don’t have that luxury. Hell, Early 90’s models with low mileage were even higher priced relatively. A 1500 buck premium for a 2000 car is ridicules. The quality of most cars now and days is good enough that buying a new car is dumb, let some other sucker pay the drive off premium and I’ll take the car after they pay it off. you’ll Get 4-5 good years no problem

  48. #48 |  flukebucket | 

    #23

    I buy used and drive ‘em until they drop.

    Currently have 210,000 miles on a 1995 Ford Ranger that I bought used for $5,000 when it had 30,000 miles on it. A friend once asked me what I hoped to get next. I told him 250,000.

    E.D. Kain has a good post up over at Balloon-Juice on the topic.

    I am nowhere near smart enough to argue whether it was a good program or not but I have owned exactly one new car in my 36 years of driving. I bought it the year I graduated from high school and by the time I got that fucker paid for I had promised myself that I would never under any circumstances by a damn new car ever again. And I have not.

  49. #49 |  Aresen | 

    Ben (the other one) | August 25th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    You do realize that C4C was conceived as a crisis measure, right? I don’t think there’s a lot of economists who would describe the consumer market place in the spring and summer of 2009 as “natural.”

    1) Every ill-conceived government program is a ‘crisis measure’.
    2) Whether or not you consider the spring/summer 2009 car market as ‘natural’, measured in new car sales C4C simply shifted demand from the fall of 2009 to earlier in that year.
    3) IMHO, the early 2009 car market was a ‘natural’ consequence of a recession (which is part of the business cycle, even though governments think they can micromanage them out of existence) and the fact that people were trying to avoid buying cars from companies that would not be able to back up those cars. One of the important parts of the business cycle is the fact that recessions clear out malinvestment. GM and Chrysler should have been allowed to go down. Instead, billions of dollars have been sent chasing after billions of dollars in previous bad investments.

    Despite the rosy picture Joe Biden wants to paint of GM, I predict that it will be in Chapter 11 again soon – especially if we have a ‘double dip’* recession.

    *(Speaking of “double dip”, is that a reference to both Bush and Obama?)

  50. #50 |  Aresen | 

    @ flukebucket | August 25th, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Yeah, loan payments are a bitch.

    With used cars, I simply have never known enough about cars to be able to properly evaluate a used car. And I am too lazy to invest the time to do so.

    (Have no idea how you’ve kept a Ford Ranger on the road for 180,000 miles though. I had a Ford F350 that I used to pull a trailer. That sucker burned gas so fast that you could see the needle on the gauge dropping.)

  51. #51 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    Aresen (#48):

    1) Every ill-conceived government program is a ‘crisis measure’.

    So, are you suggesting that there are no crises, or just no legitimate crisis measures?

    2) Whether or not you consider the spring/summer 2009 car market as ‘natural’, measured in new car sales C4C simply shifted demand from the fall of 2009 to earlier in that year.

    Your evidence? Please?

    3) IMHO, the early 2009 car market was a ‘natural’ consequence of a recession (which is part of the business cycle, even though governments think they can micromanage them out of existence) and the fact that people were trying to avoid buying cars from companies that would not be able to back up those cars. One of the important parts of the business cycle is the fact that recessions clear out malinvestment. GM and Chrysler should have been allowed to go down. Instead, billions of dollars have been sent chasing after billions of dollars in previous bad investments.

    First, how many reputable economists believe that the recent recession was a part of a normal business cycle?
    Second, your evidence for the motivation of those sitting on the car sales sidelines is what, exactly?
    Third, as I pointed out earlier, the C4C program was not targeted at GM and Chrysler, who accounted for something less than 24% of its sales. I’m not sure why you seem to want to confuse the auto bailout with C4C.

    Despite the rosy picture Joe Biden wants to paint of GM, I predict that it will be in Chapter 11 again soon – especially if we have a ‘double dip’* recession.

    If we have a double dip recession, IMHO, it will be because of a undersized stimulus, not a failure of the concept.

  52. #52 |  hattio | 

    MDGuy says;

    “it [Cash for clunkers] was a wash in terms of automotive sales for dealerships: they got a temporary boost over what their projected sales were, followed by a drop below their projected sales when the program ended. In terms of actual commodities it was not a wash – cars with plenty of life left in them that would have been valued by somebody somewhere were destroyed instead.”

    Two problems with this. First, your initial claims wasn’t that cars with plenty of life left in them were destroyed instead, it was that new cars were built that wouldn’t have been built. For new cars to be built that wouldn’t have been built, there has to be someone buying a new car when they wouldn’t have, or, to put it another way, it has to NOT be a wash. Secondly, while true that there are cars being destroyed with plenty of life left in them, the people in the used car market are going to do one of two things. They could either buy a car anyway at a higher price, which, since it probably means a newer car and better gas mileage, provides a net positive for environmental impact, if you are correct in that the new car buys were a wash. Secondly, they could carpool or use public transportation. Which, since it means one less car travelling provides a net positive environmental impact, assuming you are correct in that the new car buys were a wash. Either way, you’re original position cannot be supported if the new car buys are a wash. You’re changed position is obviously correct though; cars with value were destroyed. The question is, was more value destroyed than the good that came from getting old gas guzzling cars off the road, improving the American fleets fuel efficiency, providing jobs for the auto manufacturing industry, etc. Your counter-claims have so far been based on “logic,” but if you can’t see how new car buys being a wash means no new cars were built that wouldn’t have been built anyway, I’m not going to accept your “logic.”

  53. #53 |  Mattocracy | 

    “If we have a double dip recession, IMHO, it will be because of a undersized stimulus, not a failure of the concept.”

    Right, if we don’t dig this hole deeper, we’ll never get out of it. That’s the ticket.

  54. #54 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Off topic: No reasonable expectation of privacy in your driveway.

    Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn’t violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn’t tracking your movements.

  55. #55 |  wICK | 

    What idiot edits this blog? Any Sophomore Econ student would know that C4C would increase the (non subsidized) cost of new cars and decrease the cost of Used cars. New Car sales declined from 12 million units per year to around 7 million units per year. How did the 5 million car gap get filled? Public Transportation and Scooters? No. Increased demand for USED (cheaper) CARS. It’s fine to debate the merits of C4C, but let’s not “make stuff up” to prove a point.

  56. #56 |  Mattocracy | 

    At the end of the day, I can say one thing for sure. I was placed farther in debt so that some people could buy new cars, some people could get rid of cars that they may not have wanted, and so some jobs could may have been saved in the auto industry.

    Sooner or later, when the principal and interest of the nation debt comes due, I’m gonna be asked to flip part of the bill whether I wanted any part of this shit or not. C4C was another unconstitutional spending program did more damage than good because the long term cost of it (with interest) will far exceed any short term piss-ant gains in the short term.

  57. #57 |  Mattocracy | 

    Sorry, I should’ve run grammar check on that last post. Or is it grammer check? Damn.

  58. #58 |  Marty | 

    if cash for clunkers was such a great program, with so many benefits to industry, consumers, and the environment, why’d they stop?

  59. #59 |  Marty | 

    #53 | Dave Krueger

    I can see unhappy cops tracking their spouses, ex-spouses, girlfriends, guys getting involved with any of the above, people they have words with in a bar… this is scary stuff.

  60. #60 |  omar | 
    1) Every ill-conceived government program is a ‘crisis measure’.

    So, are you suggesting that there are no crises, or just no legitimate crisis measures?

    If A then B does not imply if B then A. As I read it, Aresen was making the point that all ill-conceived government programs are justified by a crisis. Right or wrong, Aresen did not say the two things you suggested.

  61. #61 |  MikeL | 

    “Health insurance hides the true cost of medicine and thereby permits an increase in its price.”

    http://www.visualeconomics.com/healthcare-costs-around-the-world_2010-03-01/

    The US spends more on health care than any other nation. And manages more kills as well!

    USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

  62. #62 |  flukebucket | 

    #49 | Aresen | August 25th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    My old worn out Ranger gets about 20 miles to the gallon driving back and forth to work and doing odds and ends close to home. Not good but not terrible either.

    I don’t know a damn thing about automobiles. I can change the oil. Period. The end.

    The only thing I have had to have done to the Ranger is change the radiator. The original rusted or rotted out. If that truck dies this afternoon it has been a damn good truck. Divide the miles I got out of it so far by what I paid for it and it comes out to less than 3 cents per mile.

    And for anybody interested this topic has caused a shitstorm of posts and comments over at Balloon-Juice. I have a great time reading people argue with one another about stuff that I am clueless about.

  63. #63 |  Mannie | 

    #55 | wICK | August 25th, 2010 at 4:08 pm
    What idiot edits this blog? Any Sophomore Econ student would know that C4C would increase the (non subsidized) cost of new cars and decrease the cost of Used cars.

    And how, Mr Sophmore Econ Student, does reducing the supply of used cars decrease their cost?

  64. #64 |  SJE | 

    My thought exactly, Mannie.
    A decrease in supply of any good can increase the price by more than the % decrease in the good (see oil, e.g.). Thus, an appox 15% decrease in supply of used cars can increase the overall cost by 30%

    What I observed in the wake of C4C was that plenty of good cars were removed, not the real clunkers. The price of many late model used cars rose to be equivalent (in some cases less than) the price of new cars, especially with the great rebates (e.g new Toyotas). Of course, this is great if you can afford to buy a new car. The poorer segment of society who are likely to be suffering more, are less likely to buy a new car. With a rise in the price of used cars, they are also less likely to buy a used car.

  65. #65 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #40 | JS — “I’m pretty sure Cynical is going to see something at the beach that pisses him off or get in an argument with someone.”

    Back from Newport (just shows you how addicted, er, interested I am in the goings-on here that I’m checking in after a day at the beach), and no JS, would you believe nothing really riled me there today? Man, is it just me, or have women gotten better looking over the years? Mama mia. There was a police presence there, but nothing got tased. 15-foot swells, vicious undertow, temps in the mid-80s. Made every light coming home — man, there really was nothing to complain about. Weird.

    But I did see this when I got home:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/08599201315000

    Oh well, if you’re not breaking any laws, you have nothing to worry about! Honest!

  66. #66 |  MDGuy | 

    @ hattio: I think it’s kind of odd that you keep centering on the section of my post where I was actually confessing my ignorance – namely that I don’t know if there was a net positive or negative environmental impact from C4C. Reading back over it, I realize I didn’t think things through very well before typing. There were no “cars built that wouldn’t have been built but for the destruction of an older vehicle” because the cars sold under C4C were built before the program started and were already on the dealers’ lots. Also the way my wording suggests that there is a 1:1 ratio of cars destroyed under C4C to new cars built is a bit ridiculous. It is possible that C4C will “stimulate” the auto industry when “extra” new cars are built in the future to replace the destroyed ones that would have still been on the road. The flip side of this of course, is that to accomplish this, the government had to take ~$5,000 in tax money (money that would have been spent in other sectors of the economy) for every car sold under the program and flush it down the proverbial toilet.

    I still haven’t seen you address my fundamental points:
    1. You cannot create wealth by destroying wealth. Any positive economic gains from building replacements for the destroyed commodities is countered by the economic losses other sectors of the economy suffer.
    2. A decrease in the number of people with older vehicles means a shrinking market for industries and businesses that deal with older vehicles. There’s only 3 things that a decrease in the number of older vehicles can possibly do: expand the market, shrink it, or leave it the same. I don’t really see how you could logically argue that decreasing the number of potential customers for used parts, auto mechanics, etc. could be seen as anything other than shrinking the market.

  67. #67 |  t1 | 

    So people were turning in $60,000 Escalades to get $800 under the cash for clunkers program?

    Or is the theory that people who would have bought a $1,000 beater SUV couldn’t get it so they had to buy a used Escalade?

    Or could it be some prices on some used cars have risen plus somebody doesn’t like the Cash for Clunker’s program = stories like this?

  68. #68 |  JS | 

    You must not have taken Mrs. Cynical then if you spent the days checking out the ladies!

  69. #69 |  JS | 

    really really lovely article on how free America used to be:

    http://fredoneverything.net/KingGeorge2.shtml

  70. #70 |  MDGuy | 

    The graph I was mentioning earlier is from the Census Retail Trade report.
    http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2010/06/stimulus-was-a-clunker.html

  71. #71 |  Dave | 

    A Jew reviewing pork BBQ?
    That’s just ain’t kosher!
    May God bless him though.

  72. #72 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Mosque-free morning links rock!

  73. #73 |  hattio | 

    MDGuy,
    I never argued with your fundamental points. I argued that you couldn’t logically say that the new car buys were a wash, and also say that the environmental positives from more fuel efficient cars would be outweighed by all the environmental negatives of building new cars that wouldn’t have had to have been built.
    As to your fundamental point that you cannot create wealth by destroying it, I’m not sure I agree. Think about the destruction of cars as a general proposition, i.e., without C4C. Cars that aren’t being used, but have some value as parts cars, can be sold for their scrap metal, which may be more than their value as parts cars. You would also have to add in the freeing up of space from all the junk yards that can now be used for something else.
    In the C4C realm, you have cars that are low value (ideally) and are producing high externalities being exchanged for cars that are higher value and produce lower externalities. Maybe the tradeoff doesn’t pay off. I don’t know. But you didn’t provide any evidence of that until your very last post. I’d note I haven’t yet had a chance to read that blog posting.

  74. #74 |  hattio | 

    MDGuy,
    And now I’ve read the blog post you linked to. I would note that it only 1)supports the idea that the new car purchases were a wash (actually, there’s an increase, but seems to be within the standard rate of increase), not that the other positive benefits were not worth it, and 2) analyze the effectiveness of the program for reducing carbon emissions based on estimates, and deem it fails. But, as the blog you link to admits, reducing carbon was not the only, or even the main reason for the program.
    How do we know this didn’t save jobs and stimulate the economy? Please don’t give me “logic” again. Here’s my thoughts on the matter. We don’t know if C4C was effective as a stimulus or a jobs bill, but it likely was at least somewhat effective. Sales are increasing, rather than remaining flat. Did they increase more than they would have? I don’t know. I would note that there was a decrease in the summer months in ’08, likely from the recession. Is there typically a summer slump of car sales? It seems somewhat likely to me, but that’s just a guess.
    In short, while you’ve presented evidence that new car sales were close to a wash, it doesn’t therefore follow that the program was a bad idea (BTW, I’m not convinced it was a good idea). Unless of course, I accept your statements at face value that it just COULDN’T have been a success. Sorry, I can’t accept those statements at face value.

  75. #75 |  K | 

    Hmm. The program cost $3 billion. I wonder how much gas is being saved? How long until it pays for itself?

  76. #76 |  jrb | 

    really really lovely article on how free America used to be:

    http://fredoneverything.net/KingGeorge2.shtml

    A link to Fred Reed is always worth a bump in karma. And I’ve quoted the link, just in case anyone missed it. I’m about 3 decades younger than Mr. Reed, but my observations on growing up are pretty similar. So, this whole ridiculousness really only happened in the last 15 years. Yeah, I’m sure it was slow growing before that, but it’s really gotten out of hand lately.

  77. #77 |  TeamBarstool | 

    No Pot leaves on Facebook?

    then what the hell is this?

    http://apps.facebook.com/mypotfarm/

  78. #78 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Mises would’ve had a real problem with C4C.

  79. #79 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    C4C was theater. And, you shouldn’t ask for economic analysis on the value of theater. Because if you ask, you most likely won’t understand the answer.

  80. #80 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    If we have a double dip recession, IMHO, it will be because of a undersized stimulus, not a failure of the concept.

    TA is an awesome board with many awesome posters, but economics discussions here usually make my head hurt real bad.

  81. #81 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    You do realize that C4C was conceived as a crisis measure, right? I don’t think there’s a lot of economists who would describe the consumer market place in the spring and summer of 2009 as “natural.”

    Chaos and market fluctuations are natural. Stability (the kind that politicians strive for to stay in office) are un-natural and result in massive, wide-spread corrections. The crisis of 2008-present was a very natural result of past actions. So, terminology is pretty important here.

    However; I do agree that if you want to stay in office and you’ve seriously fucked up the economy, entitlement, and debt structure of the country, you might as well throw some money at the problem to buy time to get your assets out and protect your pocket of wealth. But that won’t “fix” anything (by my definition of “fix”).

  82. #82 |  bobzbob | 

    “Chaos and market fluctuations are natural” – yes, but they do a lot of damage that limits potential growth and prosperity in the future. Relative stability is one of the keys to prosperity. US prosperity never took off until we figured out how to provide relative economic stability that dampened the natural flucuations. Having large numbers of people disposed of their homes for example makes them sigificantly less employable and limits future growth.

  83. #83 |  RGD | 

    The failure of one poorly considered government program libertarians were opposed to doesn’t suddenly make libertarians champions or defenders of the poor. Especially not when libertarians still oppose functional, tested, and necessary social safety net programs while championing business-and-corporate interests.

    And not when I suspect the opposition to C4C was mainly on ideological grounds rather than economic (I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing had been said of the same plan if it had come from the right or CATO, spun the right way) — but that’s supposition on my part based only on personal experience.

  84. #84 |  Did cash for clunkers hurt the poor? «  Modeled Behavior | 

    [...] up on average 10.3%, and for some models over 30%, over the last year. This has been attributed by Radley Balko, Edmunds, and others partly to the governments cash-for-clunkers program. I was and am not a fan [...]

  85. #85 |  ktc2 | 

    SWAT team summoned for umbrella:

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/blog/2010/08/warning-may-incite-swat-teams.html?cpg=138H1&head

  86. #86 |  Marty | 

    #82 | RGD |
    ‘The failure of one poorly considered government program libertarians were opposed to doesn’t suddenly make libertarians champions or defenders of the poor…’

    you’re not really suggesting all these govt programs are helping the poor?!!

    I believe a lot of people can work their way out of poverty if they’re left alone. If a woman wants to style hair and she doesn’t have the license or full beautician training, she’s sol… there are way too many examples of govt regulations ‘championing the poor’ for one post.

    the complex tax system doesn’t help. people could use their HSA accounts to buy high-deductible insurance for people who weren’t dependents or spouses if the tax code wasn’t so restrictive.

    allowing people more control of their pensions would spur private lending to help launch small businesses. A 17 yo kid could borrow a few thousand dollars from a neighbor (out of his roth) and launch a grass cutting or deck cleaning or whatever business.

    people could figure things out if the govt would get out of the way.

    do you have a list of ‘well considered’ govt programs that I should know about to balance out my opinion?

  87. #87 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    A few comments on Coyoteblog’s chart (linked by MDGuy, above):

    1. It uses seasonally adjusted numbers (in dollars) for new and used car sales combined. Since (contrary to your argument, above, MDGuy) used car sales figures were essentially flat throughout 2009, combining them isn’t a problem per se, but it tends to inflate the totals a bit.

    2. The administration’s assessment of C4C looked at units sold vs. dollar sales. I think there are probably some sound policy reasons for this approach (e.g., the whole point of C4C was to increase sales of more fuel-efficient – typically cheaper – cars), but I think it bears pointing out.

    3. I again refer to the Maritz analysis which addresses some other factors, including program participants’ estimates of when they would have purchased a new car but for the program, and incidental sales generated over time by additional dealer traffic.

    4. Even if one assumes, contrary to the evidence cited by the White House and Maritz, that the program borrowed from future car sales, there is some economic benefit to that. A starving man could rationally benefit from receiving a meal now even if he has to pay it back in the future.

    5. I agree with hattio that MDGuy is trying to have his cake and eat it to regarding the “wash” argument. If the vehicle sales were a wash then there’s no reason to believe that the ripple effects (e.g., used car dealers’ sales) were a wash, too. (I think the sales evidence in the Commerce spreadsheet puts to rest the ripple effect argument, however.)

  88. #88 |  Mike T | 

    Here’s one for your next argument on euthanasia: Canadian hospital dehydrates disabled man. Note: the man was not comatose, but rather disabled. From what I can tell, he just had a severe stroke, but there are signs that he’s otherwise alert.

  89. #89 |  MDGuy | 

    Sam comes up to you and sticks a gun in your face and demands $5,000. Not wanting to get shot, you hand over the money. Sam promptly uses that $5,000 to buy a vehicle from me (which I gladly part with because it’s worth way less than $5,000) and then sets the vehicle on fire. Sam turns to you and says, “you really should be grateful for what I’m doing! Now MDGuy is going to go out and spend $5,000 towards a new car! Think of how spending that money will stimulate the economy!”

    Wouldn’t you want to kick Sam in the nuts?

  90. #90 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @88 – More reason to formalise designating who should be in charge of making your medical care as a specific, doctor-recorded decision.

  91. #91 |  Marty | 

    I can find ‘evidence’ to support my position that cash for clunkers was a failure. I can find ‘proof’ that it was a rousing success. I’m with MDguy- I can’t see the benefit. Detractors use one set of criteria and supporters use another and no one can agree how to evaluate it.

    any deal this complex to evaluate, to me, is smoke and mirrors. like the tax code- it sucks.

  92. #92 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    MDGuy #89 – Like Mattocracy (#56), it all boils down to your visceral dislike of stimulus programs despite the very wide economic consensus that they were necessary.

    Just because you viscerally dislike something, however, doesn’t make the policy unsound. There’s a reason we have a Council of Economic Advisers, a Federal Reserve, etc., instead of just asking some layperson what their gut tells them to do.

  93. #93 |  flukebucket | 

    #75

    Hmm. The program cost $3 billion. I wonder how much gas is being saved? How long until it pays for itself?

    Some say about 4 years

  94. #94 |  Marty | 

    ‘…despite the very wide economic consensus…

    you meant ‘very wide liberal economic consensus’, right?

  95. #95 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    Marty #94

    ‘…despite the very wide economic consensus…

    you meant ‘very wide liberal economic consensus’, right?

    No, I think that in the spring of 2009 there was a broad consensus that some stimulus was needed. I am sure that there were Austrian/Chicago School dissenters, which is why I didn’t say “unanimous” consensus, but I think it’s fair to say that even many conservatives recognized the need to stimulate the economy.

  96. #96 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    The only economists that supported stimulus were statist/Keynsians. Or rather, Austrians did not support the stimulus.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to see Keynsians in charge as the failures of their policies are easy to predict and profit from. Isn’t that the ultimate test for an economist?

  97. #97 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Especially not when libertarians still oppose functional, tested, and necessary social safety net programs while championing business-and-corporate interests.

    Who tested? Who declared them functional? Who declared them necessay? What business and corp interests are we championing that you’re particularly annoyed at because they harm da poor?

    For the record, Libertarians and libertarians want to help the poor folk of this country (and all countries) much, much, much more than all the Democrats and Republicans combined and then raised to the power of Michael Moore’s pant size. So there’s my starting point.

  98. #98 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Bobzbob wrote:

    “Chaos and market fluctuations are natural” – yes, but they do a lot of damage that limits potential growth and prosperity in the future.

    Yes, they do damage. Eliminating “damage” in the market should not be a goal of any capitalist. No, they do not limit potential growth. “Natural” Market fluctuations elminate the weak users of capital and provide new growth opportunities for the efficient. Not allowing the natural fluctuations results in a build up of forces that eventually force a collapse: massive crisis, massive debt incurred to “stimulate and stablize”, drain from debt payment, inflation, etc…protectionist policies that entrench inefficient producers (GM) while placing innovative-sapping barriers to entry, and spreading higher costs to consumers and tax-payers alike.

    Relative stability is one of the keys to prosperity. US prosperity never took off until we figured out how to provide relative economic stability that dampened the natural flucuations.

    Relative stability is not a key to prosperity. It is curious why you think this. Relative stability is one of the keys to getting re-elected and maintaining status quo for the current holders of capital. As for US prosperity being linked to “stability”, a few million immigrant workers are feeling shunned for their contribution.

    Having large numbers of people disposed of their homes for example makes them sigificantly less employable and limits future growth.

    Yes, the housing crisis caused by Keynesian economic policies (like the ones you are supporting: stimulus) would have large numbers of people disposed of their homes and would be terrible. THAT is a point for my side, not yours.

    Don’t worry about defeating my position…not that you are. Mises himself (and Rothbard, Hayek, and others) knew Keynes would “win” when married to democracy and a population willing to vote for the best promise of free cheese.

    America has not in any way, shape or form shown itself to be a country that is able to end the love affair with Keynes and collectivism/socialism. And, in fact the last decade has shown this love affair to be even stronger than most in the Austrian School suspected. Austrian studies enable economists to at least note where and how policies will fail…and profit from it…as stated before.

    So, by all means, another round of stimulus and tell the Chinese ambassador I’m at lunch.

  99. #99 |  Duncan20903 | 

    “Oh well, if you’re not breaking any laws, you have nothing to worry about! Honest!”

    That’s a thing lots of people claim, but it’s simple minded thinking as well as being patently false.

    I have an extensive collection of marital aids. Vibrators, dildos, blindfolds, handcuff, Venus Butterflies, etc. I’d really like to keep that private. It’s not like everyone needs to know. They’re not illegal where I am but I really don’t have any interest in explaining to any authorities how a fleshlight works.

    Should I be ok with cameras in rest rooms provided by merchant’s? I do know lots of shrink leaves the premises as a five finger discount via the restroom on. Quite a large % of shoplifters use the restrooms as part of their larceny. I want to be clear. I object to having a surveillance camera in the bathroom stall. It wasn’t illegal to take a dump the last time I checked.

    The falsehood that I quoted above would have been equally valid in Nazi Germany. Just obey the law and you have nothing to worry about. Another variation is that “It’s a free country as long as you do what you’re told to do”. The latter came from my Junior year in high school the history teacher spent the better part of an hour explaining that. The she went on to the qualifications to be President, you know, at least 35 years old, a natural born citizen of the US, has to be Caucasian, and no bald men allowed either. I swear on my mother’s grave that’s what she was teaching.

  100. #100 |  jeff | 

    remember the obama speach about too much info and how confusing it is, more sensorship on the way,if you like this then make him a two termer

  101. #101 |  Kayak2U Blog » Blog Archive » A matter of perspective | 

    [...] Balko link viz "Earth and the moon, as seen from Mercury" a week back sent me clicking hither and [...]

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