Government programs touted as environmentally friendly do-good projects to ease pollution and help consumers are rarely challenged by mainstream media before they are implemented, even when they cause more pollution and economic peril they remedy.
Such is the case with Barack Obama’s “Cash for Clunkers” government cash-back program implemented in 2009 that Americans were told would curb pollution and create economic growth. The program that used taxpayer’s money to pay out $4,500 for each “gas guzzler” traded in for fuel-efficient new cars was reportedly itself a clunker, in terms of damaging the environment and wrecking small businesses, according to credible reports.
While the Car Allowance Rebates System (CARS) was marketed as a political answer for sagging sales in new car showrooms that would help the environment and consumers, what it delivered was small business bankruptcies and incalculable tons of waste and pollution.
Nearly a million people scurried to dealerships to cash in their old rides for shiny models with that new car smell. However the ill-conceived, if well-intentioned, taxpayer-funded program mandated that the 690,000 trade-ins to be shredded within 180 days, as opposed to being recycled, according to an E Magazine report published Saturday.
This meant that for each ton of metal produced by a shredding facility, roughly 500 pounds of “shredding residue” was produced, according to experts. The misguided federal program produced such residue as polyurethane foams, metal oxides, glass and dirt – nasty pollutants, one and all, that promptly wound up in landfills.
Based on an average weight of 2,000 pounds per shredded vehicle, Obama’s short-lived “Cash for Clunkers” program produced an estimated 172,500 tons of added pollution in the U.S. at a cost of more than $3 billion to taxpayers.
Washington ordered all engines of trade-ins to be immediately destroyed and all cars had to be shredded within the 180 day period, leaving little time for salvaging parts.
Adding to the problem, many of the nearly 700,000 “clunkers” were actually late-model vehicles in good condition that delivered similar fuel mileage as that of new cars. With 250 million used cars registered in the U.S., the difference in pollutant levels after the program is negligible.
On the other hand, according to a report by E Magazine, recycling just the plastic and metal alone from the “Cash for Clunkers” scraps would have saved 24 million barrels of oil.
But Obama’s “clunker” program did more damage that creating all that waste for the environment to absorb. It produced some serious economic problems for consumers and small businesses.
According to a recent TriCities op-ed from Mike Smith of Ralph Smith Motors in Virginia, CARS created a shortage of used cars thereby driving up transportation costs for those who could least afford it. The poor, who didn’t qualify for the program, could no longer afford affordable transportation.
At the same time, used-car dealers, most of whom are independently owned, small-business owners, could not stock their lots and went under. According to Smith, 122 Virginia dealers chose not to renew their licenses after that year.
While mainstream media was quick to plug CARS as an environmental-friendly bumper jack for pitted new cars sales, it has been far less enthusiastic in reporting the destructive results.