Monday, August 3, 2009

Cash for Clunkers Rant

OK, if you've been following this blog, you probably knew this was coming. I have been trying to hold my tongue, but I can't any longer. I'm so disappointed in Americans! I knew we weren't going to learn any real lessons from the recession and I knew it would be short-lived, but I thought the car industry would continue it's contraction, things would get reasonable, and in two years there would be slightly higher (5 mpg) fuel efficiency requirements, and maybe by then we'd also have had good stimulus projects and ingenuity to take the "green economy" up a notch and people would be excited about it and, well, think about things like accruing debt and consumerism, particularly where automobiles were concerned.

But no. The magic number is $4500. Or maybe just $3500. Makes me wonder if they should have started the program with a $3000 credit. Because 250,000 Americans bought new cars with the incentive of $4500 in ONE WEEK. How can this be? New cars, we're talking about. New cars with maybe just 2-4 mpg better than their old cars. New cars that cost like $20K at least, right? So new car loans. I'm gonna keep my eyes open-- and maybe most people bought hybrids and traded in SUVs for 33 mpg sedans, but I don't think that's how it's going down...

Through Steve's daughter Catherine we stumbled on Hal Hartley's films and Fay Grimm last week. Steve liked it, which surprised me, because it's very stylized and somewhat challenging. But we watched The Girl from Monday tonight. I'd wanted to watch it basically because, as Steve said, "Dystopias are always good." A sci-fi dystopia couldn't miss. This concept, though, was a little too believable and close to home. A corporation had taken over the world, and made people into commodities. People had sex to increase their buying capacity, basically log in and get credits. Their desires and desirability drove the economy. And this was all easily manipulated by the government/corporation. They even benefited from the counter-revolution, a group that had sex "because it felt good" and without building up capital, by inspiring fear and the need for the police to stop these people who threatened the economy. Because the economy must stay the way it is forever. And consumerism is the only way to keep it going.

We watched The International over the weekend, which was also good. This time it was the evil bank that was running the world, something quite believable-- that banks are evil and out of control and driven by greed to screw with the world without facing any consequences-- given our current national attitude and recent experience with banks.

I know I quite irresponsibly wanted there to be no bailouts last winter. And yes, I'm very glad the country is not in economic free fall. And I know it would have hurt the vulnerable most of all, and people in third world countries. But somehow I feel like the forces of greed and consumerism are driving us to quite unreasonable and unsustainable things.

And I'd like to blame the government, the banks and the car companies, except it's hard when 250,000 people go out and buy cars in one week... for a $4500 credit.

No comments: