For many folks, this was their chance to trade in that gas-guzzling 2001 Chevrolet Silverad0 and get a 2009 Buick Enclave (19 MPG), or a 4WD 6-cylinder Mercury Mariner (18 city/23 highway), or a 4WD 3.5L V6 Toyota Highlander (17 city/23 highway). The federal government will spring for $3,500 or $4,500 towards that new car.
(Want to have some fun? Go to the Hummer web site and try to find the mileage for any of their vehicles. If you find it, post the link in a comment. First person to do this gets an ugly t-shirt that I got for a charity ride a few years ago.)
Now, I know that the real point of all this was not to get people into more fuel-efficient vehicles, but to try to stimulate a sluggish economy -- particulary in the automotive market. I'm fine with that. I just think that there are some better ways to do this ... at least, from the RandoBoy perspective.
Bucks for Bikes
Here's the one I would have liked. Trade in that Ford Mustang (17 city/24 highway) for a fuel-efficient Salsa Casseroll Triple and get $2,000. Of course, this is about what the Casseroll costs, if you throw in a couple of bottle cages, some cheap shorts, and a jersey or two. This gets another exhaust-spewing behemoth off of the road, replacing it with another person riding their bicycle to work, shopping, etc. The roads are clearer, the pavement less cracked, the air is cleaner, and the oil companies see their profits slip and slide like a drowning sea otter in Prince William Sound.
Is there a downside to this? I don't think so.
Lucre for Lanes
Yeah, it's normally "filthy lucre," but a lot of Americans wouldn't go for "Lira for Lanes" because they're still ticked at the French. I mean, "freedom fries?" C'mon.
This program is two-pronged. Just park your car in any bike lane, and the government is allowed to assume that you are donating it to this program. They will then take it, crush it, sell the steel to China, and use the proceeds to build more bike lanes.
Upsides: Fewer cars, fewer idiots parking their cars in my bike lanes (unless they really intend to donate them, in which case a hearty "Thanks!" to them), and more bike lanes. Also, the Chinese get more money to build more skyscrapers, enabling them to pass us American as the world's most obvious conspicuous consumers, and garner the enmity of the world's down-trodden. Let them take some of the heat for a while.
Downsides? Again, I just don't see any.
Hummers for Helmets
With this program, the government collects all of the Hummers (except those that are being used by our armed forces, because they have a valid use for a tank), crushes them, sells the steel to China, and uses the proceeds to buy bicycle helmets for all of the new cyclists.
This helps protect peoples' noggins -- thus lowering medical costs -- and builds more skyscrapers for China (The Evil Satan for a New Generation). It also gets Hummers off of the road, which is good because I hate Hummers.
Plus, the phrase "Hummers for Helmets" is funny.