Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cali Finds a New Way to Hand Out Cash

California regulators have apparently not noticed the budget crisis going on in the state, or perhaps they don't realize that spending more money will intensify the crisis.

They expanded a state car-scrapping program Friday to provide incentives of as much as $4,000 to motorists who turn in high-polluting vehicles and replace them with cleaner cars.

Some 300,000 California drivers who own cars older than model year 1976 will be solicited by local air districts.

Drivers could get $1,000 if they turn their car in to a licensed dismantler. And, naturally, what's the point in new regulations, if you can't throw in a little California style egalitarian hocus pocus while you are at it, for some of the poor slobs driving the smog machines? Low-income Californians would be eligible for $1,500.
The regulation also provides a voucher between $2,000 and $2,500 to drivers in two of the state's most polluted regions - Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.

The vouchers could be redeemed at new and used dealerships for a fuel-efficient car that's four years old or newer. Low-income Californians could buy a fuel-efficient car up to eight years old.

I'm all for clean air, but the simple way to solve this problem is to tell anyone who has a car that blows exhaust into the face of those walking on the sidewalks, to fix the problem or get a new car.

Note: This program is different from the program signed into law Wednesday by President Obama, California's effort is not primarily designed to replace gas guzzlers with more fuel-efficient vehicles. In this sense, California's program is less nutty than Obama's, since, if it really made economic sense to take a gas guzzler off the road, people would do so. The math just isn't there at current prices. It's basic economics ignored, again. If gasoline, say, on an inflation adjusted basis shot up to $20 a gallon, gas guzzlers would disappear quicker than Ben Bernanke is going to at the end of January 2010.

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