American Thinker: Feds' Cash for Clunkers Program Channeling Robert A. Heinlein's "The Door Into Summer"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

You can argue with The American Thinker’s politics, but they’ve got a point: there’s a spooky parallel between Robert A. Heinlein’s “ The Door Into Summer” and the current Cash for Clunkers (a.k.a. C.A.R.S.) program. [thanks to fincar1 for the link] Grok this:

The job I found was crushing new ground limousines so that they could be shipped back to Pittsburgh as scrap. Cadillacs, Chryslers, Eisenhowers, Lincolns—all sort of great big, new powerful turbobuggies without a kilometer on their clocks. Drive ’em between the jaws, then crunch! smash! crash!—scrap iron for blast furnaces.

It hurt me at first since I was riding the ways to work and didn’t own so much as a Grav-Jumper. I expressed my opinion of it almost lost my job . . . until the shift boss remembered I was a Sleeper and really didn’t understand.

“It’s a simple matter of economics, son. These are surplus cars the government has accepted as security against price-support loans. They’re two years old now and then can never be sold . . . so the government junks them and sells them back to the steel industry.

You can’t run a blast furnace just on ore; you have to scrap iron as well. You ought to know that even if you are a Sleeper. Matter of fact with high-grade ore so scarce, there’s more and more demand for scrap. The steel industry needs these cars.”

“But why build them in the first place if they can’t be sold? It seems wasteful.”

“It just seems wasteful. You want to throw people out of work? You want to run down their standard of living”

“Well why not ship them abroad? It seems to me they could get more for them on the open market abroad then they are worth as scrap.”

“What! and ruin the export market? Besides, if we started dumping cars abroad everybody we’d get everyone sore at us—Japan, France, Germany, Great Asia, everybody. What are you aiming to do? Start a war?”

Robert Farago
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  • Bunkie Bunkie on Aug 04, 2009

    "Nah, Orwell got it wrong. The world we live in didn’t come to resemble 1984, it most closely resembles Brave New World. Or at least we’re headed in that direction." The Ministry of Truth is, in my opinion, the single most absolutely-right-on bit of literary prophecy ever penned. Having said that, Huxley was also onto something: "Ending is better than mending".

  • Peterdublin Peterdublin on Aug 06, 2009

    Dealers are forced to destroy perfectly good cars. There are deeper reasons why the scheme is wrong Presumably it's to save on oil/gasolene and to lower emissions: Yet fuel efficient cars effectively means cheaper energy which in turn means they will be used more (instead of, for example, using public transport) Fuel efficiency is of course an advantage people can consider when buying a car - and can compare with advantages that inefficient cars can have (speed or greater safety because of greater weight, etc, as well as a probably lower price - or they would be efficient already). As far as government is concerned, any oil shortage - for geopolitical or economic demand reasons - raises the gasolene price and - guess what - increases demand for fuel-efficient cars anyway, no need to legislate for it. Another reason is that - as research at Georgia Tech has shown - it is possible to clean emissions of CO2 (and other substances at the same time). A fuel-neutral emission tax on cars therefore makes more sense: If it is economical to make - or to fit current- gas-guzzling cars with emission processing then, again, there is no reason for government to try to lower the use of such cars. Any regulatory measures should therefore focus on emissions, rather than the fuel used, and emission taxation on cars retains consumer choice, while also giving significant government income with the lower sales of high emission cars, income that can go to projects that themselves lower emissions eg. electric car manufacturing subsidies etc. (Regardless of whether CO2 reduction makes any sense, lowered emissions of course have their own benefit, for all the noxious sulphur etc substances that the emissions also contain) For more see Why all energy efficiency regulation is wrong - from light bulbs to buildings

  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).
  • Lou_BC There are a few in my town. They come out on sunny days. I'd rather spend $29k on a square body Chevy
  • Lou_BC I had a 2010 Ford F150 and 2010 Toyota Sienna. The F150 went through 3 sets of brakes and Sienna 2 sets. Similar mileage and 10 year span.4 sets tires on F150. Truck needed a set of rear shocks and front axle seals. The solenoid in the T-case was replaced under warranty. I replaced a "blend door motor" on heater. Sienna needed a water pump and heater blower both on warranty. One TSB then recall on spare tire cable. Has a limp mode due to an engine sensor failure. At 11 years old I had to replace clutch pack in rear diff F150. My ZR2 diesel at 55,000 km. Needs new tires. Duratrac's worn and chewed up. Needed front end alignment (1st time ever on any truck I've owned).Rear brakes worn out. Left pads were to metal. Chevy rear brakes don't like offroad. Weird "inside out" dents in a few spots rear fenders. Typically GM can't really build an offroad truck issue. They won't warranty. Has fender-well liners. Tore off one rear shock protector. Was cheaper to order from GM warehouse through parts supplier than through Chevy dealer. Lots of squeaks and rattles. Infotainment has crashed a few times. Seat heater modual was on recall. One of those post sale retrofit.Local dealer is horrific. If my son can't service or repair it, I'll drive 120 km to the next town. 1st and last Chevy. Love the drivetrain and suspension. Fit and finish mediocre. Dealer sucks.
  • MaintenanceCosts You expect everything on Amazon and eBay to be fake, but it's a shame to see fake stuff on Summit Racing. Glad they pulled it.