Nanny State

Junkyards Dogged


Tim Wheeler has a good story in the Baltimore Sun about the ways Cash for Clunkers is affecting the salvage business. Here's an excerpt:

Bill Miller, owner of Redmonds Auto Parts in Pasadena, says he's buying clunkers, though it leaves him with a bad taste.

Besides having to forgo reselling the vehicles or their engines, Miller says he is unable to guarantee to buyers that the automatic transmissions from clunkers work. His people can't start the engines as they normally do to test the transmissions, he says, and the frozen motor even complicates removing the equipment.

Plus, Miller complains, the government's requirement that all "clunkers" be crushed and shredded within six months means he can't keep the hulks around as long as he sometimes does in case someone wants a hard-to-find part.

"Don't take it out on our industry," he says. "We're bottom feeders."

Even so, though the clunkers won't be worth as much to him, he figures he'll still make $200 or $300 per vehicle if his four area salvage yards get the 500 or so trade-ins that he expects to acquire from dealers….

It's really the principle of the federal program that gripes Miller.

"I think it's disgusting we're dumping all this money into a dying industry," he says. The "cash for clunkers" program boosts three industries that got into trouble of their own making, he argued—car makers, banks and insurance companies.

The article also gives a government spokesman a chance to try out the phrase "It's a free market."