Corporate Welfare

But, Mr. Economist, Tell Us How You REALLY Feel

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One of The Economist's anonymous writers at its Democracy in America blog unleashed a short torrent of unholy wrath this morning on Cash-For-Clunkers.

This, after the blogger's colleagues defended the program—which the Senate deemed worthy of a $2 billion expansion today—as "too little to lose sleep over" and praised it as "a surprisingly quick and easy win" on the basis of happy testimony from an uncle who owns a car dealership. (I know a few glaziers who would love to get in touch with that blogger.)

Anyway, this nugget of clunker-rage is worth quoting in its entirety:

Just wanted to throw in my two cents on this cash-for-clunkers business as I seem to be at odds with my fellow bloggers. It's a ludicrous waste of taxpayer money wrapped in offensively cynical packaging. If you want to save the environment and/or reduce America's dependence on foreign oil there are about a million things you can do before you resort to a $3 billion boondoggle. You can sit around and fiddle with the numbers so it sounds like we're going to eventually save petrol, but of course the proponents of the programme don't try to puzzle out how much we'd save if we just raised the petrol tax like a normal country. Because of course the point isn't to help the environment, the point is to help the car dealers. So why can't we just say that? Is our sense of entitlement so swollen that we not only think we deserve handouts at every turn but we need to be praised for taking them? I'm with the cranky commenters who find the whole thing grotesque.

Huzzah!

Check out Reason's rapidly expanding archive of C-4-C coverage here.

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  1. “Petrol?” “Programme?” He’s one a’ them FURRINERS!

  2. Let’s have a huge chunk of people put off a new car purchase for a month, then have another huge chunk of people hasten their new car purchase from anywhere from a couple of months to a year and pack all of those purchases (that would have happened anyway) into a 3-week period.

    Stimulating!

  3. I think the environmental aspect is at best secondary to the economic aspect, and no one has made a secret of this. If we wanted to reduce CO2 levels, he’s right, there are more efficient ways to have spent $3 billion.

  4. “Petrol?” “Programme?” –

    I am pretty sure that the Democracy Blog uses American interns.

    They must run their copy through a British spell/work check.

  5. They must run their copy through a British spell/work check.

    It’s also a style thing. When Megan McArdle worked there, she mentioned that they insisted on using British spellings.

  6. Is our sense of entitlement so swollen that we not only think we deserve handouts at every turn but we need to be praised for taking them?

    Not only that, but we must vilify the selfish bastards who whine about paying the tab.

  7. Last time I looked the Economist was a British mag, so surprise their writers, even on the Democracy in America blog, write like Brits … and anyway who the fuck cares what nationality/style – the dude/dudette makes a point!

    Like BBC America’s Top Gear, who the fuck cares if they call the trunk of the car the “boot” or they say “brake horsepower” instead of just “horsepower” …!

  8. ” If we wanted to reduce CO2 levels, he’s right, there are more efficient ways to have spent $3 billion.”

    How much would it take to get you to stop breathing?

  9. The other problemme with C4C programme is that one must open the bonnet of the car and take a spanner to the whole bloody transmission of a perfectly goode lorry!

  10. I think the environmental aspect is at best secondary to the economic aspect, and no one has made a secret of this.

    Well, except that for the latest round of funding they took the $2B out of DoE energy efficiency grants for automaker retooling programs. I guess in reality for those grants too the environmental aspect may be at best secondary to the shoveling money to automakers aspect, but I still think people are making a secret of it.

  11. I am eating extra rick sugary high fat chocolate ice cream to:
    improve my health
    save the whales
    reduce global warming
    stimulate the economy

    this guys just wants to present us with false choices. You can eat ice cream and lose weight!

  12. It’s just a manipulation of the economy in the short term to retain political capital. It serves the secondary purpose of a 4500 gift to the middle class that voted him in. I’d love to see the demographic of who takes advantage of the program. I’m guessing 90% plus will be white middle class.

  13. I read an Economist editorial on space written by the president of SpaceX, which used British spellings (like “programme”). She’s an American. Is it really necessary to make that sort of correction? I read stuff in British English all the time without much trouble. I assume citizens of the U.K. can handle American English as well.

  14. Did no one else notice the suggested solution was to raise petrol taxes? Yep, have a problem with too much demand? Increase the govs take in the product. That’ll do the trick.

  15. At least raising petrol taxes makes it plainly obvious to all and sundry what you’re up to. That, in itself, makes it a superior option.

  16. Oh, that really takes the biscuit. You Yanks have got their knickers in a twist just because the Economist doesn’t use your colonial American spelling. You sit there watching your colour televisions, driving on the wrong side of the road, and criticising other countries. Why don’t you take your attitudes and sod off? You’re not really our cup of tea.

  17. Another thing – you call football ‘soccer,’ and the game you call ‘football’ hardly ever has any fatalities at all. Are you a bunch of wimpy poofters? A good soccer match should result in at least three or four deaths in the postgame riot.

  18. Bangers and mash, spotted dick, pasties . . . all items on the menu in any good English restaurant.

    If you include the entire United Kingdom, you can include haggis, too!

  19. Mad Max,

    I have no problem with The Economist using British spellings–it should. What I thought was odd was their editing an American’s writing to read as British.

  20. PL, I’m fairly sure American magazines edit British writers’ stuff to standard American.

    I’m under the impression that almost all publications have a standard style that must be conformed to. Certainly any big ones.

    Maybe someone who actually knows wil correct my misapprehension.

  21. Isaac,

    No doubt you are correct. Now, of course, I must confess that I made my editors Americanize an English attorney’s law review article back in law school. They asked why, and I hummed Hendrix’s version of the National Anthem while air guitaring.

    You can’t go by what some law student thinks, by the way, because that was me, not policy.

  22. For a visceral experience on how absolutely retarded this program is.

    one
    two
    three
    four

  23. My problem with C4C is just the market-distorting effects. For practical purposes, we’re deliberately destroying $3b worth of sub-$4500 cars — exactly the basic transportation that the working poor depend on to get around. If nothing else convinces you that this is a ridiculous feel-good policy for people who can afford a new car on their own, that should.

  24. I think the idea behind anonymization and stylistic normalization used throughout The Economist is to create the effect of a single voice.

    This encourages readers to critique each article on the basis of its content, rather than on the (subconsciously inferred) attributes of the writer’s identity.

    Normalizing spelling to British English only tells you that the magazine is run by Brits, but does not release the nationality of each individual writer.

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