Publication: IBD;

Date:May 1, 2008

Section:Issues & Insights

Page Number:A11


Scrap The Scrappage Plan

“Scrap The Guzzlers” (Editorial, April 23) again illustrates the fundamental misunderstanding of why motorists must often keep their older vehicles and what the Junker-Clunker programs (vehicle scrappage) were actually devised to do — sell new cars.

The elitist Junker-Clunker/scrappage proposals in Congress were defeated twice, by public outrage. Contrary to your editorial that “people were writing checks and asking the company to ‘scrap one for me,’ ” which was actually a person with financial interest in the junking program, “real” hardworking people were calling and faxing Congress to kill the proposals.

Unocal did not develop its vehicle-scrappage program for altruistic reasons. It did so in order to skirt spending millions of its own dollars in cleaning up its self-made pollution. Unocal thereby continued to pollute while shifting the burden of cleaning the air onto low- and fixed-income motorists, as your editorial position now advocates.

The editorial promotes scrapping vehicles that are over 10 years old with the specious argument that these vehicles are gas guzzlers and thus polluters as well. The age of a vehicle has nothing to do with its potential for polluting, just ask any car hobbyist. It does, however, have to do with how well the vehicle is maintained and repaired.

Fuel efficiency is increased with regular maintenance, regardless of the vehicle’s age. It’s economically sound to promote vehicle repairs rather than taxing the public to pay for newer vehicles. Vehicle-scrappage programs are not a free-market answer, but another government program that will grow into a wasteful boondoggle.

Statistically, 10% of all vehicles on the road today operate above emissions standards. Unocal and other Junker-Clunker advocates, new-car dealers among them, would like the public to believe that just the older vehicles are the culprits causing pollution and a lack of fuel efficiency.

A program to scrap these older vehicles will not benefit society if these same motorists refuse to have their newer vehicles repaired, thereby creating more pollution and less fuel efficiency. So why target the badly needed, much-older vehicles of lower income motorists? How long would this remain a “voluntary” program?

Motorists who own older vehicles do so for a variety of reasons, among them affordability. Their vehicles are usually paid for and have lower insurance premiums. And these vehicles are used for very practical purposes such as driving to work, school and doctor’s appointments.