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Monday, 19 October 2009 01:00

Clunker Cars, Clunker Nukes?

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Ralph ReilandI don’t want to sound negative, but is anyone else getting the idea that we’re starting to live in Clunker Nation?

Start with the actual clunker deal where we borrowed money from China to buy Japanese cars in order to save Detroit. Nuts!

All told, we spent $2.88 billion in money we didn’t have in order to smash 690,114 cars, according to the final numbers from the Department of Transportation.

What pulled up to be demolished were mainly American cars.

What topped the list of new cars leaving the showroom floors, initiating a new and novel form of foreign aid, were cars produced primarily by manufacturers headquartered in Japan and South Korea.

The top 10 Cash-for-Clunkers trade-ins: Ford Explorer four-wheel drive, Ford F-150 Pickup two-wheel drive, Jeep Grand Cherokee four-wheel drive, Ford Explorer two-wheel drive, Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan two-wheel drive, Jeep Cherokee four-wheel drive, Chevrolet Blazer four-wheel drive, Chevrolet C1500 pickup two-wheel drive, Ford F-150 pickup four-wheel drive, Ford Windstar front-wheel drive van.

The 10 top-selling vehicles in the program: Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic,  Toyota Camry, Ford Focus front-wheel drive, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Versa, Toyota Prius, Honda Accord, Honda Fit, Ford Escape front-wheel drive.

In addition to reducing the supply and raising the price of used cars, on top of weakening the future income of car repair and auto body businesses, the net result of the July-August clunker program was that it ruined American car sales in September while filling the coffers of foreign car producers so they could come on even stronger against U.S. producers in the next round of competition.

September was the second-worst month of the year for the auto industry, with sales at General Motors falling 45 percent, Chrysler down by 42 percent, and Ford off by 5 percent.

“It was a real post-clunker hangover,” said GM’s vice president of United States sales, regarding September.

Said Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of U.S. sales, regarding September, “I’ve never seen a roller coaster like this.” It’s simple — the government blows $2.88 billion creating an artificial balloon on the upside of the dips and the ride down becomes just that much steeper.

Worse than the above in terms of our very survival is the Nobel clunker, Obama’s prize for pushing a program that promises to send American nukes to the same junkyard crushers that destroyed all those aforementioned Ford Explorers. 



Agot Valle, a Norwegian politician and member of the five-person committee that chose this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, said Obama won primarily because of his “commitment to nuclear disarmament.”

The committee last met on October 5, 11 days after Obama’s told the UN’s General Assembly that the United States, pre-Obama, was seen by the world as too cocky, too polluting, too untrustworthy, and too armed.

America, he said, had “acted unilaterally, without regard for others.” We were one of the “wealthy nations that did so much damage to the environment in the 20th century.” We were viewed internationally with “skepticism and distrust.”

And regarding our stash of nukes? Simple, per Obama: “Nations with nuclear weapons have a responsibility to move toward disarmament.”

So Israel’s nukes go to a clunker program, and then Israel is safer, outnumbered 50-to-1 by hostile neighbors? That’s a peace plan? Or is it more likely a war plan, with a de-nuked Israel just inviting an attack?

The same with the United States. De-nuked, America is some day going to successfully take on a billion or so Chinese, door-to-door?
 

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

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