Campaign to Dismantle Super Popular ‘Cash for Clunkers’

The program got people to go out and buy new cars (good for the economy), took old cars off the road, and put more fuel efficent ones on the road in their place.  How is the program a bad thing?

‘Cash for clunkers’ boosts auto sales in July –

republicans-cash-clunkersRegardless of how you feel about Cash for Clunkers, the program sure is popular with the American public. The initial $1 billion in funding for the program–which allows individuals to obtain a rebate towards a new, more fuel efficient vehicle if they turn in an older carbon spewing model–was used up in just 5 days. The House of Reps approved an additional $2 billion last week, and Obama’s Secretary of Transportation says he’ll have to kill the program if the Senate doesn’t do the same. Many Republicans, of course, smell an opportunity to attack.

According to the New York Times:

If the Senate did not approve that $2 billion in new financing, “we would have to suspend the program next week,” [Transit Secretary] Mr. LaHood said in an interview on the C-Span program “Newsmakers.” He said that the administration would “continue the program until we see what the Senate does” but that he expected the current $1 billion pool for rebates to run out by the end of this weekend.

American auto dealerships, who support the program, have already begun cancelling Cash for Clunkers related advertising, and there’s reportedly a slew of other problems as well: the website with instructions on how the program works,, has crashed repeatedly from overuse, and the dealers themselves must destroy the engines of the old cars before receiving their rebates. Such bumps in the road could be seen as necessary growing pains for such a new program. But Senate Republicans don’t see it that way–they’re (ridiculously) angling to paint Cash for Clunker’s problems as a referendum on how all government programs fail, or something like that. The Times reports:

Republicans say the problems with the program are another strike against the Obama administration as it pushes for a speedy overhaul of the health care system that would involve a government-run insurance program. They argue that government involvement in any industry is a recipe for disaster.

Hm. Wonder how they’d vote on removing coal and oil subsidies, then? Hate to break it to you boys, but the gov’s kinda been involved in those industries for years–and didn’t Exxon post record-breaking profits last year?  

Anyhow, leading Republicans are somehow using the fact that Americans took to the popular program so readily and swiftly–exhuasting its funding by coming out to dealerships in unexpected droves–to make the point that the program has failed, and thus, by extension, so has Obama. This strikes me as preposterous. John McCain has even said he’ll filibuster in the Senate to prevent additional funding. And Senator DeMint, of South Carolina, has, well, said this:

the “cash for clunkers” program was an example of the “stupidity coming out of Washington right now. The federal government went bankrupt in one week in the used-car business, and now they want to run our health care system,” Mr. DeMint said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is crazy to try to rush this thing through again while they’re trying to rush through health care, and they want to get on to cap-and-trade electricity tax. We’ve got to slow this thing down.”

Pssssst. DeMint, over here–I’ll whisper this to you in private so as not to further embarrass you in public: the program went “bankrupt” because people like it–consumers like it; they get a new, cleaner car for cheaper. Delears and auto makers like it–they sell more cars. And yes, there are problems with the program–there often are with new programs. But the biggest one–that it doesn’t have enough funding–can be solved if you vote to give it more. Or you could continue to use it as a half-baked argument against Obama’s big government left-wing agenda. Though I’d recommend going with the giving people cheaper cars route, if it’s reelection you’re after, since yelling about Obama doesn’t help dealers move cars, get polluting ones off the streets, or stimulate the economy. Just a thought.

Alaska to Kill Over 75% of Wolf Population in New Aerial Hunt

wolfThis just isn’t right in so many ways, killing so many wolves is one problem, but combined with killing them from the air give me a break, if you want to be a real hunter at least get off your lazy butt and hunt them on thier turf.

Alaska abruptly resumed shooting wolves from helicopters this weekend in hopes that shooting the wolves will increase the population of caribou for hunters to kill. The state plans to kill up to 328 wolves, sparing under 100 in the Yukon area.

“They [the state] have a mandate to provide for maximum sustained yield. They want to provide more moose and caribou for people to harvest,” said Greg Dudgeon of the park service. “Our mandate is to manage and provide for healthy populations of wildlife. So we don’t place the value of a wolf over a caribou, or a caribou over a moose.”

The state hopes to increase the caribou population from 40,000 to 100,000. Dudgeon said the goal is outrageous because the animals haven’t been that populous since the early 20th century.

Broad Use of Brain Boosters

adderral_x220A controversial subject but interesting and will be a growing issue.

Use of drugs to enhance memory and concentration should be permitted, experts say.

Off-label use of stimulants, such as Ritalin, is on the rise among college students. Studies show that 5 percent to 15 percent of students use prescription drugs as study aids, and surveys suggest the practice may be common among academics as well. The trend has sparked debates over how and when these cognitive enhancers should be used. Military personnel routinely use stimulants while on active duty, but should that practice also be permitted among surgeons working long shifts? What about scientists working late nights in the lab? Or students taking exams?

A commentary appearing today online in the journal Natureadvocates for broad access to brain-boosting drugs. According to the piece, written by a group of ethicists, psychologists, and cognitive neuroscientists, “cognitive enhancement, unlike enhancement for sports competitions, could lead to substantive improvements in the world.” While opponents have argued that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is unfair and could undermine the value of hard work, the authors say that these drugs fall into the same category as more common efforts to increase brain function, such as drinking a cup of coffee, or getting a good night’s sleep, and thus should be regulated accordingly.

Food taxes and subsidies could combat obesity

Well this is my blog so I guess I can post anything I want.  This is an interesting idea:

A subsidy on healthy food could help tackle obesity and other conditions which can be prevented through nutrition strategies, according to the American Dietetic Association.  

The idea of a subsidy is just one policy option which could be adopted, as the ADA is calling for reform of the US health care system, including strategies to prevent obesity rather than ways to treat it.

Tara Gidus, spokesperson for the ADA, told “We already subsidize farmers to keep them in business, but maybe we do need to do more on a consumer level to motivate them to choose healthier foods.

“A subsidy would help to make produce and other healthy foods less expensive. Taxing unhealthy food is another option, but I am afraid that it would cause such an upheaval of attention that it would never pass.”

Though I am thinking how about also adding a tax on junk food?  They tax cigarettes, why not things that contain transfats, or more high fructose corn syrup, or high levesl of salt.  It would be revenue to help reform the health care industry – a large part of which deals with problems caused by junk food (e.g. stuff high in sugar, salt, fat, etc)