Recycling clunkers

Monday, August 17, 2009

The main goal of the Cash for Clunkers program was to stimulate new-car sales and, perhaps, lift the U.S. auto industry out of its months-long slump. Another goal was to get gas-guzzlers off the road by giving owners a federal subsidy to trade in older, less fuel-efficient models on newer vehicles with higher mpg ratings.

Dealers participating in the Cash for Clunkers program are required to make sure the trade-ins aren't resold. They must disable the old cars by ruining the engines. The cars wind up as scrap.

Before Cash for Clunkers, thousands of vehicle owners donated cars to charities. Some of those not-for-profits reconditioned the cars and gave them to workers who need transportation to their jobs. Others sold the donated cars and used the cash for their charitable activities. Goodwill Industries, for example, relies heavily on the $14.5 million it gets from 28,000 donated vehicles each year.

Encouraging fuel efficiency is a good thing. So is helping charities with old-car donations. Perhaps some compromise could be found for the Cash for Clunkers program. Some workers don't have a card to trade or can't afford a new vehicle. They would welcome a good used vehicle.

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