Damn, I knew I should have bought a used SUV 5 years ago instead of a used VW. If I had made that bad environmental choice in the past, I could now be rewarded in the Cash for Clunkers program.
My old VW Passat is a borderline clunker, and I would love to replace it with an even more fuel efficient and reliable vehicle (maybe a hybrid). My Passat has $1850 trade-in value according to the Blue Book, so a $4500 rebate could be just the incentive to get me in the door to buy a new car. Too bad, the Passat doesn't have bad enough gas mileage to qualify as a "clunker." Even if the clunker program was expanded to accept my car, it would still be wasteful because the program would require my car to be junked, even though it is a useful car with above average gas milage.
If we want subsidies to create a more fuel efficient fleet, we should just subsidize the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles period and not link it to what you are trading in.
Yes, I'm annoyed that I don't qualify for the program, and that make me quicker to complain. I also am in favor of government stimulus for the economy, but not this kind.
Update: While driving down 99 this morning, I was noticing all the "clunkers" being used for work. I saw several dinged up Ford F150s and vans loaded up with tools and supplies, and on the way to a job. If this program gets too big, it will become more difficult and expensive for many lower-income people to find affordable work vehicles in the future (because the program requires these vehicles to be scrapped, as opposed to resold when they are traded in now). In other words, this "stimulus" program hurts poor people who benefit from used vehicles. It's an unintended consequence that is not mentioned in most of the articles about it that only mention positives.