August 1, 2009

Cash for Clunkers to Crush

Robert A. Heinlein's 1957 sci-fi novel The Door into Summer is about a Los Angeles engineer who, betrayed by a femme fatale in 1970, opts for The Medium Sleep. He awakes from his cryogenic hibernation capsule in the early 21st Century, and finds himself a stranger in a strange land:
The job I found was crushing new ground limousines so that they could be shipped back to Pittsburgh as scrap. Cadillacs, Chryslers, Eisenhowers, Lincolns -- all sorts of great, big, new powerful turbobuggies without a kilometer on their clocks. Drive 'em between the jaws, then crunch! smash! crash! -- scrap iron for blast furnaces.

It hurt me at first, since I was riding the Ways to work and didn't own so much as a grav-Jumper. I expressed my opinion of it and almost lost my job ... until the shift boss remembered that I was a Sleeper and really didn't understand.

"It's a simple matter of economics, son. These are surplus cars the government has accepted as security against price-support loans. They're two years old now and they can never be sold ... so the government junks them and sells them back to the steel industry. ... The steel industry needs these cars."

"But why build them in the first place if they can't be sold? It seems wasteful."

"It just seems wasteful. You want to throw people out of work? You want to run down the standard of living?"

"Well, why not ship them abroad? It seems to me they could get more for them on the open market abroad than they are worth as scrap."

"What! -- and ruin the export market? Besides, if we started dumping cars abroad we'd get everybody sore at us -- Japan, France, Germany, Great Asia, everybody. What are you aiming to do? Start a war?" He sighed and went on in a fatherly tone. "You go down to the public library and draw out some books. You don't have any right to opinions on these things until you know something about them."

... I raised the subject just once more because I noticed that very few of the price-support cars were really ready to run. The workmanship was sloppy and they often lacked essentials such as instrument dials or air conditioners. But when one day I noticed from the way the teeth of the crusher came down one that it lacked even a power plant, I spoke up about it.

The shift boss just stared at me. "Great jumping Jupiter, son, surely you don't expect them to put their best workmanship into cars that are just surplus? These cars had price-support loans against them before they ever came off the assembly line."

So that time I shut up and stayed shut. I had better stick to engineering; economics is too estoteric for me.

Obviously, writing a half century ago, Heinlein got much wrong about the 21st Century, such as his naive assumptions that America today would still have a steel industry in Pittsburgh or an export market for its new cars.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

71 comments:

noseworm said...

Obviously, writing a half century ago, Heinlein got much wrong about the 21st Century, such as his assumption that America would still have a steel industry in Pittsburgh.


Steve, your humor is great. Even when you are angry your posts are a laugh. Its one of the reasons I come back for more. Lot's of pundits say things which are correct, but eventually they get boring. At iSteve, there's always a laugh to be had.

Anonymous said...

Well, you've sold at least one copy of this book.

Anonymous said...

"At iSteve, there's always a laugh to be had."


Thank God for that. Better than crying...

spacehabitats said...

I love Heinlein's work.
It never ceases to amaze me how insightful (dare I say, prophetic) his books were.

It seems pretty obvious now why authors like Heinlein and George Orwell had to disguise their political commentary as Science Fiction.

The PC thought police would never stand for such blatant truth in a non-fiction setting.

Anonymous said...

i don't get it

Anonymous said...

Its one of the reasons I come back for more. Lot's of pundits say things which are correct, but eventually they get boring.

Please, for the love of god, stop abusing the poor, misunderstood apostrophe.

Sockstand said...

People forget that the environmental laws that were one key component of our deindustrialization were _aggressively supported_ by the unions, not because they cared one whit about the environment (which in places like South Chicago was disgusting) but because they were convinced that the gov't would have to crank in more tariffs against foreign undercutters, because no one could conceive that the government could allow those industries to die.

They misunderestimated the GOP.

Anonymous said...

Lemme see, $1Bn, that's about 222,222 cars.

However, the drop off in sales is much greater than that, and that $1Bn is only going to suck up next years sales, which means that dealers will have more problems next year ...

Oh well.

l said...

Everybody on TV says the Cash 4 Clunkers program is a huge success: The gov't is offering free money and people are lining up to take it.

Anonymous said...

OT but important. Wondering why Obama might be getting some bad press? The Forward is far more useful to read than the NYT.

http://www.forward.com/articles/111011/

Alarm bells have been ringing around the neighborhood pretty much nonstop since July 13, when President Obama sat down to talk Middle East policy at the White House with a pack of leaders from a dozen American Jewish organizations.

The meeting was supposed to help buff up Obama’s relationship with the Jewish community, which is bubbling lately with resentment at the president’s aggressive peace-processing. By reaching out to the community’s customary spokesmen, he hoped to build rapport and perhaps recruit a few backers for his policies. Instead he unleashed a whirlwind of attacks against himself, his administration and the Jews who met with him.

The critics accuse Obama of unfairly singling out Israel by demanding a unilateral settlement freeze, without requiring reciprocal Palestinian concessions, and disregarding past American promises to permit some construction. They say he is trying to curry favor with the Arab world, breaking a long-standing presidential tradition of siding automatically with Israel. Some say he is threatening the important legacy of George W. Bush. I didn’t make that one up.

CP said...

Steve,

Have you seen what they do to these cars?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0IcIxhd8ks

Keynesianism at its worst.

Even worse, the House voted 316-109 to transfer $2 billion more to the program from an Energy Department fund for loans to innovative energy projects...

All-In-All said...

This is one of my favourite Heinlein novels, I had totally forgotten about the parallels between it and 'Cash for Clunkers'. Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

And yet another reason why we buy gold with our Federal Reserve Notes...

eplee said...

"It seems pretty obvious now why authors like Heinlein and George Orwell had to disguise their political commentary as Science Fiction."

Part of the reason is that Orwell's political commentary is straight from James Burnham.

stari_momak said...

At least Heinlein's (and Obama's) vision makes a bit of sense. I've been trying to work out the real estate/immigration analog.

We have to import more people, so housing demand goes up, so we can lend more money for mortgages, so housing prices go up, so people can sell their houses and profit, and then buy a new house at inflated prices ...

See, it just doesn't work. At least the Heinlein/Obama program makes enough sense that it can be shown were it is wrong (actually, I think it could theoretically help smooth out things for the auto industry, and also marginally improve air quality). But the whole let's import people to keep 'the economy' growing is so bad it is 'not even wrong."

Mr. Anon said...

"They're two years old now and they can never be sold ... so the government junks them and sells them back to the steel industry. ... The steel industry needs these cars."

The difference with our present as opposed to Heinlein's future, is that we now will sell the scrap steel to China, which will then melt it down to make tanks and missle cruisers. Or perhaps just bayonets, if they decide that we're not even worth a bullet.

Anonymous said...

The biggest thing Heinlein got wrong was massively overestimating the human drive to form families.

nsam said...

I just traded in my genuine clunker (which barely qualified) for a Japanese subcompact.. but I seriously wonder what the long term repercussions of this program are, especially with the sudden expansion from the original 1 billion dollars. If resales are possible, why wouldn't clunker owners resell their new cars at a discount and make some easy money? Wouldn't this account for many of the new sales?

bjdouble said...

The best thing to do would be to ship the clunkers to Latin America or Africa or wherever. Reduce the trade deficit, generate cash, etc. I saw a German document where German dealers who had recieved clunkers in exchange for the Abwrackpramie turned around and sold the cars in Eastern Europe . . . illegally. Why is that illegal? Insanity.

Sockstand said...

If resales are possible, why wouldn't clunker owners resell their new cars at a discount and make some easy money? Wouldn't this account for many of the new sales?

No, because the depreciation of new cars off the lot is higher than the effective subsidy.

It's still much more cost effective for low income people to fix the clunker or to sell it for salvage and buy a better but largely depreciated car used than to buy a new subsided high mileage 'boite de merde' .

I do what the town car and limo industries in NYC do: I buy a three or four year old Lincoln Town Car, from the estate of an old couple that have died or went to the home. Old Midwesterners and Southerners subsidize the New Yorkers by buying them new and selling them for half or less with 95% life left.

It's interesting to note Ford has nearly 100% of this market along with 80% of the cop car market.

Nanonymous said...

I just traded in my genuine clunker (which barely qualified) for a Japanese subcompact..

I've been driving Japanese subcompact for 16 years. It's still in a good shape and I will continue to drive it. I can afford a new car but I don't need it. No matter what, my car would not qualify for the program. And, if CO2 emissions have something to do with, can someone explain to me this:

So I had a common sense to drive a small reliable car that produces low emissions and you drove a big not so reliable car that produces lots of emissions. According to our government, you deserve $3,500 (with few pennies probably coming from my pocket). Why?

BTW, it was the same with college scholarship: my kid did not qualify for any because we had common sense to save money and pay off mortgage (i.e., have no debts and do have money in the bank). Strangely, if we were irresponsible kind and wasted money on expensive cars, huge house, a boat and a vacation home, accumulating credit card debt in the process, than, with exact same income, our expenses on college education would have been reduced 2-fold.

l said...

This program will drive up the prices of the remaining used cars. Ergo: This program will disproportionately hurt poor minorities (who can't afford new cars, even with $4,500 gimmes from the gov't).

Anonymous said...

"We have to import more people, so housing demand goes up, so we can lend more money for mortgages, so housing prices go up, so people can sell their houses and profit, and then buy a new house at inflated prices ..."

Exactly. It's nuts. I about tore some hair out reading my local newspaper a day or two ago. Earlier this week Obama gave a speech saying that the economy had avoided "the worst". He stated in his "the economy is looking up, yay for me" speech that as evidence for the economy looking up jobless claims were down in July and that home prices were once again rising.

Uh, excuse me?

Home prices rising are not a good thing. As us iSteve readers know and as Steve's pointed out multiple times, one of the foundations of America's prosperity was cheap land.

Obama's not trying to "fix" the economy, he's simply trying to restore the status quo. Suicide. Slow acting maybe, but suicide.

-Vanilla Thunder

kudzu bob said...

>The biggest thing Heinlein got wrong was massively overestimating the human drive to form families.<

A good observation. Perhaps this stemmed from the Heinleins' own desire--which remained unfulfilled, alas--to have children of their own.

Tanstaafl said...

Obviously, writing a half century ago, Heinlein got much wrong about the 21st Century, such as his naive assumptions that America today would still have a steel industry in Pittsburgh or an export market for its new cars.

As imaginative as Heinlein was he never dared speculate the West would be colonized and conquered by mexicans, pakistanis, algerians, turks, and nigerians. Even as fiction it would have seemed too absurd.

ironrailsironweights said...

The difference with our present as opposed to Heinlein's future, is that we now will sell the scrap steel to China, which will then melt it down to make tanks and missle cruisers.

New York City tore down an old but perfectly serviceable elevated train line on Second Avenue in 1940. It was demolished in anticipation of the Second Avenue Subway, which had been on the drawing boards since the 1920's (and still, to this day, has never been built). Anyway, a persistent urban legend held that the city sold the scrap metal from the El to Japan, which of course went to war with the United States a year later, and the Japanese used the scrap metal to make weaponry for use against Americans. In reality, the city sold the scrap metal locally, but since when does the truth ever get in the way of a good story?

Speaking of scrap, all cars traded in under Cash for Clunkers have to be scrapped. To ensure this, dealers have to destroy the engines (by putting a gumming-up compound in the fuel supply) as soon as they take possession of the trade-ins. Doing so also significantly limits the amount that junkyards will pay for the cars. Junkyards get much of their income from selling parts, and the engine-destruction requirement renders many parts unusable and unsellable.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Steve,

In Japan you don't see clunkers. People don't like to drive old cars. Old cars, trucks, and buses (and ferries) are sold to middlemen who pass them on to other countries (Russia, Pakistan, Philippines NZ, etc.) All over asia and the pacific you see cars and trucks with old japanese writing on them.

No cars, no problem. (Didn't Lenin, say that?)

Anonymous said...

We've got a similar process in place here (UK).

Cars over ten years old can be scrapped and in return you get money towards a brand new car. Of course its a subsidy to car makers disguised as a subsidy to car buyers. Most people who could afford a new one just get some money off.

I can't afford a new car so Im driving around in an older than 10 car and don't benefit. I still get to take part of course, or rather my taxes do and that gives me a warm feeling inside.

I was at a scrap (junk) yard the other day to get a part for my old wreck and noted the cars vastly better than mine being got ready for crushing while I had to pick through the accident write-offs for the bit I wanted. Part of the scheme seems to mean that you are not allowed to salvage perfectly good parts from these perfectly good cars. Insanity. (no doubt some parts are being siphoned off along the way, unofficially)

The insanity doesnt end there, unlike the USA, Britain no longer has any indigenous car makers so this subsidy will all end up in the hands of foreign companies.

Final insanity - Not long ago the last part of Britain's car industry went belly up asking the govt for a loan. "No" said the govt, none of that Keynesian nonsense today, the free market, sink or swim etc. Now we see the same govt fall over itself to give money directly and indirectly to foreign corporations.

Tanstaafl said...

The Economy is broken. Let's fix it by destroying durable goods!

Health Care is broken. Let's fix it by giving free coverage to everyone!

Immigration is broken. Let's fix it by legalizing everyone!

If someone were consciously trying to destroy our civilization they could hardly be doing a better job.

Anonymous said...

bjdouble - A Polish guy was telling me about the German scheme.

Germans had to have an old car to trade in for the scheme. So they would head east to Poland and pick up a cheap old car there and then head back home to cash it in for their subsidy. Insanity.

Anonymous said...

Those surplus old Japanese cars - very popular here in UK. It helps that we drive on the left as do the Japanese.

Many of them are quite new but as pointed out the Japanese are not especially fond of old cars. Another reason for their importation is many of them are higher spec than the otherwise exact same models sold here through the official dealer networks.

(The Nissan Skyline coupe was never sold through the dealer network here, same with the Toyota Soarer, yet one will see them driving around. All of them private imports from the other side of the world.)

We like old cars here though. There are thousands of cherished 30, 40, 50+ year old cars kept in working order.

Steve Sailer said...

Why crush used SUVs instead of selling them to Mexico? Mexicans are the ideal market for used SUVS: they have bad roads, lots of relatives, good car repair skills, and relatively cheap gasoline.

CJ said...

The only possible benefit of Cash For Clunkers could be a reduction in air pollution, as the new cars really will run much cleaner than the old. Other than that, it's crazy. I read the Heinlein novel as a teenager, but had completely forgotten the car-crushing job. Cash For Clunkers instead reminded me of (1) destroying 'excess' food in the 1930s to keep crop prices up and (2) gun buyback programs where people bring in dysfunctional junk ex-firearms, get the money, and then go buy a better weapon.

BTW, Japanese don't drive old cars just because they like new cars. Japan has a system of mandatory "inspections" of old cars at the expense of the owner. These "inspections" involve significant dismantling of some of the car systems. They are mandatory after something like 5 or 7 years, and then must be done every couple of years. They're more expense and trouble than the cars are worth -- one of the myriad ways that the Japanese government has subsidized and protected their auto industry.

Anonymous said...

'As imaginative as Heinlein was he never dared speculate the West would be colonized and conquered by mexicans, pakistanis, algerians, turks, and nigerians. Even as fiction it would have seemed too absurd.'

I believe "Farnham's Freehold" has some black-versus-white racial commentary. I presume you were already aware of that book, though, because it does not have mexicans, pakistanis, etc.

I mention it because I suspect most Isteve readers would like it.

Steve Sailer said...

"Farnham's Freehold" has much the same plot as Evelyn Waugh's sci-fi short story "Out of Depth," in both of which modern Americans are transported hundreds of years into a post-Apocalyptic future ruled by vaguely fascist Africans as the chief survivors of a great disaster to befall the Northern Hemisphere (nuclear war in Heinlein's case, unsaid in Waugh's)

After Heinlein's very consistent string of novels in 40s, his novels from his 50s, such as this one, are more erratic. I'd call FF one of his lesser ones.

Anonymous said...

65% of new cars sold in America last year were sold to women. Nice transfer of wealth from taxpayers, largely men, to new car buyers, largely women.

I've never bought a new car in my life, and I have a decent income. It doesn't make sense economically for me. For others, it's a question of what they can afford. This program is a transfer of wealth from poor to rich; hugely regressive.

l said...

This was conceived as a gimme for the car co.s. The funny thing is, this will likely benefit foreign car manufacturers more than it will the domestics. Who offers more subcompacts? Who sells the Prius?

When they were putting this bill together they had discussed outlawing the selling of spare parts for older cars: Something broke on your car, you'd have to buy a new car. That provision was left out of the final bill, but by crushing these C4C cars, the gov't is skimping the salvage business.

By destroying these still operable cars, the gov't is also limiting supply in the used car market. That will drive up the price of used cars. That will hurt poor people.

A lot of greenies applaud this bill for giving people an incentive to replace their old "gas guzzler" with a more fuel efficient car. The thing greenies don't take into account is that manufacturing new cars is a very energy intense affair. Environmentally, it would make more sense to drive these old cars until they give up, then buy the new car.

There is a "perverse incentive" aspect to this bill. It rewards people who have been driving gas guzzlers. It offers nothing to people who have been "good citizens" -- people who have been driving Priuses, or who have been bicycling/ walking/ using public transportation. Like with the bailout of the banks, the message the gov't sends is: Be stupid or irresponsible, and we'll bail you.

The program will surely expand beyond the extra $2 billion allocated on Friday. Howsabout every 5 years the gov't give every adult in the US $20,000 to buy a new car? That would really stimulate things. (We'll pay for it later. Somehow.)

nsam said...

So I had a common sense to drive a small reliable car that produces low emissions and you drove a big not so reliable car that produces lots of emissions. According to our government, you deserve $3,500 (with few pennies probably coming from my pocket). Why?

Beats me. I took the 4500$, a rational choice. The clunker by now had become the second car and past its best years (so driven very less) and a maintenance sink. So its not at all clear that the carbon emissions will go down (as the mileage put on new cars will be much higher). Also it is possible to get steep discounts on gas guzzlers under the program (when trading in trucks or vans). So this program is also a subsidy for these lower mpg vehicles.

Also I don't buy that the off-the-lot depreciation is higher than the $4500 giveaway, especially for the cheaper vehicles that are already selling below invoice. So this program will encourage some level of secondary trading of new cars; so expect the billions to be sucked up quickly.

nsam said...

Also, if this program becomes a perennial affair, note that you are required to produce proof of insurance and ownership for the car over the past one year (and its also supposed to be driveable). Percentage-wise, the $4500 is huge compared to the $8000 tax writeoff for purchase of homes before Nov 30 (for first time buyers). Given anemic home sales this year, it wouldnt be surprising if the subsidy is expanded and increased next year.

Anonymous said...

Please, for the love of god, stop abusing the poor, misunderstood apostrophe.

"God" should be capitalized, pedant-boy.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many clunkers are being imported from Mexico specifically to take advantage of this program.

I also assume that the Government program has the price wrong on at least some clunkers. I would be interested to know how much of a profit you can make by buying a pile of junk for $1,000 in Mexico, driving it across the border and selling it to the Government for $4,000.

If that is happening, the program isn't even reducing air pollution.

What an odd program.

noseworm said...

Please, for the love of god, stop abusing the poor, misunderstood apostrophe.


Sorry, English is my third language. I'll try harder.

can't believe my eyes said...

"Anyway, a persistent urban legend held that the city sold the scrap metal from the El to Japan, which of course went to war with the United States a year later, and the Japanese used the scrap metal to make weaponry for use against Americans. In reality, the city sold the scrap metal locally, but since when does the truth ever get in the way of a good story?"

Rarely, to judge from the number of times that persons who rationally question the official story get called "conspiracy theorists" as if that were a bad thing.
Actually I'm glad to see people then had a healthy mistrust of business and government.
I have heard that the steel girders of the crumbled Trade Towers crime scene were sent directly and quickly to China.
Appears to be true, from my research.

Anonymous said...

from SJ47

What I recall most from reading the novel almost 50 years ago is in it the protagonist/Heinlein invented computer aided drafting (CAD, also this is engineering drawing to those in the the service economy). The implementation was mechanical but still, wow.

All my youth, I waited and waited for the SW guys to finally develop CAD. Meanwhile, I spent my time drawing machine parts by hand. Let me tell you, when AUTOCAD 1.0 appeared it was a the MOTHER of all disappointments, drawing by cursor, not fun. Early (and later) CAD was the equivalent of drawing left-handed while hog-tied.

I consoled myself that travel was difficult a year or two after the horse was domesticated. Now CAD is just about as flexible for the designer as was the 1960s drawing board. (OK, the file management and revision capabilities of CAD were always desirable.) Maybe creativity will rebound as well.


SJ47

Chief Seattle said...

CP - good video, well worth watching.

"But what will the Mexicans drive?"

Dan Kurt said...

re: "Anyway, a persistent urban legend held that the city sold the scrap metal from the El to Japan, which of course went to war with the United States a year later, and the Japanese used the scrap metal to make weaponry for use against Americans. In reality, the city sold the scrap metal locally, but since when does the truth ever get in the way of a good story?" ironrailsironweights

The urban legend is actually true. In your spare time read about the term Fungibility.

Dan Kurt

Richard Hoste said...

Obviously, writing a half century ago, Heinlein got much wrong about the 21st Century, such as his naive assumptions that America today would still have a steel industry in Pittsburgh or an export market for its new cars.

This joke reminds me of Clockwork Orange. The author wanted to portray a completely depraved future, but in it the hoodlums came from a two parent household.

Anonymous said...

"After Heinlein's very consistent string of novels in 40s, his novels from his 50s, such as this one, are more erratic. I'd call FF one of his lesser ones."

I agree. It's been a few years since I read Farnham's Freehold, but I recall wishing all the main characters would just die. Very unlikeable people.

As an aside, For Us, the Living was a very interesting book. Heinlein wrote most of his material when he was a moderate conservative or libertarian. For Us, the Living was written when Heinlein was still something of a lefty. The book is basically a screed against fractional reserve banking and an advertisement for Social Credit concepts.

-Vanilla Thunder

Anonymous said...

Heinlein also implicitly believed that the Anglo-Saxon "yeoman farmer/ frontiersman" outlook would always exist, even if we were all race-mixed together (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, et al). This was/is a common failing of the Anglo-centric world. When our numbers diminish and our acculturating influence lessens, the Third World reverts to type. Heinlein seems pathetically naive to miss this.

Anonymous said...

I believe "Farnham's Freehold" has some black-versus-white racial commentary. I presume you were already aware of that book, though, because it does not have mexicans, pakistanis, etc.

I mention it because I suspect most Isteve readers would like it.


That's the one where the protagonist can't figure out where to cut an episiotomy. I think that most isteve readers have about the same familiarity with lady parts, yes.

David Davenport said...

Even worse, the House voted 316-109 to transfer $2 billion more to the program from an Energy Department fund for loans to innovative energy projects...

That's economics: debt and capital spent on Cash for Clunkers could be spent on alternative energy projects.

One caller to Glenn Beck's radio show Friday predicted Cash for Cripples will come next: encourage the old folks to commit suicide and thereby save health care funds, then collect a gooberment rebate when they off themselves.

It's good for the environment: fewer soiled adult diapers in the landfills.

In Japan you don't see clunkers. People don't like to drive old cars.

Is this aversion to old things an historically and essentially Japanese trait, or have they been socially engineered into behaving that way?

William B Swift said...

Nanonymous, that's because democracy is gov't by the incompetent, of the incompetent, for the incompetent.

Anonymous said...

to David Davenport

Japan has an expensive and intrusive auto inspection program that encourages buyers to discard (for export) a barely used car. Any chance this is to promote the domestic auto industry? NO way. Since Japan is so rich, they must practice free trade. Yes free trade for America.

SJ47

William B Swift said...

"Heinlein seems pathetically naive to miss this."

Unfortunately, Heinlein had a weird mix of Blank Slate and genetic-influence beliefs. Most of the explicit psychology in his books seems pretty unusual both to evo-psychs and to conventional psychology. The implicit psychology in his story telling is actually well grounded in decades of acute observation of human behavior.

testing99 said...

Davenport -- Japan has revered tradition, old shrines, old samurai swords, etc. The fad for newness is recent and as noted above, a prop to the car companies.

anony-mouse said...

If Heinlein was such a good seer, where's my grav-jumper?

Something for Government Motors to do?

Tanstaafl said...

The Puppet Masters

America is in the grip of invaders from another planet. They are landing at key points throughout the nation and taking over communications centers, industry, and government organizations.

Washington and the super-secret security services have tried to stop the invasion but to no avail. The monsters have the upper hand. They can take control of a person's mind--and direct his thoughts and actions.

Copyright 1951, Robert A. Heinlein

Tanstaafl said...

Heinlein also implicitly believed that the Anglo-Saxon "yeoman farmer/ frontiersman" outlook would always exist, even if we were all race-mixed together (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, et al). This was/is a common failing of the Anglo-centric world. When our numbers diminish and our acculturating influence lessens, the Third World reverts to type. Heinlein seems pathetically naive to miss this.

Spot on, except about his being naive. Only a handful of detested "racists" saw clearly and warned what was coming. And to this day, even though those "racist" views have been demonstrated more correct than the conventional race-blind wisdom the "racists" are still excoriated when not willfully ignored. Heinlein would never have been published if he had tried to squarely face the consequences of desegregation or the subsequent mexican invasion. For my part I cherish Heinlein's Anglo-Saxon yeoman farmer/frontiersman outlook as a vision of what could have been and as an ideal still worth trying to recreate someday, somewhere.

kudzu bob said...

Insightful comments on Heinlein, especially from William B. Swift and Tanstaafl.

>If Heinlein was such a good seer, where's my grav-jumper?<

If the 21st Century isn't what we hoped it would be, the fault lies with us, not Heinlein.

Sean said...

The Cash for Clunkers idea sickens me. What a waste!

This will drive up prices of all used cars. It's going to be tough for the foreseeable future to find lower cost used autos.

I've been checking autobase and used cars are definitely more expensive than they were.

Anonymous said...

If the 21st Century isn't what we hoped it would be, the fault lies with us, not Heinlein.

The fault lies with Roissy and the fact that you not only tolerate him, but wish you were him. Heinlein would have pistolwhipped him.

kudzu bob said...

>The fault lies with Roissy and the fact that you not only tolerate him, but wish you were him.<

Anonymous, I've posted no opinion on Roissy, here or elsewhere. What on Earth are you blathering about?

In any case, that Roissy dude must be one busy motherfucker, what with nailing all those chicks, writing a highly successful blog, AND single-handedly bringing down Western Civilization. Wherever does he find the time?

Anonymous said...

spacehabitats-

Heinlein wasn't that prophetic-he's got a very few hits in a lot of of predictions.

This is the Jeane Dixon effect at work-you (and others remember Heinlein's rare hits and forget his far more frequent misses.

Planetary Archon Mouse

Anonymous said...

"Or perhaps just bayonets, if they decide that we're not even worth a bullet."

Cause they want to kill all their customers?

karenc said...

If your clunker doesn't qualify for a voucher, you can get a tax deduction if you donate car to charity. Cars4Charities car donation center will help you thorugh the process. Details at http://www.cars4charities.org.

l said...

Karl Denninger weighs in:

http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/1285-What-A-Waste-Cash-For-Clunkers.html

Anonymous said...

I sold Fords for 5 years in the 1990's.

This Govt Program is going to be a boon to scammers. From my understanding, the "clunker" must be destroyed in order to receive the $4500. Well, say the clunker is a 2003 Ford Explorer Limited with low miles, say 50-60k. That type of car is probably worth around $5k or $7k.

Why would the used car manager of the dealership that the car was traded at destroy a perfectly good car that he could sell for a profit? That used car manager also has connections to car "wholesalers" who purchase trade-in cars from dealers and then immediately take them to an auction or ship them overseas.

Believe me, "car wholesalers" are some of the sketchiest dudes I ever dealt with. I remember one guy from Saudi Arabia, he would purchase every large, rear-wheel drive vehicle (Lincoln Town Cars, Crown Vics, Buick Roadmaster, Fleetwood Broughams) we traded. He would then ship them to the Gulf where gas is cheap and the natives loved the spacious interiors.

This is going to be a huge moneymaker for hustlers, and car dealers and body shops are some of the world biggest hustlers.

Mr. Anon said...

Anonymous said...

""Or perhaps just bayonets, if they decide that we're not even worth a bullet.""

Cause they want to kill all their customers?"

If they decide we're more valuable as slaves, than as customers, sure, then the Chinese might have occasion to kill abunch of Americans.

The idea that nations that trade with one another don't go to war is fiction. Prior to the recent era of globalization, the peak in world trade was reached in........................1914.

Something interrupted it however.

Anonymous said...

Anon - I sold Fords for 5 years in the 1990's...

Is it the case that many older cars (in good condition) are worth more as a collection of spares than as a useable vehicle? Ebay is one's friend here!

If that is the case then its another way for the clunker plan to be circumvented. Plus it clears away the evidence as it goes along.

Anonymous said...

--If they decide we're more valuable as slaves, than as customers, sure, then the Chinese might have occasion to kill abunch of Americans.

The idea that nations that trade with one another don't go to war is fiction. Prior to the recent era of globalization, the peak in world trade was reached in........................1914.

Something interrupted it however.--


Can't wait till they grab Taiwan. They're making moves all over the world: Canada, Africa, South America, the ME. They are serious. We are not. And we're going to pay for it.

kerdasi amaq said...

hmm, supposing you take your car to the dealer and remove certain parts from the car before you sell it what then. To whom do the parts belong? How about, you replace a good engine with a clapped out one?