THE BLOG
08/07/2009 03:53 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Junking the Clunk

Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: King Anyi Howell
Now that the senate has approved an extra $2 billion for the Cash For Clunkers program, it seems like a good time to add my voice of dissent to the fray.

I live in LA where driving is a necessity, and I not only can't afford to buy a new car (even with an extra $5,000 in my pocket as credit), but I am also in the school of thought that certain clunkers under the age of 25 are classics. Cars like the 1985 Ford Mustang, 1986 Mercury Cougar, and 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood are eligible for trade-ins, but if I owned any of these vehicles, you'd have to pry my cold dead fingers off of their steering wheels.

As we've heard from a variety of experts, from environmentalists to economists, there’s a serious downside to destroying all of these auto parts. Jeffrey Miron, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University, said on KQED's Forum program, “That’s an absolute resource cost. That’s a loss to all society that those resources are just being destroyed.” Since the most clunked-out gas-guzzling cars are over 25, their exclusion from the program means this effort ends up being more about boosting auto sales and less about saving the eco-system.

The good news for those of us who can't afford to just get a brand new car, even with $3k-$4k knocked off the price, is that wrecking yards have 180 days from the day they receive these "clunkers" to demolish them. Yards, like Aadlden Bros., in Sun Valley, take advantage of this time window by allowing customers "pick and pull" all non-engine & drive-shaft parts. If you drive a Cadillac, like me, this is especially good information, because while a new part might cost and arm and a leg, but used parts pulled from another car usually cost around a pinky nail.

It's nearly impossible to find incentives for consumers who want to be more fuel efficient. Unless you were $3,500-$4,500 short of purchasing your new dream car, participating in the program doesn't much sense and could possibly drive you into debt. So I say don't sell your 8-cylinder soul to the devil! Keep your Clunker!

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