Friday, July 31, 2009

where moth and rust destroy...

$3,000,000,000 for Cash for Clunkers (might actually be more when it’s all said and done).
$4,500 benefit for a car.

3 billion $ / 4,500 ($ per car) = 666,666.7 cars will be traded in or purchased.
The benefits are that we get better gas mileage for cars. The trade-ins get less than 18, the purchased cars get better than 25 mpg’s.
The car companies sell some of their inventory, but this only helps the corporation (stockholders), not the employees. Since the lots have a large surplus of autos, factories won’t ramp up production on account of this.

Take 15,000 miles per year (probably if you have a vehicle that gets 10mpg’s you’re not driving this much). Assume the trade-ins get 10mpg the new cars get 30mpg, just to keep it interesting.
The trade-in’s use 1,500 gallons a year, the new cars use 500. We save 666,666.7* 1000 = 666,666,666 gallons of gas per year. The US uses 138,000,000,000 gallons of gas annually, resulting in a grand total of .48% reduction in gas usage. Note the decimal point, that’s less than 1/2 of a percent.

On the other hand, the world water crisis could be ended for (roughly) $10,000,000,000 per year. So the Cash for clunkers money is 30% of this. 10,000 people die every day (5,000 children under the age of five die every day) because of lack of access to clean water, so the money could save 3,000 lives (per day) or 1,095,000 lives, that's equivalent to the Rwandan genocide every year.

The math leads me to this question, why are cars more important to us than the lives of a million people. It should be no great shock that we ignore genocide when we practice ignoring death in our everyday lives.

Solution (Warning this might require that your lifestyle be altered):

Do this. Sell that second vehicle. You'll probably get 2,500, maybe more. Buy a bike, yeah go for a nice one $1,000 - $1,500. You'll love it. Your legs will get strong, the waist might shrink. Your heart will become more efficient. It will make a real difference to the whole gas consumption thing. What do you do with the extra $1000? Invest in things that won't pass away.

*I used a trade - in improvement in mpg's of 20 mpg, the first 80,000 cars average to 9.8 mpg improvement. I updated the accuracy of my numbers 8/5/2009, and added sources.

Sources :


Anonymous said...

I think you're setting up a false choice. We have enough money to do both, so your beef is not with cash for clunkers--there are far more unproductive programs that spend much more money (think military). Also, your calculation didn't take into account: C02 emissions, productivity gain, bringing up the lower class, stimulating the economy, and lowering the trade deficit. The fact that we don't spend money on the water rights issues is somewhat obvious, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Cash for Clunkers.

Jeremy said...


Your right about our military spending being out of control. Half of the global miltary spending is ours alone. But my point in writing this was to illustrate that we spend money on extra auto's when there are clearly more important things. To some the autombile has become an all important cornerstone to our economy.
The math was a simplification. I forgot to include that every 1$ spent on water initiatives creates 8$ that won't need to be spent on disease later. That's a nice return. I'm not sure how spending will bring up the lower class, since most of the autos being sold are still being partially financed. I wish we could learn our lesson about buying things we can't afford. Let's be honest, though, this is a red herring.

Also, this is certianly not a water "rights" issue I'm talking about. It's an "access" issue. The issue I'm talking about involves villages sitting on top of clean water, but they have no way to access it. Instead they have to obtain water from open, uncovered sources that carry waste products from animals into the stomachs of small children.