Cash for Junkers

Junkers, as in these Junkers.

german aristocrat

As DbC has previously said, even in a nation-state as propaganda-drenched as this one, it takes some work to find a mainstream shibboleth less true than the claim that cars-first transportation is an equalizing force in American society.

In reality, even ignoring their core purpose of further enriching corporate shareholders, the distribution of automobiles among U.S. product users is profoundly unequal.

Turns out, this inequality is a central outcome of the recently concluded round of “cash-for-clunkers” handouts.

Demographic researcher Dante Chinni (whose Patchwork Nation book is quite useful, by the way) reports:

Since the “cash for clunkers” program whipped through auto dealers this summer, the debate about it has raged. Depending on whom you talk with, it was one of the most successful government stimulus programs in history, or it was a $3 billion boondoggle that ultimately had little impact. “Success” is a hard thing to judge, but when you look at where the money went in Patchwork Nation, one thing seems clear: The program benefited the wealthy the most and arguably did little for poorer, struggling communities. Using data from the federal government, we looked at where the nearly 700,000 cash-for-clunkers transactions took place and found that three community types in particular cashed in: the largely suburban “Monied ’Burbs,” the growing and diversifying “Boom Towns,” and the collegiate “Campus and Careers” counties. These three types all have higher-than-average median household incomes, and in general, they’ve fared better during the recent economic challenges.

This is more important evidence that: a) much of what has passed for a bailout under the Democratic Party has been a supply-side boondoggle, and b) cars-first transportation is a huge obstacle to economic and ecological sanity.