31 July 2009

They That Govern Least, Govern Best

I was just strolling through my links and came upon two posts at Word Around The Net that sparked my interest.

First is the report that the President asked for a hundred million in cuts, and they found a hundred and two.

The cuts were realized by such things as using both sides of paper when copying documents, deleting unused email accounts, and not repainting white government vehicles.

As Chris points out, these are things that should have been done ages ago, but as a former member of the US Government I can point to just one thing that would realize immediate significant savings.

Every year we would go through the same old thing where we would fly a lot at the end of each quarter to burn up our fuel funds and everyone would get new furniture. The deal is that if you don't use all the money up your next year's budget is decreased by the amount that is left over. Obviously this does not lead to frugality, in fact we would usually run over and have to dip into the next quarter's money to make up the difference.

The clear answer, and also one that should have been implemented ages ago, is to not penalize frugality. Award the individual commands a percentage of the moneys not spent for their welfare and rec (party) fund, and continue to fund them at the same levels (adjusted for inflation) for the next fiscal year. That way if the money is needed it is there, and if not a majority of it is returned to the coffers to be used next year. This would encourage frugality, which is now not the case.

The next topic is the clunker buy-back program that the .gov was so proud of. Seems like it was so popular that the billion dollars allocated to the fund is about used up, and it's only been a week. Since the program requires the dealers to award and honor the certificates right away and be reimbursed later, many dealers are looking at some pretty serious losses.

My major complaint with the cash for clunkers program is that one of the program requirements is that the motors on the old cars have to be deliberately destroyed. No part of the motor or drivetrain can be sold, according to the program rules (this link goes to cars.gov but does not require you to log into the system).

That means that if you have one of the same models of car that you decided to keep (because for instance you figured out that you wouldn't be able to afford the payments even with the buy-back cash, or you haven't seen a car that you want to own worse than your old one, or maybe just that your old car is a pretty good one and you still have need of it) the used parts market for it outside of body panels or interior pieces is effectively dried up. If you were hoping to score some motor parts or a complete motor or transmission, well let's just say there's an acronym that describes your position. SOL.

The only entities that profit from this boondoggle is the scrap metals market. China should be pleased, since they are the largest buyer of scrap metal. Auto salvage yards, on the other hand, not so much.

Good thing for me that none of my cars qualify. They are either too old or they get good enough mileage that they don't fall under the 18 MPG rule. That means that I should be able to get parts far into the foreseeable future.

That's a good thing, too, because the way things are going it looks like I might want to hold on to the old cars for a while. And who knows, maybe one day one of them will be a classic and be worth more than I paid for all of them. Look at what happened to the Edsel, for instance.

A guy can dream, anyway.

UPDATE: This made me cringe:

"Nick Clites, who is in charge of used cars for the dealership, was prepping a 1988 BMW 535IS, with 214,000 miles on the odometer, for its death. He drained the oil, then donned a silky blue protective suit, goggles and gloves and poured a sodium silicate solution into the engine. He revved the car, and within a few seconds, the solution hardened into a glass-like substance, the engine seized up and the car was dead."

Let's look at that again. 1988 BMW 535 IS, that the dealer had to fork over 4500 clams for, engine totally destroyed. If you even have a passing appreciation for fine German automobiles you should be at least wincing right now. Kelley Blue Book has the base model 535 priced at $3650 for an 89 model, so not only is the used car market going to be taking a hit but now you can't even get parts. It's enough to make a car guy scream.

No, I didn't miss the point of the article, which was to warn those who log in to the cars.gov system that "all ur computurz r belong to us."

UPDATE II: Velociman adds his two shekels as only the Velociman can. Yeah, what he said.


cmblake6 said...

I do so detest these miserable communists. I, personally, would have LOVED to have had that car. 214,000 on a Beemer is just getting broke in good.

Larry said...

You and me both, the IS is the top of the line Beemer. It sure deserved a better end than that.