Here we go again….


The car crushing ideas are back. I knew these were coming and first learned of the proposals not too long after the election. Now they are getting more serious about it. From an LRC blog post I read about the latest ideas to crush older cars.

Crushing of old cars is something that makes a go around when ever there’s an excuse that can be used for it. When I used to read Hemmings Motor News there was a dedicated column on fighting government legislation that was aimed at automotive hobbyists. I think I first learned of these crusher laws in the 1980s. Thanks to dedicated people fighting these bills and laws their impact has been limited but still damaging to the supply of parts and cars.

Like all government interventions there are all sorts of groups that line up to benefit from these laws. From the car manufacturers to Hollywood getting pollution credits they could sell for all the old iron they destroy in films and television. Hence part of the reason Hollywood has so many 30+ year old cars destroyed in their products.

This is the one area that had me liking Colin Powell many years ago because he understands car hobbies. He once said that he lived on base because he knew he’d have trouble with neighbors because of his disassembled cars elsewhere.This communicated an understanding of the problems faced by those of us who like these machines and work on them for fun. But government doesn’t understand fun, only it’s agendas and those of the interests allied with it. It just needs an excuse to act.

The argument that it is better for the environment to replace the older cars is one that is absurd to anyone with the least bit of understanding of what goes into a car. The costs of building a car are neglected by the technically ignorant people that make up the majority of political representatives. The energy and resources that go into building a vehicle need to be made up by the better efficiency of the new one. This takes time. So much time that the ‘new’ car will likely be old and used up by the time it breaks even with keeping the old one around. It is much more environmentally sound to restore the existing car or at the very least keep using it until it is uneconomical to. Once sent to salvage yard the car is stripped for parts maximizing it’s value. Government wants those parts destroyed to force other old cars off the road.

The other excuse is the economy, that the government has to encourage spending by getting people to buy new cars. How is it going to do this? By forcing the destruction of older cars which many businesses need to exist. The repair shops, the parts retailers, the part manufacturers, the restoration shops, body shops, and so on. All the untold numbers of small businesses who benefit from people keeping their old cars on the road and the auto restoration hobby.

It is the “seen” and the “unseen” once again. What we see are new car sales and a more fuel effecient fleet. What we don’t see is the diverted energy to build new cars where no new cars were needed instead of something the market needed. Maybe people really needed appliances or bridges or who knows what, but instead the interference in the market diverted resources to building vehicles that weren’t needed. We don’t see the energy that could have operated the old cars for decades that was used up just building a new one. We don’t see the people who are out of work or had to close their businesses because there were fewer old cars to be repaired and restored.

Meanwhile a recession continues as people wait to see what the government will do. Those who have the money for a new car think the government might make them a better deal so they wait. The manufacturers and other businesses involved can’t plan because of all the uncertainities of the political process. Will their product even be legal when it gets to market? What cars will be subsidized, which won’t? Who knows? Hard to say. Limbo. It all hovers in limbo until government is done trying to ‘act’. 



1 thought on “Here we go again….

  1. I just can’t get over how Bastiat keeps coming back again and again (Hazlitt was so right). The majority of economic fallacies stem not from any lack of knowledge about economics, but directly from people’s stupidity. I’m starting to seriously wonder if there’s anything anyone can reallly do about it.

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