The Quotidian

Evolving perspectives on evolving challenges

Tag: government

What ‘cash for clunkers’ could have been spent on

by Kai Hsing

With the program’s environmental and economic benefits nearly negligible, billions could have been better spent encouraging more people to buy cars that make a real difference – plug-in hybrids.


Much of the discussion around the “cash for clunkers” fervor is as polarizing as the politics involved – you either dismiss the program as a failure in both theory and practice or you declare the program a success while rejecting criticism of the program as GOP firestarting. With further consideration, one realizes that the cash for clunkers program actually has a lot of moving parts to consider before disassembly – unlike what they’ve been doing to the clunkers themselves.

On one level, cash for clunkers could be deemed a success – the program has so far increased sales in its brief period of activity, with Ford posting its first sales increase in two years and the overall industry posting its best month of 2009. The overwhelming popularity of the program has also been lauded as a measure of its success (or irresponsibility), with $1 billion exhausted in $4,500 increments in just one week.

Despite the fact that the Ford Focus (mpg: 24 city/35 highway) has been the top-selling one of the top-selling vehicles among those who traded in their “clunkers” for new cars, a closer look reveals that six out of the 10 best-selling anti-clunkers were from foreign automakers. Read the rest of this entry »

The revenge of Thomas Edison

by Kai Hsing

The banning of incandescent light bulbs has been seen as a major victory for the environmental movement – but now they’re making a comeback. Here’s why.



The quintessential, iconic action of the contemporary green movement has been changing your light bulb from the warm, soft rays of the 19th-century incandescent light bulb to the super-efficient yet somewhat muted compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb. Making the switch is an obvious choice, no matter if your priorities are economical or environmental – a CFL bulb promises savings of more than $30 over the course of its longer lifespan while also slowing the emission of greenhouse gases due to its reduced energy use.

One could see the CFL bulb as forming a sort of subliminal trinity for optimists and changemakers worldwide – switching to the new bulbs is demonstrably world-changing and cost-cutting at the same time, as well as being able to affect sweeping legislative changes in a relatively short amount of time. Unsurprisingly, the EU and Canada are on track to phase out old-school incandescents in the next few years, and even the U.S. is in the mix with a 2012 target date (though Venezuela and Cuba beat us all by banning them back in 2005). Read the rest of this entry »


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