Cash For Not Clunkers

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You’ve heard the saying that history repeats . . . as farce? Well, here we are. Not quite ten years after the government paid people to throw away perfectly good used cars to “stimulate” demand for new ones – the despicable Cash for Clunkers program – the government is doing the same thing again.

Only this time, the cars are not “clunkers” and the government is forcing VW to pay people to throw them away.

Almost 600,000 of them.

These cars are not high-miles and worn out, on their last legs. Many are only a year or two old. Nothing is wrong with any of them – other than their having been deemed “out of compliance” with Byzantine EPA emissions tests.

But only sometimes – and only slightly.

The cars were programmed to pass the EPA certification tests – required before they could legally be sold. They passed the tests, which incidentally is the same criteria Uncle insist on when it comes to the “education” of “the children” in government schools. Pass the tests (SOLs) and you pass on to the next grade. Kids are “taught” to pass the tests.

Uncle smiles.

But in VW’s case, it was later discovered that the programming was set up to run the engine differently – that is, better from the standpoint of the people buying and driving the cars – when out on the road and not connected to the EPA’s emissions test dynamometers. Under certain operating conditions – wide open throttle, for one – the calibrations were set to produce maximum performance.

Or, under other conditions, maximum miles-per-gallon.

Diesel-powered VWs like the Jetta and Passat TDI routinely delivered better-than-advertised (by EPA) mileage, out in real-world driving. I can vouch for this personally, having test driven every TDI-powered VW sold over the past 10 years. They all used less fuel – delivered higher mileage – than EPA said they would. Interesting. Less fuel used equals less exhaust gas produced equals lower emissions overall.

VW never gets credit for that.

Crickets. Including from the mother-loving “environmental community.”

Which makes my teeth hurt because if you do the arithmetic, the more-efficient-than-advertised VW diesels reduced the aggregate of harmful emissions yugely vs. the fractional per car increase in tailpipe emissions generated by the “cheating” software.

Whole number differences, mind.

Now add to the tabulations the 562,000 high-efficiency cars slated for destruction. They will be replaced by gas-burning cars  that use 20-30 percent more fuel to travel the same distance.

More whole number increases in the “harmful” exhaust byproducts EPA apparatchiks insist they are protecting us from.

It’s shameful.

But – once again – “demand” will be “stimulated” by this gratuitous destruction of value. The 562,000 owners of the targeted-for-termination TDI VWs will need a new car to replace the one bought back and thrown away.

Some may buy/lease another VW, which will give the appearance of increasing VW’s sales; some – soured on VW – will buy a new car from someone else. It will “stimulate” new car sales generally, a kind of four-wheeled take on the Potempkin Village concept. Create a facade, make things look good.

Just don’t look behind the facade.

Because here’s the thing: You can’t just write off the value of 562,000 cars and call it even. That value becomes a net loss – in this case, a sinkhole that may eventually swallow VW whole.

Here are some numbers for you:

The original Cash for Clunkers program destroyed a mere $3 billion in value – the sum spent to crush all those perfectly good used cars so as to get people to buy a new car. VW – which hasn’t got the power to tax people or to print money – is looking at “investing” $10 billion to buy back and destroy those 562,000 cars Uncle is feigning upset over.

And yes, feigning.

People think government bureaucrats are stupid – and there is some truth to this. They are morally obtuse, certainly.

But they are also sharky and vengeful when it comes to protecting their prerogatives (as they see them) and they know perfectly well what is at stake here. They are aware that if the people ever figured out the truth – that we are at angels dancing on the head of a pin time, as far as meaningfully harmful vehicle exhaust emissions are concerned – they would drag them from their cubicles and do not-pleasant things to them.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy heads to her small carbon-footprinted tea at the White House

So, the feigned outrage.

It is not about public health and harmful emissions. It is about the potential harm to the EPA and other such if the people ever figure out that the whole thing is a gigantic make-work project, paid for by them. So that EPA appartchiks can live in $600,000 McMansions just outside the Beltway and very probably drive cars that belch out far more in the way of toxic gasses than any TDI VW ever did.

VW’s mistake was not “cheating” the tests. It was rolling over like a cur dog, presenting its belly – and hoping its master wouldn’t kick it in the soft parts.

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64 COMMENTS

  1. I would hope when Scott Pruitt gets confirmed to head the Economic Prevention Agency, he will do to the apparatchiks who occupy the place what the EPA did to Volkswagen. I actually preferred their diesel models to their gasoline vehicles.

    Maybe I just need to settle for a T-8000.

    • I have been trying to score one for a while now, one in my home state so there are fewer registration transfer issues, but man the people that have not yet sold theirs back do not seem to want to part with them.
      I see them on the road here almost daily.

      • The 2015 is extremely tight and, to me, luxurious. But with it you get the slavery to VW specific quirks, tools and parts. And since the buy back prices are too high for anyone to mess with selling one privately, the best option is to go with an older one. 2003 was the last year for the rotary injection pump and the best engine they ever made (taking into account that the new ones will never be repaired under a shade tree). Last I looked there were two wagons on Craigslist with manuals, in Ft. Worth and L.A. that looked really solid. I’ve talked to both owners and they seemed OK.

    • Thanks, Warp!

      I’ve been kicking things his way, too… via my network of unsavory operatives!

      Maybe he’ll call me in to deal with the problem. I’d be happy to – and would work for free. It’d only take me about an hour, anyhow… .

    • EPA long ago outlived its uselessness and now has become a highly destructive force in our nation. Unfortunately, the closest thing to eternal life in this world is a US federal agency. The only solution this problem? F— it. Just kill ’em all – let God sort ’em out.

    • Reassemble??????????????
      The EPA has never been anything anyone needed (except career bureaucrats who need to find a “job” for their listless offspring and drugged out in-laws). The EPA is all a self-proclaimed “elite” controlling private property that they could never own in competition with the average working stiff who actually works.

      Meanwhile, my standing question: How can I get my hands on one of these VW diesels?

    • disassemble, yes, And that right soon. Reasemble? Forget that part. Not needed. THey’ve don e their job and are now on about destroying our economy.

    • The federal EPA is redundant since all states have their own and are way better equipped to deal with their own problems merely by being closer to them and a lot more answerable to the citizens.
      The Feds ‘one-size-fits-none’ assumes that Oklahoma issues are the same as Massachusetts and require the same “solution” .
      The federal EPA is way past the point of DMR and into full counterproductivity

      • I have believed for some time that the EPA are not even counterproductive: they exist as an arm of the deep state commandeered as an Alinsky weapon to destroy us. Yes, their operation rises to the level of treason.. making economic war on the states.

      • It is worse than that, Mr. Paulsen. The EPA spends a major portion of its time and effort INTERFERING WITH and actually HARASSING the agents of environmental quality departments of the Several States.

        Case in point: An agent of the environmental quality department of a Southern state had a case against a facility in that state. The facility was required to reduce its output of pollutants to below regulatory maximums, pay a fine, and devote itself to “community service”. The facility did so, and the agent — as per state procedure — closed the case and destroyed the documentation on that case (in common parlance, “let bygones be bygones”).

        Enter the EPA… The EPA also went after aforementioned facility, and demanded the state documentation on that case. The state agent explained that since the state case against that facility had been closed and the facility had been cleared of any further wrongdoing, the documentation for such had been deleted.

        The goons at the EPA were furious. They put the full force of their fury against that state agent, nearly wrecking his career and sanity. It was a while before this poor fellow recovered. (Fortunately, the state backed him up and the agent’s life and career recovered, to a degree…)

        • The fact that Trump appoints secretaries to these made up departments instead of executing an order to disband them shows he is more of the same, and the people celebrating his election are easily deceived. I’m losing respect for a lot of trusted pundits. A lonely world. Hilary would have done what Obama did, unite an opposition to the horrid state. But they probably wouldn’t know why anyway. Oh well.

          • Hi Fritz,

            I hear you. But, let’s give him a few weeks at least. He has at least said some things inconceivable had Hillary been elected. Maybe he will actually do some inconceivable things, too.

  2. This is another very good article and I read all of the comments.
    I believe that only by seeing the common thread across all sorts of issues can we identify the real motive behind our collective behavior. I complain about pollution, zoning laws, ethanol gasoline, big pharma, GMOs, law enforcement, speed traps and fines, and the list is almost endless today.
    What we fail to see is the absolute desperate, virtually insane effort to keep the financial system a float. The existence of Fiat Money has allowed the Money Changers to debauch our economic system such that the only real correction will have to be complete collapse. This will result in some kind of SHTF scenario in government and society unknown to previous generations.
    (The Money Changers hope to be exempt from this as they accumulate physical wealth and safety)
    Time will tell….
    In the meantime, as controllers of our money, they will do, promote and support ANYTHING that will slow down the inevitable result of their criminality and immoral rapaciousness. This means using the levers of government power to impose conditions on us that cause money to change hands.
    Here is my point: For every absurd government ruling like this rape of Germany through VW, look for the economic payoff to the faux federal reserve system. All this crap is designed to move our money. Nothing more. Remember, the purpose of anything is defined by what it does !
    I wish news headlines began with something like, “Here is another scheme to bolster our failed economic policy…”.
    The problem is not the EPA, or any of the other three letter government agencies, IT IS THE MONEY CHANGERS !

    2005 VW Passat TDI
    1988 Citroën 2CV6

    • Hi Jack,

      I’m with you.

      This began a long time ago, and one can point to any of several incidents or specific people.

      I will choose this one: Hamilton and the Constitution of 1787. Hamilton – America’s evil genius – promoted and succeeded in establishing two things: A debt-based financial system and an in-principle unlimited central government.

      I agree with you that it will likely take a complete collapse in order for things to be set right. It will be unimaginably horrible and I am grateful, I suppose, that I am now single and have no kids. Like Eight, when it comes, I may just pull out my survival gear… a .45 Sig and a quart of fine whiskey.

  3. Interesting to see the big grille Chevy in the corner of the last pic. Ms McCarthy ain’t driving around (most likely being driven around) in no Prius.

  4. During CFC, it was quite painful to watch sodium silicate poured into a perfectly good engine and seconds later, that engine was trash.

    It was like Joseph Mengele had been recruited from the grave to work his magic on machinery.

  5. If I owned one of the disputed VWs I’d certainly keep it. Herein lies part of the problem: supposedly many or most owners will happily sell their cars back to VW, doubtless after sucking from Big Nanny’s bottle of nonsense. If consumers would simply flip off the feds VW could save bargeloads of money, even after fines and retrofitting. But no. As usual, the public makes the choice for those of us who want to march to even a slightly different drummer.

    I won’t let government off the hook, but the more I think of it the clearer it becomes that it’s the mass consumer who screws us over in the end.

    • Hi Ross,

      Uncle has made it very hard to refuse… the buybacks are very “generous,” especially in view of the current market value of these cars, which has tanked due to the taint. There is also the fear about down-the-road registration/renewal issues arising and that scares people, too.

      If people were more aware of the facts – that the EPA is hyperventilating over trivial differences in actual output – they might be more inclined to flip Uncle the bird. That’s where I fault VW. For accepting the narrative provided by Uncle rather than explaining what actually happened – and most of all, why.

      • Making people aware is ridiculously difficult. They just parrot whatever comes through the mainstream news, government, government schools, and so on for whatever subject.

        It’s like tilting at windmills trying to get people to understand the bins and tiers or how basic test cycles work when all they can do is chant what the government media say. It’s like all the other subjects. They make zero cognitive effort to understand anything and then when someone does they tell the person he’s wrong and chant what they were programmed with.

        It’s not like it’s 1980 anymore. The real root information can be found in seconds to minutes. There are countless geeks on every subject imaginable that make it easy, but they still don’t do it.

        Now I am seeing people chanting about how evil Trump is for the raid that killed an 8 year old girl. Except Obama killed her father and brother! Continuation of the same thing but now because Trump it’s bad. I just want out. Away from the insanity.

        • Hi Brent,

          I know. It’s discouraging. But one thing that is encouraging – to me, anyhow – is that “kooky” Libertarian ideas are today far more known and accepted and by a much larger number of people than when I was a kid back in the’80s.

          We may not live to see a better world. But this world isn’t going to last forever.

      • I’m selling my TDI Golf back to them later this month and yes the money is too good to pass up. With the cash I get back I’m finishing the resto on my 1957 Chevy Bel Air including A/C. This will be my new daily driver. No emission or computer or car payment.

      • Spot on, Eric. It is all about Government as god, and when I say JUMP you ask HOW HIGH? Tyranny of a sort, and on a level, never imagined or nightmared about by old King George Three.

        My thinking… live in an area with no annual smog checks, find a clean healthy VeeWee TDi with manual gearbox, then shop about for a wrecked near identical car with petrol power. Take the number plates and registration from the petrol rig and affix them to the oil rig. How often, out there on the road, does a copper ever look to check the VIN on the coachwork to see it matches that of the paperwork?

        Not sure about VeeWees, I’ve managed to avoid putting a spanner to any of the later ones, but I know many cars these days have the build plate with VIN on the driver’s door rear face. I got righteously fooled on a Ford E 350 a few years back…. dor had been replaced with one from a van two years older, and I could NOT figure out why every part I got for it was wrong…. until I mentioned that to the owner. He laughed, and explained about the slight prang and the replacement door, factory sprayed same colour, from the knackers. If those VeeWees have the VIN on the door, all that taken together could let one run one of the condemned models for many years, with impunity. If caught, “why, I’ve owned this car for years, never knew of any issues. Where were my State DMV lads to let this one pass by them?? I bought the car this way, the papers matched, what’s the issue?

    • As someone who took the deal, let me defend myself a little. As Eric points out, it is an offer “too good to refuse,” as Godfather/Uncle has said you will either take the very generous offer of cash we’ve extracted from this company, or watch as your vehicle becomes worthless, and more importantly, more difficult if not impossible to repair. Many of the mechanical systems on these cars aren’t shade-tree mechanic friendly and finding a garage willing to work on some of them, such as the DSG transmission, is difficult and generally not a good idea. VW went to great lengths to make sure you have to get your service done at the dealer, and even checking some of the codes on the computer requires a “phone home” connection to the factory mainframe.

      It’s all well and good to stand up for your principles, but I’m not ready to wake up with a horse head in my garage.

      • I’m taking the deal. Not done yet because there was a paperwork snafu. But even if the DSG hadn’t gone, I can’t say no, because I live in the People’s Republic of Maryland, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to keep it licensed.

    • I own one of the 3.0’s. I am told I will get up $16k to allow them to “fix” the car.
      It will tough to turn down that cash, but I have decided to not take the deal. I bought the car in good faith, paid the price I felt was fair for it, and if this never happened I’d have the car and no cash coming.
      I know $16k would mean a lot more to me than to VW, that is it is small loss for them overall but a big gain for me, but I made a deal for the car I wanted and I happy with it.
      No deal. Leave my TDi alone.

    • There are people buying tens to hundreds of diesel VWs to get the buy back money and profit. Read an article on it on the other day. Meanwhile some people are stripping their cars to various degrees. The later is slowly being stomped out but former there is no effort being made to stop it. Apparently as far as the lawyers are concerned they have to pay someone so it really doesn’t matter if that someone is a person who buys the car from an individual or dealer that doesn’t want the hassle to flip it.

    • I had read somewhere that there’s a real hysteria amongst many of the car owners that they won’t be able to renew their registration due to EPA non-compliance, when the concern is really overblown. It might explain the eagerness of some to let go of their cars. Honestly, if I was in the market, I’d consider buying one as a good deal if not for TPTB preventing it.

      http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2015/10/14/dmv-volkswagen-inspections/73915598/

      • from that linked article:
        That had the effect of delivering the high mileage that attracted many buyers to VW diesels — but caused the cars to wildly exceed emissions standards.

        “wildly exceed”, hey? Stats show something rather different.

        Now, a question for EPA (yes, I unerstand they are as deaf as a brick wall, and dumber ‘n a whole bog box of rocks) WHAT ABOUT the poison effects of ethanol in fuel, not to mention the environmental load and toxins released as it is manufactured, and the extra energy it consumes for growing, harvesting, processing, fermenting, manufacturing, blending, storing, and transporting, ethanol laced fuel?

        Methinks that EPA are having us on…. deliberately.

        • Hi T,

          In re “wildly exceed” –

          It’s another manifestation of “up to 40 times more” the allowed maximum.

          Scare terms, never defined.

          “Up to 40 times more”… than what, exactly?

          And note the “up to” part. It’s not even necessarily “40 times” the fraction of a percent at issue. It is “up to” that amount.

          Which means it could be (and actually is) a lot less.

          Bastards.

          • Eric, you, me, and most likely the vast majority of the folks on this forum have one thing that separates us from “the masses”, the proles “out there”. that One Thing is that we were raised and educated in a time when gaining a command of the enlgish tongue was considered not just important, but necessary. We read literature, learned critical thinking, that words have meaning and meanings have consequences. Our minds and hearts were not massaged into pabulum by a constant stream of corrupt media, stupid computer games, nor were we taught to blindly follow whoever happened to be in front of us. Folks like these latter are the same ones that swallow, untasted, everything gummit and media feed them, never dig deeper, and then go out and vote for the kinyun. twice.

            I read that passage in exactly the same way you did. “Up to” means less than…. or not more than…. why didn’t they say “up to a thousand times”? It would be just as true. And the article linked contained “up to 100% lies”. This is a true statement. (more like ten percent, which is enough to stooge the average male on the street who thinks somewhat more of himself than he ought. )

            There is a faint hope that the new administration are being comprised of some individuals who DO know how to think, take responsibility for their decisions/actions, and just MAYBE have somewhat of a concern for a bit more than upon which side the stale bread the oleorine should be spread. We can hope… until shown otherwise, hey?

              • Hi Fritz,

                Yup. That’s what worries me most about Trump … that he will continue to insane belligerent empire-swagger of the GOP. His administration is lousy with neocons. All of whom I’d love to round up, suit up in BDUs and air drop over Tehran to “fight fer freedom.”

          • Statistical baselines are hardly ever given to audiences because propaganda value would be lessened by honest comparison. “Five times more likely to cause” sounds a lot scarier on a superficial level than “the chances of this rise from one in a billion to five in a billion.”

            • Hi Trevor,

              Exactly!

              I don’t think it’s coincidental that government schools have eroded critical thinking such that it is now the exception rather than the rule.

              In general, public debate is on the level of a not-so-bright 12-year-old girl.

              • Yeah, and a potty mouthed twelve yaar old at that.

                I know quite a few 12 year old girls that can run circles round most of the media and political hacks without even breaking a sweat. And when it comes to the cupcakes in today;s “colleges” its a no contest rout. I’ve judged speech and debate tournaments, ages 12 to 18, and these kids are light years ahead of almost anyone I knew in college back then. NONE of these kids have been surrenderd to the gummit skewlz. Their parents have paid a high price to see to their education. These kids are great to be around.

  6. The salesman called, “I’m looking at that TDI wagon coming off the truck right now.” But our soybeans were ready to combine and harvest didn’t have a delay until the scandal hit. Later, I googled “Golf Sportwagen TDI manual for sale. We found a lease return and snatched it up in a hurry. At 62mph, 57 mpg. Big power, quiet, solid and comfortable. Molon Labe.

  7. If I were in the market for a car, I would look to purchase one of the “dirty” diesels–one that has not been modified or reprogrammed…

      • There are apparently people taking advantage of the buy-back program, purchasing TDIs at currently depressed market values and then “turning them in” for a profit.

        Personally, I like the engine technology, but can’t stand their dealer network (scummy polyester suit wearing snakes is what they are). If VW survives, not only will they need to fix their cars, they’ll need to fix their dealers so that customers get treated better.

        • no worries here, though… fix my own. And yes, I CAN work on VW Audi iron. Aluminium, too. Oh, and don’t forget the plastic. WAY too much plastic.

    • Me too. The maintenance sounds a bit scary though, if they are so calibrated that only VW has the tools to work on them. Every car goes kaput someday, and if they don’t have a carburator and mechanical linkage, it takes high-tech parts to make them go again.

      • I’ve changed timing belts on Porsche 928 and Audi A 6 2.8, both of which “demand” special tools, mosltyh available at high dollar points from VW or Hazett. All you have to do is understand cam timing as a principle, and learn to watch to assure the correct things are lined up as you put the belt on. The Audi was tedious, with the tool it would have taken ten minutes, but without I think I did it in about an hour. Timing was closer when I was done that it was before. That belt had not broken, but with an 8 hour book time for replacing the eight dollar thermostat, and removing timing belt is part of gaining access, and that belt also drives the water pump, one does put in the $40 pump and $30 belt. So I saw where the old belt was timed…. quite a ways off. Car runs better now than it did before.

        Funny thing, I’ll bet the stupid confuser reports all parameters on point when being tested, because it has no way of indicating ACTUAL cam timing, only where the belt wheels are timed… the cam could be way off in the weeds… no way it was burning as cleanly as it should have been, yet it passed the tests. What about THAT, EPA?

      • I wouldn’t be surprised at all. As you know, I am in favor of tariffs and quotas to restore industry that has been sent overseas, however, the current diesel emissions regulations smack of cronyism and in effect a de facto tariff on foreign made cars (that happen to have diesel engines).

        As a result, it locks out competition in an area which America is still way behind technology wise. In addition, we don’t have the economies of scale in that area.

        This is a complete misuse of the tools that the founding fathers were smart enough to pen into the US constitution.

        The bad part about this is that VW didn’t say a damned thing. Just like a bunch of cuck germans.

        • Hi Swamp,

          It’s true. . . .the Germans seem to have lost their balls. 70 years of having their noses rubbed in what their grandfathers did will do that, I suppose.

          On the other hand, don’t count the Teutons out forever. Remember what Heinrich Heine wrote… .

      • no question.. and oir Eric here has speculated on that. If he were enough of a Big Shot he’d likely be able to somehow peer behind the curtain and PROVE that. Wait till THAT scandal breaks….. which it may well, before to much longer. Government Motors kills main diesel passenger car cmpetitioin with pollution control technicalia….

        Hi, we’re from the gummit, and WE;’re here to “he’p”

        Yeah, get the “he’p” off my propitty.

  8. ” Less fuel used equals less exhaust gas produced equals lower emissions overall.”

    Less CO2 and H2O to get there, but NOX, VOC, CO, etc are regulated in grams per mile so fuel economy has no bearing on them. A 15mpg passenger car and a 45mpg passenger car both have to meet the same g/mi requirements.

    It’s only that less fuel need be created in the first place where there might be a savings in actually harmful emissions. Otherwise higher fuel economy just means less CO2 and H2O.

    • I looked deeply into the science on this, the differences were so minute and limited this entire affairs really just pisses me off to no end, and if anything I hate the Feds even more than before.
      The car actually is extremely clean even with the “cheating” and the objection were spikes of NOX at certain points in the cycle, the overall was still under

      Eric;’s point was well taken, how much energy is used (and pollution generated by the carrier trucks) to transport these cars slated for destruction? How much energy (from coal) to recycle them, how much pollution generated for the energy to make the replacement cars and transport them?

      Answer – orders of magnitude more than if they left it all alone.

      • In the various bins and tiers as things get tighter and tighter the only reason it would amount to anything is having more and more people. But what is causing the rapid population increase? The federal government letting in 1.3 million people every year legally and an unknown flow illegally.

        It’s just like the foreign policy government creates the problem we are supposed to pay for the solution for.

      • Do you happen to have any good links looking into this specifically? I’m trying to find good resources showing the actual practical effects of the increased stringency overtime and I am having a hard time finding anything really good.

    • this can’t be right, else a big vehicle getting your 15 mpg would have to burn three times cleaner than the lightwdight getting 45 mpg to return the same release per mile driven. If they could figure out how to drop the offending emissions by a factor of three on a oer gallon burned basis, they’d mandate that same technology for everything. There is NO WAY that oil sipping VeeWee getting 45 mpg would, even in “cheat” mode, produce more NOx, VOC, CO2 per mile than a Ford Mustang hot V8 returning 15 mpg on a light-foot traverse of the highway. It just is not possible,

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