The Cash for Clunkers program, which offered up to $4,500 for consumers to trade in their old cars for more fuel-efficient models, ended Monday evening. Now that Cash for Clunkers is over, however, the Obama administration can only toot its CARS horn for so much longer before it must face the rest of the country’s problems without falling back onto a successful, alliteratively named program that proves the government can do something right.
The Cash for Clunkers program, which offered up to $4,500 for consumers to trade in their old cars for more fuel-efficient models, ended Monday evening. Although some reimbursements to dealers have been delayed, the government is touting the program as a success that has breathed new life into the auto industry and increased the number of fuel-efficient vehicles on the road.
Now that Cash for Clunkers is over, however, the Obama administration can only toot its CARS horn for so much longer before it must face the rest of the country’s problems without falling back onto a successful, alliteratively named program that proves the government can do something right.
When the Pekin City Council passed the new food and beverage taxes earlier this year, I wrote a column proposing some other taxes on objectionable, optional behaviors like talking too loud on an cell phone or using the word “literally” when one clearly means “figuratively.”
None of my new taxes caught on, unfortunately, but since Cash for Clunkers is over, I thought I would offer the federal government some suggestions for programs that would undoubtedly make this country a better place.
For example, there could be a whole series of programs to reduce crimes against fashion, like Pennies for Popped Collars — unless you need protect your neck against the elements, the collar of your polo shirt should remain down — or Coins for Crocs — I’ve heard that they’re comfortable, but these plastic monstrosities should only be worn around the house or in the garden.
Since Obama is pushing health care reform so vigorously, perhaps he could launch Greenbacks for Getting in Shape and Dollars for Dieting programs. Preventive measures like diet and exercise are an important part of health care, and money could certainly help motivate people to live healthier lifestyles.
Even if I were exhausted after a long day of work, a cash bonus would certainly encourage me to exercise. And if I received money every time I passed on fast food or dessert, I’m sure I could learn to live without them.
One of my favorite ideas is a Bucks for Behavior program, which would provide parents with cash incentives for controlling their children in public. Nobody likes seeing other people’s kids throwing tantrums or running amok, and, under the Bucks for Behavior program, bystanders could report such children to the government. Their parents would receive a notice, and if they improved their children’s behavior within a certain time frame, they would get a monetary reward.
Perhaps the government could also encourage adults to monitor themselves with a Cash for Closing Your Mouth program. If someone hears someone else say something stupid or rude or just plain ridiculous, the witness could report to the offender, who would receive a payment for refraining from such statements for a set period of time.
Now, I know that my ideas may not be beneficial to the economy like Cash for Clunkers, but I think they would encourage a lot of people to improve their lifestyles, and some of my programs might have positive effects that aren’t immediately apparent.
Perhaps people would begin buying new shoes as they gave up their Crocs or buying new clothes as they lost weight. Or maybe the improvement in children’s behavior would revitalize the retail industry as unruly children stopped terrorizing shoppers.
Best of all, the Cash for Closing Your Mouth program could stop people from spouting ridiculous misinformation about the health care bill so the administration could actually implement some reform. Then the government would have another legitimate program to promote — although someone would have to give it a catchy name.
Pekin Daily Times city editor Amanda Jacobs can be reached at (309) 346-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.