Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Prodigal Consumer

I never understood the parable of the prodigal son. My sympathy was always with the son who stayed faithful to his father all along; to me his resentment was valid. As a teacher, I sort of get it... maybe I do celebrate the kids who turn it around a little more than those who have had it all along, but I also try to be pretty sensitive to any offense the others might take-- it always seems kind of justified.

The last couple of days, I've been thinking about the cash for clunkers program. (Forgive me, I live inside the Beltway.) I read somewhere that it would take, on average, 5-6 years of driving the new, more fuel-efficient cars in order to offset the carbon footprint of manufacturing them and transporting them to their point-of-sale. So, in many cases, owners would better serve the environment by keeping their old cars longer. I also heard the opinion expressed that the people who purchased these so-called clunkers did so with full knowledge of the harm they would do. Others, who bought more fuel-efficient cars at the same time, are not eligible for the rebate, and so, in an oh-so-prodigal-son approach, the policy effectively rewards those who ignored the environment when they bought their last car, while offering nothing for the environmentally faithful. I guess we should just be content with driving our cars for the next five or six years to be sure we cancel out that new car footprint.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you - it's something I struggle with as a teacher, rewarding kids for improving when so often the kids who are already doing well get ignored. My core and I have worked hard to recognize anyone who's doing the right thing, not just those who turn it around, but I can probably continue to improve. (And as a Honda Civic driver, that particular program does strike me as a bit unfair.)