Thursday, November 7, 2013

Clunker progressivism


Barack Obama’s presidency has become a feast of failures whose proliferation protects their author from close scrutiny of any one of them. - George F. Will/Washington Post

“Cash for Clunkers” was born with Obama’s administration as a component of his stimulus. Its fate is a window into both why the recovery has been extraordinarily weak and what happens when progressives’ clever plans collide with recalcitrant reality....

Cash for Clunkers lasted 55 days and ended with confusion that was a preview of things to come. The New York Times explained in August 2009 the final surge of demand for clunker funds:
“Around the country, dealers had put off the laborious task of applying for the rebates . . . which requires entering the 17-character identification numbers of each vehicle to be scrapped, scanning images of proof of insurance and filling out other paperwork. The computer system was overloaded, according to the dealers. They said they would finish one page in the application, hit enter and nothing would happen. Eventually a message would appear notifying the dealer that the page had ‘timed out.’ Tom Frew, the business manager at Galpin Motors in Los Angeles, said that he needed 35 tries to register just one of the company’s 11 dealerships on the day that the program opened because of problems with the government Web site. On Friday, he spent an hour processing just one rebate application, he said.”
The recovery from the recession began in June 2009; 53 months later, vehicle sales still have not yet reached the pre-recession peak. Cash for Clunkers was prologue for the government’s vastly more ambitious plan to manage health care’s 18 percent of the economy....

The present, too, is prologue. There is heated debate about Common Core, whose advocates say it merely involves national academic targets and metrics for primary and secondary education. Critics say it will inevitably lead to a centrally designed and nationally imposed curriculum — practice dictated by targets and metrics. Common Core advocates say, in effect: “If you like your local curriculum, you can keep it. Period.”