Chippewa Herald * January 25, 2010     Hit Counter by Digits

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Spread the car wealth around

by Tom Arneberg, Community Columnist

Zipping around in a 2010 rental car in Florida last week really opened my eyes. So THIS is how the other half lives!

I returned home to my ten-year-old Corolla. That's not bad -- it's a big improvement over my 1993 Corolla that my kids now drive and my 1985 model that I drove up until only two years ago -- but it's a let-down from driving a new car.

Looking around at cars in the parking lot where I work, I realized that even my "new" 2000 model (from THIS CENTURY) is among the oldest cars in the lot.

It's not fair!

There's an easy solution: the federal government should issue an automobile to every American. Free cars for all! Larger families would get mini-vans, and single people would get little sports cars.

Issuing cars according to family needs would fit well with that famous line from our Constitution: "To each according to his needs; from each according to his abilities." Our Founding Fathers would be proud.

It's the least we can do "spread the wealth around."

We wouldn't need to worry about who is paying for it -- we can just add it to the tab that our grandchildren will be paying some day.

Plus, it wouldn't be that expensive! Think of how much the costs would go down with the increased volume of all the new cars rolling off the lines in Detroit. (Not to mention the fact that two of the car companies are now owned by the federal government, which is known for its efficiency.)

Besides, Congress could simply pass a law requiring the purchase price of every car to be cut in half.

Just think -- cutting costs like this would reduce the deficit!

While they're at it, they could cap gas prices at a dollar a gallon, too. Fuel that cheap would really help stimulate the economy.

If you forget to put gas in your tank and you find yourself by the side of the road with a stalled car, you could use the new emergency bailout program: The government would come and fill your tank wherever you are. This should be rare, since I'm sure people would not want to take advantage of the government.

In this scenario, it's in the public's best interest to make sure the government-owned cars are all running smoothly. Millions of Americans are without auto care which, of course, is a right guaranteed in our constitution (if you read between the lines).

To prevent larger repair costs down the road, routine visits to the mechanic would be free to the consumer and covered by another government program.

This car-care program would not burden America at all, because it would be funded at the state level -- whether states wanted to do it or not. Why would we give states a choice in a matter this important? Some of those states are backwards and we need to straighten them out.

Of course, the mechanics would get reimbursed only 75% of their actual expenses, due to a government effort to cut costs, but what choice do they have? It's either that or get out of the car repair business -- it's not like they're going to move to another country. Those greedy mechanics were probably over-charging anyway.

How about insurance? No problem! Congress could pass yet another law requiring all insurance companies to provide auto coverage without regard to any pre-existing condition.

So if you have been convicted of drunk driving five times, and have caused four accidents in the last year, your insurance rate is guaranteed to be the same as the grandmother down the road who has not had a fender-bender since 1965.

Hmmm...I suppose that would mean that grandma's rates would go UP, to cover YOUR higher risk. Those evil insurance companies are at it again.

Better yet, you could just punt on the insurance altogether, until you really need it. Save your insurance money to spend on yourself -- you deserve it.

If you crash your car, just call your favorite insurance company and tell them you want coverage, starting THIS MORNING.

Due to the wonderful new law I'm proposing, they could not deny you for pre-existing conditions (i.e., a wrecked car), so your first $100 monthly premium would immediately require them to pay all the damage for your accident.

Doesn't that sound like an awesome plan to level the playing field for the haves and have-nots among car owners?

Maybe I should run for congress! If you want free cars, vote for me.

(I've heard there's an election coming six months and 28 days. But who's counting?)

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