19 Aug Popularity of `Cash for Clunkers' prompts ideas for personalized federal stimulus checks
MADISON – The federal Car Allowance Rebate System, better known as CARS or “Cash for Clunkers,” has become a highly visible, consumer-driven federal stimulus program. Dealers have submitted requests for federal rebates on nearly 340,000 new cars, which should translate to an equal number of gas guzzlers being taken off the road.
But if owning a clunker car for too long is cause for a stimulus check, perhaps the feds should also pay people who experience other annoyances and inconveniences in life. How about federal rebate systems for the following?
FILM, or Flicks In Loser Mode. Movie-goers who sit through really bad films will be entitled to a federal rebate on the cost of their overpriced popcorn. Those who sat through this year’s “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” also get money back from Uncle Sam on their soft drinks.
LATE, or Lousy Airport Travel Experiences. Pity those miserable souls who waited inside a stuffy airplane on the runway in Rochester, Minn., for more than six hours this month because weather had blocked their landing in the Twin Cities. Not only were these passengers 50 feet away from the terminal and unable to exit, but the plane’s toilets backed up. An extra rebate is available for passengers seated within six aisles of a clogged head.
HOLD, or Held On the Line until Doomsday. Under this program, people who are kept on hold by automated telephone services or customer sales representatives for more than five minutes are entitled to a federal rebate equal to 10 percent of the cost of the product or service they probably won’t receive, anyway.
DRIVE, or Detours Rarely Involving Visible Evidence of work. So how many times this summer have you dutifully merged into traffic a mile or more before an actual construction site, only to arrive there and find a idle pieces of road equipment and no actual workers? Drivers caught in this shovel-ready snafu also deserve a federal stimulus check.
TWIT, or Twittering With Intent to Traumatize. Under this program, you would be eligible for a federal check every time you’re asked, “What do you mean, you don’t Twitter?”
CHEW, or Cheese Heads who Embarrass Wisconsin. It never fails: You’re watching a nationally televised Green Bay Packers game and the camera finds some guy wearing a tri-cornered hunk of Styrofoam Swiss cheese, which your out-of-state friends and business contacts all gleefully mention. How about a federal rebate for people who voluntarily turn in their cheeseheads? Federal stimulus dollars could also be made available for a Wisconsin marketing program to reverse years of branding damage.
CRUDE, or Common Rudeness Undermines Daily Etiquette. Victims of any of the following are eligible for a federal check: Someone else drinks directly from your milk or orange juice container. You’re using a public restroom and discover there’s no coat hook inside the stall door. You’re dialed repeatedly on a voice line by a fax machine. YOU ReCeIVE E-MaiL MESsAGES THaT aRE a MIX Of CAPitAL anD LOWer CaSe LETTers, almost as if the author was sending a ransom note. You cut your finger on difficult-to-open plastic packaging, which is strangely most often found on children’s toys. You’re stuck behind someone who refuses to turn right on a red light, even when it’s safe.
Of course, all of these programs will drive up the federal deficit and make it that much harder for the next generation to pay its bills. But the “Cash for Clunkers” model is nonetheless instructive: Wait long enough, and maybe the feds will help you solve your problem.
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