It’s true confession time.

I have been to the public trough and partaken. Not just a sip. It was a Big Gulp.

No, it was not the soda straw taste everyone got last spring in their paychecks. What was it? $1.34 extra? Nope, it was a big swig. I am a cash-for-clunkers imbiber.

My wife says don’t tell anyone we have been driving a clunker. It really wasn’t, as defined by what was shown on television. It certainly did not look anything like the non-descript four-door sedan that had been t-boned, its door channels duct taped and windows card-boarded. It was not a clunker. It was a wrecked car.

The Cline clunker was a 10-year-old Chevrolet Suburban bought new. It was still a good car, however, it had long ago passed the 150,000-mile mark and was feeling its age. It had its share of parking lot wounds and the evidence of an Interstate 5 80-mile per blowout along the lower left side. Still looked good, though. It would go anywhere and had.

For the past two years we had driven a local car salesman crazy test-driving likely replacements. However, at more than a few last minutes, we decided to hang on to the trusty Suburban.

But when Obama said he would give dealers $4,500 to take it in trade on a new, more fuel efficient set of wheels; it was “Show me the money.”

Cash-for-clunkers had been in the news for several months. It was very enticing since dealers would only part with $1,500 in trade for the 12 mpg urban assault vehicle with a 42-gallon gas tank and $3 fuel. Leaving past new car procrastinations behind, the trusty Suburban was guided to the local Chevrolet lot. There, it was only a matter of deciding between two vehicles to drive home. Won’t tell you what we bought. I am afraid California Sen. Dianne Feinstein might repossess it since it did not fit her definition of a wear-it/wind-up economy car. It is a nice set of wheels, and it qualified for cash-for-clunkers. Probably should feel guilty for not buying a Feinstein special, but I don’t.

So there, I admit to feeding at the public trough.

Subsequently, however, I have learned my snootful did not help my country, according to Jeff Miron, senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University.

He says in a bylined CNN article that cash-for-clunkers is flawed policy causing people to drive more miles in more fuel efficient cars. He says it is policy that helps the auto interest at the expense of other industries, and Congress should not give it more money. Kill it he says.

Really?

The Obama administration has tossed $787 billion into an economic morass and can anyone honestly say that much cash has helped that many people like you and me?

By comparison pennies are meted to the auto industry and 250,000 cars fly off dealer lots in just over a week. Can you imagine what would be happening if the $787 billion was doled out like that $1 billion cash-for-clunkers program?

It may have been flawed policy, but it was far more successful than anyone imagined. Excuse me as I grab a towel to wipe the swill off my chin.

email: hcline@farmpress.com