I broke down (granted, it wasn't hard) and traded in my old '97 Ford F-150 for a new Kia Forte EX in a "cash for clunkers" deal. (see the Forte here)
For about the price of a fully loaded Honda Fit, or a completely stripped Honda Civic, I got a fully loaded Kia Forte. The engine has plenty of oomph, it maneuvers well, and it has plenty of bells and whistles (i.e. hands-free bluetooth, nice stereo system with audio controls on the steering wheel, cruise control, A/C, USB and iPod ports, and a 3 month subscription to Sirius). Finally, the gas mileage blows away my old fuel hog: 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway.
There is a more expensive version of the Forte, the SX, which has a bigger engine and foglights. But I couldn't see paying over $1000 more for that, and the engine really didn't give it that much more power. Also, I thought the SX engine ran just a touch rough.
Anyone who knows me will ask this question: How does someone like me, who is against all manner of government giveaways, justify taking advantage of my fellow voters and taxpayers this way?
I will admit to a crisis of conscience on this issue. But it occurred to me that I will be paying back my federal, state, and local governments for much of the cost of this car. Consider:
1. Georgia's ad valorem tax. I will probably end up paying the state of Georgia at least $1,000 over the life of the car.
2. Gas taxes. Assuming I own the car at least 5 years (and I plan to own it much longer), and based on my current driving habits and the current price of gas, I will end up paying over $4,000 in gas taxes to all levels of government.
3. Corporate taxes on the profits of Kia and my finance company. Arguably not a significant amount from the car's purchase and fiancing, but it still needs to be considered.
All in all, government will get back from the car more than they put into it.
But more importantly, my fellow voters told me, via their elected representatives, that they wanted me to get a vehicle with better gas mileage, and that they were willing to chip in their own hard-earned money to help me with the purchase. I grudgingly accepted their kind offer.
Also, Kia has a manufacturing plant in Georgia (although the Forte is built in South Korea), so I felt like I was helping, albeit indirectly, to support a local manufacturer.
Finally, I was planning to get a more gas efficient vehicle anyway, in order to help reduce domestic demand for gas, which in turn will reduce the need for the U.S. to import gas from terrorist nations. Even the most conservative voter can appreciate this motive.
So I would like to take this moment to thank my fellow Americans for supporting my purchase of a new car. I especially want to thank my children for paying for it.