Seidemann: Cash for the other clunkers


From the other side of the bench

By David Seidemann

Issue of August 14, 2009 / 24 Av 5769

By now everyone is familiar with the "cash for clunkers" program administered by the government of the good old USA. The gist of the program is that if your willing to trade in your old clunker to purchase a newer fuel efficient vehicle, the government will pay you $4,500.00.  Not a bad idea except that there is a credit crisis these days.  Who knows if the people taking the $4,500.00 can afford the monthly payments on the cars.

I have a similar type of plan in mind, also called "cash for clunkers".  My plan has the government paying you $4,500.00 which you then give to the politician of the week who is deemed to be the greatest "clunker" of that particular week.  That politician takes the money, steps aside, and is replaced by a more efficient one.  You are free to choose the politician of your choice or you may select from the choice provided to you by the clunker "czar".

Now my plan has nothing to do with bribing elected officials.  Someone else already invented that program and it seems to be working quite well.  No, my plan is completely above board.  The money is a one time stipend to have the clunker step down and be replaced by a more "fool efficient" one.  Everyone knows about the arrangement before hand so it can hardly be deemed a bribe.

As with all federal programs, there is a long waiting line for this clunker program.  There are so many clunkers out there that need to be replaced but, hey, we have to start somewhere.

We are a two-clunker family so my wife and I are both in line to pull the hook on two such politicians who really don't need the $4,500.00 but a deal is a deal.  My first check goes to Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House.  In the midst of this awful and crippling recession, (gas went up 16¢ last week) Ms. Pelosi is seeking to order 200 million dollars worth of airplanes to ferry her fellow Congressmen and women around the globe.  There's a woman who feels our pain!

My second clunker I'll exchange is Hillary and whomever else from the administration who sent her to summon the Israeli Ambassador.  She publicly chastised him and Israel for properly evicting two Arab families from homes that every piece of proof possible establishes; and after years of open court proceedings prove without a doubt, that those two homes belonged to Jews.  How dare she!

How dare she lay the blame for the current lack of progress of "peace talks" at Israel's doorsteps.  Israel, who has evicted thousands, yes thousands of its own families, from the Sinai, Yamit, Gush Katif and Hebron.  The reason why this "eviction" made news is that it's the first time I can remember, that the Israeli courts actually sided on the side of her own.

In a week where Abbas and company once again ruled out recognizing Israel as the Jewish homeland, how dare Ms. Clinton and whomever sent her stir the anti-Zionist pot.  The Arab world's response?  As expected, the Clinton tongue lashing of Israel was followed up immediately by the re release of the Arab hit single, "we're the mouse, they're the cat, Israel poisoned Arafat".

Like the auto exchange program, I fear this program of mine will run out of money long before all the clunkers are gone.

These two politicians acted and spoke without any regard to how others with real sensitivities, would react.  Now contrast that lack of sensitivity and perspective to the following story I heard this week.

He never received below a 95 in any of his Hebrew and English subjects.  It all came easy, without any effort, without even trying.  His best friend however couldn't break a 70 no matter how hard he tried.  The friend was frustrated, had no self worth and was ready to drop out of Yeshiva and attend public high school.

A few days before graduation, the A+ student received a phone call from his principal that he was to receive an award at the upcoming 8th grade graduation.  Mr. A+ adamantly refused.  "I will not walk up on stage in front of my best friend who is sad, frustrated and on the verge of giving up.  I will not walk on stage, and receive an award that might make my friend feel even worse".

This A+ student begged the administration to give the award to the boy who was barely passing.  "He needs it, I don't" said this wise 13 year old.  The school was insistent that they wanted to recognize scholarship.  Perhaps the school was right.  That's not the issue.  The point is that this young man at age 13 understood that we do not act in a vacuum.  And so when the school insisted on awarding him, he insisted as well.  This 13 year old boy did not attend his own graduation so that he could spare his friend possible frustration.

If those politicians are the clunkers; that 13 year old man; yes man, is the cash.  I met that 13 year old last week, only he's no longer 13 years old.  Today, he heads one of the great Torah institutions in America, where he looks after the feelings of hundreds of young men destined to become as great as he.

David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann & Mermelstein.  He can be reached at (718) 692-1013 and at