A reader writes:

You wrote:

"...cash-for-clunkers is one example of the government actually doing something right, helpful and popular..."

Really?  Twenty years ago I bought an inexpensive subcompact car that gets gas mileage in the mid-20s and has passed every smog check with no problem. It's still my only car, now worn and battered.  I'd like to replace it--and stimulate the car market along the way--but can't afford to risk a car loan or spend substantial amounts of savings on a car purchase (I'm getting a six percent paycut next month and am, like most of my co-workers, in danger of a layoff).

But I'm also not eligible for the "cash for clunkers" program because my car is too efficient.  Yet people who bought expensive, "gas-guzzling" cars and trucks can suddenly get Federal money to buy cars that, in many cases, still won't be as fuel efficient as the one I drive. I definitely don't think that the Federal Government owes me financial assistance, but it is pretty disheartening to see what direct assistance is offered to those who often behaved recklessly or lived consistently beyond their means.

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