Destroying wealth to improve the economy
In the past, people sometimes tried to improve the economy by destroying wealth:
President Roosevelt came into office proposing a New Deal for Americans, but his advisers believed, mistakenly, that excessive competition had led to overproduction, causing the depression. The centerpieces of the New Deal were the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) and the National Recovery Administration (NRA), both of which were aimed at reducing production and raising wages and prices. Reduced production, of course, is what happens in depressions, and it never made sense to try to get the country out of depression by reducing production further. In its zeal, the administration apparently did not consider the elementary impossibility of raising all real wage rates and all real prices.
The AAA immediately set out to slaughter six million baby pigs and reduce breeding sows to reduce pork production and raise prices. Since cotton plantings were thought to be excessive, cotton farmers were paid to plow under one-quarter of the forty million acres of cotton to reduce marketed production to boost prices.
The second plan is more politely known as "fleet modernization." It combines economic as well as environmental goals in one package.
Under a bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D.-Calif., owners of older cars would get vouchers worth thousands of dollars toward the purchase of newer, more fuel-efficient vehicle. For the customer to get that cash, the car dealer would have to certify that the trade-in was getting scrapped and not resold. The car's vehicle identification number (VIN) would be tracked to make sure it never shows up on a vehicle registration again.
Added: from the Wall Street Journal on January 28:
[In discussions of the stimulus bill,] dairy and beef cattle producers butted heads over talk that the government might buy up dairy cattle for slaughter to drive up depressed milk prices.