The House of Representatives recently passed the so-called “clunker rebate” bill that provides robust monetary incentives to folks who upgrade from a gas guzzler to a more energy efficient vehicle. There are conditions of course (it’s a government program after all) and as of this writing it hasn’t passed through the Senate, but if it’s signed into law, some lucky car buyers may get as much as $4500 back. I think it’s a great idea, despite the fact that it rewards those who sinned against the environment in the past by driving socially irresponsible vehicles.

And I see no reason why it shouldn’t be expanded to include the photographic industry.

Owners of digital SLR cameras in the 6-megapixel category should get a $1000 rebate if they migrate up to a more efficient 10- or 12-megapixel camera, for example. That would stimulate sales. The Senate would probably want to prorate it at $200 per megapixel, but I’m sure an equitable formula could be derived.

Or maybe the people who bought film cameras after 2003 under the mistaken notion that silver halide was still a viable energy—I mean imaging—alternative could turn in their old celluloid burners and get a cute little modern compact camera that gets 300 shots on one SD card.

It would be so easy to advertise and promote. TARP would suddenly stand for Technology At Reduced Prices.