Real wages have been stagnant for 40 years, even as economic productivity has continued to grow. One way to make people feel like their incomes are not stagnant or shrinking is to cut taxes constantly, a trick that has been exhausted and overused since St. Ronnie arrived in 1980. A second, which we saw at its worst in the late 00s, is to extend really easy credit. For nearly half a century, this is how lawmakers have tamped down the potential danger of a system in which working people run faster just to stay in place while wealth and income skyrockets for the very richest. Say "tax cuts" constantly (even people not actually benefiting from a given tax cut will think they are) and give anyone with a pulse a mortgage, an auto loan or three, and a handful of credit cards. Open a payday lender in every run-down neighborhood or town, et voila.

I like cars and I find the economics of the industry are a decent proxy for overall trends (the crash of auto lending circa 2002-04 presaged the much more damaging collapse of the housing market in 2008-09). A couple trends in recent years are ominous. One is that prices have skewed so high that only old people can afford new cars. Many brands, under intense pressure from the auto press, keep trying to "get younger" and build sportier cars that appeal to less stodgy buyers. The problem (evidenced by the collapse of "Brands aimed at the kids" like Scion, Saturn, and Volkswagen's now-extinct low price marketing) is that no one under 40 can afford new cars beyond entry level compacts. The idea from the 1950s and 1960s that a high school kid would buy a cheap new car with his after-school job is…gone. Good luck finding all but the most spartan new cars under $25,000. Hell, I bought a used Porsche Cayman, since sold, for less than the cost of a mid-level new Camry now. Cars are expensive. "Affordable" cars in magazines hover around $40,000 or more. You know those fun Minis that seem ideally aimed at The Youths? The average price of a Mini Cooper sold new is $35,000.

A second trend is that loans are getting really long in an attempt to compensate for higher prices. Trucks, which have gotten staggeringly expensive yet are targeted at "white working class" types least able to afford expensive vehicles, are soon to be offered at 84 month loans. Seven years. Seven years of interest for something that has three years of warranty and will have depreciated 50% in its first 12 months after purchase. Think about that.

What companies do with trucks will soon be done for any vehicle. It is nearly impossible to find any new truck, no matter how stripped down, under $30,000 and with options most full-sized trucks are in what used to be Mercedes or Jaguar prices – Ford F-150s can easily be optioned to close to $60,000 and maxing out the options can push it close to $80,000. Trucks are big sellers and they are expensive as hell.

Most people earning good money can't even afford a $50,000+ vehicle, and yet truck sales are often highly dependent on people who have little long term economic stability. The only way Bob the Non-Union Builder is going to afford a new $50,000 Ram is if you can lower the monthly payments and hope he sucks at math.

As recently as a decade ago, 60 month auto loans were spoken of in hushed tones. It had long been assumed that the repayment should not extend much beyond the warranty period, nor past the sharpest depreciation points. Now we've tacked two years onto what was already a tenuously long lending period. Good luck paying seven years' interest on a truck that will be worth about 25% of what was borrowed by the time it is paid off.

PS: I'm sorry about the title, but also not even a little sorry.

107 thoughts on “SEVEN YEARS IN TO-DEBT”

  • schmitt trigger says:

    Autos have become exceedingly complex computers on wheels, full of bells & whistles.
    Add to this fact, the safety trend where even a 20 MPH fender-bender requires an auto component to fully self-immolate to protect the occupant, the result is that vehicles no longer will be repairable, or at least not economically, beyond 10 years.
    In several instances, even less.

  • Today's cars last a lot longer than the cars of yesteryear. Back in the day it was a very big deal for a car to go 100,000 miles.

    I could afford to buy new cars but I prefer to buy a good used one after depreciation has had its way.

  • The biggest worry isn't the cost, it's that ultimately you won't own your car. You will rent your car from a company that can remotely turn on and turn off your car and refuse to update software after X years. That's why lease terms are so long, lenders can remotely prevent you from driving if you don't pay. I've got a 20 year old car and I love that it has no need of advanced diagnostics, it's all mechanical and easy to fix.

  • I was teaching my neighbors kid (he's 16) some new words today: depreciating asset. On his 16th, he spent his saved up money on a used pickup truck, poured a lot of time, effort and money (he works after school) into it and is now in the process of selling it for 2/3rds of what he bought it for. So it goes.

  • I've got a 1999 Ranger that sits forlornly in my driveway, waiting for me to get the energy and strength to fix it.

    A number of people have suggested I just get rid of it and buy something, not new but newer–you know, like maybe a 2008 or so.

    Yeah, no. I've only owned 2 cars that were not at least 10 years old when I bought them. It was very nice to get in either of them and take a long drive without wondering if it was going to make it out and back.

    That I have no money to spend on even a shitbox like the one that's sitting in my driveway escapes the notice of most people. I'm usually not looking that "street" to them and they assume that because I know how language and some other things work that I'm either a retired teacher or a professional of some other sort. I expect to die owing some predatory lender–prolly the one I'm currently sending a check to every month–about what I owe them right now. They will have a sad–that's unsecured debt.

  • I have been driving my precious 1995 celica GT 2.ltr convertible for 23 years… half of that was garage kept. 140k miles mostly highway.. i.e. 5th gear. Now the transmission is going. It is still worth putting $1,500 or sother into it. I want to get a new car in 2020.

  • Thanks for putting the numbers together, Ed. It's something i've been seeing but was unable to articulate. Robbing the proles is the norm, but the capitalist has to wonder how to sell more cars when no one can afford them.

  • Taking a leaf from your book, Ed, I’d like to make you see sense without presenting actual facts in support of any opinions I may express in responding to your piece.

    Benefits derived from productivity improvements belong to the entity which made it possible for them to be created – and that’s not the workforce. There was a time when it took a team of ten men with shovels all day to dig an acre of land. Any labourer today, equipped with a driving license probably funded by an employer, is able to do that task before lunch. Why? Because he does it with a mechanized plough with an air-conditioned cabin bought by his employer, a plough is a productivity improver an inventor invented, a manufacturer made and a marketer and retailer offered for sale.

    As for ‘easy credit’, it wasn't banker greed that caused the subprime crisis. In 1995 Clinton loosened housing rules by rewriting the Community Reinvestment Act, which put added pressure on banks to lend in low-income neighborhoods Toxic assets are the result, not of the free market, but, in large part, of an enabling government’s policies designed to increase home ownership among the poor and ethnic minorities.

    Are you really comparing 1950s/60s cars that a school kid bought to cars today? Isn’t that a bit like comparing a Boeing 777X to the plane that flew at Kitty Hawk? If I’ve read you aright, you’ll be sympathetic to the anti-gun lobby. That would raise the question why a middle-aged unmarried teacher, would need a Porsche Cayenne.

    It must be frustrating to be in the financial services business. You make every effort to enable people to buy stuff they really, really want, but maybe don’t really, really need; but hey, it's their freedom to choose, isn't it?

    So, you create lending instruments to keep payments at affordable levels and still there are voices from the undergrowth that accuse you of something undefined, tacitly pointing out that the buying public is pretty dumb. The length of time a loan runs is immaterial because the ‘emptor’ who’s aware, knows that, if he sells the object he’s borrowed on, the lending contract ceases to exist, always assuming, of course, that the loan is repaid.

  • @nealbirch

    Not 'depreciating asset', but 'opportunity cost' is what you should have taught him. But before he started.

    And then there's that other old saw – it's not what you sell something for but what you paid for it that matters.

  • I don't get it. Are there really no cheap cars in the US? Such as the € 10.000 Renault Dacia family cars. Or the small <10K city cars? Or is there a social stigma?

  • One of the best things about living in Korea? (Or most of Europe and many parts of Asia?)

    You don't need a car. This is absolutely mind-blowing to American ex-pats — an entire country that gets along perfectly well with a robust public transport system.

    The bullet train is a little expensive, but you can still buy tickets for the regular "slow" lines. Buses are clean and on time. The three major cities (Seoul, Daegu, Busan) all have excellent subway systems.

    In a pinch, you can get a taxi. There are none older than three years or so, and they're much cheaper than American ones.

    Honestly, a car is such a goddamn burden in terms of price, fuel, the possibility of an accident, insurance, tires, etc. I'm not sure I can ever go back (lit. and fig.).

  • Cars are expensive … and will have depreciated 50% in its first 12 months after purchase

    This is what I never understood: why does ANYBODY, even those who earn $200K+ per year, ever buy a car new? Just doesn't make sense to me.

    Also, what schmitt trigger said: I can only assume that part of the problem of not having cheap cars anymore is that they are all computers on wheels these days.

    And what wetcasements said. Before moving to Australia the most expensive vehicle I owned was a cheap bicycle.

  • Late model used. It's what you should buy. Never a new car. I had to go to a small farming community to find a real pickup. A real pickup has an 8 foot bed and is 4 foot + a bit between the wheel wells. My last pickup from 1992 cost $13K. This one cost $25K in 2012.

    Cars today, if you can get covered parking at work and at night, will look good and last for 12 years or more with unlimited miles if maintained. My fathers cars lasted 70K miles max.

  • @ CaddStench:

    "I need to make a correction. I have never pretended that I intend to do anything but comment on the absurdity of the progressive delusion. Hence, I don’t think I have ever attempted or proffered solutions."

    So you admit to being nothing but a fucking troll.

    A little unintentional birthday gift to me @ 9:55 AM on 10/25/17.

    Thanks, for being clear. And just so I'm clear. I intend to put that bit in quotations, and only that, as a reply to any comment you make on any thread.

    Now, fuck off, troll.

  • Cars are a good one, Ed.

    Here's another.


    You and most other people are paying anything from $100-over $300 a month for cable, internet and telephone (Cellphone is separate). When I went to work at Verizon in 1998 I had a phone bill of <$10 a month–and a similar cable bill. My last landline phone bill was $40/month for a phone I never used except to call Verizon between 2007 and 2012 to sit on hold for up to 30 minutes before talking to someone who was about 12 zones away about how to reconnect to my internet service which THEY had disrupted, 'cuz reasons. I had the phone service or 4 years @ 29.99 + ? = $40 (never expect them to not lie and your expectations will be met) because that was the ONLY way I could GET DSL from them.

    When I finally disconnected I found out that I was on a dry DSL loop which meant the landline was superfluous. They fucked me out of about $2K and nobody at Verizon or NY PUC gave a scintilla of a fuck about it.

    I have no cable, landline or internet. I surf on my neighbor's router and since he and his wife aren't spending any time together, I expect to lose that one of these days.

    The last time I checked, Speculum was willing to sell me "Blazingly fast 100-300Mb/sec internet for $29.99 when bundled (at least $100/month with various bullshit fees and taxes) or, if I just want internet only $60/month.

    Meanwhile my brother in Firestone, CO tells me that his cable bill is going to be getting paid to the city after they build in the necessary stuff to take over their own internet. I'm sure that the current providers there, 11 different companies–all selling the same shit, basically–will undoubtedly figure out ways to make it look as if the gummint can't get it right.

    So, $600/month car payment for 7 years on you Behemobile (which you will be trading in early on your NEW Behombile, 'cuz neighbors have one) + $2-300/month on cable.

    Doesn't leave a lot for Alpo or whatever gourmet petfood you prefer eating.

  • I get your point but….

    In 2004, I bought a new Honda Pilot for about $32K with $1000 down. Honda financed it at 0.9% for 5 years. I drove it for 7 years at which point I bought an Acura TSX sport wagon, also financed at 0.9% for 5 years. (I kept the Pilot for my kids to use.) In 2014, I traded in the Pilot for a 2010 CR-V (for my daughter's use). The Pilot had $125K on it, had never broken down and other than tires and regular maintenance items, had been basically trouble free. I got $8K for the Pilot when I traded it in. Tonight, the TSX is leaving to be replaced by a 2016 MDX which is going to net out well under $30K with my trade in. (Sticker on that car is about $50K new. 2 years old with 25K miles it is a $35K car.) It will be financed for 4-5 years at about 3%. I have no problem with managing my cars and their finances this way.

  • Yup, after fleeing the coast for Kentucky, I would much prefer an AWD truck to function as a human being (roads not being cleared, delivery not an option, etc.) but they’re just too expensive. My brother bought one used from a corporate fleet that seems to be working out ok after a minor overhaul, might be the way to go.

    People are horrible at math, but for a lot of people it’s just the cost of doing business. Same with my students loans, which I will never pay off, that were the cost of entry in to my comfortable career.

    @ carrstone
    I really want to follow you man, but you lose me. Pro-gun lobby? What?

  • @Carrstone, I don't want to get into it too much, but the PRIMARY cause of the financial crisis was banks desperate for subprime mortgages so as to bundle them into mortgage backed securities (rated AAA by captured credit rating agencies like Moody's) and collaterized debt obligations and sell them to pension funds, other banks, and whatever suckers they could find. When people finally realized that the mortgages had been issued to people that couldn't pay on properties that were never worth what they were mortgaged for, the whole damn house (sorry) of cards collapsed.

    Hell, Goldman Sachs INTENTIONALLY created funds they KNEW would fail, and made money by both selling them to unwary investors and then betting (literally, like with money) that they would blow up.

  • I read the Jalopnik article about 84-month loans, too. Have you seen the ads out there for cruise-ship-sized trucks? They're not being advertised for working-class people who need to haul tools to the job site; their audience is 20-somethings who…take their duffle bags out of the bed, because of course nobody could ever fit a duffle bag in a normal-sized vehicle. Of course those things are expensive; they've been overbuilt as if everyday Americans need to cross the Alps in mid-winter.

    My father has a 22-year-old Isuzu pickup that's perfectly sized to make a trip to the dump/run to Ikea/move college kids in and out of dorms. It's starting to need expensive repairs and he's been looking for its replacement and getting angry because manufacturers don't make trucks for the average Harry Homeowner.

  • So long as a car remains a status symbol, people will pay loans as long as necessary. It's more than just a truck, it's a sign that you're a person of means (even if you lying to yourself and your community).

  • @Demo; when I got back to the USA in the mid-1990s, the basic cable (mainly just local channels) was $10/month. I wanted it because I was too close to the airport to get any reasonable reception otherwise.

    Times sure have changed. The most basic cable package available in my area has 60 (not a typo) sports channels. I watch 0 (not a typo) sports channels. And it sure costs more than $10/month.

  • @carrstone: "As for ‘easy credit’, it wasn't banker greed that caused the subprime crisis. In 1995 Clinton loosened housing rules by rewriting the Community Reinvestment Act, which put added pressure on banks to lend in low-income neighborhoods Toxic assets are the result, not of the free market, but, in large part, of an enabling government’s policies designed to increase home ownership among the poor and ethnic minorities."

    Not to derail the conversation, but you say this while handwaving the repackaging of those suspect mortgages into primo investment vehicles through the deliberate fraud on the part of both banks and credit rating agencies. If it were just bad mortgages, then the mortgages would fail, the assets would be reproduced, and the system would go on. The sand in the gears of the global financial system wasn't the mortgages, it was that they were used as feedstock for massive fraud. Mortgages gone bad is a problem. Weaponized as fictional financial instruments risked us all at a whole other level. I would expect that you could appreciate the difference in scale between those problems.

  • My brother-in-law down in southern Ohio (Appalachia) just bought a $15,000 tractor to mow his lawn with. As opposed to the tractor he already owns that apparently doesn't mow lawns.

    Because country livin' is all about "the simple life".

    (And my brother-in-law really doesn't need to be spending that kind of money)

  • @carrstone – Your argument seems to be that workers are, in no way, any more trained, educated, or productive than they ever were, but their workplace has become filled with John Galt-invented devices that make these, essentially 12th century serfs able to do the work of multiple men. It's a ridiculous assertion. Take auto mechanics, for example. Cars are constantly changing their systems and complexity to the degree that constant training and education is necessary for them to keep up with how to repair modern vehicles. While it's true that things like air-tools, balancing machines, auto-alignment systems, etc, mean he and his coworkers can repair more cars than a similar team could in the 1950's, but it also means they have to know so much more to run those systems.

    Your implication that a 17th-century plowman could just walk in and run a modern farm is ridiculous. It's not the case.

  • @Major Kong; has your BIL considered getting a couple of sheep? They'll mow the lawn for him, can be sheared for their wool, or eaten. :-)

  • Oh good- the dumbass is still here:

    "Benefits derived from productivity improvements belong to the entity which made it possible for them to be created – and that’s not the workforce. There was a time when it took a team of ten men with shovels all day to dig an acre of land. Any labourer today, equipped with a driving license probably funded by an employer, is able to do that task before lunch. Why? Because he does it with a mechanized plough with an air-conditioned cabin bought by his employer, a plough is a productivity improver an inventor invented, a manufacturer made and a marketer and retailer offered for sale."

    Gee, moron, who made that plough (Seriously, a plough? Have you ever actually worked in your life)? The employer? Some investor? No- OTHER workers.


    "As for ‘easy credit’, it wasn't banker greed that caused the subprime crisis. In 1995 Clinton loosened housing rules by rewriting the Community Reinvestment Act, which put added pressure on banks to lend in low-income neighborhoods Toxic assets are the result, not of the free market, but, in large part, of an enabling government’s policies designed to increase home ownership among the poor and ethnic minorities."

    This idiotic claim was debunked over 10 years ago, almost literally after it came out.

  • As bad as auto loans are getting, RV, motorcycle, and "toy" loans are and have been worse for a long time. Pull up you local credit union, click RV and Motorcycle rates, and let the good times roll. 96+ month terms. I just pulled up a C.U. here in Utah and they are offering RV and Bike loans 85-144 months. THATS UP TO 12 YEARS?! The reason, in my opinion? Boomers and their toys. We have an entire generation who have bought the narrative that a desirable way to spend the final years of their lives is to buy a massive RV and drive around. Where? Who the hell knows, but John and Merle Blanchard of Despairberg Midwest know that that is the only thing for them. Round that out with a healthy number of people of a certain age who have been sold the idea that buying a Harley, decking it out in chrome, and rolling down the street at 140%+ loan-to-value is the key to rebellion, and freedom. Not hating on bike. I have a brand new Duc. But I financed for 3 years, and will pay it off in less than 2. But the question becomes, how does one pay for these things without breaking the bank? RVs are silly expensive, and bikes…shiiiiii. I just spent about 7 minutes on Harley Davidson's site building a Street Glide. Bike starts at $20,990. I got that sucker to $38,300, just by going through and adding things that looked cool. So again, how to pay for that without picking up another $600+ payment to go with the truck? Easy: just finance it for a decade, pushing the payment to a more $4xx number, and hope for the best.

  • Evilgreenpastry says:

    One could go to the opposite extreme like I did. I bought a $400 1993 f150 seven years ago. In that time I've spent about 2700$ on maintenance and repairs. That works out to 37$ a month. Of course, that doesn't include gas or insurance and I do all of my own work, so that figure may be a bit misleading. When I bought Joesphine, the truck, I knew very little about car repair. I know quite a bit about it now. That knowledge is transferable to any vehicle and can't be repossessed or remotely disabled. In fact, that skill has made me money. Not a lot, but some. Now the truck is turning a bit of a monthly profit by hauling scrap and doing a bit of paid hot shot delivery.
    What's my point? None, really. Just that you don't have to mortgage your life for your transport

  • Leading Edge Boomer says:

    Years ago, Click and Clack (on their NPR show) advocated buying a 3-year-old car and driving it for 7 years. This avoided the off-the-lot depreciation of a new car. Their method assumed the used car would be financed. I took a different tack with their numbers, assuming the car would be paid for up front; with that, there was no difference between their method and buying a new car and driving it for 10 years. You know what the car has undergone for its entire life, and get to revel in 10 years of improvements. The key is to get to a place where you're saving for the NEXT car while driving the current one. So that's what I've been doing as soon as I could get into that mode.

    But now I have a 2010 Prius that never breaks, so the 2020 schedule is in danger. There will be significant changes in vehicles over the next few years, so I'll hold the car longer than 10 years.

    Other thoughts from comments:
    * Tariffs on intermediate goods (not finished products) is a mechanism designed to lower domestic wages. When, e.g., steel tariffs are imposed, domestic steel producers raise prices. Finished goods, e.g. cars, increase in price or wages paid to auto workers must go down. It's a wage-lowering tactic we're watching now.

    Another way to push wages down is to move production of intermediate goods to "exempt" countries. E.g. Harley-Davidson builds motorcycles from scratch in Wisconsin. To avoid buying high-priced domestic steel for frames and engines, they could move that production to Mexico and import them without a tariff. Some Wisconsin workers would lose their jobs, inevitably depressing wages in general.

    * My landline went away last week. Took two minutes in the CenturyLink storefront. No question why, they know that for residential they are in a buggy-whip business.

  • I remember when my family's car got totaled. We weren't making much money, but the wife and kids and I needed something to get here and there. But we couldn't afford a used car. Why? Because we lacked the down payment. So we had to get a new car because we were too poor to get a loan on a used one. (And that was around 2000, and we got a six-year loan.)

    That makes sense, right?

    Many years later, I am looking at used cars because one of the kids is old enough to drive and I'm going to let him use the Hyundai. And again, I get a new car of the sort I liked, because the used ones (one or two years older, with up to 20K miles and less time on the warranties) were… $2,000 lower in price.

    I love my newer Subaru, but that's still ridiculous.

    Meanwhile, people in my hometown are getting hot and bothered that there are big apartment buildings getting put up along a light rail line. They'll destroy the neighborhood, they say. They'll be a blight, they say. As if density and urbanization are supposed to ignore investments in light rail.

    And that makes the least sense of all.

  • I’m a bankruptcy attorney, and soon these loans are going to be big business for me. In a Chapter 13 reorganization, we can “cram down” a car loan to the present value of the vehicle 910 days after purchase. I want to get the word out to everyone in the country about this.

    I had a school janitor making $14 an hour in an 84 month loan at $700. What happened to lending standards? In a year, I’m knocking $25,000 off that loan.

    Unfortunately, the lender will probably still have made a profit. Damn vampires.

  • I've never understood the attraction of Harleys.

    As motorcycles go, they're not particularly good for much other than looking cool while you ride down to the local bar.

    And $20,000+ is an awful lot to spend on something that's essentially a toy. Very few people will use one as their primary means of transportation. Good chance they have an equally (or more) expensive pickup truck to complete the ensemble.

    I'm very fortunate to make 4-5 times the median family income in this country. Our toys consist of a couple (really nice) bicycles and an inflatable kayak.

  • I have a couple of thoughts; having lived in/worked in various countries with clean, affordable, convenient public transportation and also one with safe, copious bicycle lanes, I get so frustrated that the typical USAian hates public transportation and is trying to kill it off.

    Also, I have an aging car of my own that was never a great car to begin with (I was going to palm it off on one of the kids but they want no part of it either), but I cringe whenever I look into new cars, because the last thing I want to do while dodging distracted drivers is to drive in a vehicle with more "entertainment" options than my living room. I have zero desire to conduct a Facetime group meeting while simultaneously updating my Facebook and posting random pictures to Snapchat and setting my preferences in streaming video. Sometimes my car time is the only time nobody's hanging off me whining that they need something IMMEDIATELY; I don't want to be accessible to the world and distracted by whatever's on Netflix on my commute home.

  • @Major Kong; great point about the lawn service! Around here, people just have to get big snowblowers…which we need about once every decade.

  • There are cheap cars out there (well, under $20,000). The trouble is that society has everyone convinced they need a bigger, fancier car. And not just a car–an SUV to carry your clot of kids, because God knows your kids need at least 5 feet between each other. Oh, and they need their own DVD players and their own climate control, and air conditioned seats and, and, and. You also need that SUV because everyone else has one and your little car just won't keep your clot of kids safe. Reject all that bullshit and you can find a cheaper car. Toyota, Honda and Hyundai (particularly Hyundai) all have cars for under $20,000. But they aren't giant honking SUVs or trucks.

    There are people who need those kinds of cars, yes. But not your average suburban mom or cube warrior.

  • @Katydid, i was given a loaner vehicle from my dealership while my beloved Mazda 3 (170K miles!) was in the shop. 2018 CX-5 (that's your basic not gigantic but still big SUV). RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DASH under the rearview mirror was an ipad sized screen. You turn on the car, the thing boots up, and then shows a message which says roughly, terms and conditions: DON'T LOOK AT ME WHILE DRIVING. I had to laff.

    Also, they wanted $850.00 to replace the "fuel-air sensor". I was like, is this car WORTH $850.00?? Anyway, I said no thanks and it seems ok now.

  • The big Harley touring bikes are actually not too bad at what they're designed for–covering lots of highway miles. If you're able to resist the temptation of trying to get more horsepower of the thing they're pretty reliable, too. I've seen plenty of examples hit triple-digit miles.

    The new/used question has to be sorted by individual model. While some cars do depreciate like rocks, some don't. Price out a late-model used CR-V or Tacoma and paying $2000 more for a new one with a full warranty doesn't look like a bad idea.

  • Thanks to Clinton and the rest of the Republicans, Americans have been screwed since St. Reagan heralded the "Morning in America" epoch ignorant Right wingers voted into being. Clinton never was a Democrat in beliefs, only in name.

    Screwing Americans is our Business. As Calvin Coolidge said, The Business of America is Business.

    Since Nixon and the Republicans moved their Businesses/and our Jobs to China, this was beginning of the selling/acamming of the Middle Class, aka the New Feudalism or Fascism(Business Run Government), for profit to Business, not Americans. Serfs of old, whatever the "words say", the definition remains the same.

    A one way street from average Americans, getting fleeced by the Corporate Run Government, you know it as "lobbying".

    the Ad Men do their jobs admirably. they continue to sell Americans the same old same old that got us to where we are at today. Profits for the Rich Capitalism for the Poor. or as i hear it in English, For the Few not the Many. Selling Brooklyn Bridges is one way Americans would term, how Business operates. Community is not an American Value. No Profit!!!

    Private this and Private that. Which is why Buses and Trains and Subways are taboo in America.Pay for Public Transportation, say what? Poor people use that, who wants to ride with "them."

    and of course we pay for all the roads with taxes.Government sells Public Oil and Gas to Private Cos. Government in America has always been the "Enemy," not the Oil companies, who pollutes the Air, Water and Land, lately through Fracking. and other Companies get subsidies or Pay no Taxes, Even before Tax Cuts for Business.

    Private roads push private ownership, keeping the riffraff out. losers, non winners in the American vernacular. Non Americans in value.

    Private this and that promote the Rugged Individual/ American "independence" theme. We can't have society or libraries or good schools(kids might get to thinking on their own!!! horror upon horror lest Americans "think". wondering why it costs so much more now to live Americans might see good things about libraries, buses, trains and subways. Helping one another get around cheaper, transportation for all on a regular schedule. Not on your life, in America, at least.

    Communism indeed. after all these decades of brainwashing/Madison St. commercials, Americans have no concept of anything but "evil" about society, and "public" means of anything.

    and we will have greater poverty for most of us. The system works exactly as designed, or Lobbyied into law. so Republicans can continue to suck us dry. Rents will climb, Wage stagnate or fall, cause There is No Alternative to Austerity we have been sold by the Republicans. "A living wage" is history, like horse drawn carriages, with Business in charge of Government.

    who can afford cars or anything necessary to get to work. Suck it up America, pull yourself up by your own "nonexistent" bootstraps. Suckers for the Spin, Americans have been had. Will they ever wake up.

    when the poverty is bad enough, maybe. until then, ride the slide into Rightwinger's heaven on Earth.

  • Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus all start around $17K-$18K. Out the door they're probably closer to $20K.

    Nissan Versa starts at $12K. That seems to be about the cheapest new car out there.

  • I bought a 1 year old Toyota from Hertz. Can't say enough about the ease of the sale. They discount the blue book value. You can rent it for 3 days to test it out. If you decide to buy you don't pay for the rental. I browsed the available cars sorted by type and location until I found one I liked.

    They handled the financing for me and mailed me the plates.

    The car had about 35,000 miles on it. High for a one year old car but I was sure that Hertz had done all the servicing necessary just so a client wouldn't break down.

    Also lots of people had driven it. Maybe there were a couple of crazy people, but buying a one lease car might be from a crazy driver who didn't do their maintenance.

    I've had it 8 years now and have put about 100,000 additional miles on it. Still going strong. And I got an almost new car and didn't lose the immediate depreciation that you get by driving off the lot.

  • @Geoff; my spouse had a Mazda 3 and loved it. Great family car (seated 4 adults and a dog comfortably), got great gas mileage, looked nice. When it was around 4 years old, a #$%#$%#$ "moran" who was texting while driving his Death-Star-sized SUV slammed into him going around 60 at a red light and totaled the car. The new Mazda 3s had all that stupid "infotainment" crap.

  • This is why living in NYC, despite the exorbitant rents, isn't nearly as expensive as it's reputed to be. I haven't spent one penny on auto loans, car insurance, parking, or tolls since I moved here. I don't even have a driver's license anymore, and my wife, who grew up here, has never driven a car, let alone dealt with the headaches of owning one.

    $121/ month for unlimited, comprehensive public transit is a hell of a bargain.

  • @Safety Man!

    i didn't say PRO' but 'ANTI'-gun lobby.

    And I chose that to illustrate how much of a pose much of the commentary in this blog is. It exemplifies the inability of many in the anti-gun lobby to distinguish between an automatic weapon and a piece of two-by-four, yet want to impose their will on those who do.

    I see the same posturing in Ed's flailing about wage levels, sharing in productivity gains, cost of cars nowadays and the high cost of borrowing – all in defense of the working man. And then he says, "I bought a used Porsche Cayman", which is rather like complaining that there's no relying on your favorite deli anymore because it's, once again, run out of Beluga. Does a middle-aged teacher, single, really need a Porsche?

  • @Geoff
    Ask yourself why banks 'suddenly' started providing loans to borrowers who didn't qualify for 'normal' loans.

    Bankers, whatever you may think of them, aren't likely to take on more risk without hedging that risk. And by Clinton's re-write, Fannie and Freddie provided that security.

    Bankers do go to jail for a variety of offenses but none, as far as I can see, went for the 'crime' of providing loans to the unworthy. If banks know the loans 'would fail, and made money by both selling them to unwary investors and then betting (literally, like with money) that they would blow up', why is that a crime?

    Caveat emptor – the banks didn't say the toxic assets would be risk free, they just pointed to the opinion of the rating agencies and let the 'greed' of the buyer work its magic..

  • @unyon
    You said, 'it was that they [mortgages] were used as feedstock for massive fraud.'

    What fraud was committed and how many bankers went to jail, as opposed to lost their jobs, because of it?

    IMO, the crisis occurred, not because of anything the sellers of the bundled mortgages did, but because of the lack of homework done by the buyers. Certainly no banker went to jail for selling sub-prime mortgages. Staggeringly, it turns out that roughly 28% of all mortgages defaults, and 60% of all subprime defaults, were mortgages that started with a prime mortgage [].

  • @Sea Tea 1967
    You're not a car mechanic, then? I ask because you afford that occupation a mystique it doesn't really have. Indeed, there's an argument that, by coupling the car to the right computer, all a mechanic has to do these days, is follow the dots. In days of yore, he had to devise solution, creatively.

    Levels of education are irrelevant in the modern world. Having a double doctorate in maths and hydraulics is of no importance if your job is to flip burger patties. All your education suggests to a potential employer is that you won't try and flip them by hand.

    And that spatula you use to flip those burgers has been bought by your employer from a store which distributes such tools on behalf of a manufacturer ….. The number of burgers you need to flip per hour is agreed with your employer and, if you achieve this target, you get to flip more burgers – until Boeing calls with a job offer, of course.

    Don't you get it? Your mechanic servicing more cars by employing the tools of his trade is exactly the same example of who's entitled to the benefits generated by productivity improvements as the f'rinstance of a single ploughman in an air-conditioned cabin replacing ten guys with shovels.

    Of course the ancient ploughman can manage a modern farm, the basics – tilling, sewing, reaping, haven't changed, just the tools, not devised devised by the ploughman btw, that have allowed to those tasks to be completed more efficiently.

    And to learn how to use tools you don't need to be a genius – sixteen yo kids in America get to drive cars even though they haven't the faintest idea of what happens under the hood. And eight yo play with Lego without having attended architecture school.

  • @Russia Deep in BS

    Why so aggressive and insulting? Are you that unsure of your facts that you prefer attack to reasoned argument?

    Even you must know that workers do not make the plough in the sense we're talking here. What they do is stand on a production line and repeat the same movement time and time again in compliance to a laid-down plan devised by some clever engineer on instruction from some investor/employer.

    And, if the worker doesn't produce the planned results, he's replaced by someone who does produce them or by a robot. C'est la vie, your Luddite inclinations not withstanding. Thank god it works like that because otherwise, in the longer term, given your wishes were to become reality, I couldn't afford what the factory was producing.

    And that same lesson goes for the rest of the world as well. The only one who matters in the real world and who provides us with all our needs [within our ability to pay] is the entrepreneur. That's the guy who has the balls that most of us lack, to willingness to go out on a limb, to assume the risk of creating a business.

    The worker is an easily replaced commodity; if they're not available locally, we can just get them in from across the border or take the work to them. Ergo, the worker doesn't 'own' his job, it's in the gift of the employer.

    And, like god, what the employer giveth, the employer can take away. Unless, of course, the government comes along and forces behavior on businesses that makes them rebel in the only way they can – by closing their doors or by leaving the jurisdiction.

    Oh, and as for for the easy credit thing – no-one went to jail for providing sub-prime loans. But, as a reasonably intelligent person, you should ask yourself why banks, normally exceedingly risk-averse, should suddenly begin to offer sub-prime loans. If you do, you might want to read your links again with an eye on what they're actually saying.

  • And the resident randroid spake thusly:

    "I need to make a correction. I have never pretended that I intend to do anything but comment on the absurdity of the progressive delusion. Hence, I don’t think I have ever attempted or proffered solutions."

    A little unintentional birthday gift to me @ 9:55 AM on 10/25/17.

    So you admit to being nothing but a fucking troll.

    Thanks, for being clear. And just so I'm clear. I intend to put that bit in quotations, and only that, as a reply to any comment you make on any thread.

    Now, fuck off, troll.

  • @Carrstone, seriously gonna leave it, but, "If banks know the loans 'would fail, and made money by both selling them to unwary investors and then betting (literally, like with money) that they would blow up', why is that a crime?" Well, yes– it's called SECURITIES FRAUD, and is AGAINST THE LAW.

    Now if you wanna argue that in our forthcoming libertarian paradise banks should not be regulated by the state in any way, e.g. stealing their depositors' money is OK, because "ya takes yer chances!!", that's fine. However at the time of the financial crisis many, MANY banks were violating state and federal banking regulations, and that is what DROVE the crisis: greed and fraud.

    @DC, sorry, i just got kinda mad.

  • @ carrstone

    What does Ed driving a Porsche have to do with commenting on wage stagnation? Fun fact, I almost certainly own more firearms than you do. By your logic, your argument is now invalid.

  • The idea from the 1950s and 1960s that a high school kid would buy a cheap new car with his after-school job is…gone. Good luck finding all but the most spartan new cars under $25,000.

    I don't think that was a reality even when I was in high school. Of course the only after school jobs that existed required me to drive to them, and had no public transit.

    I have 2005 Toyota Corolla that's scratched up. I will be driving that sucker right into the ground.

  • @Geoff
    And that’s why the jails are full of bankers for not breaking the law which, apparently nearly ten years after the event, has still not found application? That law?

    @Safety Man
    Other than the explanation I’ve already given, mentioning th Porsche is the height of pompous self-congratulation. Nothing is added to the story by its addition.

  • Is someone seriously on this thread arguing that banks, mortgage originators, and ratings agencies didn't commit any fraud in the run up to the financial crisis?

    I was working at Bear Stearns when it blew up (and regretfully stayed on wall st until 2014). In the strictest sense S&P, Moody's, and Fitch caused the financial crisis. This is because they were effectively powerless to deny the banks the AAA credit ratings that they were demanding on mortgage derivatives.

    The only way you can argue that it wasn't a massive fraud is by making the case that most of the actors in this ecosystem bought into the lies we were telling ourselves about how these were sufficiently diversified, non-correlated assets. For a huge percentage of us this was, sadly, true. If you are wondering, I was a lowly cog with a major drinking problem at the time so no one gave two shits what I thought.

    Some people still like to concede that the Community Re-investment Act played some role in the crisis, even if it wasn't the major cause like the libertarians say it was. Don't fall for it — it played no role whatsoever.

    Remember that an African-American with a credit score of X will have a harder time obtaining a home loan than a white person with that same credit score. For the CRA to have actually increased the overall risk in the mortgage market it would have had to overcome that differential and then some. And it clearly did not, since it persists to this day.

  • So now the fact that rich, politically connected bankers didn't go to jail for committing fraud constitutes proof that no such fraud existed?

    Here on earth it constitutes proof that rich, politically connected bankers are treated differently by the justice system.

    The problem with the libertarian worldview, writ large, is that there is absolutely no room for institutional power dynamics in their analysis of how and why things happen the way they do.

  • Human beings are irrational. All of us are suseptible to marketing and easy credit. If your daily existence requires a reliable car, the sheer stress of what might happen if your car fails to start in the morning is enough to make it a reasonable assumption that buying a new car with a warranty and a loaner car for the times it's in the shop takes a huge worry away.

    For a lot of people, a $600/month car payment makes sense in terms of their mental stability. As an investment, of course, it's a stupid choice. Of course, going out to a bar or restaurant is a bad investment as is taking a vacation, buying anything new other than underwear, and buying anything at retail price.

    Life is about choices. If you simply want a problem to go away and have the means to pay for it, buying a new car is one of those choices.

    @Carrstone – Why on earth do you insist on commenting on Gin and Tacos when your bullshit free market absolutism is repeatedly refuted and you're made to look like a fool time after time? I'm sorry no one hugged you as a child and that Atlas Shrugged became the sole guiding force in your life. I'm sure there's a club for people of your ilk who may even pretend to like you before they stab you in the back when they find it aligns with their own enlightened self-interest.

  • @Jibril

    Your anger is quite revealing. You're not angry that so few bankers in the US were prosecuted but because they're rich. And that's why your envy slip is showing.

    If you were really for equality under the law, you would not be focused on levels of wealth but would include all bank employees, including yourself, in the roster of un-prosecuted participants in the selling of toxic assets.

    Would you not agree there are two elements in the financial crisis, the subprime crisis and the selling of toxic assets? You can twist and turn as much as you like, but it's irrefutable that banks were 'encouraged', i.e. pressured initially by the Democratic Party and Bill Clinton's Administration, to provide loans to people who shouldn't have been offered them. They did so because, by selling great swaths of these mortgages to Fannie and Freddie, they could reduce their exposure and who, by 2011, were sitting on 150,000 foreclosed homes.

    Do yourself a favor and read "Guaranteed to Fail", NYU, Leonard N Stern School of Business, Jan 2011 [] to remind yourself how the world really was away from the comforts of the Bear Stearns office pool.

    You may indeed have been taken in by the corporate message, but, as you were probably more cabin boy than officer on the Titanic, I don't hold you responsible for not spotting the berg. I, however, was the skipper of my own boat at the time, sailing the same waters and thanking the Clinton re-write on a daily basis. Not to mix metaphors, but I was hauling in the nets while you were in the cabins making the beds – who's likely to be better informed?

    I'm surprised anyone with your pedigree can skip so easily over the caveat emptor admonition. No-one forced anyone to buy the toxic asset bundles. I'll bet lots of the buyers thought that they could avoid the crash which was obviously coming – I recall commenting that 'this can't go on at this pace'. Yet people believe they know what they're doing, that they're in control which gave Madoff et al the opportunity.

    I will ignore that bit of racism you display at the end. I don't know whether that was the pervasive attitude at Bear Stearns, but it's so easy to say. Now prove it if you claim it.

  • @Nunya

    Thank you for caring but, frankly, this progressive blog reminds me of the woolly, ill-conceived attitudes and certainties I come across in holy-roller blogs. They, too, think that their dogma is gospel even though, like progressives, they can't prove the reality, the functionality of their belief.

    Progressives, like the religious, will define any trait that suits their message as part of their oeuvre, as defining them, not realizing, it seems, that such claims are absurdly obtuse, without foundation and diminish their core beliefs – in the eyes of sane people, I mean, of course.

    Often Denmark emerges as the world's most progressive country. But so what? Denmark is unthinkable without a healthy dose of free market capitalism, just as Christianity is unlikely to exist in countries where it's not tolerated.

    But already in 2016 your Guardian reported 'Instead of being warm, cuddly countries [i.e. Denmark and Sweden] that are progressive and welcoming, immigrants are running wild ….policies are being managed by neo-Nazis….. there are stories of Denmark seizing asylum seekers’ cash and valuables. …. the Swedes, are apparently preparing mass deportations'.

    Bernie Sanders may praise Denmark for being 'peaceful, egalitarian, progressive, liberal and educated, and having excellent furniture and crime novels, too.' But that doesn't mean that other countries cannot be equally peaceful, egalitarian, etc., etc. without the 'benefit' of progressivism. It's a word without meaning, d'you see.

    If Denmark 'works', it's in the character of the people that it does. But as long as there are black-shirted Anti-fa roaming our streets, I surely don't have to explain that the US ain't got that character.

    And, in your own small, futile way, you and the other regulars here don't have it either, not as long as you can't talk to me without cussing.

    Don't you see that what you guys claim so demeans Trump, does the same for you? Capitalism is present in everything you do, you haven't ever refuted it, you just shout a lot.

    You're just as bad at arguing as the religious. When their opinions about divinity are once again wrecked by an atheist, they threaten hell-fire. You use bicycle locks and loud bleating.

  • Barkus Annointo says:

    I used to work with a guy who said the only smart thing to do was put the equivalent of a car payment in the bank every month until you had enough to buy a new car outright. He actually followed this precept & drove up in a new car every 3 or 4 years. I later found out that his wife was independently wealthy & he just came in to the plant for the camaraderie & the health insurance. Whenever there was a crisis or a panic, he would always say:
    "Injuns! Circle the HumVees!" Those were happier days.

  • Carrstone,

    I don't recall anyone in this comments section asking for a repeal of Capitalism. Indeed, Scandanavia is a highly capitalist society. What they have chosen to do, however, is to provide a robust safety net that makes the risk taking necessary for entrepreneurship a realistic possibility and their societies have thrived as a result.

    Of course, they're also discovering that a robust welfare state that imports a massive number of immigrants without a plan in place to integrate and employ them is going to create social upheaval. That is something that America has far more experience with.

    The problem with your posts is that you have a dogged belief that the free market will solve all of the world's problems. What you fail to notice is that a completely free market inevitably results in a Feudal society where the vast majority of people have no access to the capital that makes capitalism possible. Regulation and government interference are a necessary part of ensuring that a capitalist system can survive and that the rich aren't all murdered by a horde of starving peasants.

    Your understanding of the justice system is equally laughable. If you think wealth doesn't provide an enormous amount if cover when defending against both criminal charges and civil suits, you clearly have absolutely no idea of the power that a well-paid legal team has to either overwhelm the court with red tape or the ability to simply file motion after motion to ensure that the injured party never gets an actual date in court.

    The US justice system works quite well if you can afford never to be involved with it. If you can't, well, good luck with the public defender that puts 10 minutes into reading your arrest report before convincing you to plead guilty or risk years in prison.

    In short, Carrstone, you have been so blinded by an adherence to your libertarian ideology that any suggestion that a mix of markets and regulations are necessary for both a stable society and a growing economy. If you think you're riding high at the moment or soon will be, let me remind you that you're just as likely to fall down several rungs on the economic ladder as anyone else. In fact, your obsttinance and inability to form nuanced analysys and solutions practically guarantee it..

    Of course, you'll have no problem accepting assistance when it aligns with your enlightened self-interest.

  • @jibril, thanks. No one "forced" anyone to buy "shitty" (GS) securities, but they WERE deceptively rated as AA/ AAA, so why shouldn't they have? And no one went to jail because a) regulatory capture, and b) Eric Holder.

    Weren't we talking about cars?? At the very least, those buying securities based upon subprime car loans (yes, that's absolutely a thing) have an idea of the actual risks involved, as opposed to the fraudulently rated MBS's.

  • "Capitalism is present in everything you do, you haven't ever refuted it, you just shout a lot."

    Spoken like a blinkered fanatic who decrees the fetishization of private enterprises by fiat. No laissez-faire principle left behind.

  • Well, I guess we just have to let you-know-who think he won the thread again so he won't run up mom's light bill.

    It is comforting to know that there are so many people in the world who are not as skullfucked as the Raving Recess of Randroid Ridonkulousness* who signs as Carrstone.

    * Liberpublibagger Asshole

  • @democommie

    You've discovered alliteration, well done. Now if only you could discover a sense of civility as well, I'd really like that. i mean, why always with the insults, you know they're water off the proverbial duck's back.

    Or maybe you don't. There could be all kinds of medical reasons for that, but I suspect it's all in the head. That, in your case, would surprise me because I've always recognized there's nothing in your head.

    See, now that's how to construct an insult. And all in English.

  • MK "I'd rather be a middle-class Scandinavian than the richest guy in Mogadishu."

    Yeah, visiting our Swedish relatives is seems maybe we should have stayed;)

    RE: Carrspud:
    You do understand the actual definition of 'sub-prime' is that Fanny/Freddy WON'T back-up/buy the loan, so how could they have created the sub-prime problem? Just move to Somalia where you can have your libertarian paradise where no government bothers you. And, as far as productivity growth, explain why wages followed productivity growth until the 1970s, and then tailed off — and why productivity growth had also tailed off in the last decade…but I suppose you'd have to read something other than your sticky-paged copy of Atlas Shugged and Reason Mag…

  • @Nunya
    "The problem with posts in G&T is that all exude a dogged belief that progressivism will solve all of the world's problems." And in order to do that, as Obama and Sanders et al tell us, we have to change society. But I can't stand idly by while you turn me into a pliant Stepford creature, I quite like who I am.

    Progressives can't deal with individual opinion. One of the first things that happened when I started commenting here is that I was assigned an intersectional role as a Randian disciple even though I've never read the woman, not then and not now. Even today, after some years of trading insults with you guys, I am still seen as a representative member of a group and not as an ordinary Joe, one who despises every bit of the progressive delusion and doesn't want it spreading its cancer.

    Progressives give the appearance that they
    exalt the group above the individual, advocate a centralized single-minded government headed by a progressive leader and economic and social regimentation.

    In economics, progressivism sees itself as being better able to govern man than either laissez-faire capitalism on the one hand and communism or socialism on the other. Private property is okay to you and so's the profit motive but only insofar as these two do not conflict with the interests of the state. Progressives would nationalize key industries, introduce price and wage controls and other types of economic planning measures, have the state regulate the allocation of resources, especially in the financial and raw materials sectors). Right?

    In particular, they brook no interference in matters of state by individual opinion and concur with Giovanni Gentile, that an individual can only add value to society by being a conforming cog in its wheel. That makes you the fascist of course, but hey, who's nomenclaturing?

    Imagine a day in which the sun rises on the achievement of your greatest dream – today humanity has achieved all its aims and all that's been realized is pure progressiveness, what are you going to be doing tomorrow? This is the great difference between capitalism and socialism or, not to put too fine a name on it, communism. Socialism needs a leader and a rule book, capitalism doesn't because it's merely a name for what people do naturally – trade.

    Nature is always in flux, a condition that does not lend itself to finding solutions to problems and creating a Utopia for man to live in. What nature demands of us is that we survive. Capitalism, with it's myriad individual transactions, is not based on staticism like socialism and it's mouthy kid-brother, progressivism, but on growth.

    Man needs to grow to survive which is why, when I see what socialism wants to achieve, I say god help us if we should ever be governed by you Luddites.

  • "What nature demands of us is that we survive."

    Oh they'll survive allright. You just might not like some of the survival mechanisms.

    I'm sure you'd rather the castoffs of the market go off somewhere and die quietly but that's not usually how it goes.

    And it's pretty tough to conduct business while they're burning the cities down around you.

    If history is any indication, things get very "interesting" politcally when you hit 25-30 percent unemployment. If you think progressives are bad, just wait until you see what THAT scenario produces.

  • @gaderson
    I think you'll find that I didn't say that Freddie and Frannie 'created the sub-prime problem' but they didn't alleviate the situation by their use of derivatives to hedge the interest-rate risk of their portfolios.

    It's quite clear what caused the sub-prime crisis [and it wasn't only sub-prime mortgages that defaulted]. It was the failure of the borrowers to pay their monthly nut. But the real cause was governments of both colors, initiated by Clinton, encouraging home ownership.

  • @Major Kong
    You really shouldn't do it, you know.

    Justifying the disgusting wish you have that 'the castoffs of the market go off somewhere and die quietly' by ascribing the same thought to me is hardly polite behavior.

    It may be okay for progressives and their bullying tactics to think that way, but it isn't where I live.

  • When I come home mid-July (YEA!) I will be moving to a city that has a reasonable public transit system. What with that, taxis/Lyfts and no job to have to get to on a regular basis I intend to live without a car and all the expenses that go with that. We'll see how that goes, I guess.

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the effect that the lower sales of new cars will have on all the industries that support the car companies. I used to live near Kokomo, IN, and essentially all of that city survives because of car manufacturers. I'm sure it's not the only place like that. This is going to cause an evil feedback loop – can't afford new car – supporting industries close – job losses – massive poverty – the revolution might very well come in my lifetime.

  • richard nixon says:

    " But as long as there are black-shirted Anti-fa roaming our streets"

    Hilarious. Just Hilarious.

  • "Man needs to grow to survive which is why, when I see what socialism wants to achieve, I say god help us if we should ever be governed by you Luddites."

    Marcuse gently reminds us that intensified progress seems to be bound up with intensified unfreedom, but it also seems that some of us are prostitutes of profit and pimps for unsustainable growth. Not all that is quantitative in the marketplace is necessarily qualitative for the consumer.

  • I think some of you all are missing Ed’s point. It’s not the ridiculousness of the fact that new cars are the price of a down payment on a house (although that is part of it), it’s that wages have stagnated to the point where your average person won’t be able to buy a car without enslaving themselves to sociopathic middlemen for 7 years. In America, you need a car to maintain a modicum of independence and to get to and from a job that will pay your bills. We don’t have a decent reliable public transportation system in most areas of the country—especially in the areas that the “economically distressed working class white people” live, to whom these unnecessarily expensive trucks are marketed—so we’re all sitting ducks for this sort of thing. Eventually, this will spread and become the New Normal, if left unchecked—and NOBODY will have a choice, not even those of you who are decent at math.

    Cars don’t run forever. They were never designed-to. They last maybe10, 15 years before they self-destruct. There’s not going to be a pool of used cars to buy from in 10-15 years on this trajectory. They’re not getting expensive because they’re computers on wheels (technology actually gets cheaper over time), prices are inflating while wages remain dogshit. This is unsustainable.

  • Given stagnant wages and lively prices, it's not just car & truck buyers who look math-deficient. Class warfare is an effective short-term way to make a quick buck, but it passed it's sell by date years ago.

  • "Now if only you could discover a sense of civility as well, I'd really like that. i mean, why always with the insults, you know they're water off the proverbial duck's back."

    Sez a serial lying troll who's thinner skinned than the condom his father was wearing when he was concieved.

    That, fuckhead, is an insult.

  • @katydid – Thanks. The election put me into a depression from which I'm slowly recovering. When I get home, I'll be on the fighting lines. If I'm not arrested on a regular basis, I'll be doing it wrong!

  • Are… are you guys really arguing with carrstone the lolbertarian? You've never heard of sealioning or something?

    The only thing that propagandist deserves is a very short shave with a rather heavy blade, mounted on two thick wooden stakes.

  • An excellent population sample for observation I am surprised hasn't been mentioned – covered everything from sub-prime pickups to sub-prime motorcycles – is the RV market, "Recreational" vehicles. I thought of it but have been lurking only of late, anti-social, not pleased with participation.

    Another thought along these lines, a tangent, is all of this, from sub-prime cars and motorcycles to trucks and recreational vehicles, all designed and manufactured to fall apart before they're paid for, is a mark of over-production. More have been produced than can be consumed, and though a seven year mortgage on a fifty k pickup isn't exactly giving it away the degree some of these dealers go through to vacate their inventory smacks of desperation.

    A twenty-first century version of when in a hole quit digging: you can only sell so many RVs.

  • @ geoff:

    Just saw the newspiece about Ford (I was looking to see if the fucking weather would stop being early March instead of end of April, before Memorial Day.

    I remember gas lines, rationing, price of gas doubling in a few months–and that was FORTY-FIVE fucking years ago. To say that the executives at U.S. auto manufacturers are slow learners is like saying that the PotUSaurus has a problem with self-control. Sweet fucking nothingness! Is there a BAD business decisiom that these fuckwitz make that they can't then blame on the unions, gummint regulation or external forces (China) skewing the markets?

  • @dc, well, if we're gonna drive off a cliff, i guess it'll have to be in an F150, not a T-Bird ; )

    @TenBears, yup: overproduction, the crisis of capitalism.

  • @demo

    Heck, I remember gas prices hitting $4/gallon being one of the causes of the 2008 recessions.

    Unfortunately they've convinced much of the American public that they should want trucks and SUVs (which incidentally have higher profit margins).

    My wife drives a 2009 A4 station wagon. A car that Audi no longer imports.

    Instead they sell the "Allroad" which is, wait for it, an A4 station wagon sitting up about an inch higher with some black plastic stuck on the fenderwells. So it can pretend to be an SUV. The Germans must think we're crazy.

  • Having spent nearly all my career in the software business, the extent to which they're computerizing vehicles these days worries me to death. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't want a car that runs with the reliability of my home computer; I want a car that runs like a car – Ed's affordability topic notwithstanding.

    @Demo: I concur with your assessment of our "communications" companies.

  • "@Demo: I concur with your assessment of our "communications" companies."

    In your software designing are you one of the people we have to thank for the voice driven menus? Please say no, I've always liked you and well, y'know…{;>)

  • @jcastarz: exactly. Also, computerized cars are *hackable* cars. My "opposite-of-smart" car has enough issues, but at least I know it's not going to be comandeered by a hostile entity.

    The whole "internet of things" strikes me as…WHY?!? There's an ad on tv for a washing machine that can be operated via smartphone app–WHY?!?! Why do you need someone to hack your washing machine? Your refrigerator? Your microwave? A buddy of mine is an enthusiastic amateur photographer, and he's all excited about a camera he got that has settings you can control from an app on your phone–WHY??! You've got the camera in your hands taking pictures; why have to fumble with a phone at the same time?

  • @ Katydid:

    I have several Nikons, the newest is 8 yo. They're all fine for what they're designed to do.

    I just saw a bit on NHK tv (PBS) about the photo equipment show 2018 in Japan and Sony has a new mirrorless digital that will run up to 20 frames a second while focusing on the subjects eyes. I think I may have to go back to Plus X b&w…

  • Not mentioned so far: Gas prices.
    I filled my car yesterday in Detroit for 2.70 a gallon. The gas glut is over and the price continues to rise slowly but steadily.
    When it hits $3.50 or so you won't be able to give one of those locomotive-sized pickups or SUVs away.
    This has happened before, but no one seems to remember.

  • @Scott; I filled up yesterday and paid $2.68/gallon (three weeks ago it was $2.33), so I can confirm the price is climbing. In my area it hit about $4.25/gallon back in 2008. Several of my co-workers had Hummers and made fun of my Honda Civic sedan, but at least I could afford to fill it up. The Hummers all disappeared around that time.

    You're right, nobody remembers. The parking lot at work is filled with oversized "I have a small penis!" mobiles that hang over the parking lines. Everyone's ready to cross the Alps in winter in these things…we got a cumulative 7 or 8" of snow this year.

  • @ Katydid:

    Most of those things WON'T cross the Alp or even the Appalachians in winter. Even the ones that are built to do that require good drivers.

  • @Demo: A lot of times I had to do what management and/or customers called for, and not what was best nor even what was needed. I've also seen way too many projects where there wasn't enough time to do it right in the first place, but plenty of follow-on builds to get it right later (this applies to professions other than s/w as well). And Katydid is right, software is quite hackable.

    I can just envision the day when s/w that controls critical car functions can be quickly/cheaply/easily spammed over the airwaves to cars on the road. The temptation to "quick! fix that bug before the public finds out about it!" is going to be awfully strong, and I fear we're all going to be beta-road testers as a result.

  • Formal Software Release: – differs from a beta software release in that the bugs are no longer hypothetical… now they’re official.

  • @ jcstarz:

    My brother was in the hard drive business from STC in Boulder (late 70's) till last year at Seagate. Many funny stories about the biz–well, funny, if somebody else's shit got blowed up.

  • 2008 was (uses calculator..) 10 years ago. The new crop of 20-somethings with their first jobs were 11 then, and no one will tell them that the normal direction of gas prices is up, not down.

    Regarding my earlier post, I am informed that I was wrong because gas is already $3.50 in California, and there's no shortage of enormous vehicles there.

    So, OK, dollars aren't worth even as much as they were in 2008, and we have near-full employment again because of Trump's comprehensive jobs plan, and maybe the limit price is higher. Maybe it's $4.50, maybe $5.00. But it's up there somewhere and we'll get to it. Sooner rather than later now that the price is on the move again.

    The good news is you'll be able to get an Escalade for cheap.

  • "The good news is you'll be able to get an Escalade for cheap."

    The REALLY good news is that they'er large enough for a family to LIVE in.

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