Why Not?

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In this economy, can anyone seriously doubt that there is a market for simple, reliable – and inexpensive – transportation?

In any case, why not let the market operate? Why not allow (god, how I hate that term) Tata or Cherry (or whomever) to offer their basic, low-cost cars for sale here – and see whether people are interested?

You and I know why this will not be allowed, of course. Precisely because people wouldbuy such cars – and that would impose pressure on the industry at large to simplify their offerings, too – and reduce the cost.

Can’t have that.

It is critical to keep people perpetually in debt. Why allow them to buy a new $6,000 car outright – or pay it off in two or three years (as was common once – and within living memory of any person older than 40) when you can effectively force them to buy a $30,000 car (the average price paid for a new vehicle as of last year) and sign them up for 5 or 6 years of payments? And force them to spend $1,000 annually to insure it, too?

That’s the truth of the thing.

It’s not about “safety” – or any other such altruistic palaver.

It is about power – control.

And, of course, money.

I’ve written about air bags before. Classic example, so worth repeating. They were first put on the market – in the early-mid 1970s by both GM and Chrysler – as optional equipment that people could buy. Or not.

Most people chose not to buy.

Not because they were cavalier risk junkies – as people such as myself are often characterized by the Air Bag Nazis. But simply because the cost of the air bags was prohibitive. They added as much to the bottom line price of a car (this is back in the ’70s) as air conditioning did – and AC was just about the most expensive option you could buy in those days.

So, they failed in the marketplace. Which is why the car companies worked with the government to see them made mandatory. Now you cannot say no to air bags. And to many other “features” you may not want in a car. These features are not  necessarilybad. The question is – or ought to be: Can you afford them? Many people cannot. Hence the now-common six-year payment plan. Soon – count on it – to be expanded to seven years.

Then eight. 

Government – the people who run it – have this blind spot about economics. Because for them, economic laws don’t apply. Cost-benefit considerations that normal people must entertain are, at most, abstractions for those who wield political power. That is, people who wield organized violence.

Thus, Obama (or whomever; the particular personage of the Dear Leader at any given moment is incidental)  can simply decree that – for example – all new cars will be able to withstand a rear-impact by a car traveling 40 MPH or be able to barrel roll a dozen times and not have the roof crush, or average 35.5 MPG. Let the engineers figure it out.

And let you and me pay for it.

The giant cartels that produce cars are just as bad. They want money as much as the government wants power. Which is why they now anticipate the next new government mandate – or even trot out “new ideas” (examples include Volvo and its hood air bags – ostensibly to “keep pedestrians safe” – and the current trend, cars that stop themselves automatically) and practically beg the government to make them mandatory.

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