Everyone loves the feel, the handling, the smell, and the looks of a brand new car. I had the opportunity to rent just such a noble steed a couple of years ago when I was between vehicles (never saw the guy coming and he totaled my car…) and it was amazing.
The thing had 25 miles on it when I drove it off the lot. It smelled wonderful – new plastic and fabric and cleaning products, with no hints of body sweat, emissions, or bad drive-through food. It had a full options package, and it flowed down the road like a dreamy flying carpet (albeit with less wind). It glistened in any available light like a bright red shiny Christmas bauble.
In short – it did it’s best to try to seduce me to the dark side. If there had been cookies, this might be a different story…
It was kinda sad to return it to the rental place and start driving the 13 year old, dull white (but very serviceable) Mitz I’d selected based on consumer reviews and what the insurance company was willing to pay…But I was mobile, alive, unharmed, and didn’t go into mountains of debt to be so.
I have a decidedly un-Murikan! view on debt – less is miles ahead of more.
Some people aren’t so resilient (OK…I’ll say it…bullheaded) – and get sucked into the black hole of “New Mania” – seduced into buying a new car every 2 years or so – building their debt to the point where they canNOT imagine life without an increasingly large car payment.
Granted, they leave their ‘nothing wrong with it’ trade ins on used car lots sprinkled across every nook & cranny on the globe for the more sensible of us to pick through when we need transportation – but what happened to buying a quality product, and then utilizing it throughout it’s usable life?
Consumerism really irritates me sometimes…
Next, let’s talk about the Government involvement in the automobile industry. I’ve been racking my brain for days trying (and failing) to come up with a bigger tax scam. It’s a HUGE revenue builder for the states. Every time that automobile changes hands, the state gets to collect sales tax. They get to charge licensing fees. They get to charge clean-air fees. I’m sure there are other fees and dues I don’t have to pay, as every state plays by a different set of tax laws.
Every. Single. Time.
There isn’t another common consumer good out there following this scheme. I can go out and buy a recovered bicycle from a police auction, and ride it all over the roads without attracting the attention of the tax man.
I can buy a couch, a bed, a lamp, clothing, jewelry, dishes, yadda… at a rummage sale and not have to offer up sales taxes.
I can buy baked goods in a Church Basement and nosh away without any additional cash required before that first sugary-sweet bite.
Sometimes, I get to barter with only goods changing hands while the tax man froths in impotent rage.
But Motorized transportation? Every Single Sale – public or private – HAS to be recorded, reported, taxes and fees collected. And if the end-user doesn’t want to pony up them dollars, that shiny new toy becomes nothing more exotic than the world’s largest paperweight…with bucket seats.
I wouldn’t recommend parking a Buick on your desk, however…
Why, you may ask, am I grousing about the automobile industry?
I bought the White Wonder around 2 years ago, and there’s nothing wrong with it. The Mitz is a very dependable little set of wheels, and has given me no trouble outside of requiring new tires and regular oil changes. As long as I keep up on the maintenance, it should provide the same dependable service for years yet. I haven’t fallen to the dark side of consumerism (no cookies have been offered…) and I’m not tired of the car.
Unfortunately, I find myself in need of a second car because the kids’ car has croaked out its last exhaust-laden breath.
Seeing though I’m the one that can afford a car…finance a car…and add a second car to my insurance to drop the policy rates on both cars…I’m the one who has to buy the second car.
So the kids are going to give me what they can for the Mitz – and it will be their car even though the paperwork lists it as mine.
Family ties can still trump the tax man 😛
So I’m off to find me a different set of wheels. I shall gird my loins for this dawning test of fortitude upon the battlefield of the used car lot. My opponent – the trickster and his brethren – welcome me into their hazard-filled arena.
I really hope the last guy who sold me a car is doing better. Just last week, he got to weave a basket…