Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Only Semi-Political Today

So the fiancee and I bought a new car last night. Solid little car, 32+ mpg, and an American car to boot. 0% financing for 60 months is a very good thing - anyone able to divine the model yet?

But that's not what I really wanted to discuss, though it is certainly a very exciting event to buy our first really-new (50 miles on the odometer) car. The salesmen we dealt with were solid people, knowledgeable and not overly pushy. But they told us, while haggling with us over the final price, that the profit margin on these small cars is already so slim that it was difficult for them to give us a couple hundred dollars off. The market and her forces make for a fickle mistress indeed. It's the big gas-guzzlers that make the car companies larger profit margins, therefore they make them because that's what people buy.

Until now, when an Explorer is standing in the showroom marked at $12,000 under sticker price. Perhaps gas prices have finally begun to get to us. In any case, this isn't really a partisan issue, though it has been and will again be used as one. At the national level, Democrats have advocated gas price relief, which doesn't solve anything in the long term, and Republicans have advocated continuing to dump money into the pockets of oil companies and the Middle East cartels. At the local level, we must advocate policies that A) provide market incentives for individuals to seek fuel-efficient cars, which will in turn force car companies to innovate and lower their production costs in building these smaller cars, and B) keep more of the end-user costs in the community instead of ExxonMobil coffers.

This is not an anti-corporate screed - businesses, even large ones, have the right to do business and make a profit. But the profits being realized by Big Oil, as a partial result of enormous federal tax breaks, do nothing for the common good. Nothing. Raising the state gas tax would increase market forces pushing for more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicles and keep a higher percentage of a community's gas costs in that community. It makes sense to me.

Maybe that came out more overtly political than it started. Thoughts? Hit up those comments.

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