An ugly job, but it’s a living

Thank you, Oh Pharaoh, for the gifts you have bestowed upon us.

So, I’m car shopping for more than one vehicle.  With the kids mostly grown and driving themselves places, we no longer need the SUV that was the Princess’ Mom-Taxi.  That’s one car.

And for the same reason I need to buy another vehicle for one of the kids so he can drive himself to school and all his extracurricular stuff (plus off to college next year I hope).   That’s two cars.

While I was working I always had a city car, and so I never even owned a car until the last few years of work when I bought a pickup to take to the ranch.  But driving a F-150 everywhere around town is a pain just on parking issues alone.  I would love to have something small and fuel efficient that’s easy to park.  That’s three cars.

Even though I grew up in and around the car business, and I know the ins and outs of buying and selling cars, I still hate the process.  Mostly because I hate spending money to buy a big hunk of metal and plastic that is a liability rather than an asset.  So it brought a smile to my face when I read how poor August car sales were going.  Sucks to be a dealer or salesman, but I can get behind a buyer’s market when I am a buyer.  Especially when I am a triple buyer and only plan on selling one of the current vehicles.

Except there are some twists and turns to this that are making it a sucky process.

First, I am in the market for three cars, but two of them will be well used cars.

And a bad market for new car sales is not turning into a bad market for used car sales.  All thanks to cash-for-clunkers, or the Car Allowance Rebate System, as the government called it.

Anybody with half a brain knew that cash-for-clunkers was economic idiocy in the making. It didn’t save any jobs, cost the taxpayers billions, was so poorly designed and administered that dealers were dodging participation left and right, and now has raised the cost of used cars thanks to all the good used cars that were destroyed. From the Boston Globe Clunkers a Classic Government Folly.

According to Edmunds.com, a website for car buyers, a three-year-old automobile today will set you back, on average, close to $20,000 — a spike of more than 10 percent since last summer. For some popular models, the increase has been much steeper. In July, a used Cadillac Escalade was going for around $35,000, or nearly 36 percent over last July’s price.

Part of the increased prices for used cars is that the economy sucks so much that people who would normally be buying a new car are now buying used cars because they are afraid they will be the next one to lose their job.

But an even bigger part of the answer is that the supply of used cars is artificially low, because your Uncle Sam decided last year to destroy hundreds of thousands of perfectly good automobiles as part of its hare-brained Car Allowance Rebate System — or, as most of us called it, Cash for Clunkers. That was the program under which the government paid consumers up to $4,500 when they traded in an old car and bought a new one with better gas mileage. The traded-in cars — which had to be in drivable condition to qualify for the rebate — were then demolished: Dealers were required to chemically wreck each car’s engine, and send the car to be crushed or shredded.

This explains why there are almost no decent late model used cars for sale by private owners, and most of what I’m finding on car lots are old lease vehicles that have been dogged to death and have outrageous prices.   I can make a hell of a deal on a new car, if I want to hose off 20% of it in depreciation the second I drive the car off the lot.

It’s time to face reality – the government we have today is comprised of people who don’t have a clue how business works.  This successful program took money from hardworking taxpayers on a budget and pissed it away so the foolish could get a new car at a discount price and government workers could get paid to process the paperwork.

I’m ready for the Great Half White Father Who Camps By The Potomac to stop helping me out so much.  I don’t think I can afford it any more.

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2 responses

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