"Essentials" On Cars

by Don Boudreaux on April 24, 2008

in Standard of Living

I like this post by Carpe Diem’s Mark Perry.  Pay special attention to the table (toward the bottom of his post) that he reproduces from USA Today.  It presents yet more evidence that ordinary Americans are not stagnating economically.

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Brad Hutchings April 24, 2008 at 5:48 pm

I agree with the 4.2% of Americans who don't want an AM/FM/CD player in their car. The last new car I bought, I fell for the premium sound system scam and I'd feel guilty 7 years later plucking the Mach sound system out of my Mustang GT and replace it with a nice Alpine system that accepts flash drives and iPods. Never again!

David Graf April 24, 2008 at 10:54 pm

Hmmm…stagnation might be a desirable alternative compared to the way gas prices and energy costs and the cost of food are taking an increasing large bite out of our wallets.

FreedomLover April 24, 2008 at 11:06 pm

Americans want their standard of living to increase astronomically every single year, or they will blame any Republican around. That's just how it works.

Gil April 25, 2008 at 2:13 am

Cup Holders = 75.2%, Leather Seats = 39.3%

save_the_rustbelt April 25, 2008 at 8:16 am

Perry is amusing.

He sits in Flint and writes about how swell the economy is doing. :) )

Too bad he didn't have the chops to get a job at the real UM campus. Maybe he should have picked a better grad program. :) ))

His analysis of the auto market may have missed that 5 and 6 year new car loans are common, and that it is very difficult to find a new car that does not have most of the options (a manufacturing issue as much as a marketing issue).

Mathieu Bedard April 25, 2008 at 8:53 am


How is that relevant to this chart?

Gamut April 25, 2008 at 8:59 am

And, save_the_rustbelt, you're right. Everyone knows that it's from the halls of U of M that the state of the economy can only properly be judged.

Plus, you missed the point of the chart. These are things BUYERS consider essential, not manufacturers. And I have the perfect counterpoint in my driveway; Cost me $3200, no leather, no heated seats, and the crappiest cup holder known to man (but I consider A/C essential, so I splurged). You can always find what you're looking for in this market, it's just that most people are looking for more than what they can get for $3k, so they get a loan — their call.

John Dewey April 25, 2008 at 10:37 am

David Graf: "Hmmm…stagnation might be a desirable alternative compared to the way gas prices and energy costs and the cost of food are taking an increasing large bite out of our wallets."

So how would stagnation – as opposed to profit-seeking research and innovation – solve the problem of scarcity?

save_the_rustbelt April 25, 2008 at 1:18 pm

The auto makers spend a lot of money making things essential.

Plus, since most of the units on the lot have the options packages anyway, it is tough to find a "plain jane" vehicle.

When we get used to things they seem to become essential.

David Graf April 25, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Note to John Dewey:

If by stagnation, one means that things remain the same, then that would be a preferable situation to prices going up and up. Nothing more than that.

The Dirty Mac April 25, 2008 at 10:46 pm

"When we get used to things they seem to become essential."

Air conditioning is the biggest corporate scam of the last fifty years. When I was a kid, we just loved getting into the car on a nice hot August day.

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