The Wisdom of the Car Buying Masses

Just when I thought it was safe to cancel my Strib subscription, they surprise me and put something on the front page that actually 1) contains information that I care about; 2) contains information that elucidates a larger story; and 3) nudges at least one piece of television-like spot news dreck out of the paper. (Actually, I’m only guessing about point number 3.)

Today, there was a good piece by Dee DePass about the slump in car buying in the Twin Cities. It seems new car and truck buying was down 14.5 percent last year. Used car sales were also down—by 12 percent.

Of course, these were sales by dealers, and if there’s one thing we should have learned over the past few years is that we don’t need dealers anymore of almost any type. We have the internet, and sites like Carsoup and Craig’s List, make it a lot easier to sell your car yourself and cut out the dealer’s commission.

So, perhaps the numbers are a little skewed, but a table accompanying the story gives some detail that is relevant. (Sorry if you read the story online. The table wasn’t attached to the online version of the story. Is there a worse web site in the world than the Strib’s?)

The table showed basically that the sales of American brands are down, for the most part, 15 to 20 percent. On the other hand, Toyotas, Hondas, Volkswagens, and other efficient foreign models were up. Not down less than Americans. Their sales were actually higher.

Is there anything to be inferred from this? I’m going to go out on a limb and say Americans have wised up way faster than their automobile company executives and noticed that gas prices are rising and are making adjustments such as buying smaller more efficient cars.

This is a roundabout way of getting to presidential politics. Recently, both Hillary Clinton and John McCain have called for a temporary reduction of the gas tax. Because of course, we want to do everything we can to encourage Americans to drive more, take no responsibility either on the personal or political front for the idiocy of our national energy policy, and just keep paying out to our pals in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

This at the same time as they laughingly call for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It just gets funnier.