By on June 20, 2012
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In much of the undeveloped world, wealth and poverty have a permanence for individuals.  The governments own or subsidize the most lucrative businesses. Access to credit and capital is scant for the average citizen. Food resources are a priority, and higher education is often times solely for the wealthy and well-connected.

It’s hard to build a good life when corruption, bribery, and the ‘thug mentality’ are a big part of daily life. Arab Springs, Civil Wars, Fascisms of every stripe. The aftermath of allying with all these dictatorships and other criminal organizations is a culture that preys on weakness.

What does this have to do with cars? Everything and then some, sad to say. Let me introduce you to two groups that epitomize everything I see in this business as a car dealer here in the United States.

The folks of Bricklynn and Civitown have a lot in common. They are both American towns of similar size and demographics. Both are known for their exuberant nature and funny unique accents.

Both towns have schools, colleges, similar legal foundations, and even similar beliefs about the importance of a good work ethic in pursuing their version of the American dream.

Bricklynn and Civitown are also as different as night and day in every other respect. You name it. It’s different. From the way they treat each other, to the way they make their decisions.

The Bricklynites enjoy a low-stress lifestyle when it comes to car ownership. While the Civis are constantly having to endure a wide variety of nasty behaviors that make their vehicles a source of constant sorrow and hardship.

So let’s start with the beauty that is Bricklynn… and the beastly process of funding their roads.

“In Bricklynn, everyone gets treated the same… No exceptions!”

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So says the Mayor of Bricklynn, Bertie Schmidt. Everyone in Bricklynn pays a flat title tax, equivalent to a sales tax,  for whatever new or used vehicle they purchase based on the year, make and model.

A flat license renewal fee is also paid with no exclusions or discounts. Everyone pays the same amount for their license. No exceptions!

There is no exemption for seniors, students, or even a distant 3rd cousin. You want to drive the vehicle on Bricklynn roads? Fine. Just please pay a flat amount, which everyone else pays, that is indexed to the actual cost of maintaining the transportation infrastructure. That information, along with the bids submitted by various construction firms, can be found online where all Bricklynn expenditures are made public, written in simple Bricklynn-ese.

Motorcyclists pay the same fees. Adult bicyclists pay a flat annual fee.  There are no free-riders in Bricklynn and consequently, no overtaxed segment of the population with limited political power.

“In Civitiown, it’s the squeaky wheels that get the grease.”

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Annual Christmas Party: Civitown USA

So says the Mayor of Civitown, Boesky Kilpatrick. About half the residents of Civitown have some type of exemption or discount that benefits their special interest.

For instance, the government allows many of their employees to drive the city’s vehicles for non-government business, free of charge. No fees. Free gas. Free car. They call it a ‘perk’. While in Bricklynn, it’s a felony.

A lot of folks get discounts and exemptions, even though they are supposed to be equal. Seniors pay less. Students pay less. Even friends and relatives of those with connections pay less thanks to chronic graft and bribery.

The entitlement mentality stretches to every corner of life and consequently, the government of Civitown has become a reflection of the corrupt and predatory society for which it serves. Those citizens that do pay their taxes, pay a stiff premium that is subjectively applied by the tax collection system that has been put in place.

Civitown has each of their vehicles evaluated for ‘condition’ by a few chosen private businesses, approved by the local governmet, that will inspect the vehicle every year for a fee.

The inspection is done to make sure the vehicle can stay on the road, and to determine the overall amount of the annual ad valorem tax. A process that combines the objectivity of a book, and the subjectivity of the vehicle’s current condition.

Although it’s not acknowledged, many folks in Civitown will simply pay a ‘gratuity’ to one of these businesses in exchange for a lower tax. The few saps that don’t provide this inducement, simply pay through the nose.

Sales taxes are also collected. But those are far, far lower than in Bricklynn. Since a surprising number of cars in Civitown sell for such little money… on paper.

Tomorrow we’ll cover speed limits, and how they are applied and enforced in both cultures. But for now, let me ask all of you a question.

“Do you consider your neck of the woods to be like Bricklynn? Or Civitown?”

I’ve seen both in my travels. How about you?

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91 Comments on “Hammer Time: A Tale Of Two Car Cultures...”


  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Why didn’t you just say “Chicago” instead of Civitown? Afraid Rahm will come after you?

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Oh, please. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Chicago and Illinois have flat rates for all motor vehicles licensing, no vehicle inspections save IL EPA pollution checks in major metro areas, and no personal property tax. The only vehicles untouched are bicycles, and I’ve never heard of a govt body that taxes those.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Actually the name of the mayor of “Civitown” is a thinly veiled reference to former Detroit Mayor Kwayme Kilpatrick. He makes most corrupt politicians blush that they weren’t as bold has him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwame_Kilpatrick

        FYI Detroit city employees used their vehicles pretty much in the way described by Steve.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “Chicago and Illinois have flat rates for all…”

        That’s not entirely true. The mandatory city sticker is $50 more expensive if you have a heavy vehicle – like a large SUV or a Honda minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Chicago Dude, yes, there are variable rates for licensing at both the city and state level based on vehicle size/type. But there’s no way to bribe your way into a lower rate as suggested in Steve’s example. However, now that I think about it I believe that there are senior discounts at the state level.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      With all of the corruption and lack of rule of law I thought Steven was talking about Phoenix and Joe Arpaio. We will have to ask Steven to clarify whether real estate in Civictown is still very valuable, or cannot be given away.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        It’s a thousand different places and a thousand different people.

        Boesky Kilpatrick is the model of a mayor that represents the worst of public graft and private greed.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Definitely, I didn’t really think you were talking about Phoenix, I just wanted to refute the assumption that you were talking about Chicago. Kilpatrick’s Detroit is a very unique example of mass exodus leaving nobody to care about the city. But generally I see the worst corruption where the population is not politically active/does not care about politics, where there isn’t strong, independent media, or where (and this is a problem in Chicago, but also in many conservative areas) one party dominates politics.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        “[o]r where (and this is a problem in Chicago, but also in many conservative areas) one party dominates politics.”

        Just to expand on this further, people whine about negative political ads. But the threat of a legitimate rival broadcasting (technically negative) ads about the incumbent’s Escalade during the next election cycle is all that is keeping many mayors from pulling a Kilpatrick.

  • avatar
    jco

    although it’s not explicit, the combination of terrible weather, bad roads, and gridlock’d congestion combine to ruin the cars of the citizens of ‘Civitown’. that probably costs more in both direct and indirect costs than any stated tax.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    “It’s hard to build a good life when corruption, bribery, and the ‘thug mentality’ are a big part of daily life.”

    Yup, and that explains why Americans are finding it harder to achieve the good life in recent years.

  • avatar
    tomaxhawk

    Boesky Kilpatrick!!! Love the corruption name reference mash-up. City Council members of Civitown include Milken Skilling, Madoff Blankfein and Gupta Liddy.
    I think I live somewhere between both towns. In Ontario is seems like the ownership of vehicles is a target for nickel and dime taxation in the form of various fees etc. However, the vehicles on the road seem to bee reasonably safe and maintained. If we all decided to suddenly adopt mass transit and forgo vehicle ownership and operation, we would suddenly face new fees and increases for using public transit. Its all about the money and thats the way things work.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure that Michael Milkin, who as far as I can tell has lived an exemplary life since his legal difficulties, belongs in that group. Boesky was a gonif for sure but Milkin may have gotten in the way of ambitious prosecutors.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    In my area its a set price for car tabs, and then higher prices based on gross weight for taxes. You have to pay sales tax on transferring a title, and if they don’t believe the price they will use KBB to set the price. No inspections or emissions, just don’t get pulled over. Now certain cities have higher rates, usually to pay for mass transit. You just register the vehicle at a different address, and your all good. The only real exceptions are the classic vehicle plates, pay 67 bucks and thats it forever.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I really don’t get what you’re (ahem) driving at here. I’ve never lived in (nor heard of) a city that charges for automobile use. I do know that in some states, individual counties can have a sales or property tax on a vehicle.

    There certainly are differences by state. States have rights (see what I did there?) to collect revenues and pay for roads in whatever fashion they see fit. States also have the right to determine if the overall well-being of the populace calls for an annual safety inspection.

    So what? That’s the nature of the federal system. In general, there are states where it’s more expensive to live, and states where it is less so. As Americans, we have the freedom of movement which allows us to live wherever we see fit.

    But, having lived in 5 states, I have *never* factored in the cost of owning and operating a vehicle in deciding where to live. Overall, it is a tiny part of the equation.

    That being said, no matter what the rules are, fair or not, certain individuals will deem them as unfair. In Nevada, where I live, registration fees can be high (based on the cars’ perceived depreciated value) for high-end cars. Some rich people register their cars at their “vacation homes” in neighboring states. Yes, that’s technically illegal but the instances of prosecution are rare and few. That will never change. The rich get perks like that.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      When you pay for a license plate, you are paying for the right to use that vehicle on public roads.

      In many states, they use a sticker with an expiration date to attach onto the license plate. Before it expires, you have to renew it.

      Hope this helps…

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        I get that. Operating a vehicle is not a right. It’s a privilege. So, states charge for it as they see fit, generally with an annual fee. Some are higher, some are lower. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

      • 0 avatar
        Duncan

        The costs of vehicle ownership and use get more skewed when states start applying overlapping incentives and deterrents. In Oregon the state gave out tax credits for buying hybrid cars, then immediately started testing GPS trackers that monitor miles driven, regions driven in and times driven. The claim was that highly efficient hybrids were skirting the gasoline tax by being too efficient and weren’t paying their fair share, also, drivers in a congested area during rush hour should pay more than drivers in off hours or remote locations.

        My read of the article was that simple straight forward laws give a better playing field than convoluted laws. If I could control Oregon’s vehicle taxation I’d raise gas taxes and lower vehicle registration costs if I wanted to encourage more efficient cars and I’d do the opposite if I thought efficient cars were getting too much of a free ride. I don’t want to buy a GPS tracker that will report back to the man when and where I’m driving to offset a highway funding shortfall that was created by incentives paid on hybrids diesels and electrics.

      • 0 avatar
        Downtown Dan

        “Operating a vehicle is not a right. It’s a privilege.”

        Eggsalad– I have no beef with your argument whatsoever, I’m just ranting re: the widespread use of that phrase. My home state (MD) DMV repeatedly stresses this point, but I’ve always struggled to find justification for it. Is driving a car is a privilege? Motorcycle? Scooter? Bicycle? Rollerblades? What about walking? Not sure where they find the legal or logical basis for it.

        It’s my right to own a car, and it’s my right to drive it on roads that I paid for through taxes and tolls. Sure, driving may be a right that takes proper skill to exercise, and it is restricted to those with the proper qualifications (similar to voting or owning real estate, come to think of it), but it’s still a right. To me, it would be as absurd as the HUD saying “Homeownership is not a right, it’s a privilege.”

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      Irrelevant, but London charges for car use, and I don’t think it’s alone.

      • 0 avatar
        silverkris

        Yes. Singapore is such a place as well. It’s expensive to buy one due to high tariffs, registration fees and taxes; then for usage, every vehicle is fitted with a transponder for Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) that calculates road usage.

        So a car in Singapore will probably cost 3-4x to own than an equivalent model in North America.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      The point here is that a flat tax and no-vehicle-inspection-or-regulation-whatsoever is naturally correct, an example of utopian paradise, and conversely any sort of progressive tax or any regulation whatsoever is both the cause and result of a festering den of corruption where fat cats are lining their pockets at your expense.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        Yes, flat fees would be more fair.

        Unless they are high. The rich folk will still register their cars at their “vacation home” in the next state over, where it’s cheaper.

        Come to Las Vegas and witness all the high-end cars registered in Utah.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Naturally correct if you want unsafe cars driving on unsafe roads.

        If you hate America and Europe, move to that libertarian paradise, Somalia. Libertarians hate and hurt America more than Al Queda.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        One of the big points of this article was summed up this way.

        “Everyone gets treated the same… No exceptions!”

        Regulations, inspections, and progressive taxation can arguably be instituted within that framework.

        For example safety regulations, such as seat belt laws and crash protection standards, can be applied so long as everyone plays by the same rules.

        My issue is with ‘freeloaders’. When you institute a system where there are too many special interests and opportunities to skirt the laws, you end up with a broken system that overtaxes the honest citizens and rewards the unethical ones.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Somalia is not a libertarian paradise, and anyone who says that it is obviously knows very little about libertarians or Somalia.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Somalia is to Libertarianism what the USSR was to Communism.

        Not at all what the idealists behind each ideology have in mind, but the closest that they will ever get in practice.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ……..My issue is with ‘freeloaders’. When you institute a system where there are too many special interests and opportunities to skirt the laws, you end up with a broken system that overtaxes the honest citizens and rewards the unethical ones…..

        I couldn’t agree more. The reality is that if everybody paid uniformly for social services, the average person would pay quite a bit less. Not only is this a good idea for road usage, it is a great idea for federal taxation. Just think how easy filing taxes would be. Fork over 20% of your pay and you are done. And think how full the coffers would be. No more GE legally paying zero in taxes last year.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      +1

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    My home, Gainesville FL, truly wants to be C-town. There is no aspect of driving, construction, or business they don’t want to control/profit from. So far they haven’t succeeded, but not for lack of trying.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    California.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    this article is treading into perilously deep political waters. Speaking as someone who actually is an expert on infastructure and infastructure costs, (and not a used car dealer) turn back now before this gets ugly to the point of losing any relevance.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      We’re TTAC, not the WWE.

      If you can shed some light on the issues in the article, feel free.

      • 0 avatar
        Sundowner

        You’re TTAC, but you are outside your area of expertise. You frame a world where everyone pays the same to use a road and call it fair, but you have what I’d call a very limited private user’s grasp of how infastructure operates. Roads and bridges are subjected to loads of varying density (traffic volume) and intensity (vehicle weight). To make everyone pay the same to use the roads means that 50 ton commercial trucks that log 100k miles per year pay the same a used Honda civic that logs 10k per year. The difference in fatigue effect on something like a bridge just in a single pass is exponentia between the two vehicles. The truck can cause 50 times as much damage in daily use compared to the civic. Why should the civic owner use pay the same user rate for the road as the truck? it’s not ‘fair’. don’t tell me you’d prorate the yearly fee, becuase now you’re going down your ‘corrupt’ road of giving out special favors.

        And then there’s traffic. Rush hour sucks, and it’s usually longer than an hour. A typical well-designed road can handle 2000 vehicles per hour per lane. If everyone commutes at the same time, the road capacity gets used up and traffic stops. More lanes need to be built. The way you have it set-up, even those who roads at off-peak hours have to chip-in to fix a problem created by other drivers. Is that ‘fair’? Offer a discount to drive at off-peak hours and people will take it, and it will save everyone money if the road doesn’t have to be rebuilt.

        And your idea about a transparent infastructure bidding system? It already exists. Pretty much any infastructure owner posts every competitive constructon and professional services bid. Most of them are online. Are there those who don’t? sure. but you’re never going ot get 100% compliance for any rule. Unless you’re the TBTA, then you put an armed cop at every toll booth to make sure patrons pay-up.

        Your idea of flat-taxing every bike in town? good luck enforcing that. You’ll spend more money on pensioned cops chasing bikes than you’ll ever get from the bikes. Want to make a real bang for your buck? get the bikes off the road and put them on a dedicated dirt path that’s free. A defined bike lane is 10′ wide. minimum car lane width is… 10′ wide. you can move more people around more cheaply if that 10′ width is used for cars. Bridges cost about $250-$400/sf to build. Dirt paths cost about $8/Sf. Even if the road users pay for the dirt bike path out-of-pocket, the total cost to them still goes down becuase they get back the rest of the road width for thier own use.

        Your utopic idea sounds great on the surface, but reality is messy, and sometimes you have to skip over a nickel to save a dollar. To make a blanket statement that everyone has to pay a nickel is too simplistic and won’t hold up to good policy making decisions. I don’t blame you for trying, modern politics is all about reducing complex problems to simplistic soundbies to win elections, and that’s what’s been crammed down your ears all fo your adult life. It’s not about good policy anymore (maybe it never was). the “flat tax” idea is not always fair. The “everybody seems to get a break” is not always unfair.

        IF you want an informed discussion about infastructure, then pay me to write about it, just like everyone else does.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        I actually wrote a follow-up to a few of the concerns. But somehow it ended up in that purgatory of posts that never make it online.

        You can have a progressive tax system, emissions, inspections, and graduated fee structure that still live up to the ‘everybody gets treated the same’ maxim.

        My issue, is with exemptions and special exceptions given to folks for no good reason. Also a sound system should minimize the ‘free rider’ issue while keeping the funding process fair and simple.

        I don’t see anything that is rocket science here.

        Trucks can obviously be assessed by their weight and the type of vehicle that it is. We shouldn’t expect any vehicle that inflicts a lot more damage to the infrastructure than an automobile to be treated the same way.

        As for bicycles, I have to respectfully disagree with you. If Amish horse and buggies in Pennsylvania and other states have tags for their vehicles, then a bicycle that is provided with a paved public road should at least pay a reasonable fee to have a small license plate as well.

        We may not be talking about a treasure trove of funding. But at least those who use the paved bike paths on public roads can contribute at least a little bit for what they actually use.

        I’m not a proponent of a ‘one time’ flat tax system for all infrastructure issues related to vehicles. Taxing gasoline is one way to address much of the issue regarding one person’s increased usage of the roads over another. But that’s done on a state level for the most part.

        No system will be perfect for everyone. The main issue that I put up in this article is not about taxation, but integrity. It’s about two types of cultures that exist in varying degrees in the United States, and how those belief systems that are a product of those cultures, have an effect on all things automotive.

        Hope this helps.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Sundowner represents exactly what is wrong with our political process today: things cannot be made more simple and fair to all users because…that would be simple and fair. Of course, that would also eliminate a lot of the need for transportation “experts” like Sundowner.

        The arrogance of writing a post to warn people not to discuss his area of “expertise,” then after being invited to explain his reasoning Sundowner demands payment for further explanation of his views…I have a feeling he may work for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

      • 0 avatar
        Sundowner

        Steve,

        I don’t disagree with your dislike of special favors for those who don’t merit them, but now you’re mixing your metaphors. Tiered and/or progressive user fees are not corruption by definition, and whether you meant it or not, the structure of your post framed them as such.

        Gas taxes used to be the fairest and cleanest way to invoke a user tax. They don’t work anymore. Cars continually get more efficient and use less and less gas. The gas tax has not been touched since (I believe) 1993, two decades ago. On a percentage of gas unit cost, it’s gone down tremendously, and on an inflation basis, its gone down tremendously. Regardless, it’s a pointless debate, since the ability to fairly charge road users fees via a gas tax can’t be a long term solution. Cars like the Prius and the Volt and the Tesla and Fisker may be niche vehicles now, but when even the most pedestrian economy cars now boast 40 mpg on the highway, it’s hard to make up the loss. Federal gas tax is about $0.184/gallon, State gas taxes vary, but for the most part, $0.40-$0.50 is a good rule-of-thumb range. It’s now possible to drive on a US highway for about a penny a mile. It’s never been that cheap to use a road. At current construction costs (which have either been flat or slightly in decline for the better part of the past decade) it costs about $0.05/mile user cost to maintain any decently sized roadway facility, and I’m not even talking about the big ticket major bridge crossings, which are completely different issue in maintenance.

        Your point about a flat user fee is not as simple as you’d hope. It sounds easy ,but it’s not once you try to implement it. Say everyone pays $100/yr for a road user tax. Where does that money go? Who dispenses it for use and spending? Who gets priority on the money? does someone in East Texas spend $100 to fix a highway in West Texas that they never see? Why have people who only use small local 2 lane blacktop that costs next to nothing to maintain for an expected 20 year life and have them pay for a 10 lane super highway that costs million just to operate every year? Why is someone who drives 20k miles a year in a Hummer paying the same as someone driving 5k a year in a Prius? Who decides what cars get taxed at different rates? Think that the OEM’s won’t try to put their two cents in on that? You will spend more time in political fights for limited funds than you will in infastructure management.

        The ‘fairest’ way to charge for a road user tax is to bill people based on the miles they drive. A gas tax used to indirectly do this, but ‘cheaters’ like the hybrids and the electrics skip this collection mechanism. So what do you do now? put a transponder linked to the odometer in every car? charge people a miles-used tax at the yearly inspection? There’s no clean answer yet. But right now revenue is falling short of need, and states /fed are covering the difference with bond borrowing. It can’t last.

        Your point about bikes is understood, but it doesn’t change the cost/benefit relationship. You will still spend more money on chasing bikes than you collect in taxing them. Is it fair? probably not, bit it is realistic. The Amish comparison isn’t exactly fair because you’re talking about a different mode of transportation that must share a full lane with a car and must have certain automotive safety and operating features to interact with those cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        My apologies if you viewed my rant as anti-progressive taxation being inherently corrupt.

        I never considered the type of taxation to be the primary issue. You provided a lot of good points and I think your argument is very convincing.

        All the best!

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        “Sundowner represents exactly what is wrong with our political process today: things cannot be made more simple and fair to all users because…that would be simple and fair. Of course, that would also eliminate a lot of the need for transportation “experts” like Sundowner.

        The arrogance of writing a post to warn people not to discuss his area of “expertise,” then after being invited to explain his reasoning Sundowner demands payment for further explanation of his views…I have a feeling he may work for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.”

        To be fair, while he did appeal to an “argument from authority” (which is actually a weak form of argument), he then backed it up with some well developed claims and thoughtful observations (showing he wasn’t just blowing smoke). I actually think we could use more of these kind of critical, detailed, thoughtful posts.

  • avatar
    George B

    My home city Plano, Texas is closer to Bricklynn than Civitown, but there are some problem areas related to dispersion of responsibility/blame.

    First, there is the issue of what government to complain to when roads are inadequate. Funding in mostly from excise taxes on fuel with about half going directly to the state of Texas and half going to Washington DC, through congress, and back. Why not assign 100% of the excise tax and 100% of the blame to the state? Better yet, pass a Texas constitutional amendment to assign all fuel tax revenue to road construction and maintenance with no diversion to other uses.

    The second issue is the weird combination of fuel tax funded roads and toll roads with poor coordination between agencies. Every morning I have to deal with the NTTA’s 6 lane President George Bush Turnpike traffic getting funneled into one lane to connect to the TXDOT’s 8 lane US-75. Would be better if there were two lanes carrying the connecting traffic, but one agency or the other didn’t put in enough concrete and it’s not obvious where to direct complaints.

    The third issue is there are two basically flat but separate per vehicle fees for vehicle registration and vehicle inspection. Why not combine these tax collection events and their separate stickers together to save time and administrative manpower? There is no reason to buy registration if you can’t pass inspection and no reason to buy inspection without registration.

    Fourth, we also have red light cameras with revenue-enhancing short yellow times for left turn and stop bars painted a well back from the intersection. Who do I try to get fired for these sleazy tactics to create more violations?

  • avatar
    skor

    “In much of the undeveloped world, wealth and poverty have a permanence for individuals.”

    Class ascendancy—namely that each successive generation will have a higher standard of living than its predecessor—is a central theme in American literature and culture and plays a key role in the American dream. While social class in the United States is thought to be largely based on achievement, “social mobility is relatively low in the United States”,[39] and climbing the social ladder is more difficult for those born into less advantageous positions.[5][13]

    Occupation (perhaps the most important class component), educational attainment, and income can be increased through a lifetime. However, factors such as wealth inheritance and local education system—which often provides lower quality education to those in poor school districts[40]—may make rising out of poverty a challenge. Class mobility in the United States decreased between the 1970s and the 1990s.[41]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_class_in_the_United_States#Class_mobility

    “Access to credit and capital is scant for the average citizen.”

    I’m sure credit is easy to get for everyone in the US……I mean the concept of “red lining” was developed in the Soviet Union, right?

    “Food resources are a priority, and higher education is often times solely for the wealthy and well-connected.”

    Yup, in the US, the poor spend the bulk of their income on housing and food. The US is also the only country on the planet were you can have private health insurance, get sick AND END UP BANKRUPT ANYWAY. I know more than one person that’s happened to. As for education, you’re so right. Why all those poor Chinese students are leaving university with $100K student loans.

    “It’s hard to build a good life when corruption, bribery, and the ‘thug mentality’ are a big part of daily life. Arab Springs, Civil Wars, Fascisms of every stripe.”

    I can tell you’ve never been to New Jersey.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The decline in class mobility is largely the result of births to single mothers. It is further reinforced by the tendency of high-earning women to choose high-earning men as mates, “romcom” fantasies to the contrary.

      These two trends, taken together, have a profound effect on a child’s chances regarding success in school, along with success in life.

      And, yes, credit is available to all citizens in the United States. What varies is the interest rate citizens will pay for that credit. “Red-lining” hasn’t been a problem for at least the last 35 years.

      And New Jersey is hardly a libertarian, let alone a conservative Republican, paradise. Good grief, this is the state with the political establishment that nearly had a nervous breakdown over abandoning the 55 mph speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        “The decline in class mobility is largely the result of births to single mothers.”

        Since this is obviously an empirical claim, do you have any reliable sources/studies to back this up?

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Here is an article discussing this phenomenon: http://www.city-journal.org/2012/22_2_family-breakdown.html

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010″ pretty well validates geebers claim.

        If you graduate from high school, get a job, and wait to have children until you get married your chances of having a stable middle class life are actually pretty good. Since these are choices individuals can generally make it is actually pretty hopeful. Unfortunately lots of people make the wrong choices and poverty is almost guaranteed.

        For further reading: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba428 by the National Center for Policy Analysis, “How Not to be Poor.”

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        I’ve read the article and see a lot of problems with many of the conclusions that are drawn there. For example, the article suggests that the rise of single mothers in the 1960s was a turning point in upward mobility, claiming that a family had greater income when the father was working. This raises a number of questions:

        1) As the author notes, prior to the ‘single mother’ revolution (which I must confess to thinking a very strange category in the first place), men brought home the bacon. But in these earlier times, women tended to stay home (as ‘housewives’) while men worked. In effect, these were single-income families, so the rise of single mothers doesn’t seem to explain the mobility issues, since both are still single-income families. This might have something to do with the fact that men tended (and still tend) to have higher paying jobs than women (hence the issue or equal work, equal pay, regardless of gender). The main difference between single mothers and married families now, of course, is that both parents tend to work, and it’s to be expected that a two-income family will have a higher overall income than a single-income family. In this case, it’s not the single mothers that are the problem, but the fact that families now need two incomes instead of one to maintain mobility (a sharp contrast with the period prior to the rise of ‘single mothers’ where a single-income–typically the father’s–was enough).

        2. The author cites the fact that high-earning women tend to choose high-earning men as another cause of mobility problems. But this doesn’t address the underlying issue of why women tended to have lower incomes than men in the first place (and so tended, statistically, to marry-up). It is likely the fact that women didn’t tend to occupy positions of higher income that made so many of them seem to ‘marry up’ (either because they didn’t have access to such positions, or because they weren’t being paid on the same scale as men for equivalent work). So the ‘marry across’ vs. ‘marry up’ phenomenon many not be the cause of any problem, but more a symptom of a host of other problems that the author fails to address.

        3. Why isn’t there any focused discussion on the negligent role of the father in single-mother families. Not only are many single-mother families the result of negligence on the part of the father, but the lower incomes of single mother families compared to double parent, two-income families may simply be a function of the fact that the father in the single-mother family is not contributing to the welfare of the children, making the mother bear all of the responsibility and weight of raising the children. Why isn’t the category called ‘fatherless children’ rather than ‘single-mothers’? The fact that the categories created here focus on the role of women as ‘single mothers’ and as ‘marrying-across’ raises a number of alarms, none of which are adequately explained or addressed in the article (to justify why the author chose to focus on these categories in particular while ignoring a host other equally important, if not more important considerations).

        In all honesty, this article strikes me as more ideologically-driven rather than an objective and fair-minded examination of the complex social, economic, and political phenomenon of mobility. It strikes me that the author has a particular axe to grind (regarding the ‘decline’ of the nuclear family) and is targeting single mothers and women in general as the scapegoat for the issue of mobility in general. In this case, the ideology is disguised by the explicit use of numbers and statistics, thereby appealing to the commonly accepted notion that any claims that are accompanied by statistics and numbers must be sanctioned by the authority of mathematics and science. But as the old saying goes, even the devil can cite scripture to support his claims, so the mere use of statistics is not sufficient grounds for guaranteeing the ‘scientific’ authority of one’s claims if the statistics themselves are the product of an ideologically-driven manner of framing one’s ‘problem.’

  • avatar
    Pch101

    You’ve got some apples and oranges comparisons going on here.

    I’m frankly not sure what you’re trying to argue, other than that it seems that you want an ad valorem registration fee (which is pretty much what we already have in the US) and that you don’t like vehicle inspections. That’s all fair enough, but you’ve made a few rhetorical leaps in the process that don’t quite mesh.

  • avatar
    ccd2

    There are a bunch of concepts mixed into this article. One is the conflict between a flat tax applied to everyone with no exceptions which economists consider the most efficient tax, but also the most regressive in the sense that rich pay the same as the poor. A graduated tax may be more egalitarian in the sense that people who can afford to pay more are taxed more, but then you get into the inefficiencies of working out the taxes, the loop holes, etc. Then there is the concept of using taxes to change human behavior. Subsidies for EVs, fast lanes for people who have 2 or more people in their cars, etc. None of this is necessarily corrupt, though applied in practice may favor groups that need no advantages given them

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      In MN we have a pretty efficient and yet progressive system. Car registrations are based on the value of the car — as in the sale price, and then a depreciation schedule. A brand new BMW is going to cost more to register than a used Crown Vic. Once a car reaches a certain age, its all the same. In neither case is the registration especially high, but the rich pay more than the poor. Is that fair? Are the poor getting a free ride? Well, yes, to an extent. It’s definitely a case of each according to their means, rather than based on actual cost of services used (in that case they’d need to take vehicle weight into consideration — SUVs damage the road surface more than hatchbacks). Regardless, it’s not a system you can game particularly much, it’s not corrupt or inefficient, it’s just progressive, and it’s the system we chose up here, and it seems to work. Demonizing parables may not apply.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “SUVs damage the road surface more than hatchbacks”

        I don’t believe that’s correct. Semi trucks pulling trailers do considerable damage to roads, but I don’t think SUVs are heavy enough to produce wear that is anymore meaningful than the wear produced by a regular passenger car.

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        Minnesota huh? Not to mention great roads. Roads are generally smooth and well maintained, unlike some other states. Plus great snow maintenance. That makes people more willing to pay taxes.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        Living in MN the progressive car registration system weighs seriously into my consideration of buying a new vehicle. Not that I couldn’t afford the extra $500 or $1000, but it has to be factored into the total purchase, along with sales tax and insurance and all those other things not on the window sticker. Is this a good system?

        Well this has made me postpone a large purchase for quite some time. Since the registration fee is highest when new I’ve bought used to “buy” depreciation of this fee. Am I just cheap, maybe, but I can’t think this is an overall benefit to the state. Hey, I’m all for a progressive system but I’d structure it more flat for vehicles under $50k and single registrations. Multiple vehicles and luxury vehicles, sure, sock it to ‘em.

      • 0 avatar
        ccd1

        One of the often suggested reforms for the current federal tax system is to switch from our current arcane system to a consumption based tax. The idea is that people pay taxes for consuming, so if you want to live “large” you pay “large” in taxes. Maybe not perfect, but better than what we have now.

        Your MN car registration tax is a good example of this. An expensive car is going to cost you more, regardless of your economic status. Living large will cost, whether you can afford it or not. Not a bad approach

  • avatar
    lahru

    I register my car and get a set of plates and as long as i have insurance on my car i am allowed to use certain roads with just my license plates. Certain roads that i might want to travel on might have a toll on them and i must make a choice between 2 routes, one included in the price of my plates and one that is not. This is a choice I make.

    I think that at the federal level all americans are treated equally under the law and at the state level we are treated differently and should I not like the state laws in my home state, well i must suck it up and put up with them because “I” cna’t change them and once “we” don’t like them it is still an uphill battle to change them so …….

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I don’t even see how this can be considered a view of ‘car culture’ in the first place. I was expecting an enthusiast versus hypermilers, old/young or foreign/domestic (probably the same thing as old/young) comparison, not an overly simplistic libertarian (again, kind of the same thing) parable.

    Does Georgia have some kind of graduated registration fee based on the age of the car like Colorado? When I lived there I had a fifteen year old car that cost $65 to register each year, while a new car was north of $300. As for inspections, in Colorado a lot of the pickups you see towing other pickups on a rope at 70mph down I25 probably should be checked out as a 2X4 is not a substitute for a bumper outside of a Little Abner cartoon.

    Oddly enough, I’ve been paying a flat $89 to register my car in Chicago for over ten years, though this year it’s up to $99. I was able to avoid the city sticker for many years until the clerk somehow got access to state registration records and began sending me notices. That’s up $10 as well. Now that the car’s over five years old the only ‘inspection’ is an ODBII check.

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    I can’t see much point in this article. It is a Rorschach test where people read in their own bias views based upon their political ideology.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Interesting point…

      It takes a meaning to catch a meaning.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “It is a Rorschach test”

      I don’t see that here. A Rorschach requires a judgment call on the part of the viewer.

      Here, we are coached. We are told that B-town is Very Good and C-town is Very Very Bad. It’s made abundantly clear that we are supposed to prefer B (because Good is better than Bad), and that there would be something horribly wrong with anyone who would like C.

      The problem here is that some of the features are not diametrically opposed. I really don’t see the connection between a vehicle inspection process and a registration fee, for example. All I know is that the author likes to say that the things that he likes are Good and that the things that he dislikes are Bad.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Somalia is what a nation without regulation looks like. Actually the term “libertarian paradise” is a fantasy since any time libertarianism is tried out it quickly devolves into anarchy or totalitarianism. The real opposite of bad regalation is good regulation not no regulation.

    People killed by unsafe cars, roads and laws cannot redress their grievances through lawsuits or bad reviews on the internet.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Somalia is the Wild West. It is disordered in a way that could be described as anarchy, not libertarianism. As I understand, “libertarianism” generally argues for the preservation of liberties, not simply a free-for-all.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Somalia is without a doubt not what Libertarians want. But there are no examples in history of a Libertarian society functioning. And a strong argument can be made that Somalia is what ultra-Libertarian policies would end up creating. Just like the Communist ideal of distribution based on need and social relations based on freely associated individuals led to some pigs being (much) more equal than other under the brutal and socially isolated USSR regime.

        That said, Ron Paul is awesome and a huge asset to the US political process. The fact that he has principles, even though they are principles that I object to the full realization of, means that he holds consistent policy views instead of bending his views to fit special interests. Unlike some other Republicans, e.g. Jerry W. Tillman, who care more about appeasing their business donors than about consistently reducing regulation (this is actually on point with regard to vehicle inspections):

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/05/22/north_carolina_saves_jobs_by_maintaining_inefficient_hassles.html

        With regard to getting rid of North Carolina vehicle inspections for new cars, Jerry W. Tillman said:

        “I know a lot of people who do this, and they sell some gas on the side, but most of their profit comes from these inspections,” Tillman said. “We have 7,500 small businesses that do these inspections.”

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Now without the cut offs:

        Somalia is without a doubt not what Libertarians want. But there are no examples in history of a Libertarian society functioning. And a strong argument can be made that Somalia is what ultra-Libertarian policies would end up creating. Just like the Communist ideal of distribution based on need and social relations based on freely associated individuals led to some pigs being (much) more equal than other under the brutal and socially isolated USSR regime.

        That said, Ron Paul is awesome and a huge asset to the US political process. The fact that he has principles, even though they are principles that I object to the full realization of, means that he holds consistent policy views instead of bending his views to fit special interests. Unlike some other Republicans, e.g. Jerry W. Tillman, who care more about appeasing their business donors than about consistently reducing regulation (this is actually on point with regard to vehicle inspections):

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012
        /05/22/north_carolina_saves_jobs_by_maintai
        ning_inefficient_hassles.html

        With regard to getting rid of North Carolina vehicle inspections for new cars, Jerry W. Tillman said:

        “I know a lot of people who do this, and they sell some gas on the side, but most of their profit comes from these inspections,” Tillman said. “We have 7,500 small businesses that do these inspections.”

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        We can argue until we’re blue in the face about what Liberatianism, Libralism, Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, and heck even what a true Theocracy looks like. But this is akin to the rambling arguement many of us in the B&B had a few days ago over religious symbolism.

        These government ideologies maybe one thing in theory but are something all together different in reality. Yes I am a registered member of the Libertarian Party of New Mexico, but that doesn’t mean I want anarchy, simply a sharply reduced role of the government in our lives.

        As for forms of government, let fools contest. For the government which governs the least, governs the best.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ……..As for forms of government, let fools contest. For the government which governs the least, governs the best…..

        That would be true if you are a libertarian. But reality proves otherwise. While good intentions may become perverted by the political process, the simple fact is that regulation (government intervention) mostly takes place because the marketplace usually focuses on one thing: making money. Which is what you would expect any business to do. Fair enough. But what if a given product imparts a heavy cost to society, even if it does provide an essential service? Auto safety would be the classic example to study. Left to it’s own devices, carmakers did not bother with safety, with the possible exception of Volvo. In my opinion, this is an example of good government taking charge to save lives and change expectations. Today safety is almost a given, and safety stats now help sell cars. The regulations are almost irrelevant now, as few buyers would consider a lesser protected car. I say “almost” because there are buyers who might choose an much less safe car to “save” some money. This would never have happened without government intervention. Same goes for emission equipment…just imagine the horrible stink of a traffic jam with uncontrolled cars. I would argue that careful governmental intervention is solidly on the plus side of the equation. Now this does not come cheap; a new car without safety features and emission controls would likely be several thousand dollars cheaper. But the long term costs – higher death and injury rates, lost wages, illness due to smog, etc – far outstrip the initial costs. And none of that would have happened on its own…

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        There can be no Libertarian paradise because it doesn’t work at all, never has, never will. The Soviet Union wasn’t the opposite of Somalia. Somalia produces nothing but pirates and an American libertarian government will only produce pirates as well, different kind of pirates, but yes, real pirates. The Soviet Union actually made things, some of them great, such as the AK47 popular assault weapon, Sputnik, Mir, Olympic athletes, vodka, etc. Today Communist Cubans enjoy better healthcare and longer lives than average Americans that live in the so-called “red states”. BTW, France does healthcare really well. Taiwan copied Canada’s system
        , not ours. Nobody copies ours except third world countries.
        It’s ironic that many on the right embrace the market like it’s a science such as physics. But it’s not, it’s just as contrived as anything belief system invented by man. Anything that can be fixed will be fixed. The ironic part is that more and more on the right, don’t believe in actual science!

        Ron Paul is a hypocrite who accepts Social Security and whose former campaign manager died without health insurance after running up a huge hospital bill at the public’s expense.

        BTW, I am a car dealer and next week I have to buy back a car because it takes over 6 weeks to get a duplicate title from the great state of Alabama because they are so underfunded.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Somalia is what a nation run by several tribal warlords looks like. There are “regulations” (or, more accurately, laws) in Somalia. They tend to be enforced at gunpoint by the warlord who happens to be the strongest in that particular area at that particular moment. Which means that they can vary from month to month, or region to region. That is not a libertarian paradise.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    If cars existed in 1776 I’m sure the Constitution would have made reference to a right of travel unimpeded by government. Since the first car rolled down the dirt roads Authority has seen them as a necessary item for the masses while creating an entire industry to support their use. No one denies the need to raise funds to fix roads, built new bridges, and maintain infrastructure. But funds are siphoned off to other projects and even so, enough general revenue exists to maintain roads without the “special funds” from vehicle use.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “If cars existed in 1776 I’m sure the Constitution would have made reference to a right of travel unimpeded by government.”

      As there wasn’t a Constitution until 1789, I sort of doubt that.

      But the first toll roads were built in the 1790′s, when George Washington was president. The founders weren’t averse to making people pay to use the roads.

      “But funds are siphoned off to other projects”

      I hope that you’re not suggesting that fuel taxes are sufficient to cover the costs of roads, because they aren’t.

      “enough general revenue exists to maintain roads without the “special funds” from vehicle use.”

      If that was true, then governments wouldn’t be operating with deficits. The US federal government certainly spends more than it takes in.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    “Just please pay a flat amount, which everyone else pays, that is indexed to the actual cost of maintaining the transportation infrastructure. [...] There are no free-riders in Bricklynn and consequently, no overtaxed segment of the population with limited political power.”

    On the contrary, a flat fee creates free-riders. No senior discount, you say? Then Grandma who drives half a mile to the grocery store twice a week is subsidizing the construction worker whose F-350 is actually creating the potholes in the first place.

    The only way to create true parity would be to tax by the pound-mile.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      “The only way to…”

      The set of all statements expressing this sentiment is most probably mutually exclusive from the set of meaningful statements. Nothing is certain.

  • avatar
    dartman

    Welfare States….Red State/Blue State

    Per Federal Tax Dollar Paid, How Many do states get back? (From Tax Foundation)

    New Mexico $2.03
    Mississippi $2.02
    Alaska $1.84
    Louisiana $1.78
    West Virginia $1.76
    North Dakota $1.68
    Alabama $1.66
    South Dakota $1.53
    Kentucky $1.51
    Virginia $1.51
    Montana $1.47
    Hawaii $1.44
    Maine $1.41
    Arkansas $1.41
    Oklahoma $1.36
    South Carolina $1.35
    Missouri $1.32
    Maryland $1.30
    Tennessee $1.27
    Idaho $1.21
    Arizona $1.19
    Kansas $1.12
    Wyoming $1.11
    Iowa $1.10
    Nebraska $1.10
    Vermont $1.08
    North Carolina $1.08
    Pennsylvania $1.07
    Utah $1.07 29
    Indiana $1.05
    Ohio $1.05
    Georgia $1.01
    Rhode Island $1.00
    Florida $0.97
    Texas $0.94
    Oregon $0.93
    Michigan $0.92
    Washington $0.88
    Wisconsin $0.86
    Massachusetts $0.82
    Colorado $0.81
    New York $0.79
    California $0.78
    Delaware $0.77
    Illinois $0.75
    Minnesota $0.72
    New Hampshire $0.71
    Connecticut $0.69
    Nevada $0.65
    New Jersey $0.61

    There are few places more expensive, but when it comes to cars and culture?…Cali wins hands down–no contest.

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      I don’t think this list is relevant to the discussion. A lot of the federal money going back to states never trickles down to roads and highways. It makes sense that a low income, high poverty state would get more federal money. Also, all the states that get back less than $1.00 are disporpotionally the states with most major corporate HQ’s.

      It is interesting to note that basically 17 states provide subsudy to the other 33. But when it comes to roads, I’ve driven through NM and NJ and aside from congestion I would say NJ roads are as good or better than NM.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      “States” don’t pay federal taxes. Individuals and businesses located within those states do.

      If you are concerned about this imbalance, then campaign for lower federal taxes, as most of the higher earners are located in “blue” states. This will result in a tax cut for these individuals and businesses. It will not, however, result in more money for the “blue” states.

    • 0 avatar
      jetcal1

      D/man,
      Just curious, how is this calculated? Mississippi has some ship building contracts and Alaskan Natives get federal contracts also from the DoD. In each case services or products are being rendered.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    TAXES BUY CIVILIZATION. Pay up or get out!

    Flat Tax is not FAIR TAX.

    TTAC has gone the way of FOX, right wing opinion thinly disguised as journalism. TOO DAMN BAD, TTAC was a great site at one time.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      try HuffPo, your style and rhetoric will fit right in, and you wont lower the average poster IQ . . . At least not by much.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      More taxes don’t necessarily buy more civilization.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      “TAXES BUY CIVILIZATION. Pay up or get out!” That’s pretty much the point. Everyone enjoys the benefits of civiliazation, everyone should contribute by paying taxes. The flat tax may not be the answer— But, when folks can choose to tax “other” people for their own personal benefit–that hardly seems fair either–and beyond unfair–it is highly coruptive.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    If there is one thing that drives me nuts about American politics, it is the desire to speak in generalities and not get into the specifics of policy and its consequences. For example, people like to talk about smaller/less government when the discussion should be about effective government and a frank and open discussion about the areas where gov’t should be involved in our lives and where it should not. The choices are often not simple. Harking back to colonial days only serves to hide to complexities behind the curtains of a much simpler age.

    Good example is car safety. Gov’t regulations requiring improvements in car safety have saved countless lives. I doubt many would argue against requiring seat belts or air bags in cars. The difficult question is how much “safety” do cars need and how much should we pay for it. Do we really need backup cameras in all cars? Should lane departure systems become standard? Should your car be checking to see if you are falling asleep? And what about the cost since many of these systems do not necessarily add “value” to cars that customers would otherwise willingly pay for??? Big versus small government does not begin to address these issues. The devil is in the details.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Since vehicle inspection was brought up may I suggest someone do an article on vehicle inspection and accident rates. I’ve lived in a state that requires inspections, and one that does not. It would be interesting to see if the inspections are actually reducing accident rates.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Another issue no one has mentioned (at least from a quick skim) is the redundancy of regulations. The EU and the US both regulate car safety. My guess is that the differences between the two probably do not add much in the way of scientifically verifiable safety. So why not have the US adopt the EU rules???

    One advantage for the small gov’t group would be a slightly smaller gov’t with less gov’t expense. The big advantage to the US economy would be freeing car makers to make cars here for the EU market, one of the few places in the world where our labor rates are actually less than the home market (EU).

    Want a non-auto example? Restrict NASA to non-manned space flight and join in with the EU for manned space flight. Reason? Unmanned space missions are relatively cheap and yield a ton of scientific data while manned space flights are horribly expensive and yield far less scientific data. Using this approach, you would get more science out of NASA at a lower cost with a smaller agency. This is my idea of smaller government.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “So why not have the US adopt the EU rules???”

      Why not the other way around???

      • 0 avatar
        ccd1

        Easy. The EU gets stuck with the costs of regulation, not the US. Just read the advantages that I listed in my comment. Furthermore, the US has no control over making the EU adopt US rules, but the US should consider adopting EU rules if it is to the advantage of the US.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Just read the advantages that I listed in my comment.”

        I didn’t see any real world advantages on your list.

        The US is not much of a car exporter, particularly to Europe. Europe still has a fairly high tariff (10%), and more importantly, such a divergent taste in cars that there is little place for US mainstream cars on European roads. There is a reason why Ford and GM both set up shop in Europe very early in the game, and didn’t bother trying to make too many “world cars.”

        Countries, including EU members, use standards in order to protect their markets. The current rules that make grey imports a near-impossibility in the US were created at the behest of Detroit and Mercedes. Nobody is in a hurry to harmonize them, and there really isn’t much reason to hurry.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    To everyone who wants lower taxes, try living in a low tax state first. My home state of Alabama has the lowest total tax burden of any state in the union. Lets look at Alabama closely. Last or near last in all the things that make a place nice to live in. Education and health care are at the bottom. Infant mortality, fat citizens, stupid citizens, all near the top. The education thing also relates to racism and bigotry of all types. Jewish, Catholic, not welcome in Alabama. There was a comment that higher taxes do not equal more civilization. That may be true, but there is a point below which civilization collapses without money to operate. That point is near in several southern states. If there is no money, prisons close, police are fired, firemen are fired, society collapses. Wait and see.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I live in California, where we pay the highest or second highest taxes in the country. A season doesn’t go by without our politicians threatening to fire all the firemen, teachers, and police while emptying the prisons.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        @CJinSD: Yes, but that’s merely the Washington Monument strategy being applied to a gullible public. The California public sector isn’t exactly operating on a shoestring budget these days.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Correlation is not causation. All you’re telling us is that you’re a self-loathing Southerner.

      Also, you may not have noticed, but your deep blue paradises are hotbeds of casual anti-Semitism, and faithful Catholics aren’t welcome much of anywhere lately.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Do I detect the ghost of the founder here, playing Devil’s advocate?


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