Whether you drive a $30,000 or a $1,500 a car, one variable in life stays constant.
You want to minimize your costs.
The average owner in North America now spends well over $8,000 a year covering all the costs of their car. Gas, insurance, maintenance, repair, depreciation, taxes, financing… and even the occasional upgrade.
When they can afford it.
That’s one issue that I see as the crux of autos ownership for most folks. The means of ownership. Can they afford what they drive.
The struggling family that goes to a dealership and zeros in on the nearest Cadillac or Mercedes these days is just as culpable for their behavior as the fellow who considers cigarettes to be vegetables, and vegetables to be weeds.
They have an unhealthy destructive habit that is a reflection of a marketplace where the bad choices are just as easily available as the good ones.
Forget about big brother. This is overwhelmingly a matter of personal decisions. We can make it out to be as fair or unjust as we like. But in the end, there is a bluntness to all of it that can’t be denied.
On one side of the fence, we realize the Darwinian aspects of it all. People who make bad decisions face consequences. This is an outcome that is healthy for an economy because it extinguishes the unhealthy activities, and encourages the good ones… in due time.
But sometimes you also see the elements of a rigged game. The manipulative capitalize on the weaker elements of human nature. While the ones victimized often don’t know any better and continue to do worse.
After decades of looking at this learned victimization, you can’t help but wonder whether millions of people have been brought up to not live beyond a certain level of struggle and mediocrity. Even if they tried to get ahead, the scourges of debt and dependency would lead them to poverty because they simply don’t know what they need to know.
That’s the issue I have at this point. A lot of folks believe that ignorance and an arrogant attitude go hand in hand. In extreme cases they do. But when it comes to cars, ignorance is born more out of fear and apathy than anything else.
So how do you minimize the cost of owning a car? $8,000+ represents an awful lot of waste and opportunity. A lot of incremental improvements in the ownership experience could yield a better standard of living for an awful lot of folks.
Where should be the focus?
Should education and hands on experience be the primary drivers? Or should engineering and design be the driving forces that minimize cost?
I believe that the common person is simply taught to be ignorant when it comes to automobiles. They have other things to do with their lives. That’s not a big deal when you think about it, because the same level of apathy is true with most other tools and appliances.
A school teacher may get a better financial boost from learning how to repair cars, dishwashers, cell phones, and roofs. But society gets a far greater benefit from letting them teach instead of changing a timing belt.
We need teachers. Not timing belts.
So how can the market forces highlighted in that drawing above better serve the financial needs of an overwhelmingly apathetic public?