Hammer Time: Cash for Flunkees

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

I admit it. Freebies are awesome. Whether it’s a free portion of dim-sum in exchange for car advice, or a mowed lawn in exchange for storing industrial machinery at my auction holding yard. I relish the word free. To paraphrase Gordon Gecko, “Free is good!” and I’ll gladly Sawyer my way through the daily grind in pursuit of it. But there’s always a catch.

Free has to pass the integrity test. You have to either offer ‘something’ of value in exchange, or you accept the freebie knowing that it won’t end up hurting other folks. If we judge all the bailouts and stimuli done by the federal government we have an epic fail in this regard. The managers of GM and Chrysler have more or less been given a freebie. So have all the pensioners and autoworkers who can now enjoy benefits that were never earned. Politicians? Hometown constituents? Consumers? Suppliers? Dealers? Old School Car Rags? All on the free train. $60 billion plus paid for by the majority of future US citizens. How do you stop it?

Boycott. Yes, I love America and want it to be strong. That’s why I’m going to do the patriotic thing and keep my money far away from activities that inflate the national debt. New car? Nope. I’d rather contribute my money to worthy causes. Like my kid’s education and companies that don’t H1-B their way to profitability. A house? Bought one 13 years ago and tax credits had nothing to do with it. A used car? Well, for me they’re investment assets. But for most of America I guarantee you that cars are essentially die-vestments. For the enthusiast . . . it’s a guilty pleasure. For librarians . . . it’s a transportation module tuned to NPR. So what’s left?

Everything that’s used. A lot that’s new. But in the end it almost always pays to simply keep what you got and fix when needed. The politician may frown at the measly $20 registration fee you pay for the daily beater. But you probably didn’t elect the empty suit or his panderers in the first place. Keep your damn car. Screw the government. As for the rest, invest in quality goods and quality businesses. Either do that or send it to me. For a small one time fee I’ll teach you how to live by spending it on a Hawaiian cruise. I may even send a postcard as a thank-you, which is more than what most Americans will get in the current giveaway.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

More by Steven Lang

Join the conversation
2 of 56 comments
  • Countryboy Countryboy on Aug 05, 2009

    Lot of fretting over a measly 6 day sales event. And I thought ALL that stuff stored at your auction yard was industrial machinery?

  • Greg Locock Greg Locock on Aug 06, 2009

    So, no_slushbox, if you invest money in a company that collapses thirty years (say later), you didn't earn that money in the first place? You might want to think the logic through there.

  • Sobro Needs moar Roots.
  • RHD Questions? None, no, not really. Interested in some random Hyundai? No, not at all. Yawn.
  • Formula m Alfa-Romeo had the great idea to unveil my all time favourite car at the world expo in Montreal. Never built or Sold in North America. The called it the Alfa Romeo Montreal. Never even sold in North America.
  • RHD Nice little car. Give it comfortable seats, price it very competitively and leave the Alfa Romeo script on the grille. We need a smaller, cheaper electric car, and this could be just the thing to bring AR back. Heck, rebrand a variant as a Chrysler, so that potential buyers actually have something to look at in the showroom. Give it a nice long warranty. The wheels are great, hopefully the rest of it will follow through.