Once you’re “too big to fail,” you’re on Easy Street.
I’ve written previously about the add-on cost of government-mandated “safety” equipment such as multiple air bags and (most recently) stability control, tire pressure monitors and (soon) back-up cameras and (very possibly) in-car Breathalyzers, too.
It’s hard to pin down the exact per vehicle cost of these things — chiefly because they’re not listed as individual options but rather folded into the “base price” of the vehicle — but a reasonable estimate is probably around $2,500 or so at the point of sale (this naturally includes mark-up).
But the aspect I’ve not written about is the opportunity cost imposed by these mandates. The stifling effect, in other words, on what-might-have-been.
And also, the probable fact that the major car companies are happy about both of these costs — the additional built-in profit-per-car as well as the stifling effect.
As the nattily dressed hitman in Pulp Fiction put it, allow me to elucidate:
Let’s say you are a bright backyard engineer — maybe even an actual engineer. You like to design things and one day hit upon the notion that maybe your design for a new car would be something people might be interested in. That you could do it better or less expensively or just more interestingly than the established players in the field.
Sixty-odd years ago, a guy named Preston Tucker had such an idea. So, like Tucker, you get to working in the garage out back. The project begins to come together and as word spreads, you discover that yep, there are people interested in what you’re doing.
Unfortunately, some of those people are employees of the government.
Specifically, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. They will swoop in with turgid — and then threatening — demands that you sell no cars to the public (no matter how much the public may want those cars) until those cars have complied with every line-item regulation in their repertoire of regulations and codes. Oh, and not just that. Even if by some miracle your new car produces less pollution than a new Prius — even if it is more crashworthy than a new Mercedes S-Class — you will still be required to demonstrate it to their satisfaction. Which, if you’re not familiar with the way a car company complies with federal ukases, involves (for example) destroying dozens of brand-new cars in various types of crash tests to placate Uncle Sam’s minions.
And who can afford to destroy a dozen perfectly good brand-new cars? A major automaker can — but not you.
This one thing alone likely will (and in fact does) constitute a crippling obstacle that will make it economically impossible for you to sell your new car to the public. Even if, like the ‘48 Tucker, your car is actually more advanced and innovative than the cars being sold by the majors.
Maybe you’ve figured out a way to cut the weight down to 1,600 pounds by using a spaceframe and lightweight composites — and so the car gets 80 MPG. Maybe you found out, after doing some surveys of potential customers, that a simple, light, fuel-efficient car was very much desired. One that didn’t come with $2,500 (or more) worth of government-mandated “safety” equipment but which did cost $2,500 less than a car with those items. So you decided to try to build it — knowing they (the buyers) would come.
Instead, the government came.
First you’d be shut down; probably fined — then possibly jailed. If you declined to pay the fine or (much worse) had the insolence to continue building cars the public — vs. the government — actually wanted to buy as opposed to forcing you to build.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?