You have to borrow money to drive a car; Kunstlercast 249 and the Waste Economy

If you don’t have a car, people think you’re a wino.

#249 — JHK chats with Steve Ludlum of the blog about the contemporary economy as a waste engine. We venture into dark and distant corners of the economic story, including population overshoot, the potential for social disorder, and the role of gold and silver as currencies.
The KunstlerCast music is “Adam and Ali’s Waltz” from the recording Waiting to Fly by Mike and Ali Vass.


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14 Responses to You have to borrow money to drive a car; Kunstlercast 249 and the Waste Economy

  1. Stary Wylk says:

    You don’t have to borrow money to buy a car. You can save a couple of thousand if you’re frugal. Most of the expensive cars are impractical: too low to the ground, burn too much fuel, facilitate stupidity.
    You do have to shop, though.

  2. David Reynolds says:

    Well we have a jeep and a truck. The jeep is a 1993. I bought it second-hand for cash. I put $300 into it each year. The truck is newer but still second-hand. We’ll see how maintenance is on it as time goes on. This includes tires which we never buy new. This doesn’t include gasoline but overall the jeep was definitely a good buy. As the guy points out in Kunstler’s podcast, we have built a society where the car is necessary. Wendell Berry, who probably hates cars as much as I do, said that he tried to figure out how he could live without a car and he decided there was no way. Well, there is no way that Americans can do without cars with their current economic and social system. There is no way…with the current economic and social system.

    • Maureen Martin, Aryan Street says:

      You are fortunate with your jeep. I have a car around the same age and I’ve put a lot of money into it this year.

      On another note, a lot of used cars went off the market during “cash for clunkers” so there is less availability of used cars.

      I DO agree though that saving for a car is best.

      • David Reynolds says:

        Of course, the way to look at it is how does it prorate. Some years I have put 600 dollars in the jeep and then it’s been two or three years before I have to put some more. A chick-magnet it ain’t. But a car is a means of getting from point A to point B. I’m reminded of once watching Paul Kangas on TV (that’s another thing we don’t like or believe in or have anymore). You know he was quite wealthy and while being interviewed he showed up in a years old plymouth. When asked about it he said that if you buy a new car you have to drive it at least 10 years before it begins to pay for itself.
        I’m sure I’m looked down on by a lot of folks where I work (they all drive the newest and most expensive cars they can afford). But I really don’t care. It’s stupid to buy new when you can look for a good deal, pay a garage 50 dollars to look it over for you to see if there are any major problems, then once you paid it off everything else is gravy.

      • Maureen Martin, Aryan Street says:

        I’m totally with you on that David. Unfortunately, I have put a LOT of money into my old car and now the transmission AND brakes need work. The trans is going to be more than the car is worth to fix so I’m thinking of starting over with a 10 year old car. 🙂

  3. RobRoySimmons says:

    Cars are one of the rackets placed about our necks. At least in this country you can still drive a used piece of crap. In South Africa the best I can tell that is frowned upon, though they have one advantage their trucking fleet looks like it is in great shape.

  4. Haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but Murka decided to go car-crazy back in the 50’s… from the Interstate system (and their government-funded “maintenence” workers), to the consolidation of UAW and their political stooges, there was a lobby entrenched to ensure that private transportation was “the thing.” On top of that, the states discovered they could reap a bounty of transportation-related revenue, so they see it as their best interests financially to have as many drivers on the road.

    The biggest factor may media sensationalism. From the beginning, film and TV, and to a lesser extent, pop music, did everything it could to glamorize cars; the fancier the car, the better. The Corvette, while a solid piece of engineering, is more famous for the songs and film dedicated to it. SUV’s suffered the same ball-washing in the late-90’s/early-00’s. (As a side note, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that gas prices had their greatest spike during and after the entrenchment of gas-guzzling SUV’s.)

    • Mr. Rational says:

      (As a side note, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that gas prices had their greatest spike during and after the entrenchment of gas-guzzling SUV’s.)

      This was engineered by Bush/Cheney with the 2001 “guzzler tax credit”.  You had doctors and real-estate agents buying Hummers just to write off the whole purchase in the first year, then the damned things burned 2x the gas of the vehicles they replaced for the rest of their lives (thankfully, coming to an end).

      Go electric.  It’s the best way to stick it to ’em.

  5. Peter Blood says:

    Kunstler, though, never connects that people moved to the suburbs to get away from the hell-holes that cities were becoming–and still are–under the workings of his tribe. And so now he rails against us.

  6. Ryu says:

    I’ve heard that the next generation thinks cars are a hurdle, a hinderance. They don’t view them as something desireable to have.

    • Maureen Martin, Aryan Street says:

      Interesting. But even as dumb as some people think youngsters are, when half their paycheck or more goes into a new or even used vehicle payment, they can do the math.

  7. David Reynolds says:

    Yeah, Maureen, sometimes you just have to get out of a bad machine. I’ve had one or two. The best thing is to get what you can out of it and go with something else. The advantage of the jeep is that I still have people ask to buy it. It’s a classic or something. Once again, it’s a way to get from point A to point B. I’m hoping that the truck, being a utility vehicle even when it’s old and ratty will still have some value beyond scrap. Can you imagine anyone buying a 30 year old Neon? Yet these kinds of cars are what most people will go for. Even more stylish cars just don’t hold their value…a consequence of the marketing developed in the 1930s and planned obsolescence. Modern cars are much, much better now than they were say in the 70s. But we’re still trading them in on a regular basis.

  8. Peter Blood says:

    Whatever you buy, make sure it was something popular. That way there is a large market for parts, so they’re easy to find. And you’ll find more of them in junkyards.

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