Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Feigning Ignorance

This kind of talk is getting very tiresome:

What's the cost of a clearer social conscience?

It appears to be $3,000 to $5,000, the premium automakers are adding to sticker prices on the current batch of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.

Some people in Detroit no doubt have a hard time believing that an American consumer who's not a tree-hugger would spend that kind of extra cash to save only a few hundred dollars a year in gasoline.
As long as we're amusing ourselves, what's the cost of appeasing psychosexual insecurity? If you buy an SUV, it's about $20,000...not counting the higher owning and operating costs. Evidently, "some people in Detroit" have no trouble believing that American consumers will spend hundreds of extra dollars on gasoline per year in order to drive an unnecessarily large vehicle with serious safety flaws. Can you believe these people actually pay more than they have to for a faulty vehicle? Why, they must be the silliest people on earth!

And while we're at it, what's the cost of impressing one's corporate cronies with a Cartier watch, instead of buying a ten-dollar digital from Walgreen's? About $4,440, if you're pinching your pennies; you could easily spend five times that. And yet, you'll find Cartiers in boardrooms all over the country. What better target for journalistic mockery could there be than these money-squandering herd animals?

Guess what, folks? Consumers don't make buying decisions solely on the basis of price. This has been known for centuries, and even in our degraded educational system some mention of it usually creeps into classes on economics and marketing. I really think it may be time to retire feigned ignorance of the fact as a rhetorical device.

Honestly, as expensive status-symbols go, hybrids barely rate a mention. But of course, what's really bothering all these hack writers is not the extra cost of hybrids, but the mere concept of socially conscious buying, the worthlessness and dishonesty of which is an a priori assumption of American journalism.


Aquaria said...

Well, um, besides the point you made so well is the fact that, if you own the car long enough the fuel-cost savings will probably equal the extra few quatloos paid for it up front. I imagine the insurance for one of these little sweeties is a lot lower than that for an SUV as well.

Phila said...

Yeah, there's that. And there's also the fact that rather than being a "premium" that's arbitrarily "added on" to the price, the higher cost of a hybrid reflects - hold on to your hat - the higher cost of production.

In fact, unless I'm mistaken, some hybrids are actually priced below cost...the logic being that the tech investment + marketing value will pay off down the line.

But there's only so much nonsense one can counteract in the limited venue of the Internets.

Anonymous said...

As long as we're amusing ourselves, what's the cost of appeasing psychosexual insecurity?Brilliant.