Weekly Roundup: Calling What Now? Edition

Karen Carpenter’s voice was a constant background noise in my youth, which explains why I didn’t conceive a genuine respect for her until my thirties. She had a tough life; after being shoved into the spotlight by an ambitious brother and a borderline mother, she fell into a truly bad marriage and ended up starving herself to death. The genuine pathos of Karen’s existence makes the sunny optimism of her music just that much more upsetting. I don’t think there was anyone less “cool” in the self-conscious Seventies and Eighties than Karen Carpenter. When she succumbed to anorexia, my local rock station played “We’ve Only Just Begun” with the DJ cutting in to moan “TO DIEEEEEEEE…” at the (in)appropriate time. Along with disco, the Carpenters found themselves relegated to less-than-human status in the Guns-N’-Roses-fueled rearview mirror.

Unlike disco, the Carpenters didn’t get a modern rehab. They’re just too “white” and this is an era where “whiteness” is commonly considered to be a malignant force. They were also capable of making some genuinely odd musical choices. “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft” is perhaps the oddest. It was expensive and complex to record, and as with much of the Carpenters’ output it was driven by the desires of the brother, not the sister. Yet there’s something remarkably charming in retrospect about the idea of being so optimistic that you couldn’t imagine anything but a positive outcome from First Contact. Think of this song as a musical version of Iain M. Banks’ Culture books; a love song to the ultimate Other, performed by a woman who was her own mortal enemy.

This week, for Hagerty, I covered unattainable cheap cars and SCCA Time Trials.

45 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Calling What Now? Edition”

  1. Avatarpaul pellico

    i am emotionally drawn to this story as i very much enjoyed the two, i was not that knowledge of the brother’s powerful drive.
    and currently, i am trying to help a beautiful niece who is following the very same path.
    gifted veterinarian, yet down to bone even though she consumes massive amounts of my cooking.
    trying hard to follow all failed medical interventions, but the seemingly impenetrable wall of pain or mind brokenness, i can not get through.
    denial is powerful.
    when the chemistry is wrong in the mind, without the quick and correct fix, this seems daunting.

    thanks for the story…trailertrash

    Reply
  2. AvatarFred Lee

    What’s the monthly payment on a $10K car vs a $16K car, especially when spread over 5 years. Not much different. Would college students of america be better off with $6K less of debt? Probably (assuming that $10K car is actually as reliable as a Civic). But for the iPhone- and Starbucks-consuming “poor” of America, it’s worth an extra $50/month to treat themselves. After all, don’t they deserve it??

    I read the article about the TT.. Maybe I’m mis-understanding but you get three runs per day, and they aren’t even a full loop of the track? This is why I’ve never auto-crossed. I guess if one’s in it purely for the competition aspect it might be interesting, but a track-day seems like you get so much more driving…

    Reply
  3. Avatarsgeffe

    As was usual for the music in the ‘70s, half the time you couldn’t make out all the words! (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band‘s “Blinded By The Light” being the best example!)

    As far as I could tell between those songs, who knew that “crap” (not “craft”) could be used on the radio, and that someone could be wrapped up like a feminine-hygiene product in something! 😱

    Reply
  4. AvatarNoID

    I’m clearly from a different generation, but that song title immediately made me think of Clutch.

    Regarding unattainable cheap cars, sign me up. I love cars and, my job requires me to pour an inexcusable amount of passion into designing and engineering the pursuits of the vain (and occasionally skilled) automotive enthusiast, but my commute is definitely worthy of such appliances.

    For a minute there a few years back I was optimistic that FCA would gobble up Mitsubishi, and I could in turn gobble up a badge-engineered Dodge Mirage for at or under $15k, but this turned out to be a pipe dream.

    Reply
  5. AvatarNoID

    Regarding these new attempts to get new people into performance driving, these articles you keep publishing are whetting my appetite. I don’t see myself doing SCCA Time Trials anytime soon as I’m not licensed and can’t jump through those hoops now with my schedule what it is, but I am trying to get to Gingerman for a Track Night in America this year. Not sure if I’m going to bring my jalopy (it would probably pass inspection…) or see if a trusted friend will let me borrow theirs (Track night insurance for the win!) but I definitely want to get on the track. I got a taste of track driving as a member of the engineering support team at a media event, and…

    I
    WANT
    MORE

    Reply
    • AvatarRobert

      Track night in America is a screaming bargain. I just did my 3rd one on April 10 at Harris Hill raceway bear Austin TX. Just do it!

      Also, getting a time trials license is trivial. From https://timetrials.scca.com/pages/driver-eligibility

      “The SCCA Time Trials Novice License may be issued to any eligible member of the SCCA and is for those who have participated in zero or very few competitive events on track. It is recommended that passing for these drivers is only by point-by, and only on the longest straights of a track.

      Time Trials Novice License Eligibility Requirements:

      Weekend or Full Membership of the SCCA.
      Valid government-issued driver’s license.”

      Reply
  6. AvatarJustPassinThru

    The Carpenters. The favorite of grandmas everywhere. In the end it happened because Karen was fundamentally unsuited to the life that opened up. Neither very bright nor well-educated, and passing time as a drummer-girl in her brother’s band…she emerged as the star, for one single trait. Her singular contralto, elusive of a pillow-talk voice, coupled to a reasonably-comely fresh face…instant stardom and appeal to older demographics.

    She wasn’t equipped. Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus…they were paragons of mental health, compared to the pressure heaped on Karen Carpenter. And the brother…seemingly contemptuous of his lesser sister, who also had the limelight…was gonna do it his way.

    HE got off lucky. Just a bad trip down detox. SHE…had the bad luck to be born with a body not in fashion. In the era of Twiggy, Karen had the pear shape. Broad in the hips and backside. Nothing wrong with it – unless you’re a lonely, disturbed young woman who’s been living in a traveling-band cocoon since high school.

    It wasn’t my kind of music then (I was age 12 to 24) but I can easier accept it now, compared to the cacophony that’s ground out today by rap “artists.”

    Hagerty: I have little to say of Third World cars – since I gave up my dream, 15 years ago, of sneaking a new Type I VW in from Mexico. Not practical then and less so now that even Mexican VWs are approaching antique status.

    But the Apple model should be expanded on. Today’s young corporate whizzes want to focus on MARKETING. They’re UNINTERESTED in the hard work of engineering, securing plant equipment, or manufacturing product. They wanna do the FUN stuff.

    And they’re helped in that decision by various regulatory decrees, that force specific wages, waste controls, energy use limits, property taxes, other fees, taxes, obligations. Some of which will not exist until long after the plant is cranking out product. Who needs it? Contract out the product, let a quasi-government operation make it in a place where labor is treated worse than abused equipment, and just have marketing blitzes.

    So much for socially-conscious labor and environmental laws. Inevitably, they result in the opposite of their stated aim.

    Reply
    • Avatardejal

      Whether pushed, dragged, browbeat, weak willed or willing accomplice, you make your own hell. And when you are in your own hell, the best that people around you can do is try to get you to acknowledge it and to change your hell.

      No one can make you do anything. K.C. was the only one who could escape her hell.

      Been there, done that and even then I know hell is just out of sight behind me.

      Reply
      • AvatarJustPassinThru

        I can’t agree with that. We’ve all watched child stars melt down…everyone from Britney to Miley to Judy Garland, to Jodie Foster – who didn’t self-destruct, but emerged a twisted person. And of course Michael Jackson, who was a case of arrested development.

        And Karen…from what I remember, she was just a big kid. Not that bright, immature, sheltered, no real personality beyond her singing. Point I’m making is, she had no PERSPECTIVE. And perspective is what someone needs to escape a hell.

        Prisoners of war are sometimes able to resist the brainwashing and make a break. But children trafficked as prostitutes, seldom are. They have no perspective.

        Nor Karen. She knew no other life and could see no other way. So she cracked, with a fantasy body image, and starved herself to death.

        Who could have saved her? Nobody, probably. There was no one in her life or family equipped to give needed support. But she certainly couldn’t have “saved herself.” Her half-hearted attempts led to an exploitative marriage and an ineffective therapist.

        Reply
        • Avatardejal

          That’s what I’m saying. The best someone can do is persuade you to change the situation. Short of locking K.C. up and sticking a feeding tube down her throat there’s no other way. She wants to have to change the situation.

          My sisters nephew ODed and died in January. His mom had Narcaned him once in December. In and out of treatment for 6+ years, Had an assault conviction over a young lady a few years previous. Got probation for it. His mother said that maybe jail time would have been the best thing that could have happened to him. Maybe while he was in something about this issue would have stuck. But, he was an adult. Mom is in her 60s. What was she supposed to do? How was she supposed to save him? He knew the deal. A near death experience didn’t click with him. Having multiple counselors try to get through to him didn’t click. Living as a bus boy and dishwasher in Philadelphia working under the table didn’t click with him. He hung out in the Kensington section of that city. From what I understand that section of town is a hellhole for drugs and ODing. That didn’t click for him. That’s why I say only K.C could only save herself. All the best anyone else can do is assist the person to save themself, no one can do it if you are uncooperative.

          If there was an infinite amount of time maybe people who die from not changing their situation would find the thing that clicks. Unfortunately there is not a infinite amount of time, nor in many cases an infinite amount of money.

          Reply
  7. AvatarWheeTwelve

    The idea of low-priced cars brings back memories.

    When I started college, I was given a mid-70s Buick that was in a pretty good condition. Well, except for the lack of a working A/C. Windows had to be cranked, the doors had to be manually locked, and the one-speaker AM-only radio had to go. But that wasn’t the worst of it. No, the worst of it was that the car had been sitting for a few years, and by then was roughly 20 years old. It left me stranded a few times, and just about every school holiday it was on jack stands while I repaired, or replaced one thing or another. Parts weren’t expensive, but they still cost real money to someone working basically a minimum-wage job. And working on the car meant not working on that paying job. My favorite was when the humid weather made the points stick.

    Between my second and third year I received a small grant. I spent it on a brand-new Geo Metro, priced around $8k. I think it was a Suzuki Swift elsewhere in the world. The windows were still hand-cranked, and the doors still had to be locked manually. But there was a working A/C, and an acceptable cassette player. Downsizing from a 350 V-8 to a 1L 3-cyl meant I “gave up” 11-14 mpg for 48-55 mpg. The insurance was higher, but the improved mileage, not having to buy new parts, and having free time for more work hours easily offset that.

    I’ve often wondered how long I would have kept driving that Metro, had it not been rear-ended and totaled. It wasn’t a great car, but everything on it worked, and it was perfectly reliable. I don’t know where it was assembled, though.

    Reply
  8. AvatarJustPassinThru

    The Geo Metro was built in a GM-Suzuki joint-owned plant and paper company called CAMI-Automotive. The plant was located in Ingersoll, Ontario – not far from Hamilton.

    The car was an Americanized version of the Suzuki Cultus; sold here in similar trim as the Suzuki Swift. Swifts were made by Suzuki; Metros were made by CAMI.

    I had, not one but three of those. They were throwaway cars; but cheap, especially used, and good for what they were. Typically either rust would get them (not the sheet metal, but the unibody frame, especially the front weight-bearing structure) or, on one, an EGR valve stuck, and on a five-hour trip, ugly weather, family emergency…burned all the exhaust valves. Engine was barely running by the time I got to the end, and it never restarted.

    Far more interesting to me was a Canadian version of the Toyota Echo, what with the brief rise in the dollar vis-a-vis the CdnD, would have cost about $8000 American. Living in Buffalo at the time, I was negotiating with a specialty importer to ship one across…when, as happens, life interfered.

    Reply
    • AvatarJustPassinThru

      I should have mentioned: At the time, EPA and Canadian emissions standards were the same, so there would be no issue with smog. The Echo was certified, drivetrain and all. Safety standards were more-rigorous in Canada at that time. According to the small importing company, it would be no problem and he had done similar imports for others.

      That’s now changed, now that we’ve become so “woke.”

      Reply
  9. AvatarBlueSilverWave

    Count me as a staunch enemy of a lot of these super “low-end” features, like hand-crank windows and manual locks.

    There is something to be said about configuring a basic vehicle, but there’s also something to be said about volume. Volume is king, if you don’t have it, expect the part price to go through the roof. When the super low end part has low volume (high part price), a big pile of tooling to amortize, and still has to go through costly engineering validation, you can frequently find yourself paying MORE on an amortized basis than the fancier feature. Hand crank windows are the poster child for this. (I have to design/tool a new door trim, a new scissor mechanism, a new wiring harness, make sure I have the right hole in the door metal, which has to be plugged on the non-manual units by the way, and do all the validation on it? For how many vehicles a year?)

    The cheapest way to make a car is to find your highest volume low-mid tier product and make it even higher volume.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      I’m sure you are correct. I remember reading about Ford’s accountants in the 1950s discovering that the base models were more expensive to produce than the deluxe models because deleting the chrome trim (the primary differentiator between base and deluxe) meant having to hand lead in and grind smooth all the trim holes in the body panels where the chrome strips were attached. I suspect that once demand for some extra cost feature or trim becomes higher than for the same vehicle without the feature or trim, it becomes cheaper to make the “extra” a standard feature rather than make relatively few “cheap versions”.

      Reply
  10. AvatarTyler

    I think the problem with truly cheap cars is crash protection. There seems to be a price point below which so much low-strength steel is needed that the pillars turn into tree trunks.

    Gen2 Scions all had this problem. The architecture and the drivetrains were all paid-off tech and if you stripped out the electronics they could have been genuinely low-cost, but they were awkward vehicles and outward visibility was bad even by modern standards.

    Not that any of this matters. I have friends in month-to-month financial circumstances who wouldn’t be caught dead in a car with cloth seats. And your average twenty-somethings l auto customer now has zero interest in a sedan or hatchback form factor at any price.

    Toyota would have done better selling prior-gen stripper Tacos with the 2.5L Hybrid Synergy Drive for $20k.

    Reply
  11. Avatarpaul pellico

    sorry, but interventions happen every day, everywhere.
    people seeing that someone cannot recognize, let alone fix, what is wrong with them.
    so, yes, locking up, hospitalizing and entering into treatment centers are all possibilities in caring for people causing harm to themselves.
    very difficult, but possible.

    Reply
  12. Avatarmichael

    I make my money as a financial analyst, not as a writer, so you are going to have to help me out with a couple of these writing techniques you are using.

    1. “nobody really knows how much it costs to build a car”
    Is this Adynaton, Accismus, or Auxesis?

    Either way, I suppose it is just to hard to grasp the costs (and the profits) since the car companies keep the data private. So it’s easier to claim no one knows anything.

    To be upfront, I surely don’t have access to the data for the cost of automotive production either, but you can bet your ass that the CFOs of GM, Ford, etc have a very good idea.

    And of course blue collar Canadians think they know: https://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/attachments/977-labour_costs_in_vehicles_0.pdf

    I am happy to see that you’ve backed off “…I’ve actually seen real costs for automotive production and they haven’t, so there.”

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I’ll take your bet.

      Nobody knows the total cost of anything produced at more-than-Porsche-917 quantities.

      Find me someone who says they know.

      The number of assumptions you have to make just to get *close* to an actual figure renders the whole idea risible.

      Reply
      • Avatarjc

        Well, that’s simply not true.

        Any manufacturing company has people who know exactly how much it costs to make the product. It all boils down to

        Direct labor
        Purchased material
        Overhead

        Now each of these has sub-components; direct labor’s the simplest but you have to consider fringes and bennies. But at any rate you know who much per hour you’re paying your direct labor people, and how many hours it takes to build your xyz.

        Purchased material often contains some allocations for the costs associated to process material (for example, the salaries of the purchasing department may be assigned here, or they may be rolled into general overhead), but you can bet your bippy the accounting department can provide you a breakdown of everything that isn’t pure PO cost.

        Overhead, of course, is the most complicated; but again any decent accounting department can provide you a detailed breakdown of how overhead is calculated and applied to a given product. There are many different general methods and then each company (or, sometimes, each division within a company) has their own particular version, so it takes some study to understand exactly how an overhead rate is calculated for your particular product line.

        I have done comprehensive analysis of manufacturing cost on existing products, and numerous studies of predicted manufacturing cost on proposed products, as well as reconciliation of predicted costs with the eventual actual costs, for 35 years and counting, as an engineer designing and launching mass production manufactured products. It is simply not true to say “no one knows how much it costs to manufacture anything”.

        Reply
        • Avatarjc

          Oh, and for that matter, we have a damn good idea how much it costs each of our competitors to manufacture their products. It’s not hard once a product is released for general sale to obtain one, tear it down, and determine the details of its manufacturing process (including, if necessary, counting the machining tool marks to determine feeds and speeds used in machining a part). Any competent experienced engineer can estimate the cost of an assembly within a few percent, if the technologies used fall within his knowledge area.

          Reply
          • AvatarNoID

            I think the key here is “Total cost.” If you read Jack’s article, you’d understand where he’s coming from. He’s talking about more than cost to manufacture. He’s saying, cradle-to-grave, create-design-manufacture-market-sell-support-warrant-update-repeat-kill, how much did it cost.

            It’s relatively easy to figure out if you made money or lost money in hindsight, and it’s fairly straightforward to build a business case in foresight using (hopefully informed & data-driven) assumptions, but to really nail it down to a true return-on-investment when it’s all said and done is very tricky, and not really worth the effort in my humble opinion.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            You’re extending what I said from “volume production cars” to “anything”.

            As an example, the cost of the Ford Pinto rose dramatically well after all the costs were “known”.

            Modern cars have long-term warranties, goodwill programs, subcontractors with variable contracts, and a trailing cloud of product-liability lawsuits. They have deferred executive compensation that can reach nine figures. They are part of tax filings that are often settled a full decade after they are turned in.

            Or it can just be a question as simple as: What percentage of DEW98 development costs should be booked against the Thunderbird, and what percentage against the S-Type? What percentage of Ford’s operating loss on Volvo should be booked to the D4 Explorer?

    • Avatareverybodyhatesscott

      I worked as an accountant for a large truck manufacturing company. Not the exact same as cars but I’m assuming it’s close enough for government work. We had no idea what trucks costed. There was a range but if we changed an assumption that range would easily change 3-5k. Cost accounting is rough. Warranty accounting is even rougher.

      Reply
  13. AvatarDirt Roads

    Close to You was the theme song for my 8th grade prom; that would’ve been around 1970. The Carpenters were bi in my life, when BTO and Led Zeppelin were also taking the charts. But Karen’s voice, which may have been her only talent, was supreme. It would carry you off into a sweet land of music, into which few vocalists of the present day can duplicate. And those who do, nowadays, are supported by electronic tone and rhythm devices with complex algorithms (algorythms?) that mask their lack of natural talent. Here is where this old guy inserts the “ah, the good’l days” (I stole part of the from Johnny Hartford, king of bluegrass music about the same era).

    Music back then had more soul and better artists who were in it for the MUSIC more than the BUCK. I prefer the former.

    Reply
  14. Avatargalactagog

    as a child, I was trapped in a car on a 16 hour hell trip, with Klaatuu’s version of this ( I never knew it was a Carpenters song? ) playing relentlessly

    I hate that fucking song!!

    Reply
    • AvatarKevin Jaeger

      That’s interesting, because I always thought it was a Klaatu song, too. I had no idea the Carpenters ever sang it.

      I didn’t hate, though I guess I liked other Klaatu songs a little better. And Karen Carpenter’s voice was simply magic, even if you didn’t care for the songs she was singing at the time.

      Reply
  15. Avatarjc

    We used to modify some of those song lyrics:

    When I was born the angels got
    Together and decided
    To create a dream come true
    So they sprinkled stardust in my hair
    And golden starlight in my eyes of blue…

    That is why
    All the girls in town
    Follow me
    All around
    Just like you, they long to be
    Close to me.

    And so on.

    Reply
  16. Avatarjc

    Modern cars have long-term warranties, goodwill programs,

    [General overhead of ongoing operations, typically charged at the product line level, certainly not at the model level]

    subcontractors with variable contracts,

    [Cost of goods sold, varies year by year, of course – and so you need to look at each year’s product line P&L]

    and a trailing cloud of product-liability lawsuits. They have deferred executive compensation that can reach nine figures. They are part of tax filings that are often settled a full decade after they are turned in.

    [all overhead in continuing operations, mostly at the corporate MG&A level in most companies.]

    Or it can just be a question as simple as: What percentage of DEW98 development costs should be booked against the Thunderbird, and what percentage against the S-Type?

    [However much Ford Accounting decided. It would depend first of all on whether Ford accounted for development costs by platform or by model, or by some other subdivision of the business. We cannot find out, because that information is confidential, but I am sure that both of those products’ project folders clearly show the development cost that was assigned to them]

    What percentage of Ford’s operating loss on Volvo should be booked to the D4 Explorer?

    [That would depend on the sources of that loss.]

    I think the misunderstanding here comes from some idea that there is, somewhere, one true way to determine cost and revenue for a given automobile model. There is not. Each company chooses to do that accounting in their own way. As long as their tax books meet the scrutiny of the relevant taxing authorities, and their P&L books meet the scrutiny of the auditors that sign off on the SEC filings, they are free to assign expenses as they wish, always of course within the bounds of GAAP.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I think the misunderstanding here comes from me writing,

      “Nobody knows how much it costs to build a car,”

      and you choosing to interpret that as,

      “There are no accounting rules in place to assign a total cost to a car.”

      I live with a CPA, I’m aware that there are formulas and best practices in place to assign and estimate any and all costs. That’s not what is at stake here. The source of this disagreement was in my statement that cars are not priced based on their cost, because nobody truly knows what it will cost to build a car. I stand by that. You could argue that during the early-ish aircooled days, Volkswagen was an exception to this. They’d already paid for the intellectual property — via their post-WW-II KdF-Wagen settlements — they weren’t developing anything new, and they only sold a few different vehicles, which took a similar amount of time and effort to build, so you could just look at the P&L and divide by volume.

      Now compare that to the D4 Explorer. Any argument you make for a particular total cost per unit is merely that — an argument. “Each company chooses to do that accounting in their own way.” Taking that statement to its logical conclusion, the “cost” of a D4 Explorer is different per GM accounting practices and Ford accounting practices, so if the D4 Explorer was priced on a cost-plus basis, the sticker of it would be different based on its accounting principles.

      I chose to make this claim, and to defend it, because most people think the auto business is much simpler than it is. They confuse it with, say, the business model for a “modern” clothing company, which purchases piecework from the Far East and marks it up to cover the cost of sales and marketing. Or they resolve it in their minds to Max Hoffmann’s business model: buy cars FOB New Jersey from a European automaker, mark up a certain amount, deduct the costs, and declare the profit. You are elaborating on that complexity and attempting to say that I’m wrong as a consequence.

      You and I both know that any “cost” assigned to a particular vehicle through the accounting method of your choice is a mere legal fiction. The fact that you assign warranty costs to the product line level tells me that. Under your calculations, the 1995-2000 Ford Explorer is approximately 2.5 billion dollars more profitable than it truly was. That may be true via GAAP but it doesn’t mean that money was pulled from thin air. The fact that we use “assigned” in this context is telling.

      This is verging dangerously close to the archetypical Gamma Secret King argument on your part. You have decided that I am attempting to deny the existence of an accounting department and you are going to tilt at that windmill as long as it pleases you. I will stand by my original statement. Any complete and total cost accounting of, say, the 1993 Tempo includes so many “assignments” and assumptions as to make it useless for any actual pricing decision — and that is for a car that is twenty-five years gone. New vehicles are priced almost exclusively on marketing considerations. The examples are too numerous to cover here but the two words “Silverado” and “Suburban” should suffice.

      As always, I appreciate your readership and commentary; I simply don’t think we are going to come to an agreement because we are not discussing the same thing.

      Reply
      • AvatarTyler

        If the financials are a very specific kind of fiction, however, the justification for closing Lordstown gets hazy in a hurry.

        Reply
      • Avatarjc

        Well, Jack, in the end it doesn’t matter because you and I DO agree about the main point which is that goods are not priced according to how much it costs to make them. I mean, I’m sure there are situations where companies price their goods according to (their assigned and calcluated) manufacturing cost; but that will generally lead either to charging too little and having one’s competition be more profitable, or charging too much and having one’s competition take market share by selling for less. I would suggest that any mass production product that’s on the market for any significant time fairly quickly ends up being priced according to what people are willing to pay; and if that’s not enough to recoup the (assigned and calculated) cost of building it, well-run companies stop making it. (Poorly-run companies may continue taking a loss for a variety of reasons including CEO hubris – I’ve been there.)

        But I don’t think companies price things the way they do “because they don’t know how much it costs”, I think they price things the way they do (i.e., according to how much people will pay) because that’s the best way to stay on the peak of the price/volume/profit curve. (At least in theory; everyone has a dozen stories of mis-priced goods, so the whole thing still retains a lot of by-guess-and-by-golly and trial-and-error.)

        And getting back to the real point of the article which was “why do German companies charge less for the SUV than the related sedan while Americans do the reverse (have I got that right?)” the answer would probably be three-part: first, one would have to know the (assigned and calculated) profit margins on the SUVs and related sedans (which the companies aren’t going to tell), and then the second part of the question would either be “why are you choosing to accept such different margins on SUV vs. sedans” or “why do the Germans have such a different profit structure than the Americans” which also probably could only be answered definitively by someone who had seen the detailed P&L sheets for both. And then the third part which as I read this I realize is probably the most important part – why are customers willing to pay more for the SUV than the sedan when the manufacturer is American but the other way round when German (again, apologies if I got that backward, I’m working from memory here)?

        Reply
  17. AvatarDavid Sanborn

    I admire your ultrasonic yet still perceptible dog whistles, be they Harambe or Pepe. It’s nice to see such dedication to the art. Stating “an era where ‘whiteness’ is commonly considered to be a malignant force” without substantiation is certainly dog whistling with your thumb on the racial scales. I see a world that can’t stop celebrating The Beatles or Abba or the Bee Gees and which made much ado over the recent death of the very white Captain of Captain & Tennille.

    At any rate – yes, Karen Carpenter got a raw deal from an America lacking in empathy. I’d wager that a similar death today would generate boundless cynical and cruel internet mockery, making the 80’s look placid in comparison.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      How much substantiation do you want? Google appears to have about fifty pages of results for major media and university publications about the “problem” of whiteness. I didnt make any of them up.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.