Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dodging the (Gas Price) Bullet

I find few sales pitches more abhorrent than the Dodge/Chrysler promotion to actually subsidize the cost of gas for new buys for the next THREE YEARS. In case the ads haven't penetrated your living room, Dodge is willing to guarantee you 2.99 gasoline for the next three years if you buy a new car during their promotion.

Here's a quote I read in Thomas Friedman's NY Times column today, attributed to Tim Shriver, head of the Special Olympics, "So Dodge wants to sell you a car you don’t really want to buy, that is not fuel-efficient, will further damage our environment, and will further subsidize oil states, some of which are on the other side of the wars we’re currently fighting. ... The planet be damned, the troops be forgotten, the economy be ignored: buy a Dodge.”

Friedman goes on to explain what a mythical truth-speaking presidential candidate would call for. I would prefer to stick with Dodge/Chrysler here. This promotion runs completely counter to what the United States needs economically, and some would say morally. What we don't need is auto manufacturers subsidizing the cost of an outmoded fuel model for the sake of short term sales. Dodge's attempt to revive and resuscitate its flagging brand with the offer of cheap gas appeals to the lowest in our consumerism.

Americans are better than that, our free markets innovate their way out of problems. Consumers organically change habits as the economies of scale take hold. For a corporation to defy that basic law of the market is wrong.

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