The One Good Thing About Tesla

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Tesla’s $60,000-plus electric car is a terrible idea – as a commercially viable consumer product. But the way Tesla sells (well, tries to sell) its cars is a fantastic idea. A revolutionary idea. And so, a very dangerous idea. To the entrenched interests.Tesla 1

You know – car dealers.

Here’s why:

Tesla does not have dealerships. Not in the traditional sense, at least. There are no franchises. You want a Tesla? You just buy one – directly, from Tesla the company. Go online, pick what you want – and place your order. That’s it. There is no “middle man” – in the words of Tesla Vice President Diarmuid O’Connell. And thus, no mark-up. No salesman’s commission. No “dealer prep.” No “advertising fees.” No bullshit. At least, not insofar as the transaction is concerned. You buy a Tesla the same way you buy an iPad.NATIONAL AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSOCIATION LOGO

This has made the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), the political lobby for car dealerships, angrier than a wet tomcat. NADA has sicced the lawyers on Tesla for daring to simply sell cars directly to consumers. They regard this as an affront – a crime – that must be enjoined by state lawmakers.

In North Carolina, a bill in the works would make it illegal to sell a car online. Can you imagine that? The black clad ninjas may be headed Tesla’s way – not for ripping off taxpayers by forcing them to subsidize the making of economically untenable electric cars – but for how they are sold.

In some states – Texas, for instance – laws prohibit “factory-owned” dealerships. Tesla’s lawyers have been trying to end-run this, but so far no luck. Virginia has a similar law on the books, which it used to deny the company a license to open a direct-to-the-consumer store there, too.Tesla 7

The dealer organizations say this all about – wait for it – protecting consumers. That franchised dealerships are essential because without them, customers would not have the “support” they need. “Buying an iPad is not buying a car,” NADA’s David Hyatt told NPR.

And of course, he’s right. When you buy an iPad, you don’t have to haggle over its price or negotiate a maze of complicated terms and conditions designed to separate you from as much of your money as possible – the entire process maestro’d by a professional sharpie who knows his business like Al Capone knew his business. Car salesmen are not there to “help” you. They are there to make a living off you. Some do provide a  service in that they explain the car’s features and so on. But the bottom line is they have a vested interest that’s not in your best interests because of the way the system is structured. If it were not for the commission model – if salesmen were salaried employees whose paycheck did not directly depend on selling you a car – then NADA’s complaint would be less obnoxious, perhaps.Tesla 6

But only somewhat less obnoxious.

After all, why is it any business of the Goon Squad – you know, the government and its bullyboys – how you buy a car? Or how Tesla – or anyone else – sells the thing? Provided there’s no theft or fraud, provided it is a free exchange between consenting parties, it ought to be none of the Goon Squad’s business at all. Why can’t there be both franchised dealers – for those who prefer to do business that way – and direct-to-customer operations like Tesla? Why not, in other words, allow the free market to do its thing? If the franchised dealership system is better – for customers – it will be just fine. If Tesla’s idea stinks, it will sink.

Unfortunately, the free market is a fantasy – labor arbitrage international agreements such as NAFTA and MFN notwithstanding. In reality, we have a sovietized economy in which free exchange has been explicitly outlawed. If you doubt it, try selling cars to willing buyers . . . without a license. Without having paid various fees. Without complying with a baker’s dozen (and then some) regulations specifically controlling the process from start to finish.Tesla 3

NADA is just another mafia – like the insurance mafia or the agri-business mafia. All of them vying for the favor the dons in state capitals – and ultimately, the dons in DC. And they all want to make you an offer you can’t refuse.

That’s the bottom line. Force. Compulsion. Do business our way – or else.

NADA is mad at Tesla not because Tesla is “hurting” buyers (not one actual real-person “victim” of Tesla’s evil practices has been produced) but because Tesla is hurting – or threatening to hurt – the profit margin of NADA’s members. It’s that simple – and that outrageous. “We don’t underestimate the dealers,” O’Connell said. “The franchise dealer system was, at its inception, set up to protect the dealers from manufacturers coming in and competing with them.”Tesla 8

Readers of my rants know I have no love for Tesla’s cars. Or rather, I have no love for the way Tesla uses the Goon Squad to force us to subsidize the manufacture of its cars. But it chafes my ass – on principle – that Tesla is being hassled about the way it wants to sell its cars. Because that principle applies to much more than just Tesla.

Imagine how neat it would be if you could go online and shop for your next new car – your next new Chevy, Honda or whatever kind of car. Pick only the options you want, on an a la carte basis – not “bundled packages” heavily marked up. The price for the car – and each option – is right there, clearly stated. No bullshit. No deliberately obfuscatory paperwork. No haggling. No hassles.

And no middlemen.Tesla last

That’s what’s at issue here. And that’s why NADA is fighting Tesla so furiously. Because NADA understands the nature of the threat to its little – actually, pretty big – scam.

And intends to protect it.

Throw it in the Woods?






  1. First, I was reporting, relating the experience and the results, which I thought were significant. The car met and exceeded its claims for mileage and the rest of the car was top drawer, despite the fact it was initiated by a “rear echelon mf’er and gentleman industrialist”/”A desk top productionist”. Jeezus, is this what passes for constructive comments on this site. I was, to put it succinctly, thrilled to be driving across a state, non stop, in an electric car built by an all new manufacturer in the USA… wow! Who would of ever thought, and all of this while I’m still alive. It is a big deal to me, Eric.

    I ordered the car when I, and a lot of us thought, we could get an ‘S’ for around $45,000 after credits and rebates(if, we ever actually obtained one), now the base entry price is nearly twice that. That said, it was in line, at the time, with a new ATS or BMW 3/4 pricing. Hell, a new Focus that was at The Farm, had a sticker of over $30,000 and my cousin’s wife’s new Fusion was $40,000

    I’m not a rich guy, and even, though, I’m accidentally making pretty good money right now, but with the options I wanted, the ‘S’ was over $112,000, and even $70,000 was more treasure then I can afford to tie up right now if I want to keep running this new, fun adventure, down the road.

    Well, here goes… better put on my cast iron pants on.

    Your responses… expected, right down to the party line comments and vitriol.

    “Rich Guys” Rich guys and women(thank you Bertha Benz), were the first adopters of automobiles, if they hadn’t stepped up and embraced this new transportation regime, we would still be using horse & buggies and bicycles. By the way, I just acquired a 1898 Studebaker, cut under single seat Courting or Doctors carriage to go with my little Albany cutter/sleigh.

    While I have due regard for you, Eric and Tor, your comments seem specious at best, and if not, for what ever reasons, agenda driven. No wonder you can’t get a Tesla to review, Eric, you have already given your extremely prejudiced opinion regarding Tesla’s and EV’s in general. You have no objectivity available for a review of the “S’. You leave your car guy status on the porch when it comes to EV’s and Tesla’s in particular, so your not the most open minded person on those subjects.

    It is also apparent Eric, that you have issues with pricing, gilded appliances, and again, ‘Rich Guys’, I wonder how winning the latest powerball jackpot($223 million), or some rich guy contributing significantly to EPautos would alter your perspective.

    All economies are stratified, all products provide jobs and drive an economy. Fairly well off to rich guys are driving the high end, new and aftermarket car business, providing a lot jobs from parts makers to auto journalists. You don’t get to drive/review a Cadillac CTS-V if somebody couldn’t afford to buy them. My new business would have been born dead if a few guys who really like extreme performance cars, didn’t have the where with all to write me five figure checks to build them something you can’t buy new.

    And personally I agree about the appliances, as I don’t ‘need’ more then the old, weekly use vehicles I have, and would be perfectly happy with and old VW Bug and a 49′ Chevy pick-up, but there is no excitement in those vehicles unless your pushing slip angles in the rain.

    We have all wanted some exotic unobtanium, brand new, and that is how I regarded the Tesla ‘S’. And, it was/is still cheaper then a new Maserati or SL63 AMG, which has about the same performance as the ‘S’. And, the ‘S’ is about the same price as a new SL550 or Merc’ E63 AMG S-model 4Matic Wagon.

    Regarding the E63 AMG S-model 4Matic Wagon. Maybe you can wrestle one of those from Mercedes for a review, Eric.

    Let it fly………….

    Regards… Tre

    • Hi Tre,

      Help me understand.

      This car costs six figures, rendering (as I see it) irrelevant the chief rational reason for buying an electric car over an IC car – i.e., reducing the cost of driving. It can go 200 miles on a charge… ? Great! But if I have to spend $100k… how does that balance the books? What’s the point?

      The diesel Beetle I have this week can go 600 miles on a tank. And it costs only $24k.

      How is any of the above specious or unfair?

      The car is extremely compromised functionally vis-a-vis conventional (and even hybrid) cars. Can it be driven with the flow of highway traffic – at 70-75 MPH – and not suffer a dramatic reduction in range? What happens if you run the AC? Or the heater? Can you drive it to its maximum potential (i.e., floor it) more than just once or twice on a full charge? How does performance driving affect its range? And if you must drive it gingerly – that is, slowly, accelerating only gradually – in order to get the advertised range … then why not just buy a $23,000 Prius and save $85,000? What is the point of owning a “quick” $100k car that you can’t drive quickly very much – without killing the range?

      Are these specious objections/questions?

      You write:

      “And, it was/is still cheaper then a new Maserati or SL63 AMG, which has about the same performance as the ‘S’. And, the ‘S’ is about the same price as a new SL550 or Merc’ E63 AMG S-model 4Matic Wagon.”

      Base Tesla 0-60: 6.5 seconds. About the same as a current $19k V-6 Mustang.
      Mid-range Tesla 0-60: 5.9 seconds. A bit slower than a V-8 Mustang GT.

      Mind, these are the stats for the $70,000-$80,000 Tesla. Easily twice the cost of a fully loaded Mustang GT. Any of the cars you referenced – the SL550, etc. – would absolutely humiliate the base and mid-range Tesla, 0-60.

      Ok, the top-of-the-line S model. It can do the deed in 4.3 seconds. That is very quick. But an E63 (or similar) is quicker – and can do it more than a handful of times before the battery is drained. Do say 5-6 WOT runs, 0-60 and down the 1/4 mile… or at sustained speeds of 100 mph or more – and let’s see how much life is left in the Tesla’s battery. How far can it go without needing to recharge after blasting up to say 140? The AMG can rock 130 for hours.. and refuel in minutes.


      I can refuel any standard IC or hybrid in minutes. The Tesla takes at least 30-45 minutes to achieve a partial recharge – and that’s assuming you have access to a 240 Volt station.

      Is that a specious argument?

      The early Benzes (and so on) you mention? They were not subsidized (at gunpoint) by taxpayers. And that is my chief gripe.

      Is it a specious gripe?

      How so?

      I’ve written favorable reviews of hybrids – because they strike what seems to me to be a rational/reasonable balance between cost and day-to-day function. A Prius, for instance, can be driven anywhere (no significant functional compromises) gets very good gas mileage, doesn’t cost a ridiculous sum … so I give it a thumbs up.

      I just don’t see how the Tesla is other than a massive taxpayer-financed example of crony capitalism at its worst.

      I’d be happy to praise the car… if I could find a reason to praise it.

      Please, help me find one!

      I have driven just about every electric car ever brought to market, including (going way back now) the GM Impact and the Ford Ecostar (sodium sulfur batteries!).

      Yes, they were operable as a way to get from A to B – provided the distance from A to B wasn’t too great, provided you restricted the way you drove and provided you had the means and the time to recharge them in between. And, of course, didn’t object to spending literally twice as much (or more) than it would cost you to buy an otherwise comparable car without all those liabilities.

      That was true 20 years ago. It is still true today – or have I got my facts wrong?

      I’m completely open to facts that show an EV to be a more sensible, a more practical, a more economical way to get around than a conventional IC or hybrid car.

      But such facts seem scarce to me.

      Can you show otherwise?

      No agenda here, Tre – just trying to be reasonable.

  2. TSLA up 7% today. Mkt cap is now $21.6B

    Model X – Seating for 7 adults – Double Hinged Doors

    Teslas being built at Fremont CA former joint Toyota/GM factory

    The KUKA Robotic Bull Ride at Elon’s Bar, Grill, & Borg Assimilation Tavern

    Made in America, with pride, by robots. Dey tuuk arr jobbz!

    A GMO chicken in every pot. A home surveillance Solar City panel on every roof. A Self-steering GPS-tracked Tesla in every garage.

    • I may be proved an idiot – completely off base with regard to Tesla.

      But – please – someone explain to me how a car with a starting price of $70,000 makes any kind of sense as other than a rich man’s toy?

      Even if the price were cut in half, to $35,000, this would still be a car for affluent people only.

      Is it pretty? Is it quick?

      All entirely beside the point.

      What would you think of a gold-plated microwave oven that sold for $5,000 but didn’t heat your food any faster?

      A hammer made of ultra-resilient material, but you had to wait 10 minutes in between each nail strike?

      Am I on the pipe?

      • I don’t get the appeal of the cars either, but I think they will continue to grow in popularity. The market’s so crooked, it’s hard to gauge what’s really happening, malinvestments are dominant.

        I wonder if the most galling thing about Tesla is he’s a “desktop productionist.” It seems mechanical aptitude and hands on material science knowhow is no longer needed to produce cars.

        He’s a rear echelon mf’er and gentleman industrialist, Never gets so much as a drop of oil on his shirt while building things. It all point and click for him and then robots and foreign minions make it all happen by magic, while he flow charts process power point presentations. The inscrutibly robo-constructed vehicles also leave shade tree mechanics in the dust facing a daunting, torturous new learning curve.
        – – – – –
        Tesla Buyers:

        After more than a year of being sold in the United States, a portrait of the type of person buying the Tesla Model S has emerged.

        “It skews a little younger than the typical $100,000 car buyer,” said James Riswick with

        CNBC commissioned to analyze vehicle registrations and online search data from June 2012 through June 2013 for the Model S, other high-end luxury sedans and other electric cars.
        The Model SBuyer Profile
        Male: 83.9%
        Female: 16.1%
        Income under $50,000: 5.7%
        Income $50,000-$99,999: 17.2%
        Income over $100,000: 77.3%
        18-44 yrs. Old: 33.2%
        45-64 yrs. old: 50.6%
        65+ yrs. old: 16.2%
        – – – – –

        Local Motors Rally Fighter – You Help Build It – You Can Also Design Your Own Car From Scratch

  3. Hi! All,

    Just something too add to the electric car/Tesla comments.

    I had a pre-reservation for a new Tesla ‘S'(P85+), as my situation had changed, I assigned it to a friend who took delivery of the car several weeks ago.

    Last week he drove the ‘S’ from Gold Hill, Oregon, to Portland, Oregon, a distance of 261 miles, and had a 23% charge left when he arrived. We met up at PIR for a track day and drove the ‘S’ around the track for five laps. Did a real nice job, but is no Miata. Suffice it too say, it will get around a corner in fine shape and can avoid a situation safely under control.

    When we left Portland to head back to Southern Oregon/Grants Pass?Gold Hill, we charged up(fully) at the local Fred Meyer store charging station and headed home. When we arrived in Grants Pass we still had an indicated 28% charge(245 miles), enough for him to go to Medford and back home to Gold hill a total trip distance of 287 miles.

    With the initial charge at home for the trip North and the return charge for the trip South, which cost $3.58, and he figures about $2.00 for the home charge, the total trip costs were around $6.00 for nearly 600 miles. There were no stops in transit for recharging.

    The build quality of the ‘S’ , is exceptional, and the trip comfort is of the highest order. The acceleration pulled your head back like a Six Pak 440″ Dodge Charger with 4.88 gears, and stops were progressive and quick.

    Trip speeds were around 55-65MPH(speed limit), we here hyper mileing it to get the best range and backed off to 55mph up hills.

    There are plenty of opportunities to add charge along I-5 in Oregon, but we didn’t need any additional energy, but we did leave the freeway to check out most of the available charging stations, most of which had a car recharging, but still had available charging units.

    The car drew alot of attention at every stop because of its strikingly good looks, and most people were very surprised when they found out it was and electric car, and some of the people we passed on the freeway gave us thumbs up and pulled along side to look at the car.

    The new owner(s) only complaints were, form the wife, she loves the car, but doesn’t appreciate the Gray paint I ordered it in.

    All in all, a great experience.

    • Hi Tre,

      I’d like to test drive one, but so far have not been able to arrange it.

      The driving range you relate is admirable – except, I have trouble understanding why anyone would pay $70,000-plus to drive at such a gimpy pace.

      Yes, the initial acceleration (by the numbers) is superb. It ought to be for $70,000 – to start. But my question is: What happens when you hammer it several times, back to back? What happens if you drive it continuously at 75-plus MPH (just keeping up with highway traffic in my area) rather than “hyper-miling” it?

      I suspect – based on reports I’ve read – that the battery charge will drop sharply – as will your range.

      Meanwhile, the gorgeous A6 TDI I had two weeks ago will do 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, 155 on top – and go almost 600 miles on a tank – and it costs $13,000 less than the base Tesla.

      $50,000 less than the one you drove – the top model, with the potential 200 mile-ish range under optimum conditions.

      I just don’t get the attraction.

      It continues to strike me as a rich guy’s novelty.

    • I’d like to know what Musk considers “affordable.”

      In my opinion, an electric car would have to be priced under $20,000 for it to be viable as other than a subsidized toy.

      It will also need to match all functional-performance parameters of a conventional car in the same price range – in particular, it must not take more than 10 minutes to recharge and have a minimum range, under “worst case” driving conditions (e.g., summer heat/winter cold) of 150 miles.

      Few Americans will ever buy a car that requires them to sit and wait for half an hour (or longer) to “refuel” or which cannot take them at least 150 miles before it requires sitting around for half an hour or longer to “refuel.”

      A 40 year old 500 cc motorcycle is superior in every functional way to any current electric car.

      • I think there would have to be a network of locations where you CHANGE your batteries for a new, charged one.
        Take about 10 minutes to do. Of course, you’d need solid-state electronics, to retain all your preferences, but not too bad.

        It’d be funny as hell (to the rest of us) to see the car go over a speed bump – and the battery falls out!
        Yeah, let’s see a 10 minute fix for THAT… 😀

        • Hi Jean,

          I think even 10 minutes is not going to cut it. Think how obsessed with immediate gratification American consumers typically are. They don’t want to wait for anything.

          When it comes to this issue, I’m one of them.

          Why would I put up with the hassle of doubling my refueling time? (And that’s assuming our theorized fast-charge electric car can be recharged in 10 minutes. And assuming such fast-charging would not negatively affect battery life. And assuming the car itself performs comparably to a gas equivalent and costs not too much more…)

          It’s a non-starter.

          • eric, I was going to post some articles(I’m having connectivity issues) about Chinese buses that are using a super-capacitor, been in use for 3 years now. They can “flash” charge in 3 minutes. A new model with a better capacitor will show up next year with a 20 mile stint between charges. No mileage was given for the current buses. Of course, this leaves big oil out so it would never work in the US.

  4. The car dealers in Georgia just got a nice return on their bribes, uh, I mean campaign contributions.

    State passed legislation getting a 6% sales tax on sales of vehicles between private individuals.

    They tried this before and it was shot down by the state supreme court, this time however, they called it a “title tax” and you are forced to pay it when you get the title changed into your name. And they base the 6% on the NADA value, so if , like me you get your car for half price at a repo auction, you pay the equivalent of a 12% sales tax.

    The other way they helped the dealers is this:
    state used to charge a yearly property tax on the vehicle when you renewed the tag based on the value of the car.
    now they no longer charge that, only the one time 6% sales tax.

    so the people who buy a new car from a dealer still pay the “sales tax”, now called a ” title tax” but they no longer have to pay the annual property tax.

    so the private buyers get screwed and the shmucks who buy overpriced cars at dealers get some gravy by no longer having to pay the annual property tax, usually around 1% of the vehicles value, which is much higher on a $35K new car than on a $5K used car.


      “so the people who buy a new car from a dealer still pay the “sales tax”, now called a ” title tax”

      It should be able to be shot down again. Purchasers don’t receive a title, they receive a “Certificate Of Title”. The state receives the true title, the MSO, and is the co-owner of the vehicle – dictating what is done with it.

      • Like many of these things I simply cannot find any truth behind this ‘certificate of title’ and ‘real title’ idea in written law.

        • BrentP – although, like you I have yet to see this scam spelled out in any written state law, what libertyx brings up certainly has merit in the practical application of “administrative law” (i.e. under color of law). It’s a Catch-22: if you don’t “register” your “motor vehicle” and pay the tax, then you can’t get license plates to “drive.” Of course you’d still be “free” to “travel” in your “private conveyance” as shown by numerous court precedents, but the all the various hassles we’ve discussed before would be the major impediment.

          The same thing applies to the voluntary nature of the income tax and social security. If you never apply for a socialist slave number to start with, there is no way under federal law you can be forced to take one. You must volunteer and are of course strongly “encouraged” to do so. You can’t even be denied employment for not having one. One of my friends back in Virginia resisted when they attempted to have him sign his kids up for socialist slavery at birth. The social worker explained it to him like this: He was doing his child a disservice because without a socialist slave number, his son wouldn’t be able to attend public school, get a driver’s license or a student loan, participate in social security or even go into the military. Hmmm. That sounds like individual Liberty to me.

          But once you ask them for the number, you give the system jurisdiction. And attempting to un-volunteer after the fact will net you a lot of grief. So they’ve got most of us locked in to these un-Constitutional unwritten rules and regulations, due to our own ignorance of the law, the ignorance of our parents, neighbors and friends and the intentional misinformation promulgated by government schools and the MSM propaganda machine.

          As you’ve pointed out before, if we could get enough of our fellow livestock to charge the fence all at once we could get off the farm. The trouble is, as long as they’re getting enough grain and given enough pasture to think they’re free, they have no interest in charging the fence. And for those of us that long to free-range, should we find a hole in the fence, they will often send men with guns to either put us back on the farm or cull us from the herd. Since I have other people that depend on me and I realize that it was my own actions that have put me where I am today, uninformed or not, I try to satisfy myself with the only true freedom that ever really exists in this world that they cannot touch: that which is in my mind.

          • Registration is separate from title. I can’t find anywhere that the title process gives the state ownership. Now the hassles coming from our fellow livestock that are bestowed with petty power by the ranchers enforcing upon us is something different.

            Their contracted system is invalid because it is done under fraud and coercion. It’s not voluntary in any sense of the word. Or perhaps it’s the american idea of voluntary…. either consent or live with a lifetime of near daily hassles, being imprisoned, etc and so on. Americans seem to really believe that’s ‘voluntary’. Talk about conditioning… but I digress.

            The problem isn’t finding a hole in the fence. It’s our fellow livestock. There are holes in the fence but our fellow livestock alert the rancher. It’s also getting worse in that regard. Without these tattle-tales these systems fail. It’s a selective enforcement system. It’s full of holes. The idea is not to be selectively enforced upon. If your fellow livestock like you, you can get away with using a lot more of those holes. It’s a social system of primitive dominance and submission.

  5. Oh, dear, the hoary old idea of the factories selling cars directly to the public raises its ugly head again. It’s been tried by all the manufacturers time and again with dismal, sometimes financially disastrous, results. Factory outlets are invariably sold off to individual dealers as fast as the manufacturers can get rid of them. The simple fact is that today’s new car dealers are monitored so closely by all the manufacturers that, even if they wanted to, they couldn’t engage in egregious rape and pillage of consumers. As for having no retail outlets at all, as Peters suggest, I suppose customers will travel the hundreds or even thousands of miles to the factory to pick up their new cars. And make some sort of convoluted arrangement for needed repairs. I’ll concede that many lower line dealers (mainly Chrysler Corp) engage in advertising clearly intended to confuse and confound their high-doltage customer base, many of whom couldn’t understand the microscopic fine print of their advertising even if they could read it. Of course, the same applies to many appliance outlets, camera stores, and any number of other retail establishments. What (understandably) upsets many customers is the complexity of new or even used car transactions, which usually involve a trade (the value of which is highly subjective), a great variety of financing options (many of which people have a hard time understanding), leasing (which practically no retail customer, and few retail salespeople, understand), all the foregoing of which vary from brand to brand. The retail car-biz, unfortunately but necessarily, is complex.

    • Why would customers have to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to the factory to pick up their new cars? Ever hear of transport trucks?

      …Is that you, Clover?

  6. Tesla? Never even seen one.

    As for the cell phone, I keep an over the ear headset on most of the time plugged into the phone on my belt. No brain tumors but I sometimes wonder about the prostate problems…

    I live (rent) out in the boonies, too. (Own nothing, control everything. Including the ability to get out of Dodge quickly, without leaving any equity behind.)

    As for Steve Jobs jobs, I grew up in Port Washington, NY. Back in the early fifties, Harold Mertz started Publisher’s Clearing House in his garage. If they hadn’t expanded into a couple other States, they’d have their own zip code by now.

    Maybe a little earlier, Sal DeFeo started Ghost Motorcycles in his garage behind his house at the top end of Main St. There was Bill’s Mobil Station on the corner of Main and Port Boulevard, Tony’s Eagle Shoe Repair, Chicken Delight and then the old house sitting back from the store fronts where all the bikers hung out back. We kids always walked by quick should some crazed biker come roaring out the driveway. A while before the Beach Boys released “Little Honda”, Sal moved down to the other end of Main into a real store. Shop in the basement and hundreds of bikes stuffed into the sales room and all over the sidewalk. He ended up stuffing more bikes into each store that became vacant up and down Main Street for years. Mostly Euro machines. If he took a Harley in trade, it went right to a dealer. Don’t believe I ever saw a rice burner there, either. That was back in the sixties. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

    Oh, thanks, Eric. Love your blog. Love all your contributing commentors (commentators?), too. Great new info and fine old memories!

    • A few years ago a local council in Melbourne essentially ran an 8 year old outta business by demanding he had some $500 insurance for cleaning out his neighbourhood’s plastic rubbish bins for $1 a pop. Pathetic huh? That council should have been dragged out kicking and screaming, replaced by more such 8 year olds!

        • “…“criminal” kids and their “unlawful” lemonaid stand…”

          I wonder if that’s what happened to all the boys who used to sell fishing bait out of their parent’s garage?
          It used to be in the Springtime in the 1980’s cardboard signs would appear all over the place offering Dew Worms for sale at a cost below what stores charged. It’s been years since I’ve seen a single one.

          I never once read an article about what happened to them. Silent submission,… The American Police State vs. Little Boys

          How Things Change Out From Under Us

          • It wasn’t long ago you could stop off in town and get a can of worms or a bucket of minners(Texas minnows)and be on your way. Now it’s a big deal if you’re selling something that originated in some other place, as if the lake weren’t already full of them anyway. I get so sick of rules and regulations I want to give those 24 year old game wardens what they so truly deserve. I could tell you recent stories that would make you mad as hell.

            • Morning, Eight –

              I don’t doubt it. In my neck (SW VA) it is – apparently – illegal to hunt on your own damn land, “out of season.” If the Sheriff of Rottingham (game warden) wants to, apparently, he has the legal authority to just walk your land and check things out. And if he finds you’ve taken a turkey or a deer without all the requisite permissions/”out of season” he can and will cuff and stuff you.

              Oh, but I’m proud to be an American – where at least I know I’m freeeeeeeeeeeee!

          • mornin eric, for many years now taking game illegally will cost you your vehicle and gun(s) plus all the other fines, jail time etc. Here you can’t take any game without a license. The only thing left you don’t need a license for is fishing from your own pond. I guess they think that might be a bit hard to do as well as maybe losing wardens regularly. Can’t even kill wild hogs without a license. We had an outbreak of rabies in the wild hogs last year. Some guy is up on top of his pickup with a rabid boar doing it’s best to get to him. His wife steps out with a big gun and he says “no dear, you need to go get a license first”. Sure thing. No season on varmints but you can’t shoot them without a license. Coming….and going….they get you both ways. Of course this state was the recipient of two years of those small govt. Republicans after the shrub was gov a couple times and it shows. We have a fee for everything now and plenty narcs to enforce it.

    • Typical Soviet Commissar… reincarnated here. Investigating the “crime” of working without permission.

      Thanks for the excellent video, Mr6!

  7. I like the idea of buying directly from a manufacturer, but I have to wonder, what if there were a lot fewer real dealers? How would you test drive the car you wanted to purchase? Where would you go to get service? How much money do dealers make on the transaction? From what I have seen, the dealer markup on cars is between $1,000 and $4,000. That isn’t too much. Automakers, on the other hand, make a killing on their vehicles. Unfortunately, they are left paying legacy costs of healthcare for people that don’t work there anymore. That’s a good reason why they have financial problems from time to time.

    From what I understand, car dealers get screwed by the manufacturers big time. They have to pay to market the cars. That means that the manufactures don’t even supply brochures.

    I don’t know. The dealers do not do a great job of fighting the car makers at all. Nor do they actually sell cars very well. No one does.

    I remember when car advertising used to be kind of cool. Today, it’s a joke. Has been for the last 30 years or so.

    I don’t know.

    • Hi Swamp,

      I don’t either – and you raise a number of very valid points.

      But, the way to know is to let the market sort it out. I see no reason why force must be applied. If Tesla – or whomever – wants to sell cars direct to consumers, and consumers want to buy them this way, why should they be prevented from doing so? If the idea stinks, then traditional dealerships will be fine.

      Why are they so worried? Clearly, they feel threatened. Yet, Tesla isn’t seeking to outlaw franchised/traditional stores. Just offer an alternative way of doing business.

  8. Elon Musk promises supercharger stations from NYC to LA by the end of 2013

    Tesla stock priced at 34 times earnings versus industry average 7 times. It definitely pays to be a statist suckup.

    Elon Musk says traveling via his Hyperloop will be “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table.”

    • “Elon Musk says traveling via his Hyperloop will be “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table.””

      Thanks just the same, Elon. I’d rather just hit I-85 and drive all the way from Petersburg to Atlanta without any more delay than stopping once for gas. When the vaunted Tesla can do that for me, and I can find one on Craiglist for $1000, I might buy one. Until then………..

    • surpercharger stations….what the hell ever that means. All the way from the one in NYC, if you can find it to the one in SF, it you can get through the crowd. I see myself pounding across the vastness of west Texas….wishing I’d used an enclosed trailer the Duramax was pulling my Tesla on so I could get some sleep, best range and most economical Tesla trip ever. Reckon the MP3 player will drain it dry before we get there? My pappy said son you’re gonna drive me to drinkin if you don’t quit driving that….Son where the hell is that Lincoln. A/C ain’t worth a damn on this one.

      • Musk apparently doesn’t understand how cars are used in this country.

        It’s one thing to drive 200 miles on a highway, from point A to point B. Assuming a “supercharger station” along the way or at the end point, great. It might work – albeit very expensively.

        But, most people drive convoluted routes – and in adverse conditions. What happens if your route does not happen to be anywhere near one of these “supercharger stations”? Very few people will willingly put up with even a 10 minute recharging time when they’re used to filling up their cars in less than 5 minutes and being on their way. 15 or 30 minutes is unacceptable. An hour, inconceivable.

        Think how convenience-minded Americans are. Especially affluent Americans. Musk is on crack if he believes that there are lots of people out there ready to blow $60k on a car that takes twice as long (or much more) to recharge than a $3,000 15-year-old Corolla… and which may (will) expect the owner to reduce his speed (or cut the AC) to conserve battery power… and all the rest of it.

        • I think these cars best serve the roll of a towncar, for commuting to work and “driving to the winery” on weekends. No motor oil to leak. No transmission fluid to leak. No exhaust system to rust out. No EVAP leaks to fail smog with. Longer lasting brakes due to regenerative braking. If going on a vacation take the gas SUV. On a side note I don’t know why these cars don’t come with a trailer hitch, rear charging port and software so you can hook up a trailered generator and “roll your own” hybrid for extended range and remote offsite charging. Preferably a charging while driving capability. For local excursions just undock the trailer.

          • Dang, that sounds like fun. Why don’t I just extend the endgate on my long bed pickup and haul that sucker around? And then the owners can say “Well, it beats being like that old man who drives a one ton pickup around buying that old stinky diesel.” Yeah, sure it does.

        • The Supercharger stations are proprietary to the Tesla vehicles. If you own a Leaf, you can’t charge there (the plugs are physically different, as well as the electrical specifications). What they allow you to do is charge to about 80% in 30-40 minutes. Much faster than the standard charging in your garage, which takes several hours.

          However — using a Supercharger all the time will damage the batteries and shorten their life. They’re meant to allow you to make longer trips, like LA to NY, in your Tesla. Which for most people is fine – car owners typically stay within 50 miles of their house, anyway, as they drive to/from work, the supermarket, etc.

          If Tesla were smart, they’d work a deal with McDonalds, to set up Supercharger stations in their parking lot. Drive a couple of hours, stop for a snack & a coffee, use the bathroom, while your car recharged.

          • Yeah, but even then, anything more than 10 minutes is going to be a problem.

            Wanting to stop for 30-40 minutes is one thing. Having to is quite another.

            Americans are “hurry up” people. They don’t like to wait for anything.

            A car that takes more than 5 minutes to refuel is never going to be a mass-market car so long as you can still buy cars that take less than 5 minutes to refuel.

          • chiph, I don’t see that working very well in Tx. We hit the road ready for the long haul. I despise having to stop before I need to refuel although my bladder doesn’t oblige me that very often. Adding another 2 hrs going to S Tx. to see friends would really be a drag. Going to see a friend in Santa Theresa, NM, just over the Tx. line would be a grueling experience too. 490 M away on I 20 makes it not so bad but having to stop 3 times, no way. Why is it I don’t quite believe the a/c would do the required job on days like yesterday where it was 105° for a few hours and only got down to 100 at 6pm? I might be wrong about the a/c but if it did its job properly, then mileage would be greatly reduced too.

  9. Yup…And don’t forget the biggest mafia of all – The National Realtor Mafia. (Or maybe it’s the Amerikan Medical Association Mafia…or…AARP Mafia…So many you can’t keep them straight)

  10. Unfortunately, the free market is a fantasy – labor arbitrage international agreements such as NAFTA and MFN notwithstanding. In reality, we have a sovietized economy in which free exchange has been explicitly outlawed.

    The only thing I might change in this statement is to switch “sovietized” with “state-corporatized”, but that’s a minor quibble.

    Yes, indeed, I do weary to the point of nausea of hearing brainless, clueless, flag-worshiping sheepletards belch endlessly about how Amerika is a nation of “capitalism” or “the free market.” What really gets me is that these are usually the same speedbumps-with-pulses who whine and scream about the collapsing state of the current economy. If they knew how to put two and two together, they would be able to draw the connection between the corrupt state-corporatism (or call it “crony capitalism,” “fascialism,” or whatever) and the current state of economic collapse.

    Fucking morons.

    • “Fucking morons.” Now, liberranter. You know they aren’t really morons. They’re imbeciles.

      Fuckin’ imbeciles who voted for W four times in a row. Don’t let them know that he wasn’t on the ticket the last two times, ok?

  11. I saw a Tesla S in the flesh this week and it is a striking car indeed. And for what it’s worth, I see that Consumer Reports gives this model a near-perfect rating of 99 (they claim to have got 200+ miles on a charge and only a little less than that in cold weather. Not bad). Maybe if it was a very bad car and did not receive a huge subsidy—just the buyer tax break alone is $7500—the NADA would not be so scared, but this is a nice car and Tesla appears ready to support it by building a network of charging stations. Rich city dwellers with access to a station will probably love it.

  12. That’s one of the reasons I do not buy new cars…. I let some other poor shmuck pay for all of that.

    You say in the article above “In North Carolina, a bill in the works would make it illegal to sell a car online.” Wouldn’t that effectively make it illegal for me to sell my used car on Craigslist, eBay, and the like?

    • Hi Ender,

      Technically, it is illegal. While you can get away with selling one car (or maybe two) as a private seller, if you do it regularly – then you’re considered (under the law) a commercial business and subject to the same regulations (and fees) as a dealership. At least, that’s the way it is in my state. You can fly under the radar, but the bottom line is, you’re doing business “illegally” – and run the risk of being hassled (even prosecuted) for doing so without the requisite permission slips.

      • Is it also illegal to sell a used car via a newspaper?

        We’ve gone so far down the wrong path as a nation and have so many entangling laws, I really don’t see a realistic way of ever getting back without going the way of Rome.

        • Yep, we’re screwed. We have the best government money can buy. Our system guarantees that people with strong financial incentive will use money to bribe/coerce legislators to protect their interests.

          Car dealerships make a lot of money and can afford to throw it at specific issues such as this while the general public does not have enough interest in this one issue to band together and go after it. Multiply that by EVERY ISSUE that comes up (and a gradual dumbing down of the public) and you see why America is so wildly screwed up.

          There are lobbyists for EVERY DAMN ISSUE you can think of but there are almost no lobbyists for the free market. Issues of principle generate no money, so free market capitalism died long ago.

          There’s truly no hope since people will ALWAYS act in their self interests. When big money is involved (and car sales is BIG money), nothing will stop people from doing whatever it takes to get it and keep it. Same for every other issue that matters.

          • What absolutely kills me is when pseudo-conservatives who vomit free-market rhetoric defend the current state-corporatist system – whether they have a stake in it or not (or, more amazingly, even when they’re clearly hurt by it). Confront them with the disparity between their rhetoric and the reality that they defend and they go into rage/meltdown mode. This is why I believe that “conservatives,” as they are constituted today, are far more dangerous than Socialists/Marxists. There more of them, they’re more dangerously stupid, and they vote in massive numbers.

          • ” they’re more dangerously stupid, and they vote in massive numbers.”

            I don’t worry about that. It ain’t as if the votes are actually counted or anything. Conservatives provide comic relief as long as I just watch them and don’t try to reason with them. A thinking man will laugh his ass off watching the people who think their political participation has any effect on anything. A man who feels things deeply will become depressed watching them. I alternate between the two personality types. 😉

          • Could not have said it better. Specific interests, whether business or gov’t or non-gov’t unions will pitch a fit & bribe, oops, I mean make campaign donations, to insure their gravy train continues while the general public suffers such a small cut it doesn’t hurt so we don’t respond. Problem is the small cuts will cumulatively become fatal but it will be too late at that point.

        • Seems the answer around this is to get several google accounts and get the free google phone number and change them frequently with every car sold. Forward this to your regular phone. Go by different nicknames on craigslist.

          Terrible businessmen always try to get government to destroy their competition. Electronics may still be a relatively untamed wilderness in terms of regulators. I’m fortunate because I don’t have to advertise my manufactured products in a local newspaper so I stay under the radar of all the local officials. I know my wife before she met me was doing some house cleaning at other peoples houses. She had government snoops calling her all the time asking for her business license. One time she went down to the local silly hall to buy a permit and was told she’d have to get her house insected by the fire marshall. Her business was at other peoples houses, this is the kind of aholes in government.

          Another thing I’ve noticed is we’ve been looking at buying a house in various states and cities and almost all of them have made it illegal to work out of your garage. NO future Steven Jobs allowed. Doesn’t matter if your business is a non-polluter of noise, smells, or chemicals. And its true in my business I could probably get around the red tape since my business is a national and international market and would again be under the visible radar. But, it only takes one stupid, aggresive and often times jealous neighbor who sees you living the good life not going to a daily job grind to turn you in. The reason many big cities do not of course allow home business is because they have a lot of chrony capitalist who have built industrial parks that nobody wants to fill. This is part of the reason both my wife and I have considered renting houses forever. It may make more sense not to have at risk property and be able to move relatively quick. The other option is to live in a small town that is happy to have the revenue and doesn’t have the big ugly business buildings needing filled. That is poised with risk as you may not be accepted by the locals if they are too inbred and they just might throw you out of their town again for jealousy.

          Then even though electronics is rather untamed in regulation. There are plenty of laws on the books like EC, FCC and various materials laws like no lead solder etc. So far these are pretty easy to fullfill or bypass. I’ve kind of wondered if the point of cell phone manufacturers is to sell an electronic poison commercially. My belief is that there is no reason why high power microwave up to the noggin couldn’t be causing all these brain tumors. I’ve personally known several big cell phone talkers that contracted brain tumors around the ear lobe which are a relatively new scourge if you haven’t noticed. And this leads me to my point that the whole idea is for the big box electronic manufacturers like Motorola/etc to sell without any safety precautions to protect their bottom line now. They have the government declaring its totally safe to use cell phones even though its microwave and warms the side of your head and brain like an oven. So everyone you warn just say’s “The government says its safe!”. And then my concern is that maybe 10-20 years down the road as it becomes undeniable these same Motorola type corps. will deem it necessary for more regulation and government in the electronic marketplace to prevent future brain tumors from misuse. Guaranteed this is the way it works and its always the small and careful businessman that pays the price for the abuse.

          Hot Rod

          • One thing that really interested me about Nevadans was their disregard for the bully government. It may be that they stil have the laws on the books but no one seems at all concerned about them. When we were first moving our stuff to Nevada we got a very nice storage space for a reasonable price. Right off the bat the manager and I hit it off, he was complaining about crooked government local and federal. And when he showed me the garage it had electricity in it. Now that really surprised me as most garage owners don’t want the liability of anyone working out of the garages. I asked him if he had people use the garage for their businesses. He replied yes and he doesn’t give a shit either if you have a business license.

            Very refreshing and they say Nevada is the lawless state, but everyone is very well mannered and crime is relatively low compared to other big cities. Some statist guy we had to work with there was whining that the local police doesn’t enforce any of the edicts and decrees. Sniff..Snifff..drizzle..teary eyes.

            Hot Rod

          • Another thing noticed is been looking at buying a house in various states and cities and almost all of them have made it illegal to work out of your garage. NO future Steven Jobs allowed. Doesn.t matter if your business is a non-polluter of noise, smells, or chemicals.

            So much this. It’s a way of those in business using the clover mindset that everyone has to be the same to cut competition off before it even sprouts. People can’t risk 30-100-200-500 grand of their own hard earned money to start a business that has a high chance of failing. But a few hundred doing it out of their garage they can and would. That’s where I am at. Every business idea I come up with requires so much start up with so much risk it’s not viable. The Steves started with a few hundred. If Apple had died an early death like most businesses they could go on with their lives and it wouldn’t make an impact and that’s how it should be.

            the big box electronic manufacturers like Motorola/etc to sell without any safety precautions to protect their bottom line now.

            This is just plain false. I have first hand experience in lowering SAR. Mechanically changing product to do so. I still remember how to do a fair amount of it. The clamshell phone design, especially with retractable antenna is good for low SAR. The top of the clam shell blocks the radiation from the head and if angled correctly forces the antenna away from the head. If retractable, when extended it lowers the power the phone has to put out.

            I do worry about the smart phones with the internal antennas. Perhaps the big display assembly is used to shield the user. The internal antenna should be on the other side. It just takes some metal between your head and the antenna. Force the signal to go away from the person before radiating outward to the world.

            Just because companies don’t want the government involved doesn’t mean that safety is ignored. I no longer work in electronics, but in an industry where safety is via private standards.

          • Another thing I’ve noticed is we’ve been looking at buying a house in various states and cities and almost all of them have made it illegal to work out of your garage. NO future Steven Jobs allowed. Doesn’t matter if your business is a non-polluter of noise, smells, or chemicals.

            This is an extension of the HOA toxicity that has made it nearly impossible to buy a house (and absolutely and completely impossible to buy a new house in any development) in which you can live in freedom and claim ownership of your own property to do with as you see fit.

            This is why I live out in the boondocks, where I could start up a full-fledged factory in my garage if I wanted to and no one would know, or give a shit even if they did. As I’ve mentioned before, if anyone were to ever dare darken my doorstep (or any of my neighbors’ either, for that matter) with a petition to start up a neighborhood or homeowners’ association, they wouldn’t make it off my property alive.

          • BrentP

            ” It just takes some metal between your head and the antenna.”

            Being an RF engineer I would agree that microwave is easily reflected. However, I’ve got older K-9 designs that had a visible dipole antenna sticking out of the phone and that was not shielded and it wasn’t more than 3-4 years ago that some phones still had these. Now of course they are more slick with the clam shell you are talking about.

            Being an RF engineer the problem with microwaves is that its very easy to get modal transmissions that aren’t planned for. Yes the designers can you Finite element analysis and maxwell’s equations to model the RF modes of transmission like Ansoft sofware. But the problem is that I’ve seen first hand where the product is designed over here and when its handed over to manufacturing in China, the ill skilled technicians will replace all the components, remove screws, and even grounding. They’ll replace the dielectric on circuit board from something with all together different dielectric constants and tangent loss to cheap FR-4 without telling the design engineer. They’ll replace more expensive NPO capacitors with Z capacitors that vary with wildly with temperature. And the only time you’ll get a complaint is if the item field fails and that is usually only with something with tight testing specifications like communication or testing gear not consumer electronics.

            And finally microwave has what I call the spooky effect. Anyone ever designing with it will know exactly what i’m talking about. You place your hand which is a complex network equivalency of discrete resistors and capacitors near a transmitter and you’ll see spurious signals disappear and reappear as if magic. The reason is that the human body such as a hand changes drastically the near fields of microwave. It can change a signal drastically. And near fields which are much harder to analyze explcitly (computer software is able) is much harder to also measure empirically.

            All and all I agree that today’s phones are a lot more safer but still not safe enough to put up to the noggin. And I’ve known 3 big blabber mouths on cell phones myself personally that all got lymphomas on the brain near their talking ear. This doesn’t even count celebrities like Ted Kennedy. Nor the 4 high school students that I knew coincidently aquantances that died at 30 and all being social buttefilies of brain tumors. Nor does it count the people indireclty my parents have known with the same consequences. But personal experience can be deceptive who knows maybe I’m just the guy who always flips tails in personal observations.

            Anyway always agree with all the other stuff you say on here but we may not see it the same way on the microwave from cell phones and that is OK as I don’t pretend that I’ve over analyzed it in Ansoft studio myself. I’m a concerned citizen however.

            Friendly regards,
            Hot Rod

          • I did mean monopole antenna not dipole antenna on my last statement. Also, many people just don’t realize the magintude of power that is capable of pooring out of these cell phones. There was an old youtube clip using the older monopole cell phones using a paper card and 3 batteries as a waveguide and a penny taped to the card. The power coming off these cell phones was able to levitate the penny using faraday’s law of repulsion. So unlike usual electronic devices that have no reason to propagate high power of microwave and often times just enclose the signals inside a faraday cage with ferrite, the point of a cell phone is to send high power over longer distances to towers. Cell phones have always been frightening to me and I’ve designed many RF products, it doesn’t make me an expert on cell phones but like I said microwave has a spooky factor that should always be considered especially with these high frequencies and the fact that its not totally enclosed on all sides by a faraday shield.

          • What I took argument with is the statement that there is no concern for safety. There is. I don’t know enough to argue degree as if it is enough, but it is there. It may be insufficent. I don’t know. I only know my experience which was to do things to keep the radiation out of the person’s head.

            It is done. I could tell you a story about how we changed a clamshell to this horrific angle to reduce SAR and the executives through a fit. We had to chnage it back and EE’s had to do it. EE’s IME like to make their problems into mechanical ones. There’s only so much a mechanical engineer can do to solve RF and circuit issues. 🙂

            So anyway we’re still in agreement, I’m fine with ‘what’s done ain’t good enough’ or ‘subcontractors cheat’. But dammit I can still remember designing the shields and going to the molder where the antennas were made and futzing with housings to get the phones safer… it wasn’t my imagination 😉

          • “What I took argument with is the statement that there is no concern for safety. There is. I don’t know enough to argue degree as if it is enough, but it is there. It may be insufficent.”

            I make concessions and you are correct about my statement being blanket and insufficient. Very well then we agree again on everything.

            Hot Rod

    • each state is different, in PA there is a limit of how many vehicles a private person can sell before he/she is required to get a dealers license. Don’t quote me but I am pretty sure the number in PA is 5.

      an engineer I used to work with who was a mechanic before going back to school had a side business where he would scour the internet for wrx type scoobies with blown motors and turbos, buy them for pennies and then rebuild and make a nice profit. He would do the maximum he was allowed to do each year but no more so he could avoid the BS with getting licensed.

      • Washington State have a law that more than five car sales per year, you have to get a dealer’s license as well. Trouble is, their requirements for the dealer plate are so stringent I can’t qualify… you MUST have a physical property meeting certain requirements… and zoning restrictions preclude operating a car dealership from my place in the county. I’ve a number of project cars to liquidate this year… and may well be in trouble. We shall see what sort of charade these DOL clowns try and play when they come round to have a chat…. I’ll have to beat it. I suppose one way is to register a sole proprietorship here, transfer some of the cars to it, and sell it from that business. There is only a small title fee for transferring into an owned company from my name. stupid people and their unintended consequences….. or are they?

        • Hi Tionico,

          It’s absolutely intentional – the intent being to squash competition, however trivial. Because they – the ones doing the pushing for such laws – understand that even trivial competition one day might not be so trivial. Best to kill it in the crib. The pols, meanwhile, enjoy the benefits of more and more control over us serfs – and a more and more dependent serf class.

  13. Avoiding middlemen would be nice.

    Imagine someone being able to offer a car (product) at a price they (the manufacturer in this case) consider appropriate to make a profit. If consumers find the price worthwhile then they can order the car. No hassles.

    The only I would like is a showroom to look at cars.

    Tesla’s layers have been trying to end-run this, but so far no luck.

    Did you mean lawyers?


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