Musk is Right About One Thing

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Why can’t you just buy a new car?salesman-lead

I mean, without the middleman.

Without having to go through a dealer?

You can buy almost anything else directly – including very big ticket items like a house. It’s not illegal, in any event, to buy most things this way. Buyer and seller. Just the two of you.

But with new cars, it’s different.

There are three of you. The manufacturer of the car, the dealership (a franchise of the manufacturer) and then you.

It is actually illegal in most states to buy a car directly from the company that made it. Laws exist that force you – if you want a new car – to buy it literally third-hand, from a dealer. Who did buy it directly from the manufacturer (the first owner) and who is now re-selling it to you, the prospective third owner, at a marked-up price.

This part – the marked-up price – is not unreasonable. The dealer has every right to make a profit, just like anyone else who sells something he owns. But he doesn’t – shouldn’t – have the legal power (as opposed to the moral right, which he lacks) to force you to do business with him.

And yet, he does.tesla-direct-sales

It’s – incredibly – the law.

In most states, new cars may only be sold through authorized franchises of the manufacturer – i.e., a dealership. You can guess who saw to it that such laws were put into place.

Tesla – Elon Musk’s state-subsidized electric car operation – has been truly innovative in one area (electric cars are not innovative; they’ve been around for 100-plus years and still are beset by the same problems – high cost/not enough range/too-long recharge times – that beset them 100 years ago).

That area being Tesla’s attempt to sell its cars directly, without a dealer network.

Unlike state-subsidized electric cars, this is not objectionable. How could any reasonable person object? If you’re interested in a Tesla – or whatever – and want to buy one, why should you have to go through the dealer rigamarole? The ancient dog-and-pony show?

And pay for it, too?ebay-pic

Why not just go online and order the thing? More precisely, why should you be legally forbidden from being able to do so?

Because it costs the established dealer mafia – and the car companies that collude with them – money.

Your money.

Which, instead of spending on the Dealership Experience, you spend on just the car itself, under the direct sales model. Which because of this thing called the Internet no longer requires the Dealership Experience. You can go online and view the car. It’s brand-new, so there’s no need to physically inspect it (as you would probably want to do with a used car). Use the software to deck it out in the colors – and with the options – you like.

Click “buy,” once you’ve decided.

Then pick it up at (in Tesla’s case) a gallery or sales outlet. Tesla has even talked about having the car delivered – and why not? Unlike his penchant for milking the taxpayer, that would be genuinely cool.tesla-gallery

Note also that direct buying doesn’t necessarily mean dictatorial “no haggle” pricing – which some critics of direct buying suggest it would. Many people like to haggle – understandably.

But why would direct buying preclude that?

People already haggle online over the price of used cars. Ebay, for instance. The seller can choose a minimum price subject to negotiation (offers) or “buy it now” at a pre-set price. The same model could work just as well for a new car. At least there’s no structural reason why it couldn’t. Only if it were made illegal – government’s finger in the free market pie again – could it be rendered not an option. Otherwise, market pressure would take care of things. Some car companies might adopt a No Haggle/One Price model but so long as others were not legally forbidden from offering online haggling, the availability of that option would be there and would also apply pressure on the One Price/No Haggle operations to keep things within reason.

Competition, you see.

Tesla has succeeded in getting laws changed in a handful of states to allow it to sell direct to the consumer. But – in typically Teslian crony capitalist fashion – the laws were adjusted to accommodate Tesla only. Because of PC orthodoxies about the necessity of “helping” Tesla’s “clean” electric cars succeed. The laws only permit the direct selling of cars powered by alternative fuels.tesla-online-builder

Other car companies – in particular, small start-ups like Elio – are out of luck. Because they are not politically correct. Because they sell very low cost internal combustion-engined cars.

Well, they hope to.

But laws forbidding direct sales make that harder. A dealership is no cheap thing. Millions of dollars or at least many hundreds of thousands of dollars are involved. You have to buy the lot and buildings (take out a loan) then fit it out and hire staff. Plus, pay whatever the costs are to become an “official” dealer of whatever the brand of car it is you’re selling. Then you buy the cars from the manufacturer (more loans) and hold the note for inventory carrying costs (plus interest) until you sell the car to someone.

An entire network of dealers is necessary, several in each state at the very least. Realistically, two or three in each major city. Otherwise it’s too much hassle and most people won’t bother.

Many beaks get wet this way.

You and I – the car buyer – providing the “water.”musk-deux

Service costs are necessarily higher because of this, too. In fact, service mark-up costs are for many dealers the chief profit source. Not the selling of the cars themselves. But regardless, service costs are higher because the dealer has to find a way to offset the fixed costs of the dealership and everything that goes with it.

Direct buy eliminates almost all of this.

It is therefore opposed by dealers – who are heavily in hock, many of them. And those who are not, are making a lot of money being middlemen.

All of this is perfectly understandable.

What’s unconscionable is this business of using the government to enforce what amounts to a cartel operation.

Tesla – and others – are not demanding that traditional dealers be outlawed. They can continue to do business as they have been doing business. What Tesla and the others are arguing for is the right to do business differently. If people prefer the former – or the latter – the market will have spoken.

Which is much to be preferred over the government decreeing – and enforcing – for the profit of private interests.

Now if only Elon would champion the free market when it comes to building his electric cars… .

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68 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Eric,

    Love the changes to the mobile site. (I have not checked out desktop yet.)

    Loads tons faster. No overlap. Way more appealing to the eye. And Much more informative

    As we used to say back in Motown, Homey be stylin!

    I looked at the bottom of the page and said “Damn he is the guy.”

    While I only know one family that still lives in the city proper, I keep in touch with a few who would NEVER admit to taking delivery of the Freep. ?

    Except of course when it is mandatory on the weekend.

    The only reason you were exposed to me was because the guy next door sold his house to a Freep retiree. Whether I wanted it or not, he made sure I got a copy. Every day.

    People ask me why I’m always on your site, and I’d say, “I think I used to read dudes’ stuff when I lived in Detroit.” Turns out a younger, tamer EP was the only fucking reason to pick up a Freep. (Besides Red Wing Scores.)

    I give you huge credit for putting yourself in that envronment. Something about putting your dick in a meat grinder.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the Detroit Free Press, the Feds passed a law, decree, or ruling that you if you took paper delivery on the weekend, you had to get the Detroit Free Press too.

    Pravda, IMHO, is much more libertarian than the Freep.

    Back to the site. I miss the box around your posts (makes it harder to Respect Your Authoritah!). And please bring back the blue highlight for the authors name in recent comments. Link works great, I just can’t tell it is a link.

    In the words of the Grand Poobah himself, big daddy Authur P, the new site is “Kick Ass!”

    • Thanks, Tuanorea!

      As they used to say in Mission Control: We are working the problem.

      I decided to invest in some serious IT help. A gamble. Like the Fuhrer’s roll of the dice at Kursk – but I think it will turn out better than it did for der grosstest feldherr alle zeit! 🙂

      MSM work (Freep, Times, Tribune) is the journalistic equivalent of the salt mines. But, necessary – or was – to gain a toehold. Pretend to go along with the program until it is no longer necessary and then throw ’em in thew woods!

      Feed ’em fish heads, too….

  2. Sovereign citizens are right about one thing. It’s better to live as a red-pilled SWP, than to be a yoked, cucked, tax cattle Cypher, dutifully pulling your shared responsibility load like a beast of burden for fiat wages of a hologram of steak and a CGI rendered McMansion.

    Those who fully adhere to the law are accomplices to murder and mass enslavement and whore of the the masters of the matrix.

    Larken Rose was a tax protestor sovereign citizen and he did go to jail for his “crime” of not giving his compliance to the “requests” of our benevolent tyrants.

    But cops are more afraid of sovereigns than they are of islamic terrorists. I’m thinking that’s mostly a good thing.

    Sovereign Citizens Are A Clear And Present Danger To Heroes
    http://www.policemag.com/channel/patrol/articles/2012/09/sovereign-citizens-a-clear-and-present-danger.aspx

    Pop Sci says don’t take weather advice from Matt Drudge
    http://www.popsci.com/dont-take-weather-advice-from-matt-drudge

    That’s what passes for science these days, I guess. We’ve been in Category 5 propaganda shit storm for so long. We can’t even imagine a world where you don’t have to constantly evacuate and shelter in place, according to the official fatwa de jure.

  3. Comments often stray off subject but are half the reason I read Eric’s articles.
    Some comments are hilarious and others not so much but the responses usually make up for them.
    Has anyone considered one of the possible for the dealer/state relationship is we really do not own our cars? Hmm?
    We have “title” which allows us to buy (forced rent) the privilege of using said vehicle on “public” roads.
    Do we actually own the danged thing when the MSO (manufacturer’s statement of origin) resides in a state file?

    • I have found nothing that supports this idea of us not really owning our cars because of title. Title is simply the government keeping record of who owns what. Also after a certain age the state just doesn’t give much of a damn about the whole thing which seems to also indicate that this just another mandatory service. Old cars are too much trouble for them to deal with so we’re on our own sort of thing.

      I’ve also never heard of the government showing up looking for hidden away cars in garages and barns and usually not even outdoors if out of sight from the road and neighbors. If government considered them its property they would certainly show up to claim whatever value they could once they fell off the registration roles.

      What they do have is effective control and they have that through monopoly on roads.

      • I had a tax collector come down my driveway, look at my house and barn and various vehicles and implements and haul ass away. I ran him down(went to school with that sorry cocksucker, not a derogatory term in this instance, just stating the facts)and told him the next time he got on my property I’d stomp his ass since he was trespassing. I didn’t mean it though. He knew it too. What I meant was I’d cap his sorry ass, drive him in his POS Bronco somewhere and set it afire and never admit I’d seen him at all if asked. He knew that too. Gate open, gate shut, gate shut and locked, it’s all the same. If you want to live, don’t go on private property unless you’re willing to pay the price. I don’t and it’s kept me alive.

  4. You are right Eric, right now you can buy a house directly from a builder, but be assured, your local realtor is lobbying to have this ended

    • Hi Riffraff,

      Yup; I think so, too. Too much money on the table. 6 percent – typically – to handle the transaction. Let’s say the sale price of the house is $200k. The realtor gets $12k. That is a pile of money whichI’d rather keep in my pocket. Mind, I am not opposed to realtors and do believe they provide a service. But that service ought to be optional. No one has the right to force someone else to do business with them.

      • Realtors have secured their spot by having government make selling any sort of real estate such a chore for the ordinary person. One mistake may cost more than the 6%. Buying as well, but buying is more easily done. You can do it on your own but make a mistake and don’t cover your ass in some way…..

    • Hey Riffraff, Eric,

      Just wondering if the realtors and MLS are the reason the Sears Catalog homes are no longer available?

      And why don’t we see kit cars? Plenty of kit planes on the market.

      • It’s a great question. Kit planes are designated ‘Experimental’ by FAA and are (heavily) regulated accordingly.

        There are kit cars still available, though. FactoryFive, for one. You can even build a nice 356 Porsche speedster!

        I’m sure different jurisdictions are assholes about registering them, though.

        • A. Yeti,

          Thanks.

          But page for page, the regs on your commode are far more numerous.

          Cool link on the kitcar.

          I got a kick out of the shifter WITH knob.

          I wonder who writes that stuff.

          Just goes to show the kind of “shit” reviews we get out of Eric.

          He never talks about wipers WITH blades or the really important stuff like wheels WITH tires, valve stems, AND air.

          Peters, what a rookie. LOL

          • Well, the FAA and the manufacturers of kit planes assume a minimal competence level among pilots.

            Commode users? Not so much.

            • A.Yeti,

              “Well, the FAA and the manufacturers of kit planes assume a minimal competence level among pilots.”

              I’m going to crawl out on a very long and skinny limb and guess that you have not been certified as minimally competent by the overlords.

              By no means do I say that in ANY derogatory fashion.

              But given that obtaining a drivers license requires more hours of training than a pilots license, to quote Cheech & Chong, are you out of your fucking mind?

  5. I think Elio is out of the picture,Dealers ?There were too many ,you know how Ford handled it around here ? They required dealerships to do a million dollar upgrade(literally ) and without much fanfare Ford dealers disappeared ,to be replaced bu used cars lots( a good late model used is not a good deal in these parts )I would like the option of driving to the factory and taking delivery of my new vehicle if possible and I would like the option of specing the new vehicle the way I want it (there could be sub assembly shops next to the factories for this,I know it would cost more but you could get what you wanted within reason)

    • Not sure if “Dealers?” went with the first part of the post. I know how hard it is to fix a “Dang!” after you push post unless you have an account. But Elio’s business plan doesn’t include traditional dealerships. It provides for Elio “stores” to sell the cars. The plan is that you will go to the store, pick a color and the car will be delivered in no more than a few hours from a holding area. Since the cars are being designed with modularity in mind, if you want an option like a heated seat, or a premium sound system, they will just roll out the one that is in the car and roll in the new one with essentially no delay in delivery. That surely should work if they can stick to the plan.

      As far as a service department, they have already reached an agreement with Pep Boys for nationwide parts and service.

      Unless our well publicized “Alliance of Government and Business” messes that up, and it is certain that they face many regulatory hurdles, it should work.

      They are staffing up with some pretty savvy folks. All the info, including the current proposed locations of the stores, is on their web site, eliomotors.com.

  6. [Sort of on-topic]

    Ya know, the automobile used to represent FREEDOM! You bought one, and you could go virtually anywhere (at one time without even so much as a license; and even until relatively recently, without insurance).

    If your car manifested a problem, you could fix it yourself, or simply find the nearest gas station, where a gainfully-employed teenager could fix it.

    NOW, by contrast, (and not even getting into all the government-mandated BS ) you buy a car, and you are pretty much a captive of the manufacturer. The least little thing goes wrong, and that sucker has to be flat-bedded to the stealership’s service department; You need updates to the software; ad infinitum. The least little thing is now a special delicate procedure, -don’t even THINK of jumping that battery! (If you can even find the damn thing).

    Tesla is the epitome of this new paradigm. Their cars ought to come with a phallic projective sticking up out of the middle of the driver’s seat, to remind you every time that you get into your car, the extent to which you are taking it in the rear.

    And as for that teenager at the gas station: Gas stations no longer fix cars; It’s too expensive to hire a teenager, what with minimum wages and CEO-level benefits and all; and the kid can’t make change of a dollar without the help of a computer, much less even locate, let alone open a radiator cap.

    People seem to be enamored with all of this high-tech crap, but the reality is, it is just making tasks which were once easily, simply and cheaply accomplished, into complex and expensive misadventures in which one no longer has any choice. And rather than being used to free us, it is now used to further enslave us.

    • Hi Nunzio,

      Exactly.

      Driving is becoming a passive, completely controlled activity. Many people seem to welcome this. They are Herd Beasts, content to chew their cud. I do not understand it and definitely do not like it.

      What have we gained, really, with all the “tech” put into cars? Are they more enjoyable? Freeing? I can’t imagine signing up for a $40,000 car loan or owning a car that I had to take into the dealer for even routine service. One that narced me out to the insurance mafia. That pre-empts my decisions as a driver. I want a car that is entirely under my control. One that I own. That I can drive the way that suits me.

      I realize, of course, that I am a freak…

      • Eric, I’m still lamenting the demise of the manual transmission (For all practical purposes, that was a good 25 years ago already).

        Even disregarding the privacy and control issues (not that I would), I mean, what was wrong with a simple lock cylinder and a key and a handle? Or a simple key ignition switch? Why do cars have to have all of this garbage? They still don’t do anything more than a ’65 Fairlane did, other than destroying your autonomy and privacy, and lightening your wallet….

        Just what is the point of having all of this electro-computero ( 😀 ) junk just to accomplish the same things that simple mechanical devices used to accomplish?

        But what really gets me, is that people still flock to buy it! They even brag about it, and desire it! If nothing else, just the way consumers behave in relation to cars, alone points to the dismal reality that we are not going to see a great awakening to libertarianism. Quite the opposite.

        The morons are happy just to have a choice. Hitlery or the Donald; the black computer/spy device-on-wheels or the white one; the white house on a 40×100′ lot with %5K property taxes and a permit required to paint your fence (if you’re allowed to have one), or the off-white house….

        Hey, that’s what makes it a “free country” LOLOLOL!!!!

        • Nunzio,

          Well stated.

          Simple, functional and inexpensive transportation is very difficult to find today.

          Transportation is not the only place were I get taken to the wood shed, but it does not mean I have to like it.

          • Definitely, Mith! Modern cars are just one example of the political, business and societal cancer which is rotting the world; an example of not only what the majority will tolerate, but of how they can even be conned into thinking it’s good and desiring it and even be willing to spend a significant part of their income on something that is detrimental to their freedom and finances.

            I think the day is fast approaching when the average blue-collar person will no longer be able to drive their own vehicle. The functional older (saner) vehicles are getting old, and these newer vehicles are too complex and expensive to repair as they start aging. We’re nearly to the point where if you want to drive, your only options will be new or late-model cars ($$$) which are essentially disposable, and which you must replace every few years.

            I’ve lived my entire life without ever having a car payment, and I’ve always been able to drive the kind of vehicles I like, which I could never have afforded new- but I don’t see that as an option for those starting out today. Someone in my position today would likely be stuck driving crappy econoboxes, and spending a good percent of their income on either repairing them, or paying for new/late-model ones 🙁

            It sucks for all of us, but imagine being 16 today? I really feel sorry for this generation. Most of ’em have been dumbed-down to the point where they don’t know what they are missing; and those who manage to escape the brainwashing, have few options anyway….

      • Hahaha! Thanks for that, Tuanorea!

        How appropriate- as our every direction these days seems to be controlled by a bunch of pricks! 😀

    • BrentP,

      That is beyond dumb design.

      I would have thought you were pulling my leg, if you told me a company purposely designed such an overly complicated procedure to open the hood.

      I would avoid that type of user unfriendliness as a matter of principle. Even the backup door openers are user unfriendly.

      • That backup lever for the door just says break me. BMW has to have engineers with at least as much user interface experience as I do and I would never make something so easy to mishandle and break. This had to go through several people who should know better to make it to production at a company such as BMW. So it had to be in the specification. Someone on high wanted it this way.

        The hood is an absolute disaster. That’s not even suitable for dealership employees. BMW as a corporation knows better. They are trying to stop everyone from getting in there and save every gram of weight.

        • BrentP,

          My new Beemer won’t start. That is disconcerting.

          The door won’t open. I can’t get out of the car. I’m locked in. For my own safety.

          I’m feeling a little anxiety.

          Oh good, the glovebox still works. Here it is, page 461. Okay, right by the window.

          Oops! Thing came right off in my hand.

          Alrighty, on page 488, the little thing underneath. Didn’t think I’d need 17 pages to learn how to open the door.

          Cool, I can use the piece I broke off to pry it up. What to use, what to use?

          Yes, my 3.5mm headphone jack will work. Where are my earbuds? Sweet, the new jack will work even better.

          Here we go. Pry up the broken latch. Good, now use the jack to slide the thing, good. Pop, piece of cake.

          Man I’m glad I got that new iPhone. That new jack really saved me.

    • Hello BrentP,

      I’d like to see a video about the testing done on those “features.”

      I eavesdropped on one side of a phone conversation at a destructive testing company back in the day when pop out cup holders were a “feature.” It was around the time the 5 year/50,000 mile warranty was the “deal.”

      The test was to see when the cup holder would break. (To visualize the test, picture those two gals from the bikini article walking by the test. One says to the other, “Okay, but a cucumber would be a much cheaper date.”)

      The manufacturer had a number, a “minimum,” of in and out cycles that would meet the 5 year warranty.

      One of them lasted 50% more than the others.

      Manufacturer to (I assume) the supplier, “I don’t care what you have to do, cheapen it up, I want it to break sooner,”

      The lesson I learned from that was the manufacturers know the customers will accept the old in and out on each and every purchase.

    • The fact that people buy (and even pay top dollar for) such crap, is proof that the majority of humanity has truly gone insane. ….and this is when the car is new- imagine a few years down the road!!!!! There can be no liberty nor sanity in a world filled with so many idjits!

    • “Honestly, there’s no reason to be under the hood unless it’s in the shop, anyway.”

      *facepalm*

      I love the fact that it doesn’t have a hood prop, so just jam a couple screwdrivers in the hinges.

      Thanks, Brent! You made my day.

      • They could have at least provided a wood stick to hold it up. Made from the finest Bavarian black forest wood, hand turned on a lathe by a German craftsman and finely polished and finished like a piece of fine furniture.

  7. Car dealer laws are one of the best examples of cronyism there is. And this one goes back nearly a century (like with the deal with sugar), so long that people don’t even KNOW the reason why.

    You end up with, when people (generally the lefty’s in this case) claim its a failure of the free market rather then the government regulations…………….and its corruption.

    It only shows the LACK of the free market. If there was a real free market, deals like this COULD not exist. Even the word “free” is muddy now.

    Eric, maybe as a background piece, you can tell the history of the early car dealer network and why it existed as it does. And how it became what it is today.

  8. Tesla just built their own building here in Austin. They used to be a few doors down from the Apple store. Now they are a few doors down from the Bentley, Aston Martin, and Rolls Royce dealers. High-class neighborhood, what what?

    Having their own building is odd, because Texas is one of the states mandating the dealer squeeze and the Tesla employees can’t offer test drives — all they can do is tell you about the features. Nor can they take orders. They give you a card with the Tesla website address on it. But they will service your Model S there.

    And this isn’t likely to change. The dealer lobby is so powerful here that it’s actually in the law that a car dealer can only be open one day per weekend. Yes, that’s right. When most people have free time to go out & shop for cars – the dealer has to be closed on one of the two days. Crazy.

    • “a car dealer can only be open one day per weekend”
      Not sure that has anything to do w/the dealers. When I lived in TX, it was the law for everyone. Modified ‘Blue Laws,’ but to avoid charges of discrimination, they did not prescribe ‘Closed on Sunday.’

      • You are correct, they just have to be closed one weekend day. In Houston, some of the dealers on the Gulf Freeway are closed Saturday, but open Sunday.

    • Texas is replete with crazy laws. It was hell for us working folk back during blue law days. The fact you can’t buy liquor reinforces the backwardness of it all. There is no competition or very little in alcohol distribution either. You speak to the ones who can supply you and then pick ONE.

      To this day there is no dancin in Anson. Even though it was voted wet last election there’s still no place to buy a beer. Those good Christians…..who don’t ever drink, would probably burn you out if you started selling there. Instead they send their tax dollars right on up the road every direction. You can’t imagine the scandal if you and your neighbor met getting some cold ones. Then there are the crazy laws about selling within X amount of feet of a school which definitely affects where businesses go, a big deal in small towns.

      My wife and I used to live in Cedar Park when it was a small town on 183 but even before 1980 you couldn’t tell where Austin ended and Cedar Park started(sort of). Now it’s one city from Denton to Houston.

      We watched the movie “Bernie” where this guy Sonny has a map of Texas and he described Austin as the “republic of Austin with hairy legged women and liberal fruitcakes”. He mentions that people often forget about the panhandle and then goes on like it doesn’t exist. it’s a pretty funny scene.

      Then there are places like Grapevine where the SIl lives and the city council has flexed their muscle to control alcohol by the most stupid means ever. I was looking for my favorite beer that happens to be a hair over 5% alcohol which I never knew since I didn’t care. I keep looking in stores, beer and wine stores, and not finding it. I finally asked in one store why they had the brand and so many of their beers but none I liked. That’s where the mini-tyrants came in. They couldn’t sell beer over 5%, never mind more than half the store was wine. But one block into the next townlet and their superstore sold more beer than I’ve ever seen i none place.

          • And the “good ol days” were when we had to drive 60 miles one direction or 90 miles another just to get cold one. I don’t know whether everyone flipped a coin or if there was a secret network of who might be where and when to buy booze. We were non-secular since my dad had no truck with such nonsense. You couldn’t have the Church of Christ deacons meeting the Baptists Deacons in the same spot.

            Every time I think of Kansas I remember the self-righteous old lady in Josey Wales denigrating the very person who saved her ass.

            Of course in Texas a city or county could always(long as I been around)vote for “liquor by the drink” so clubs and eateries could sell you a “membership” and serve you. The TABC has always existed to make life miserable for people who happen to be within their purview. Like the girl they beat to shit a couple years ago for buying a 6 and being underage……except they got the wrong car and she was screaming for her life. They don’t do that shit in rural Texas, never have and never will if they want to live. We still ride around not only loaded for bear but now everybody has double stack pistols and AR’s with extra mags.

            In the patch carrying was verboten and companies had strict rules against it but they could have dismissed everyone including all the bosses had they chosen to search vehicles on any particular site.

            • Back when I lived in Charlotte NC, the North Carolina ABC agency got busted for staking out Green’s Discount Liquor. It is just across the border in SC near Carowinds. People were driving down and buying their booze there, and the ABC agent sitting in their parking lot was radioing license plates to his buddies along I-77, who would pull them over and cite them for bootlegging.

              The South Carolina highway patrol took offense to a law enforcement agency working in their state without their permission and surrounded the ABC agent, and “explained” things to him.

              • As far as I know, Massachusetts state cops still do that in New Hampshire. NH booze taxes are a lot lower, so the cops sit in the parking lots just over the border looking for MA plates. Radio the info to another cop on the MA side and bam, soon as you cross the border you’re pulled over and arrested for bringing untaxed liquor into Massachusetts. They do the same thing with fireworks, which are illegal in MA.

                • They do still pull that crap, though the NH cops will roust them if they spot them skulking around the parking lots. I always stopped on the way into NH to get my stash, since we would be coming back much later or even the next day.

            • DO, now that’s the damned truth. Take one and he’ll drink your entire bottle of bourbon and then lecture you on the evils of drink when he regains consciousness and make out like he was teaching you a lesson or make you swear a vow of silence.

            • That’s rich Ed. I guess that bounced off the preacher’s daughters though. Babdis wimmin seem to run a bit hot. Get on a tear and spread it around far and wide and then have that epiphany and say never again. Then you gotta wait ’em out 2 or 3 days.

              You know what the babdis Hispanic woman says don’t you? Not a damn thing because that’s an oxymoron. Bad enough for everything to be a sin but it’s a lot easier to burn a candle and have your slate wiped clean that to get babtized again.

        • That’s because most Prohibition era laws (not just blue laws) and laws passed just after Prohibition to regulate alcohol as it was re-legalized are still on the books in most states and are still enforced. Most are very out-dated.

          Small brew pubs have become very popular in my state (Indiana). One of the biggest hassles that the operators face are these very arcane laws that they bump into. Things regulating volume of production, operating hours, things like that. Indiana state police still have officers that are exclusively alcohol agents (also dating back to prohibition) so these laws cannot be easily skirted.

          That’s why most laws should sunset. It would rid ourselves of stuff even if it takes some time, that shouldn’t have existed to begin with.

          • Well, it gets even more confusing in the ‘dry’ states, not that any whole states are still dry, but the 2 I am familiar with, TX and KS, it is ‘local option.’ You can have a dry town in a wet county, and vice versa.
            It’s been a while, so I don’t know if it’s still that way, but I remember flying over Kansas one time and the ‘stews’ (long enough ago that they were still all female, and mostly young) had to stop serving alcohol while in KS airspace.

      • When you said 183, I was thinking SH 183 – aka Airport Freeway through HEB. Didn’t think it went down that way, but had to look it up to be sure. Ain’t the interwebs amazing?

        • Nope. US-183. Runs mostly through the middle of Austin, then down by the airport (don’t speed in that area – the cops hang out there looking for people with brown skin to bust)

          • Don’t speed on 183 has always been a warning. There had been a new sub-division built about halfway between Cedar Park and Austin when we lived there. There was no turning lane and people hauled ass on the road. It was always replete with DPS but the traffic was so intense you had a good chance of seeing one before getting radared(before the Escort). We saw an accident, some really bad, with people trying to turn into that sub-division on a road with a 7-11 to mark the spot, nearly every trip to town and often another coming back. It was a really dangerous T and we all cussed the state for not installing a turning lane there.

            One day coming back from Austin we came upon a huge wreck, at least 4 cars if not more. The DPS drove this section like they were Andy Parnelli and bulletproof. This day a thoroughly wrecked black and white Fury had hit a Pinto waiting to turn at some uber velocity judging by the cars involved. Since the Pinto driver had the wheels turned probably full lock to the left, that Fury shoved it into oncoming traffic which was hauling ass in both lanes. The people in the Pinto were killed since they ran head on into a Malibu going south and the next lane over got into the crash too with another car rear-ending the Malibu and that’s about all I could identify on the way by. Cars were in the barditch with various amounts of damage on both sides. But the DPS who caused it all was sitting there like a beached whale. The very next day we came by and there was a survey crew working there. The day after that there was a road crew there and a couple days after that there were turning lanes both directions. Yep, they take care of their own but don’t worry about the public. Department of Public Safety, has that ring you can’t quite get from Highway Patrol. Lots of scathing articles of the DPS on that stretch and few trying to smooth it over. In the ’70’s you could criticize govt. as opposed to now when govt. criticism has become criminal. And nobody wants to vote for the lesser of evils because??????

            • Cedar Park is Williamson County. They’re very “law and order” there, with a remarkable number of marijuana busts being rounded-up to 4.01 ounces (where it becomes a felony).

              • I was awaiting back surgery having just sold my truck I had then, We laid around in the back yard and since there were two hot women lying around there too the big Huey with guys sitting in the door came by often with their binocs. We eventually met the guys at a bar by happenstance and talked to them. They said finding pot that way was impossible but they were in the nat. guard and did as little as they could.

                Late that year we ventured through 10′ tall weeds to the cattle pens and sheds out back. It was just too thick to get back there when we moved in. We found some pot plants in the lots so somebody had previously grown there before. IIRC, it was all male and we ripped it up in case it was eventually seen.

                It was one of the first places I ever saw cops get away with murder or at least some lesser charge. Like I said, everybody with a radar gun was working 183 and an older couple who owned the local cafe and served great food had become friends. They walked to work every day, down 183. They were killed one morning by this dipshit cop chasing a speeder. The cafe closed and the cop kept harassing people.

                We had an ex-DPs narc car unchanged from it’s official days. We drove 90 mph all over and since we had hats and shirts and shades like the DPS we just gave a finger up when we’d meet one and they would too. Nobody ever got stopped in that car.

                • Yep ,everytime there is a drug rumour ,a Bell Long ranger appears( with a FLIR ON THE NOSE) and circles the property,reminds of back in the day when we were trying despertly to get a Whitetail(so the kids would have something to eat) a game warden would magically appear and mind you game wardens are basically regional) all this big county and they were watching us-I cry BS !.
                  Eight is right every time a tax assessor needs to trespass on your property,they need to setup an appointment at your convenience.”Land of the free ” indeed,people have been brainwashed and fed so much pablum ,they will willingly march to the death to support the “Herr Elite “.

              • Hi Chip,

                I’ll never grok it. This business of caging people for “possessing” anything. Or, partaking (and selling) for that matter. Am I crazy? Or are they vicious? Locking people in cages because they “possess” something? Or have put it freely, by their own choice, into their own body? Or freely sold it to a willing person?

                Why is it not generally regarded as indecent that one human being could have the effrontery to tell another – at gunpoint – what he may “possess” or consume or buy/sell?

                More than any other thing, the “drug war” shows that we are owned. Cattle, ear-tagged and pastured.

  9. Direct buy eliminates almost all of this.

    It is therefore opposed by dealers – who are heavily in hock, many of them. And those who are not, are making a lot of money being middlemen.

    Direct buy makes sense for just about everything nowadays. Retail is mostly a habit of convenience, or for people unsure of exactly what they want who want to explore options. It’s certainly not the most efficient or cost-effective way to sell something, especially a higher-cost durable good like a car.

    BTW, Eric, are motorcycle sales under the same restrictions as cars (that is, if you wanna by a Harley, do you have to do so through a dealership rather than be able to buy direct ftom the factory)?

  10. That’s too bad, I’ve really been hoping they would be able to make a go of it. An Elio sounds like a perfect little car to buzz around town, grocery store, barber shop, etc. I’d very seriously consider buying one, but the PtB probably aren’t gonna let that happen. I hope I’m wrong.

  11. As I recall, dealers were one small part of John DeLorean’s problem. A former GM vice-president who abruptly left the company in order to compete against it while publishing memoirs on the subject, despite being thought next in line for the Presidency, he found that many GM dealers were reluctant to sell his car for fear of reprisals from the 14th Floor in Detroit. I think he did convince most of them, however, and picked up on a significant Chrysler dealers, but being confined to that narrow network of store fronts didn’t help.

    • Hi BrotherJ,

      But moving up 25 floors and down by the river let GM get closer to that big tit in the sky. Just like Chrysler.

  12. Very, very few products are bought directly from the manufacturer. I can think of only a handful of products (Apple, Costco and other in-store branded foods, (back in the old days) Sears branded products like Craftsman and Kenmore… that’s about it off the top of my head). And just try to buy someone’s house without using real estate agents.

    But I get it, buying direct should be an option, especially if the retailer doesn’t do much to add value to the transaction, which I think might be the case for most car dealerships. And they hold all the cards in the automobile game. The so-called “factory to dealer incentives” are just shakedown money to make sure the dealer continues to sell that brand over another. The dance of buying a car when you’re dealing with a professional salesman who has much more information available than you do. Automobile advertising is dominated by regional buying groups who beat up TV and radio stations over price, or just swoop in at the deadline and undercut the rate for inventory, usually using the “that spot is just going to be wasted, might as well get something for it” sales technique, and planing media buys at the end of the month. And since they all have monopolies on a given brand in an area, if you do need advanced service you’re at their mercy.

    I’ve visited a Tesla showroom in Denver. It was a very nice experience, in a fashionable mall with an Apple store. The salesman? worker? employee? stepped me through the features of the car (mostly the interior and gadgets, less about the battery or drivetrain). I don’t think there was a price or window sticker to be found. But I could see a Wallmartesqe experience being just as effective on the low end or redneck truck buyer.

    • “And just try to buy someone’s house without using real estate agents.”
      What, you never heard of FSBO? Not common, I grant, but it does happen.
      And increasing numbers of companies are selling direct through the interwebs. Many even brag about ‘eliminating the middleman.’

      The local ‘AutoMall’ advertises that they can sell cheaper because they don’t take part in the manufacturers’ advertising co-ops. And you can do a direct side-by-side comparison of different brands, not just different models, at such a dealer. But the one-horse dealer? Limited (0?) value, once the courts ruled that makers could not void your warranty for not having routine maintenance done by ‘an authorized dealer.’

      • Not saying FSBO doesn’t happen, but the overwhelming majority of houses sold are through agents, and for a good reason: MLS services. In most states the MLS is a quasi-monopoly run by the real estate agencies. And agents won’t deal with homeowners so unless you have a very special property, if a potential buyer is working with an agent good luck getting any interest.

        Most auto malls are dealer chains, so they can run their own advertising. And quite a few are mega companies, operating in several cities (GO comes to mind). They claim that they can run much lower margins and still be very profitable, and they also pioneered no-haggle prices. Competition is good.

        And I agree the Internet is systematically destroying retail and other middleman relationships. It is only a matter of time until you’ll get video direct from the channel or studio without having to subscribe to cable service. It just needs an easy way for the studios to get billing set up without a lot of hassle. But that said, companies like Amazon will continue to act as middlemen for small companies and possibly become marketing, logistics and shipping partners just because for a lot of companies they just don’t want to pull focus away from their primary business. Especially if they only ship a few units a month or can’t justify a full blown shipping department.

  13. I think the dealers and manufacturers have a love/hate relationship. I don’t know how GM handled it, but when Mopar discontinued the Plymouth a few years back, they tried to unilaterally rescind all private (non-company owned) Dodge dealerships so the former Chrysler-Plymouth dealers could become Chrysler-Dodge.

  14. Glad to see you mentioned Elio. Have they begun establishing a dealer network? I’m still hoping it will be available by the time my TDI buyback check comes in.

    • Hi Phillip,

      Elio has gone dark on me for some reason. They were super friendly, responded to my e-mails… then – when I asked about a test drive – they suddenly stopped responding. I have not heard a peep out of them since.

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