The end of the American empire is going to be rough. There is no doubt that many working class folks will suffer as our economy continues to crash. Interesting dimension — the L.A. Times notes that we are in a car crunch — not enough automobiles for the American market — thus the prices are high.
The cause identified for this shortage is the earthquake which killed more than 14,000 people (official police estimate), left uncontrolled mox reactors dumping nuclear fuel into the ocean air and water, and wrecked people’s homes and businesses. Given the chance, we’d rather read disaster in terms of the impact on our consumer market. News stories about radiation abatement and the deadly nuclear reactor don’t get coverage, but we get the explicit run down of how much the earthquake and tsunami hurt the run of 2011 Hondas.
“Although automakers will work hard to catch up during the second half of this year, ultimately about 700,000 vehicles will never be built because of the quake.
The shortfall has allowed Toyota and competitors such as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. to raise sticker prices.”
This is capitalist semiotics at it’s most refined — there is no doubt that natural disasters have an impact on business — but it is the prioritizing of the disruption of automobile production as it impacts United States consumers that seems so grimy to me.
For those who make a living selling cars, this story is particularly important. So as the article progresses, they note that one result has been an enormous surge in the trade-in value of cars:
In 2007, a 3-year-old Ford Explorer would bring about $7,100 as a trade-in for a new car. Now, a 3-year-old Explorer gets double that amount — $14,200 — according to auto price information company Kelley Blue Book. The trade-in value for a 3-year-old Honda Civic has jumped by $3,500 to $12,200 in the same period.
Another way of reading this change is to note the declining value of the dollar. American money is less valuable — and this makes all the valuable goods cheap for other countries to buy. If you are over thirty, then you probably remember the phenomenon of travelling to other countries for a “deal” — well, now the United States looks like a deal.
I’m not all that concerned about the actual corporations who make money off of these transactions — but the folks who need transportation and can’t afford a safe used car are going to struggle. The United States is a nation which holds fierce the right to individual automobile transit, and has stubbornly refused to invest in public transportation.