We took great umbrage at the beginning of Kevin D. Williamson’s new NRODT article, Elizabeth Warren Is Wrong About Pay Day Lenders, (we are bit sure about the paywall) that comes out early on NRO. Of course, any article that starts with “Elizabeth Warren Is Wrong” is likely to be good and the article is terrific and you should read it all. You should subscribe if you haven’t. The problem is the beginning. Kevin says:
Do you know who the car-finance guys really miss? “Saab,” he said. “The Saab customer was the best.” The people who bought Saabs turned out to be as sensible and practical as the people who designed them — good credit, appropriate incomes, sensible down payments. “It wasn’t like Porsche or Land Rover,” he said. “Nobody bought a Saab because it fulfilled some fantasy.”
We loved our Saab. Now our love might have been augmented by the fact that it replaced the Toyota with over 400,000 miles that would only start if you put a coat hanger in the carburetor just before you cranked the key and then removed immediately after the vehicle started.
Sidebar: Here is a cite for those of you that don’t know what a carburetor is. We are pretty sure that the Saab was our first fuel injected vehicle. End Sidebar
It was fortunate that the Toyota hood (like the Saab) was hinged at the front so starting it only required a mild bit of contortion. The Saab not only started all by itself but it was responsive, was a joy to drive, and had a heated seat, another thing that has become standard but wasn’t several decades ago. It also had its practical side with front wheel drive (another innovation) and big tires that took the worry out of Wisconsin winters.
Why is Kevin’s article great? First he makes this point:
Being poor sucks, and no regulation is going to change that.
Later he expands on exactly why:
Of course, there are a lot of broke-ass suburbanites driving around in Land Rovers they cannot really afford. It is not only the poor who make bad financial decisions. (I could produce a conspectus [your word of the day] of my own.) But the poor always have less room for error, and for their errors, as for most things, they pay a proportionally higher price. [Emphasis added]
The play Fences has some great examples of the poor making good and bad decisions. The dad, Troy, discusses with one of his sons if they should fix the roof or get a TV. Troy isn’t as poor as some but he he trying to show his son exactly the problem Kevin describes. They can only do one or the other. Troy is working poor but his good financial sense allows him to help out others at the cost of some advice.
Kevin would like the Fences model but recognizes, unlike Elizabeth, that pay day lenders might be the best option for many folks. Too bad he never yearned to have a Saab of his very own.