Monday, May 21, 2007

Post Materialism

Given long periods of material affluence, growing part of society is supposed to become more post-materialistic, liberating themselves gradually from the stress of basic acquisitive or materialistic needs, shifting the focus on non-material goods. A quick look around the world, there seems to be no end to the materialistic world. Perhaps it's starting to change, in US of all the places, as if Marx's anti-thesis theory was right.

Everyday now, over 90% of the TER reviews are Craig's Lists' girls, or similar free listing services. There are high dollar hotties in there, but that's not what the reviews are about. This is NOT what my post is about, and the price of sex workers are very different things from materials. Now you may be interested in the many links around this post.

The rest of the world thinks that US is an extremely materialistic place, which isn't very true. It's true that we have everything available for sale, in the sense that US is the number one market in the world. But believe it or not, US consumers are relatively smart. They are relatively well informed, less restricted by the cartel's, and don't buy everything.

History may see the gobbling up of Chrysler by MBZ as a milestone. People still buy luxury cars, but increasingly reserved for the people who can well afford them. It's not like that any average Joe who can afford to lease one go out to lease one. Indeed many financial guru's preach that they never buy cars over 30,000. It's not a coincidence that MBZ has new cars (C2xx) below that point even in California, but how low can you go without alienating the consumers in the rest of the world? You cannot find those cars in other parts of the world, and those dealers aren't happy to hear the existence of it.

The "merger" is a logical conclusion. There will be many new rich people in say China, but the numbers will be dwarfed by the new middle class who will be able to afford a Kia! The failure of the "merger" doesn't prove that the idea is bad. GM and Ford had "rescued" many luxury brands before. Sooner or later ...

US companies are screwing themselves hard, like Intel. It's very true that the biggest enemy is your own old chips. If you don't screw yourself hard enough, others will be happy to do it for you, as GM and Ford know well.

On the topic of cars, once I tried to compare the price of a low volume model by calling the dealer in the next town somewhere in the developed world. When I walked into the dealership in my own town, the salesman was expecting me. The out of town dealer gave him my details. I got the car. Now not surprisingly it's owned by GM or Ford. Even as simple as washing machines, the manufacturing held up the new models, the cartels don't welcome them, the lack of maintenance, insurance, and deal sweeteners, means that there are little choices.

On the surface, there's not a lot of difference in US. The same car model is sold with a lot of extras in CA that you can hardly get rid of, unless you are willing to wait for your custom configuration arriving straight from the factory. When you want to buy a simple cordless phone for the seldom used land line, you are confronted with rows and rows of overly expensive 5.8 GHz phones, some even not digital!

Now there's always EBay. If you know what you want, you will probably find it there. For example, people buy gadgets in bulk from China, and split it up in Ebay for profit. The production is so good that brand names isn't necessary anymore. (What isn't produced in China?) And if it breaks, you can get a replacement, still at a fraction of the cost of buying from your neighborhood store.

You can find many things under the sun in EBay, who charges for the listings. For free you can list it in Craig's Lists, which is long owned by EBay, what a scary thought! A couple of years ago, when there were no TER reviews linked to CL, it's a well known fact that if you advertise on the Internet for less than $300 in LA, you will get threats.

On the lighter side, spending money on a provider can be considered spiritual. If you do it early and enough, you may not need a therapist down the road, prescribed drugs, or the illegal kind. It's only cash. There's no consequence and financial statements to haunt you. What left is happy memories.

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