Sonata in C-Class minor

A point I raised about eight years ago, in Vent #299:

If you have $26,500, a rather middling sum for an automobile these days, you can have the bottom-of-the-line Benz, the C230 Kompressor coupe with a supercharged 2.3-liter inline four; or you can have the high-end Hyundai, the XG350 sedan with a 3.5-liter V6, and about a thousand dollars left over. Of course, Mercedes being Mercedes, you can easily add another ten grand to the price, while the Hyundai is stuffed with everything in every conceivable Korean parts bin, but still, it’s possible to buy either of these cars for a price well short of thirty K.

Some will ask, “What in the world is Hyundai doing, trying to compete with the likes of Mercedes?” Better they should ask, “What in the world is Mercedes-Benz doing, trying to compete with the likes of Hyundai?”

It did not occur to me at the time to superimpose political theory on top of this premise. If it had, it might have gone something like this:

If the right tries to compete with the left in the free money game, the left has to up the ante in order to maintain its market position as the free money leader. As an analogy: if Mercedes were to drop its prices to near-Hyundai levels, Hyundai would have to drop its own prices to an extremely low level, in order to maintain its position as the low price leader (since Hyundai would not be able to quickly and credibly shift to being the prestige/luxury provider). Hyundai may not be able to achieve this level of a price reduction (as they are subject to the laws of the marketplace), but in politics, the only limit (until economic reality kicks in) is the voters’ willingness to take from their neighbors. If the right is already offering ~90% tax rates on the rich, then the left, if it wants to retain its market position, will up the ante by going to the extreme socialism that [Dennis] Wheatley rightly denounces.

Car buffs will note that Hyundai is already attempting to carve out a slice of the prestige/luxury market, having introduced the Genesis sedan and coupe; the arrival of the Equus, aimed right at Lexus’ solar plexus, is imminent. (Only downside: “EQUUS” turns out to be a lame acronym.) Meanwhile, Daimler contemplates the possibility of selling the B-Class in the States. (It’s already for sale in Canada, along with the even-smaller A-Class.)

So both sides are starting to look like one another. If that isn’t a metaphor for American politics, I’ll eat my unthrown-into-the-ring hat. But there’s this:

If the Congress consisted entirely of right-oriented Republicans, independents, Constitution party and Libertarians, then the Democrats would have to move right to survive, and the right-oriented would have to move further right, to maintain their market position.

Then again, bottom-feeders (Hyundai Accent, Henry Waxman), like the poor, are with us always.

1 comment

  1. ak4mc »

    5 July 2010 · 4:20 pm

    …then the Democrats would have to move right to survive, and the right-oriented would have to move further right, to maintain their market position.

    Well, the Incumbentist wing of the GOP has been pushing Democrats to the left since right around 1936 — and both parties have remained stuck in that pattern ever since, interim changes in political climate notwithstanding.

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