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  • Do the rich vote Republican ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on November 17th, 2012 (All posts by )

    The question about who the rich vote for is a serious one as we head for the “fiscal cliff” next year. The Republican Party has been defending the “top 2% of income groups” that Obama wants to exclude from the extension of current income tax rates. The argument is that this group, with incomes above $200,000 for individuals and above $250,000 per year for couples, includes small business owners who create most of the jobs in this country. This is probably true and the small business owners are a reliably Republican group of voters. What about the really rich ? The group whose taxes Obama wants to raise is really mostly the upper middle class. The inflation of the 1970s, and the coming inflation which will be the only result of Obama’s “budgets,” changes the income levels that determine the middle class.

    Recently, there has been some discussion of the voting patterns of the “rich” and whether the Republicans are really defending Republican voters and what are the voting patterns of the rich. Bill Kristol recently wrote that the Republicans may be courting disaster by risking a trip over the fiscal cliff defending people who are not Republican voters. Data on this last election is still thin but there are a few bits of information available.


    Much has been written on Digital Journal about wealthy Americans only voting for the Republicans. I realize that this perception has been bandied about in the media for decades. But is it really true?

    In the blog “Election 2008: what really happened”, the author states: “As with previous Republican candidates, McCain did better among the rich than the poor.” He includes some charts that support his contention. The first chart shows that Republican vote share is very low with individuals in the lowest income groups. The Republican vote share increases dramatically as income rises. The Republican vote share peaked in the 60 to 70 thousand dollar range and then declined gradually to the 90 thousand dollar range before climbing again to 150 thousand dollars. The second chart indicates that the Republican vote share peaked again between 125 and 150 thousand dollars. After that it declined gradually as income continued to rise.

    This bit of information suggests that voters with incomes above $150,000 per year are less likely to vote Republican than those with incomes below that level. There is more data here for the years up to 2010. An interesting part of this information is this.

    What I found particularly interesting was that the only time the Republican vote share exceeded 50% was in relatively narrow ranges around the peaks. In 2008 the Republican vote share never exceeded 55% in any income class. The Republican vote share at the highest income level was around 47 to 48%.

    Why should this be ? The highest income group, and by this I mean those with steady incomes above $250,000 per year, have other issues that influence their vote. Social issues drive a lot of the Democrat vote. Some of these issues are relatively unrelated to income. Gay marriage drives a lot of prosperous voters to vote for Democrats. I know this from my own children. Even though gays make up from 2% to 6% of the US population, the issue is one that influences many voters who do not have to worry about income. This includes many young voters whose parents make up a significant share of their income.

    Hollywood and the movie industry is a prominent example of very wealthy people who are hostile to Republicans although they are well within the income levels that should influence voting patterns. In fact, they are wealthy enough to ignore economics in their voting decisions. The same applies to lawyers who have an economic interest in behavior that leads them to Democrats. Of course, the present government has a heavy participation of rent seekers who support policies, such as alternate energy sources, in the anticipation of obtaining financial benefits from the tax payers.

    There are also those who, regardless of income level, have an ideological attachment to the Democrats. In this group are public employee union members, teachers (redundant I know), college professors, environmentalists who care nothing about economics and single women who may see the government as a source of support.

    Why does this matter ?

    Obama has run a class warfare campaign that appears to have been successful. Romney may have lost a large number of white voters who bought the argument that he is a rich man who does not care about the poor. The Republicans are now in a confrontation with Obama and the Democrats over income tax rates. Are they right to defend the tax rates of people who may not vote for them ?

    To return to the above link.

    A quick review of the figures presented on the Center for Responsive Politics also indicates that the perception that the wealthy prefer Republicans is not accurate for the 2009-2010 period. In their analysis they looked at donors giving more than $200 to a candidate or Political Action Committee. I believe it is reasonable to assume the wealthy were the most likely individuals to donate $200 to any candidate.

    Donors giving more than $200 only to candidates gave Democrats approximately 28.3 million dollars more than they gave Republicans. The Democrats received about 6.4% than Republicans. Another interesting tidbit is the percentage of individuals donating to Democrats was higher than it was for Republicans.

    As we come to the point where Democrats are determined to raise taxes on the highest 2% of the population, maybe we should be looking harder at this group. The results of the coming confrontation can be only one of three choices. Obama can give in but this is less likely. He ran his whole campaign on this issue. The Democrats could compromise but, again, Obama and they ran on this issue. The Republicans could stand firm and take us over the cliff. Or the Republicans could agree to the tax increases. We know that the tax increase will have no significant effect on the deficit. There has been talk of a “deal” with some amount of spending cuts in return for the tax increase.

    It may be time to try to cut a reasonable deal if one is possible.

    Mona Charen has a suggestion.

    Conservatives and Republicans object to tax increases not because they favor the rich, but because they believe strongly that the government already spends way too much. The election has settled the issue, for now, in Obama’s favor. Republicans who still hold national power in the House might want to consider one idea that will help their image and expose Obama’s deception in a single blow — agree to raise taxes only on the truly rich, those earning more than $5 million annually. That’s a tax that will be shouldered almost entirely by Obama donors and supporters — those insulated from the real economy.

    Sounds reasonable to me.

     

    34 Responses to “Do the rich vote Republican ?”

    1. Ginny Says:

      Well, it doesn’t look to me like you have to go to $5 million to hit the Obama donors; I do think that the $250,000 hits a lot of small businesspeople (I wasn’t terribly successful, but kept 10-15 people paid regularly and filed in that category from the beginning; plowing income back in the firm is what most people in my position did).

      One of our problems, of course, is not just that those on welfare and social security get their checks from the government but those in education, social work, important and some not so important civic, state and federal services. Voting ourselves payraises does seem like an obvious no brainer – and a less often discussed but equal no brainer is that such a vote isn’t objective. (Our family, except for maybe 50% of our income in the years of my business, has been dependent upon the government for all our working lives.)

    2. David Foster Says:

      There are a lot of people with $200K+ incomes who get their money directly or indirectly from government, and in many cases it is economically rational for them to support the expansion of government even if they will pay more taxes…because the impact on their incomes (and their job security) outweighs the taxes. For them, taxes are sort of a cost of goods sold item.

      To take an extreme example, if you’re a senior Washington lobbyist for the electric car industry or the subsidized-solar industry, it’s quite likely that you get paid several hundred thousand per year. The money may come directly from a company or a group of companies, but you will be very well aware that its ultimate source is the taxpayer money directed to the industry. If you’re voting your pocketbook, you’ll vote Democratic.

      I discussed these points in my post Paying higher taxes can be very profitable:

      http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/11069.html

    3. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Given the number of billionaires, media types, Hollywood types, and general trust-fund babies who are the source of Leftist funding [somebody is coughing up the money for the daily fundraisers Obama had/has]; we have to realize that the upper income levels have been co-opted by the State and are rent-seeking clients of the Nomenklatura. We do not have a rule of law, but rather a rule of who is favored by those in power.

      Leftist media [sorry for the redundancy] boilerplate notwithstanding, Conservatives get most of their funding from lower and middle economic classes. Even the infamous Koch Brothers contribute more to the Left than to Conservatives.

      I have written elsewhere that the proper response to the total lack of leverage conservatives have on the resolution coming fiscal cliff disaster would be to let the Democrats put forth whatever they want for taxes, and for Republicans to vote “present”. We cannot stop it, so let the coming collapse be totally Democrat. Reserve our fight for defending what little we can of the Bill of Rights. If we put forth any tax proposals, I would favor an additional “net worth” tax on those individuals making $10,000,000 gross a year.

      It would help drain the enemy’s coffers; and have the advantage of forcing a number of the Left in the Media/Entertainment complex to become expats. This would bring about the collapse of California even faster.

      No, I’m not a nice person.

      Subotai Bahadur

    4. Joe Citizen Says:

      “..the “top 2% of income groups” that Obama wants to exclude from the extension of current income tax rates.”

      This is not true, of course. Tax rates apply to income, not to people. EVERYBODY gets tax cuts under Obama’s plan, on the first 250K that they earn. He wants the marginal rates for income over 250K to return to the Clinton levels. Marginal rates only apply to income over a certain level – everyone will pay lower rates on the dollars they earn before they hit that level.

      “The group whose taxes Obama wants to raise is really mostly the upper middle class.”

      How could that possibly be? You are claiming that the category of top 2% of income earners is mostly the upper middle class??? So the “upper” class is what, less than 1%? That is a rather odd definition.

      Anyway, to your larger point. I would wager that the rich people in this country did very very well in the nineties. Maybe even better than the past decade – even though they had slightly higher income tax rates. It would be because the economy was so much healthier. So wealthy people (and Republican politicians) should make a more sophisticated calculation here – how much does a wealthy person lose by paying a higher rate vs. how much they gain from having a healthier economy with a shrinking deficit.

    5. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Every regime creates winners and losers. The winners support the regime, the losers oppose it.

      The current regime was founded by Franklin Roosevelt during the “New Deal”. It has created winners and losers. Some are obvious — welfare recipients, government employees, trial lawyers, university professors (federal research grants). Some ought to be obvious — maize farmers. Some are less obvious — the entire financial business was created by and is completely regulated by the government. They must support the regime. Many of these classes are part of the 1%.

      The losers include the supporters of the previous regime such manufacturing industries, small businesses, and savers. he regime has consitently taxed savers with the inflation tax to make ends meet.

      Every regime comes to an end. This one will too. The most common way throughout history that regimes have ended is bankruptcy. The current regime is running big deficits and is over-leveraged. If it does not control its spending soon, it will find out that compound interest is an exponential function. Bankruptcy will then be inevitable.

    6. grey eagle Says:

      In 1960 the 91% tax bracket started at $400,000. The 50% bracket started at $32,000.

      (Google “tax brackets in the 1960s” to find brackets for 1950-1980.)

      The very rich made very little income in those days. Movie stars bought large ranches that just barely earned $1000/yr after enormous operating expenses. Or they earned their money overseas, or their entire income was deferred for 50 years and they borrowed living expenses from the studio.

      I suspect that if taxes on incomes over $400,000 are raised to 90% or higher, that total revenues from these people will decline.

      The only way to tax the rich is to take them prisoner and hold them for ransom. They are tricky, slippery devils which is why they are rich.

      If you let them keep their money they usually hire lots of people, give lots to charity, and are big tippers.

      However, kings and princes hate people who live more lavishly that they do. For example, there are several private planes that are bigger than Air Force I, vacation homes bigger than Camp David, and mansions bigger than the White House.

      The Republicans can prevent increases in tax rates for the rich by passing a law that says President will always have the biggest toys. These are called sumptuary laws. Further, we need a law that says only the President and his family can wear the color Purple.

    7. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “In 1960 the 91% tax bracket started at $400,000. The 50% bracket started at $32,000. ”

      And then Kennedy was elected and he cut tax rates. When I started in practice the rates were still quite high and tax shelters were big. One difference was that money was worth a lot more. Before the Watergate Congress in 1974, inflation had not yet gotten started, By 1980, the prices of things and the value of money had radically changed. The same phenomenon is coming and soon.

    8. David Foster Says:

      $32,000 and $400,000 in 1960 don’t have much to do with $32,000 and $400,000 in 2012. According to the BLS Inflation Calculator, the $32K number is equivalent to $250,000 in current 2012 dollars, and the $400K number is equivalent to $3.1 million.

      Also, because capital gains taxes are not indexed, for any asset that is held over a period of years is paying a true Federal capital gains rate that is higher (sometimes much higher) than the nominal 15%:

      http://photoncourier.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html#3288228389110737801

    9. Joe Citizen Says:

      “Before the Watergate Congress in 1974, inflation had not yet gotten started,”

      In 1972, the inflation rate was 3.27%
      In 1973, the inflation rate was 6.16%
      In 1974, the inflation rate was 11.03%
      In Jan. 1975 the “Watergate Congress” was sworn in.
      In 1975, the inflation rate was 9.20%
      In 1976, the inflation rate was 5.75%

      “By 1980, the prices of things and the value of money had radically changed.”

      After ’76 it did go up again, but why do you try to attribute this to the Watergate Congress?

      As a conservative, I thought you would embrace the notion that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary problem.

    10. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “why do you try to attribute this to the Watergate Congress?”

      The economy went in to recession in Q4 1973 which NBER says ended in Q1 1975, but as I remember it was still a bit soggy in 1976 when Carter was elected. Carter, and the overwhelmingly Democrat Congress that was elected in 1974 and re-elected in 1976, decided that what the country needed was stimulus, so they passed it. In 1978 Carter made G. William Miller, formly the chairman of a conglomerate (Textron) chairman of the Federal Reserve. Miller decided that his job was to put the pedal to the metal. By mid 1979 inflation was roaring and the dollar was collapsing. The elders forced Carter to remove Miller from the Fed and appoint Volker. Volker hit the monetary brakes.

      Bernanke was unable to provoke inflation on the scale Miller was because the economy is worse and Europe and Japan are in worse shape than the US, so there are no havens for money to be safe in.

    11. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “$32,000 and $400,000 in 1960 don’t have much to do with $32,000 and $400,000 in 2012.”

      This is the tragedy that my children don’t understand, at least the three that voted for Obama. In 1972, I was a senior resident with an annual salary of about $17,000 and made some extra money working in ERs for a total of about $22,000. In 1969, my father died and left me $3500. With that I bought a house in South Pasadena for $35,000. The seller took a second of $3500 and I paid him $35/ month. My house payment to Home Savings was $204/ month. In 1968, I bought a Mustang convertible for $3050. No down payment and $95 / month payments. By the time I finished my residency in 1972, the car was paid for and I had about $1500 in the credit union.

      Twenty years later, that house was for sale for $595,000. Don’t ask me why I didn’t keep it as a rental. Nobody anticipated what came later. Gold was about $70 / ounce.

      We will do far worse the next four years no matter what trolls believe.

    12. Bill Brandt Says:

      Michael – in 1959 my family moved from Studio City – they had their house on the market for – I think – $36,000 – for 6 months it didn’t sell.

      Last time I looked on zillow it was appraised at 1.2 million.

      I think all in all – times were better in those days – and I think we are in for a round of Carter-era inflation..

      I think – even with corresponding low wages – more things were affordable – attainable – than today.

      And you didn’t need 2 parents working to stay in a house …

      Taxes were far lower

    13. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “I think – even with corresponding low wages – more things were affordable – attainable – than today.

      And you didn’t need 2 parents working to stay in a house …

      Taxes were far lower”

      That’s what the Obama people don’t understand. The same thing happened with AMT. It was supposed to catch a few millionaires who didn’t pay taxes. Now, it affects everyone in the middle class.

      I think the richest I ever was was in 1972. I couldn’t do some of the things I did later, like sail to Hawaii, but we took vacations and drove new cars and on a salary of $17,000 a years. I estimate that was the equivalent of $200,000 now.

      It’s amusing to see the trolls trying to defend Obama. I skim their comments but they aren’t worth reading fully or responding to. I do wonder how old they are.

    14. Joe Citizen Says:

      Robert Schwartz.

      Your explanation says nothing about the Watergate Congress. Low interest rates were pushed by the Fed Chairman appointed by Nixon, and the first Carter chairman. The second one appointed by Carter slammed on the brakes. Congress had nothing to do with it.

    15. Joe Citizen Says:

      “…in 1959 … Taxes were far lower”

      In 1959, the marginal income tax rates started at 20% and went up to 91%.

    16. Bill Brandt Says:

      I know – in the late 60s – $400/month was a decent salary – and you get could get a nice car for $4,000 – a Chevy – $3000? – a stripped one even less. Heck, Corvettes in the late 60s were about $4K.

      I went to one of the top private schools for 2 years – tuition was $4000/year. I transferred to the University of Virginia where, believe it or not, tuition for an out of state student was $800/semester. I think Federally-guaranteed loans are a large reason for the huge inflation in schools.

      People are working far harder today and I think the quality of life a lot lower. Can you imagine trying to get through medical school today with the expectation of what you will earn once finally out? There is a reason why so many doctors in Britain’s National Health system come from countries like Pakistan -

    17. Michael Kennedy Says:

      When I started medical school in 1961, tuition was $500 per semester. I had enough money for one semester and would have to wing it after that. I got called up in the 1961 call-up of reserves by Kennedy. They held a place for me in the next year’s first year class and the tuition went up to $600 per semester.

      The formal inflation rates, just like now, do not measure inflation until later. In 1962, my wife and I lived on $10/ week for food. I have always like casseroles and they are cheap. By 1963, I had a full tuition scholarship so that problem was solved. I got a moonlighting job doing histories and physicals for new admissions at one of the big hospitals. I made $7/ hour and we were in good shape. By that time, my wife’s parents and my father were each sending us $100/ month. In 1965, we had our first child and rented a two bedroom house for $100/ month.

      I hate to think of what is coming.

    18. Joe Citizen Says:

      “…$400/month was a decent salary – and you get could get a nice car for $4,000″

      So it took 10 months of decent salary to buy a nice car?

      The average salary now is around 43K. 10 months of that (36K) would certainly get you a nice car (and a far better one than back then).

      “I went to one of the top private schools for 2 years – tuition was $4000/year”

      Once again – about 10 months of decent salary. For 36K you could buy a year of tuition at Princeton today.

      “I transferred to the University of Virginia where, believe it or not, tuition for an out of state student was $800/semester”

      Thats called a taxpayer subsidy. We used to do that a lot back then – set tuition rates at public institutions at far below cost because higher education was seen as a social good. Even as late as 20 years ago, one could get a good undergraduate education at a public institution in one of the blue states for $600/semester. With the Reagan revolution, and the loss of any sense of the common good (the “me generation), all of this has changed.

      Seriously Bill, you seem to have quite an attitude built upon a profoundly mistaken sense of economics. Maybe you should rethink some things…

    19. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Jonathan, any chance of that troll screen working so we don’t have to scroll past these nasty, ignorant comments ?

    20. Bill Brandt Says:

      Michael – they are arrogant, condescending…I learned just to scroll past and ignore them.

    21. Joe Citizen Says:

      my goodness gentlemen, “nasty, ignorant, arrogant, and condescending”. And yet, sadly, all accurate. All simple facts.

      I though you good people of the right were so opposed to people being silenced merely because their discussion of simple facts may “offend” others. And what kind of offense have I engaged in? Merely pointing out the basic economic facts and how they differ from Bill’s analysis?

      Is it nasty to simply have a different point of view? Its not like I called anyone names or anything. I’m not like Kennedy, who has referred to me, several times, as “swine”. That, I could understand, might lead to a filtering out.

      I am actually inviting you guys to break out of the bubble and rejoin the real world. You spend so much time complaining and acting as if you are so miserable with the modern world, I am just trying to offer you some rays of light. Lighten up….

    22. grey eagle Says:

      The problem with inflation, Mr Troll, is that prics do not go up in lock-step. Some things go up faster than others. It forces a person to constantly search for replacements and bargains. After a while we hate this constant change and would prefer that prices remain constant.

      Another problem caused by inflation is that saving money for retirement is foolish. In 1960 $10,000 after taxes was an above-average wage. A person who saved $1000 in 1960 might have $8000 in 2012 (4% interest compounded saving account) – BUT that $8000 adjusted for inflation is only $800 in 1960 dollars.

      Life in the 60s was better. I would rather have a 1960 Camaro than the kludge built in 2012. We had ten time more freedom in 1960 because there were 10 times fewer government regulations. Most federal agencies weree only an evil dream used to frighten small children.

      A person could enter any airport and board any plane without being searched, xrayed and patted down. Gates were located near the curb so that passengers could get out of a car, walk 20 steps and board a plane. And stewardesses were all young and pretty women. So many harmless things are now illegal.

      Children could wander around alone and not be molested.

      Liberalism has given us inflation, terrorists, kludgy cars, mind numbing rules and regulations, wrinkled stews, and child molesters. I prefer the 60s to this brave new world.

      Remember, only governmemt can cause inflation. And famines only occur in countries in which the ruling class controls the economy.

    23. David Foster Says:

      JoeC, there is all kinds of data showing that college costs have escalated much faster than overall inflation…see for example:

      http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Articles/Education_Inflation.asp

      If you back out subsidies and look at true cost, by whoever or whatever borne, you will still find a much higher cost growth than inflation. A big part of this is skyrocketing administrative expenses, another part is the Edifice Complex…college administrators, as well as donors, tend to looovve buildings. And, of course, too many students (and parents) are making decisions based too much on luxury dorms and not enough on actual quality of education.

    24. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Debating trolls is a useless exercise. They live for attention and say outrageous things to get it. That is how you differentiate them from differing comments. I have no argument with those who disagree. I don’t know who the troll is referring to as “Kennedy” but, if it is me, I have never referred to him/her/it as “swine.” That is just more incitement for attention.

      Notice, for example, the lack of links in troll comments.

    25. Joe Citizen Says:

      ” I have never referred to him/her/it as “swine.” That is just more incitement for attention.”

      I haven’t the time to track down all your offenses, but here is just one:

      LINK

      You obviously have no obligation to engage with me. But you do seem obsessed with constantly reminding everyone that you are not engaging with me. And characterizing the things I say in a negative manner without ever explaining why anything I say is wrong. So yeah, I think it is a fair comment to say that you have a problem dealing with people who disagree with you. You seem to want to rant, rather than to discuss. That is your right, of course, but lets not pretend otherwise.

      If “troll” means saying outrageous things for attention, then how do my comments fit? What is outrageous about pointing out what the cost of education, or a car is today, vs. 50 years ago? Or what the tax rates were? The true outrage seems to be that I don’t just nod along with your rants.

    26. Joe Citizen Says:

      David,

      I do not dispute that there is inflation in higher education that seems greater than the economy at large. It is a matter of degree, and causation. I was merely pointing out to Bill that given the numbers he provided, based on his experience, that perhaps the inflation is not quite as bad as he imagined. Certainly his numbers would seem to indicate little to no inflation over and above the general level. At least relative to salaries.

      As to causes – well, the factors you mention seem plausible. So does the decline in public subsidization of public institutions of higher ed. Some public institutions were nearly free, for decades, or at really trivial cost. There seems to be quite a movement away from viewing higher education as something that benefits the society as whole – and thus worthy of public support – and more toward a view that it is mainly a benefit to the student, so the student (or his/her family) should bear a greater share, if not all, of the cost.

      One even begins to sense this attitude in K-12. I think it a great tragedy.

    27. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Mr troll, your “link” is an obvious stretch.

      An example of insulting and outrageous comment:

      “Seriously Bill, you seem to have quite an attitude built upon a profoundly mistaken sense of economics. Maybe you should rethink some things…”

      QED

    28. Kirk Parker Says:

      OMG Grey Eagle, don’t go there with automotive technology. The cars we have now are so much better designed and built that when we had in the 60′s, it’s almost like we need to call them by a different name.

      One data point: my first car was a ’66 Chevelle, bought used with 60k miles, for the grand price of $500. At 60k miles it was already a piece of crap–lots of rust, leaked around the rear window, and after I had it a week the bracket that held the clutch-pedal pivot to the frame broke when I was driving and I had to have it welded back. The heat riser stuck and gave me no end of trouble during the winter until I figured out what was wrong (as a starving college student I couldn’t really afford to take it to a shop unless it was really dire; the one saving virtue of the beast was that it was fairly easy to work on.)

      Contrast this to our ’94 Suburban, now over 220,000 miles. It’s spend its whole life outside (carport at home, parked outside 5 days a week at work.) The body is still great, and in 220+k miles of driving the only engine work it’s ever had has been tuneups. Still runs great, though I assume eventually it will need a valve job. And it gets 15mpg on the highway (it’s a 1500/2WD), better than the wonderful VistaCruiser I remember from my high school days, while having a lot more interior space.

    29. Mike K Says:

      I agree that the new cars are better made but that mostly applies to Hondas and Toyotas. I had an Aerostar, probably a 91 or 92. I replaced the air conditioning compressor and the cylinder head. Both very expensive jobs.

      Ford F 150s are well made but I would not buy a GM product anymore.

    30. Joe Citizen Says:

      OK Michael, this is getting silly. To say someone is “profoundly mistaken” is insulting and outrageous?

      And that is what makes one a troll?

      What can I say. I guess we are all trolls then, eh?
      Except you – I am sure you would never so debase yourself as to characterize someone as “profoundly mistaken”.

    31. grey eagle Says:

      Kirk: The Detroit made cars of the 60s normally needed major repairs starting at 25,000 miles. This feature often led young boys and girls into a career of fixing cars. Dealerships were not the only place, or even the best place, for getting repairs to Detroit made cars.

      Of course today only the dealership can fix the car because the central computer system built into the cars only accepts special tools. And only dealerships approved by the manufacturer has these tools.

      The Detroit cars of the 60s were much longer, lower, bigger and sexier than the Detroit cars of 2012. It was a simple matter to correct handling problems with after-market bolt-ons.

      I started driving Hondas in the 80s when I lost my enthusiasm for re-engineering my own car using after-market parts.

    32. Kirk Parker Says:

      G.E.,

      My ’94 Suburban and my ’97 Accord (now at 166k miles and every bit as stellar as the Suburban in the longevity sweepstakes) get serviced by non-dealers all the time; is this a change that happened in the last decade or something?

    33. grey eagle Says:

      It was caused by emission requirements, miles/gallon, and ethanol levels. The coputer constantly adjusts fuel/air mix to lower emission and raise efficiency at different RPM and load levels. Also with the VTEC engines maximum power comes in at 5000-7000 rpm (my 60 camaro did 4500 rpm max!). Detroit cars most limit tool availbility. The tools are needed mostly to get histories and diagnostics off the car’s computer and then to see what the computer thinks of the repairs that have been made. Now that I drive hondas I don’t get to have long conversations with repair men/women. They do complain about getting these tools to read the car computer.

    34. Bill Brandt Says:

      Kirk – there has always been a market for independent shops – who have less overhead and 9the better ones anyway) have owners/employees who the dealers have paid so much to train.

      Trouble is with cars becoming so much more technical – they are not so much machines now but rolling computer networks that managed the machines – the investment to stay on top of the newer cars can easily go to the high 5 figures – even 6 figures, getting diagnostic equipment.

      Even the fuel injectors now individually report to the network…

      As far as car quality they are all so much better (Detroit included) but when something goes bad it isn’t something a DIYer can usually do…

      Grey Eagle – you are rifght about manufacturers – they have a love-hate relationship with independents – love to sell them poarts, harte training them or giving them information that competes with their own dealer service depts

      As far as which is the party of the rich I would say the Dems – look at Hollywood – even Warren Buffett is a Dem -