May 2008 Archives

Raymond Hernandez notes that one perk of being a member of the House of Representatives is an all expenses paid car. In fact, Representatives are permitted to lease any car they damn well please:

There are few restrictions on what kind of car the members can choose, and there is no limit on how much they can spend....

Not only does the federal government pick up the cost of the lease and the gas, but also general maintenance, insurance, registration fees and excess mileage charges....

Congressional records show that about 125 members of the House make use of the benefit, which has been in place since at least the 1980s and is part of the allowance provided for their office operations.

I don't begrudge them their expensive cars; almost all of these folks would be driving luxury vehicles if they paid for them themselves.

But this leaves a politician with yet another decision to make: does he maximize status (as C. Rangel does), or minimize cost (as few seem to do), or maximize fuel economy, or minimize carbon emissions? Choices, choices! Clearly our House members need assistance in choosing between the bewildering array of choice! As we all supposed to know, people in current capitalist societies have way too much choice for their own good.

What rubbish! House members have implemented a set of rules that maximizes their own choices, their own freedom, and their own welfare. They know who they want to be and the image they want to portray to the world. They do not seem to find it hard to choose: they know if they must choose style or reliability or ruggedness.

However, I believe that Barry Schwartz could be vindicated with a simple experiment. Permit all House members only three fully-optioned choices: a Ford Escape Hybrid 4x4, a Ford Focus, or a Ford Taurus.

I bet you the take rate on cars would climb to near 100%.


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