# Interesting Data About Inflation and Millenials - 1970 vs 2017

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by Kittamaru, Jun 5, 2017.

1. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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I don't know, even if the "average person" wasn't rebuilding an engine, plenty of people were. Electronics and mechanics magazines and suchlike from back in the day were all geared towards doers and makers, now they're just geared towards wankers who sit on their asses and order a new Iphone every time they come across a story about the unbearable working conditions and suicides in Apple factories.

I've got an '82 diesel VW Westfalia (with a '99 Jetta engine). Not only can I supplement many repairs with generic crap from a hardware store, I can also start it after an EMP and run it on rendered zombie fat. Or jet fuel. But more importantly, I can do all of the repairs myself--without any especially fancy equipment.

Then we have a 2000-something Subaru somethingorother-wagon-thing, and changing a bulb in a headlight is an onerous task. It has this light that comes on when one of the tires' pressure is low--but it doesn't tell you which one! Unbelievable!

Perhaps with older vehicles, most people couldn't tear down an engine and fix, but they could certainly do a hell of a lot more routine maintenance and basic repairs than they can do on pretty much any newer vehicle.

3. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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(bolding mine)

In Kitt's OP, he mentions the 1970 car loan at 11% interest, three year repayment... but just how many people were buying cars in this fashion (the installment plan) in 1970, as compared with now? Then there's leasing--a concept which I find utterly bizarre, and non-existent (yes?) in 1970. For me, the problem with much of the data is that it isn't broken down by demographics (for instance), nor does it account for--as you note--credit; consequently, "meaningful" comparisons are complicated.

5. ### KittamaruNow nearly 40 pounds lighter.Staff Member

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It was intended as a "back of the napkin" style comparison, to both get the ball rolling and because it was actually spawned off from another thread wherein a few folks were trying to blame all Millennial's problems on simple laziness, so I needed a place to dump a fair chunk of data for analysis and have the discussion without utterly derailing that thread.

7. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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Still though, it was interesting. I was only an idea in 1970, but according to my mom, most everyone was buying cars upfront--even new cars. My mom was poor, so she wasn't buying new cars, but those who were were mostly paying cash.

8. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Google "chipping" and "remapping." The tools are still there (just different) and people are still using them.

There have always been wankers driving cars; there have always been people willing to fix their own cars.
Years back I had one of the first hybrids - a Honda Civic Hybrid. It crapped out after about six years so I got a $10 CAN bus scanner. Diagnostics showed me current sensor #2 was out. Replaced that for$40 (part from a junkyard) and was back in business.

Cars have gotten more complex - but that doesn't mean "harder to fix." In some ways they are easier - there are now diagnostics that tell you what's wrong.
That's nothing. The 1975 Pontiac Sunbird required lifting the ENGINE out to change the spark plugs. Cars have gotten considerably easier to maintain since then; "design for maintenance" has become a thing.
Like what? I regularly changed engine oil, replaced filters, did inspections (CV boots, coolant hoses etc) from my first car (1973 Datsun) to my latest gas car (2005 Prius.) I now have two EV's that require zero maintenance, so haven't done that in a while.

9. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of substantive data on who does what and who can do what in the respective eras, and what there is (most anecdotal) doesn't seem esepcially reliable--like the guy on the internets who claims he can stack a cord of wood in half an hour!

Hmm. To me, it's the newer stuff that always seems to be more convoluted in design. With my Westfalia, you can access pretty much everything with a very basic toolkit--you can even improvise if you can't locate the particular optimal tool. And seriously, I have to go through an unbelievable number of steps just to access a bulb in the headlamp on the Subaru; whereas on the VW, I can replace it in seconds (and unlike the guy who can move tons of wood in minutes, I'm not exaggerating)

We have an LG washer/dryer-in-one combo-thing on which I had to replace the drain pump the other day. I had to dismantle the entire thing: remove the top, disconnect the control board, remove various compartments for soap and drains and suchlike on front, remove the door!, unfasten the band from the bellows just so I could disconnect the door locking mechanism, and so forth... All that to access a drain pump, which wasn't even broken, but rather just clogged (dogs!). Either way, I still had to dismantle everything to remove the obstructing dog hair.

What about the electrical systems? This is less of a maintenance issue, and rather has more to do with mishaps and such, but with newer vehicles, a "fender bended"--or being side-swiped in a parking lot--can result in a whole lot more damage than simply a bent fender. With an older vehicle, one can often make a few temporary makeshift mends, and then drive away and make repairs at their own convenience. With a newer vehicle, "makeshift mends" are less likely to cut it, compelling one to require payed service, i.e. towing, whatever, on the spot.

I don't wish to say that the more exhaustive and comprehensive electronics in newer vehicles are universally a "bad thing," obviously, but they do sometimes present obstacles which had previously never been conceived. There's a weird little hypothetical scenario I always return to regarding automatic windows and doorlocks: a person drives through a flooded roadway (which they shouldn't be doing in the first place, but, you know...), electronics fail and because they're in drive mode, the door is locked--and they can't unlock it manually; the windows are up, and they can't manually roll them down--so what do they do? Break the window to get out of the car?

10. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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Whose price depends quite a bit on the price of what was actually sold and put on the street five years ago, and has little relationship to the list price of the cheapest new car marketed.
Gas costs 7x as much. Oil and parts even steeper increases. And the commutes have doubled or more - the jobs are in suburbs (the normally necessary commute works like the inflation adjustment - apples to apples).
But the option was there, in the '70s. A poor person could in fact do much of their own repair and maintenance in their own parking spot with hand tools.
Bugs got better than 20, in fact, set up and driven prudently (I have owned 1969 Buick V8s with automatics that got better than 18). And why are you comparing new cars?
They could be started, driven, and not get stuck. The minimum option, what you need to get by, remember?
So quit comparing new cars, "average" mechanical interest, "average cost of car maintenance", and so forth.

And include, instead, minimum insurance (driven way up by the behaviors and agendas of the rich), minimum cost of repairs, and so forth. The ante - what has to be fronted regardless of ingenuity, unavoidably given normal luck - for cars, houses, jobs, taxes, medical, dentistry, clothing, food, education, insurance (death, taxes, and insurance), etc.

I know this: I couldn't afford my own younger life now.

11. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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So that's 50 dollars in parts and tools (plus tax), an undetermined cost in education, a few hours of time, and access to a suburban junkyard (second car?), to cover a repair of something a minimum car owner is forced to purchase and keep in working order that did not exist in 1970.

Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
12. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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A smart poor person could - just as a smart poor person can today. You need a CAN sniffer instead of a wrench, but they're cheaper than wrenches now.
Agreed. I was using the stated mileage. Versas get better than 31mpg driven prudently as well.
I guess I was imagining the times she needed a ride to work because her car wouldn't start, then.
I'm not. I am comparing CHEAPEST cars, including used.

13. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Yep. Which is very similar in scope to what I had to do to fix a bent lower control arm on my 1973 Datsun after a collision with a curb. (Although the junkyard part was more expensive for that one.)

14. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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I'm confused by this 70's VW Beetle reliability in cold weather conditions tangent. Apart from the diesel ones, which make for troublesome starting in cold weather for obvious reasons, I've always understood them to be fairly reliable vehicles--especially for the price:
https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/01/our-own-reliability-history/index.htm
(bolding mine)

15. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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I de-adjusted it, so a comparison with the modern commuting costs etc would mislead less.
An ordinary poor person could, and often did, then. Even a smart poor person can't, today. That's the problem.
So the comparison was invalid, even if new cars were relevant.
Or some such bogus irrelevancy, sure.
A part that is in general still there, in addition to the other stuff that in recent years has added cost and added trouble for - especially - the poor.
You continue to compare new '70s Beetles with new Nissan Versas. You continue to overlook major extra imposed costs of modern minimum cars.

And similarly throughout the comparison - which forms a pattern: the overlooked costs facing millenials are often and significantly inequality premiums. Easy examples include the extra costs of insurance imposed by the expenses of making good the losses and injuries of the comfortable, dealing with the legal and bureaucratic infrastructure set up to meet the needs of the comfortable, repairing and maintaining machinery designed to be maintained by hired professionals, etc.

16. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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I think a lot of consumer tech has become not so much insurmountable as far as repairs are concerned, rather just far more involved--often past that threshold where it's even worth trying. Take circuit boards, for instance: an idiot with crappy tools can manage to service a through hole board, but SMD requires a lot more patience, more specialized tools, excellent eyesight and a very steady hand. Also, with through hole, one can often manage without a schematic or service manual simply by following the traces and such (and having a decent multimeter and some basic knowledge); without a schematic for SMD, you're screwed. Then there's DSP: without the coding, an attempted repair is a wholly futile endeavor.

17. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Agreed. At the same time, those same electronics have gotten more reliable, and service now takes place at a higher level (i.e. replace a PCB rather than replace an IC.) In addition, the devices themselves now do a lot of their own debugging.
That hasn't been true since about 1980. ASICs, FPGA's and the like have made knowing where the traces go insufficient.