Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Durable Nonsense
One thing that amuses me when economic numbers are reported by the government is the special attention given to "Durable Goods" purchases - which are often characterized as big ticket items. Usually they break down these big ticket items as cars & appliances. See, if people are buying cars and appliances at a clip, then our economy must be humming along. What I don't understand is this special attention towards appliances, specifically clothes dryers and washing machines. I mean, I don't understand how these items are "big-ticket" at all. A car costs 10+ thousand and a clothes dryer can be had for $250. BIG difference there. How can both be lumped into the same "big ticket" item mentality? A DVD player used to run about $250 and now can be had for even $100. Is this a Big Ticket item? Is it something about the huge metallic surface area of a washing machine that scares us into recognizing it's Big Ticket status? Do huge chunks of metal confer Big Ticket-dom? I don't think so. I mean, when people pick up a gas grill at Home Depot do they think its a Big-Ticket appliance? Does the government count it as such? Also, do people look for 12-Month No-Interest Financing when purchasing the gas grill or the DVD player? That's what boggles my mind the most. The stores advertise their no-interest purchase options for the huge metallic $300 dryer and yet the customer is SOL if they go to buy an $200 XBox or Playstation. What is it about appliances that make us really mull over the decision to buy one? Why do we need to be enticed with No-Interest No-Payments for a washing machine and yet impulse buy the computer scanner, digital camera, or Pocket PC? A washing machine is nothing more than sheet metal, a motor, a thermostat, and some relay circuits to shut on and off the incoming/outgoing water hoses. Whoop-de-do! But yet we approach the purchase decision of one of these R2D2s as if it were one of Hercules' Twelve Tasks.


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