Things That Should Be Cheaper

Today I’m tired of paying for things, so in that spirit, I offer up my list of things that should be less expensive than they are:

Boats – Why would anyone want to pay more for a boat than they would for a car, when a car contains many more precision parts? Cars are subject to more government regulations, and as such, the technology in cars is more plentiful and sophisticated. Boats should be less expensive simply because, unlike cars, they have no brakes.

Coastal property – People pay a premium to live on the edge of a river, lake, ocean, or other body of water. This seems counterintuitive; living close to an area of wetness increases the likelihood of encountering a flood, the type of natural event that should drive property values down. Besides, why would anyone want to pay too much for a house just so they can spend more than they should on a boat?

Starbucks coffee – Starbucks shops are as ubiquitous as McDonald’s restaurants. In fact, it is just as easy to find a Starbucks as it is to find a restaurant that offers coffee for under a dollar. I understand part of the reason is location, location, location, but is that any reason to charge five bucks for what the competition down the street is giving away for next to nothing? No, I don’t trust cheap coffee, but using the general rule of charging twice the cost of the materials, that cup of Starbucks java should be priced at about thirty cents.

Used houses – The general consensus is that new cars devalue ten to twenty percent as soon as they are driven off the lot. So why wouldn’t a new house devalue the same amount as soon as someone moves in? Used houses require more maintenance, more work to make them appealing to the new owners, and more effort to sell, all of which should drive prices down. If I can get a twenty-year-old Chevy Impala for two thousand bucks, I should be able to get a similarly aged house for about twenty grand.

Used cars – If the car dealer is offering me three hundred dollars for my ten year old Impala, why do they mark similar cars on their lot for over ten thousand? Sure, I know I can talk them up in price, but they will get nowhere near the price they will mark on the car in the lot, or even the price they sell it for. This is despite most of its features being obsolete, the car wearing under normal use, and devaluing relative to newer models selling for slightly more. In factories, industrial equipment devalues every year, until after ten or so years, it can be written off the books as scrap. Why does the used car dealer charge me ten thousand for a piece of industrial scrap?

Hotel rooms – A hotel room is essentially a studio apartment without a kitchen. If I can pay $600 dollars a month to stay in a studio apartment, why do I pay more than $600 a week to stay in a hotel?

Internet – I can get WiFi for free at coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, and libraries, why should I be paying seventy bucks for it simply because it is piped to my house? A couple hundred feet of cable is less than fifty bucks, and if I get a satellite dish, the cost is all mine; I shouldn’t need to pay for what is already in the airwaves over my home. Sometimes I think utility companies inflate their prices just to make it look like there is something substantial to generate a bill for.

Legal advice – We tend to go to very specialized attorneys for legal advice, such as those specializing in estates for will planning, and those specializing in screwing over the other person for divorce or medical malpractice settlements. They are highly educated in their specialized fields. It is not like these lawyers need to research anything to provide legal advice to average schmucks and their average problems. So why do they charge hundreds of dollars an hour? It’s like having a handheld calculator bill me three hundred dollars for computing the answer to one plus two.

On the other hand, there are some things people get for free that they should be paying for, like this essay.