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Old 05-14-2009, 07:25 AM   #57
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If you are under 50, you can pretty much forget Social Security. Whatever is left of the system will be a shadow of what it is now. Of course, it was never intended to be a universal pension system. In 1945, there were over 40 workers per retiree. By 2030, it will be 2 to 1.

As for the myth that the "banks got us into this," that's just not accurate. As noted in The Economist, government shares a good deal of the blame:

"BANKERS, frauds, predatory insurers: there has been a stampede to punish the villains of the global meltdown. Yet one culprit is not only rarely seen as an offender, but is also being cosseted and protected. Governments’ obsession about home ownership has contributed as much to the meltdown as any moustache-twirling financier."

For decades, the U.S. had a fairly stable and successful "20 percent down" housing finance model. Over time, government had this idea that everyone ought to own a house... whether they could afford one or not. This led to excess credit which led to a housing bubble which led to... today.

Oh, and the government has no business playing banker with our tax dollars. If corporations need a loan... they can find it in the private sector.
In terms of life expectancy and health, baby boomers at 70 will be like their parents and grandparents were in their 50s.

The projected life expectancy of a baby boomer who is 60 years old is 83.1 For a married couple at 65, there is a greater than 50 percent chance that one spouse will live to be 90 or older.2 Medical research consistently predicts that 75 to 80 percent of baby boomers will be healthy enough to continue working well into their 70s due to better health care and less physically demanding work.3 Of course, boomers will experience the usual problems associated with aging: reduced strength and endurance, slower reflexes, and a decline in sensory functions. But they should be in substantially better physical shape than their parents were at the same age because they likely have taken better care of themselves. For example, research by the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute (a large U.K. survey research organization) found that people in their 70s today are as active in sports and other outdoor activities as were people in their 50s, 30 years ago.4

What a system, start collecting full S.S. at 65, continue to work until 75 and still collecting my full S.S.........what a deal
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Old 05-14-2009, 08:25 AM   #58
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I tend to agree with BillTex. If for some reason Chevy were not around (which mind you I really, really, really doubt it would go away), I would buy a F...F...F....., well you know what I mean.

Every vehicle has a purpose. The Asian automakers make cars for getting people from point a to point b. Some surrounded in luxury, some economy. Same holds true for nearly any automaker.

However, few automakers can and do actually build trucks, and when I say trucks, I mean heavy duty light trucks and commercial trucks. GM happens to be a company that does and I am happy to spend my money with them as I find their trucks far superior to that of anything on the road. When GM says it can tow 9000lbs, I believe it. I don't have that comfort level with the Asian builders because I don't see how they magically get these higher tow ratings with "Big Tow Packages" which mostly have artificial items like trans gauge and bang you get 4k more towing capacity. These trucks I find to be 3/4 wolves in 1/2 ton sheep clothing. Nissan was the worst of the lot when it came to this IMHO. GM you get upgraded engines, transmissions, hubs, suspension...real tangible things. I would put my Burb up against any Asian claimed light truck and have no doubt my Burb will outlast and out tow anything it comes up against from an Asian builder in the same class because my Sub I feel is that well built and problem free after 5 years of use, mostly towing and 4x4ing in the winter....it sees very little grocery getting. It's all business class.

Now when it comes to cars, I would agree and had been saying it for nearly a decade, that the domestically owned automakers spent way too much on the trucks and nothing on the cars (more folks buy cars than trucks). Now that the bubble has burst, trucks are now becoming less appealing, particularly when fuel prices go up. This left GM and Ford with few real solutions since they committed themselves to trucks.

What we are in the process of seeing is a transformation that will yield a leaner and meaner domestically owned auto industry. There is a perception to overcome, but eventually it will be overcome. Buick surpassed Lexus in overall quality customer surveys. More and more domestics are getting rave reviews. Once credit thaws a bit more and jobs begin to stop evaporating, you may find that the domestically owned auto industry will be back in a big way. The party for the domestics is over, the hangover starting to wear off and a rebirth I feel is on the horizon.

For every domestic horror story, I can also point to several Asian and German nightmares. So let's not simply say the domestics are junk, they are not. I have had 4 domestics, all have lasted the tests of time and needed only normal to minor maint for cars of their age. I am not easy on my vehicles either, but I do service them myself for the most part.

To put it simply, I retired my 1980 Oldsmobile Delta 88 after 25 years of service (most towing and hard years here in the rust belt). How may 25 year of Hondas, Toyotas, Nissan (or then Datsun) do you see roaming the streets today. You'd be hard pressed to find as many late 80s Asian rides still out there in the streets....but you see tons of POS Caddys, Buicks, Chevys, etc out there. Now just why is that cars labeled as the biggest POS are still roaming the roads today? My 1996 Impala SS is now 13 years old with 110k on the clock. All hard miles and yes, I drive it like I stole it. By the way the Asian buyers speak, that car and my Oldsmobeater should have died the day I got them home.

Again, any of you Asian buyers hold your daily driver cars/trucks for 25 years, come talk with me and we can swap stories. I realize that the faithfully departed who have gone to foreign owned machines are happy and have neg feelings toward domestics. I suppose I have as much chance of converting those folks as they do converting me, but I've said my piece on the subject....you can pry my GM out of my cold dead hands.

Don't even get me started on Social Security.....it is scheduled to run out of money far before I get even close to that day I can retire, but like most, I try not to rely on any government for my retirement.
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:25 AM   #59
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My old '73 Celica is still running around the streets of my home town. I put a quarter million miles on a Toyota pickup. My wife loved her Surburban; I hated it. After 12 years, it was falling apart. Her little Malibu, on the other hand, has been a great car. Rarely does any one person own enough cars to make a statistically valid assessment.

I have only driven my Titan for five years, so I'm still in getting acquainted stage. Overall, however, I'd say it has been a very competent half-ton truck. To dismiss the towing package as mirrors and a transmission gauge is simply inaccurate. All Titans have integrated transmission and oil coolers. They have an excellent (though thirsty) 5.6l V8s and outstanding transmissions. The rear differential gearing is different for the towing package... and the difference is 2k not 4k in towing capacity. The frame is solid. The suspension is good except for rear weak spring shackles. The two weak points are the front brake rotors and the Dana 44 rear. The newer Titans and the Tundra address these issues. The Tundra rotors are what you would find on most 3/4 ton trucks as is the rear differential.

I'm what they used to call a "shadetree mechanic." I have turned wrenches on trucks since the mid 70s and have done a vintage frame up restoration. Every truck has strengths and weaknesses. While I am not happy that computerization has made it impossible for me to work on some aspects of modern trucks, I think half ton trucks have never been better. I also think this notion that only America knows trucks doesn't hold any water, particularly if you spend any time outside the U.S. If you think Hino can't build a truck, do a little reading on the Paris to Dakar.

U.S. auto makers have fallen on hard times for a number of reasons. The union contracts are onerous. Retiree benefits are unsustainable. Designs have often been derivative and/or stale. Management has focused on short term profits and stock prices. Manufacturers relied on the profits from financing vehicles rather than selling them. Properly or not, American consumers feel that American cars are not as durable and have a higher cost of ownership. In the long, customers--not government--decide what businesses succeed and what businesses fail. Like it or not, most American are not willing to pay a premium for an "American" car when they feel they can get a better car from some other company. I don't have any particular bias. If Ford suddenly made a 1/2 ton truck that was demonstrably better than the Tundra, great. I would need more, however, than an appeal to my patriotism or anecdotal evidence from a few happy Ford owners. And I think many Americans feel the same way. Prove to me I'll be happier behind the wheel of a GM than a Toyota... and that is precisely what GM will need to do to survive as a private company. Otherwise, the U.S. government will be making cars with a GM label.
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Old 05-14-2009, 07:24 PM   #60
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"Prove to me I'll be happier behind the wheel of a GM than a Toyota... and that is precisely what GM will need to do to survive as a private company"

Nobody has to prove anything to you....you have to be open minded enough to look at all the options. I too have been a shade tree mechanic and hot rodder all my life. I had a Plymouth Arrow PU that was nothing more than a rebadged Mitsubishi(sp?). The carburetor crapped out, went to Pep Boys for a rebuild kit and the counterman laughed at me. Seems it was a $300 sealed unit in 1977 from the dealer.

Answer me this: if Chrysler products are so crappy, why is VW rebadging the T&C van and calling it a 2009 Rutan?
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Old 05-14-2009, 07:38 PM   #61
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Answer me this: if Chrysler products are so crappy, why is VW rebadging the T&C van and calling it a 2009 Rutan?
The real question is why are three-quarters of those units (the initial ship-in) still sitting on dealers' lots, and not selling?
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Old 05-14-2009, 07:51 PM   #62
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Properly or not, American consumers feel that American cars are not as durable and have a higher cost of ownership.

Prove to me I'll be happier behind the wheel of a GM than a Toyota... and that is precisely what GM will need to do to survive as a private company. Otherwise, the U.S. government will be making cars with a GM label.
There are a couple of aspects of all this that haven't been mentioned, so I'm going to mention them.

One of my old bosses used to have a saying, "An ounce of perception is worth a pound of performance"--and I think that's sad but true. As you point out, each of us has our own anecdotal experience to rely on, but our sample is is small. I may have driven GM products for 50 trouble-free years and love 'em (I have, and I do), but that's not persuasive to you.

But often, public perception--what "everybody knows", is shaped by the media--TV, newspapers, magazines, etc. And much of the media has had a visceral hatred for US auto manufacturers in general, and GM in particular, since Ralph Nader in the early 60's.

To name just one example, remember when (at the behest of the plaitiffs' attorneys) NBC set out to show the fuel tanks on GM pickups were desperately dangerous? They couldn't get a truck to burst into flame in repeated side-impact collisions, so they rigged up a remote controlled pyrotechnic device to initiate the explosion. Pretty nifty objective reporting, huh!

Or, for a personal anecdote, I drove my 1973 Chevy Nova for around 12 years and 125,000 trouble-free miles and then gave it to my step son. He drove it for another 5 years or so, by which time it was pretty badly rusted from the salt they put on the roads around here. He gave it to a friend who put the engine (which at that time had about 180,000 miles on it) in his pickup truck and took it to Florida. I would rate my experience with that car as quite satisfactory. Before I bought it I checked Consumers Reports--which rated it "Not Acceptable". Of course, Ralph Nader was on the board of Consumers Union at the time, so I am sure that anything GM made was going to be Not Acceptable.

Well, the media got their wish--Chrysler and GM are history. The only consolation is that the guys from the newspapers will be in the same unemployment line. When fist fights break out, I'll put my money on the auto workers.

Second point--when I buy a car, I like to have a dealer nearby. One of the reasons I like Chevys is because there's a dealer within a few miles of both my home and my family's cabin in northern Minnesota. So I can get factory parts and service either place. Trouble is, the dealer in northern Minnesota (Ely, MN, the "end of the road") is now history. So that advantage is diminished.

I don't understand the US auto industry's distribution cost structure, but it hurts me to see them closing thousands of dealers. I can't see that helping to sell more cars. As far as I know, dealers are independent businesses, and if a small town dealer is willing to shell out the cash for all the tooling, parts inventory, etc. he has to have to meet the franchise requirements, why not let him stay in business?
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:34 PM   #63
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Prove to me I'll be happier behind the wheel of a GM than a Toyota... and that is precisely what GM will need to do to survive as a private company. Otherwise, the U.S. government will be making cars with a GM label.

As I said in my post earlier, I stand about as much chance of proving or changing your mind as you do mine, so I won't try, but I will say that if you're warm and happy with your Nissan, so be it. I stand behind my observations of both the Nissan offerings and the other Asian offerings, and that is of course my opinion, which I like everyone else here is entitled. I know for a fact that my Burb would outlast and out tow that Titan every day of the week and 2x on Sunday. Let's agree to continue this conversation 10 years from now when I still have my Burb and we'll see how the Nissan and other Asian trucks of the same vintage are doing. Everyone has choices and we've both made ours.
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:54 PM   #64
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Asains can't build trucks?

Here's a Hino which Toyota's truck division.



American highways do not provide an accurate picture of the world's automakers.
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Old 05-15-2009, 07:38 AM   #65
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Answer me this: if Chrysler products are so crappy, why is VW rebadging the T&C van and calling it a 2009 Rutan?
Because Wolfgang Bernhard, a VW exec who was ousted in a power struggle, was COO of Chrysler for a decade before going to VW. He created the deal while at VW, part of their plans to dramatically increase the number of vehicles they sell in the US. It didn't work too well.

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Old 05-15-2009, 08:24 AM   #66
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Here's a Hino which Toyota's truck division.

American highways do not provide an accurate picture of the world's automakers.
I knew Mitsubishi made trucks like this, but not Toyota. The fact that they do make these trucks, I would hope is a sign that they too have some plans to make a real 3/4 ton truck instead of the consumer grade machines they sell in the light truck market.

As for American Highways not providing an accurate picture, I would argue that they can in fact accurately describe a company's offering to the market, and that market being fairly large here in the US.

I'd also note that Isuzu makes heavy trucks and that their partnership with GM created the Duramax. It's that kind of engineering that I am talking about and eluding to here. I realize that in this medium reading in between the lines is difficult, but I think you can catch my drift here.

When I see the engineering in the Asian light trucks start adding things found in the Isuzu/GM partnership and find robust components found in the Hino (if in fact they have installed robust components), yea, I would consider the Asian brands.

Right now take the Titan. It gets 2k towing upgrade with a trans cooler and some playing around with the gearing, which initially was done I believe at the transmission (not the rear end). The rear axle was still 2.94 and then with upgrades gets to a 3.36?! Regardless, they still use 1/2 axles. They still don't have more than 1/2 axle hubs. The same truck is touted as a heavy hauler and a grocery getter with the same 5.6L engine, driveline and suspension. There are no trans upgrades or real upgrades of any kind...you get the standard trans and a few somewhat decorative accessories. True it has a boxed frame which adds rigidity, but that alone is not enough. Looking at Nissan's crew cab on their site, they let you select and compare vehicles. The Nissan site has many inaccuracies comparing it to the GM crew cab 2500hd....take a look for yourself if you don't believe me. The 2500HD has an avail Allison tranny, even on the gasser. The standard 4L80e, that tranny is rated to haul 28,000lbs...far more than the truck is rated to tow. The GM 1/2 4L60e trans--- it's rated to haul about 23,000lbs and these are just the transmissions. The devil is in the details....my facts are pulled right from the GM shop book (Helm). You can't get that kind of trans or these kinds of components in any of the consumer grade Asian trucks. It's all marketing, plain and simple.

Don't misread me, the Asian truck are close to greatness. With just a slight push, they could really give the domestics a serious run for their money and if I were in the market for a 1/2 ton, you would be right on, these Asian trucks are worthy of consideration, however, in my case, I need more than 1/2, which is the basis of my viewpoints. Asia has yet to build a consumer grade 3/4 ton truck. On paper it does, but that's about as far as it goes IMHO.

But hey, you want a Titan or Tundra to pull your 25'+ trailer, it's your dime. Life is all about choices. I'm not here trying to convince anyone...simply stating why I chose my GM truck and why I most likely would not be closed mined enough to not look at domestic auto companies when I need a car. The Volt seems very appealing to me for a daily driver as do many other GM vehicles and even F..F....F..., well you know, the other domestic brand.
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Old 05-15-2009, 11:18 AM   #67
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The failure of American car companies is not the fault of anyone but American car companies. "The media" didn't force GM to sign UAW contracts. "The media" didn't make American consumers buy fewer GM cars. "The media" didn't make GM management make lousy decisions.

And, ST, if you don't know about the Nissan Titan... just say you don't know. The primary mechanical difference between the standard Titan and the "big tow" is the Dana 44 rear differential (which isn't the standard Dana 44) and the 2.94 versus the 3.36 gearing. The transmission are the same. If you swap out the ring and pinion, you have to have the dealer reflash the ECU... not terribly hard. And you can't compare the read end gearing to domestics without looking at the transmission... which on the Titan makes the rear end gearing much "taller" than domestic 1/2-ton trucks.

No one here is saying the Titan is a 3/4 ton truck. It isn't. Apples to apples means comparing the Titan and Tundra to the Ford F-150, the Dodge Ram 1500 and the Chevy Silverado 1500. No Asian company makes a 3/4 truck marketed for consumers in the U.S. They do, however, make a number of very high quality heavier trucks. While Nissan may eventually end the Titan experiment, Toyota is a long-run player in the pickup market. I expect they'll roll out a diesel pickup and a 3/4-ton truck using some of the heavy Hino components.

Aside from comparing parts, QC matters. U.S. car makers have improved... and European cars have fallen off a quality cliff. Asian automakers, however, continue to be at the top of the list for durability, reliability and quality. The best parts don't make much difference if they are slapped together.

As for comparing the Titan and the Surburban... I've owned both. The Suburban died. Only time will tell how the Titan will be running at a quarter million miles... but please don't make statements about "fact" that you cannot possibly prove. You don't know if you or I will be alive in ten years, let alone what vehicle we might be driving. I don't mind a civil discussion about trucks, but I'm too old for "my-truck-is-better-than-your-truck" chest thumping. As long as you are street legal, I don't care if you tow with the Oscar Meyer weiner-mobile. It's a big road... there's room for everyone.
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Old 05-15-2009, 01:45 PM   #68
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No one here is saying the Titan is a 3/4 ton truck. It isn't. Apples to apples means comparing the Titan and Tundra to the Ford F-150, the Dodge Ram 1500 and the Chevy Silverado 1500. No Asian company makes a 3/4 truck marketed for consumers in the U.S.

I don't mind a civil discussion about trucks, but I'm too old for "my-truck-is-better-than-your-truck" chest thumping.
Interesting perspective. Clearly you love your Nissan and understanding that is half way to the road of recovery. If you feel that strongly about it, it's ok to say I'm passionate about my Nissan.

Nissan, Toyota both claim it's a not 3/4 ton truck, but they put tow ratings in the 3/4 ton range. Gotta love marketing. Only marketing could take a Toyota Corrola and sell it as a Lexus or a Caddy Cimmeron from a Chevy Cavalier, both brands with leather seats, power windows and some fancy marketing.

Seems to be getting way too personal and I'll simply stand by my comments, and leave it at that as I'm old enough to know when to walk away and/or take it offline while simply shaking my head while grinning from ear to ear.
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Old 05-15-2009, 02:57 PM   #69
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Nissan, Toyota both claim it's a not 3/4 ton truck, but they put tow ratings in the 3/4 ton range. Gotta love marketing.
Ah! Nothing's more controversial online than debating "what is enough to tow with." Combine that with "are American cars junk?" and you get something like the Reeses' chocolate meets peanut butter combination - an internet forum Supertopic!!!

The thing is, what is a 3/4-ton tow rating? OEMs calculate tow ratings in different ways. It's typically linked to a SAE test of towing uphill in high heat and looking at transmission fluid temps. Some do that at a different speed than others. Some "downrate" some powertrains for marketing - can't have a small-block outtow a big-block, or a gas outdo a diesel, even if one has better cooling than the other. And I know that some OEM engineers, who offer heavy-duty trucks, don't quite understand why more consumers don't stick to their very capable 1/2-ton trucks.

Anyway, it's not like Ford and GM don't have 1/2-ton trucks with tow ratings solidly in the 3/4-ton arena. That isn't uniquely a Nissan/Toyota trait.

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Old 05-15-2009, 03:16 PM   #70
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I don't "love" any inanimate object... not the Airstream, not a pickup truck, not the .243 Winchester my grandfather gave me on my 13th birthday. They are things, not people. In some cases, they are tools to do a job... and some work better than others.

Because I know a bit about trucks, own a Titan and have done my homework, I know the Titan's strengths and weaknesses. Hands down, the 2nd generation Tundra is a better overall truck than the Titan. It's opinion, not affection.

I wouldn't use the Titan to tow at its "rated" capacity. The 26' Overlander weighs 4,100 pounds dry and it tows easily behind the Titan. It is a competent tool to do the job. If I was pulling an 8,000 pound trailer, I'd buy a 3/4 ton truck... even though 8,000 is within the theoretical towing capacity of the Titan.

When it comes to Internet forums, I don't get emotional one way or another. I figure the raison d'etre of the forum is to inform. When you play fast and loose with information on the Titan, my response is simply to point out what I know. For example, most folks might not know that the Titan transmission makes the 3.36 gear ratio a bit misleading. I wouldn't recommend a new Titan today because it might become an orphan vehicle. If a guy had a chance to buy a used Titan at a very nice price, I'd give him my short list of things I have or will upgrade to address performance issues.

Stepping back to a more philosophical point, I think our possessions own us as much as we own them. When I was younger, I sometimes thought having a particular thing would make me happier. These days, I am more interested in giving than having. I'm more interested in accumulating experiences than stuff. I have found the less I have, the more I enjoy life. So, I'm interested in truck that serves its purpose... which is to get us where we are going. When we arrive, I'll leave the keys in it for someone else.
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