I would not mind car payments if it is an adrenaline rush to drive one. Driving a car that looks like a new toadstool and requires a back up camera to see is depressing. Multiple 5 or 6 years paying on such a thing is even worse. There has to be a better way. Active families with 2 or 3 children need room. The minimum car for us is a Crossover. But it seems it's the gas pump that dictates people's lives. Maybe if you have no kids you can drive them. Start adding sports equipment or a family with luggage; forget it.
What in the hell does being a liberal have to do with the kind of car you drive? Suddenly there's rules on how liberals and conservatives should live their lives? And they say religion can be taken too far...
As someone who hasn't had car payments for years, I can assure you it's very nice. I'd rather spend a bit more on gas than have a car payment. You can buy a lot of gas for $400 a month. I have never traded a car because it was worn out. In most cases, I traded because I just got bored with the car. Domestic cars don't wear out. We still have one car (a Pontiac) that was bought in 1956. For just a few dollars, you can keep most cars going for decades. Of course modern cars are more expensive to maintain, but there again they seldom have any problems.
Free market capitalism has nothing to do with environmentalism. And when we talk environmentalism, it's not just about trees and woodland creatures. It's also about your health, your work environment, and your immediate surroundings.
40 years ago companies literally dumped things like PCB's, petroleum products, filthy water, various toxic chemicals, and substances right into the rivers, air, waterways, and soil. People working in factories were exposed to sometimes high levels of toxic or dangerous substances. It took government regulation and oversight to remedy that problem. Even now, there are huge ongoing cleanup efforts happening at former sites polluted 50, 60, or even 100+ years ago. If anyone thinks that we shouldn't have government regulations and controls over various environmental issues, and instead we should put our full trust in corporations, then they are grossly fooling themselves.
As far as econo cars not being sufficient for families, well unless you have something like 3 and 4 kids and you're also a ... "large" family, then a econo car should suffice perfectly fine. People are continually amazed when they ride in my wife's econo car and the 'surprising' amount of interior space. That's not to say that everyone must buy an econo car, but I also feel that it's perhaps equally mistaken to claim that a family simply must have some huge rolling behemoth to escort them to and from the grocery store and soccer practice. Somehow the rest of the world is able to deal with using econo cars as their preferred family-mobiles.
Smaller cars aren't being forced on the people either. As of even now, the best selling vehicle in the US is a Ford F-150. Not exactly a small truck is it? The reason smaller cars are becoming popular is because they're a more recent trend. Just like how in years past, station wagons, minivans, and SUVS were at some point popular, smaller cars are now what's starting to become popular. There's a good reason why. In years past the small cars made available to US consumers were afterthoughts. You bought them because they were cheap. They came with few frills or amenities. Now many come loaded with stuff. You get better bang for your buck. Plus they're actually fun to drive versus the slow-as-mollases versions of the past.
Gas prices and regulations - as well as employment prospects and wages-vs-cost-of-living - being what they are, putting the kids up for adoption sounds like the only reasonable option to me.
Yup, small cars are the trend of today. High gas prices and a lack of differentiation between a regular car and a luxury car are sending more people into the direction of regular cars. Honestly, what is the incentive of buying a new Mercedes when you can have a Toyota Corolla for much, much less. And when the Toyota offers the same basic features and is more reliable.
What we called econoboxes back then are now much more than that. Hell, they're much bigger than their ancestors too. They offer decent amenities like power windows and locks, cruise control, and air conditioning as standard features, something that was once optional or not even offered on most of those cars.
However, saying that a modern Toyota or whatever is fun to drive is a little bit of a stretch. But their practicality, reliability, and decent array of features is why people run out to buy them. Unlike back then, people are much less interested in owning large status symbols, and are more into owning a good vehicle to get them from place to place without issues.
When I see people arguing that you have to own a Lincoln Town Car to drive three kids to soccer practice, I am reminded of a family I knew some years back. They had five kids, were very poor, and the mom drove those five kids to school every day in a Ford Pinto with a piece of plywood covering the opening where a back window had been smashed out. They got by.
And I'm not sure what some commenters mean by "econo car". They haven't made anything truly "economical" in decades. Some of the new compacts and even sub-compacts are downright luxurious.
I see the small econoboxes as the solution for most to remain middle class. It's not real desirable in my opinion. Commuting long distances to 1 or 2 lower paying jobs. I work 6 minutes away from home. I like a large loaded SUV. If I had an hour plus commute each way, maybe a Honda Fit. But I would hate it. Another option is to drive the small ones, and rent from Enterprise or the like with a decent vehicle with room and comfort. Gas is very high. When I made 20k a year and had gas under 40 cents a gallon, I felt better off than today.
And again, I ask to see what rule exists out there that says that if you have a family, that you simply HAVE to have either an SUV, a large truck-like thing, or a big car?
Before I continue, I'm not saying everyone has to buy a small car, and if you think only a big vehicle will do for your family, then so be it. It's your choice. But I grew up in a family myself. I had a younger brother. By some miracle, we drove an '84 Camry, back when they were small cars. Guess what? I literally was on a soccer team. We also had a hitch on the back that we used to haul a popup camper and a rack on the trunk to hang the bicycles. Somehow this worked out just fine for us, and I survived to tell the tale.
So I personally don't buy this more recent thought people have that they MUST have a big car automatically if they have kids.