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Lessons Learned from the Bugatti Veyron [Jun. 2nd, 2011|04:12 am]
Tomas Gallucci
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[music |Marc Streitenfeld - Robin Hood]

I'm ashamed of myself.

I let it happen again: I fell into a Liberal's trap.

This wasn't a trap sprung and laid to wait my ensnaring. No, this was a web that I weaved because, once again, I didn't think.

I was at work the other day and the subject was pay raises. I made a remark about making sure that I got my Bugatti Veyron when the time came for my raise.

My co-workers knew that the car was expensive, but they didn't know how expensive. I think the figure thrown out was $300K. I emailed out a link to the Wikipedia page. The Veyron is in fact, $2.6 million US.

Upon seeing this figure, one of my co-workers exclaimed, "This is why I hate rich people. They could do so much good with their money, but instead, they blow it on a car like this."

And that was the trap. I silently agreed. It's not that I agreed with the premise–I didn't–I just couldn't come up with a justification for spending that kind of money on a car.

I thought about arguing that it was a machine engineered down to the very atoms for perfection and performance, but that seemed a weak argument as my co-workers already found little value in the vehicle.

And so I kept quiet to keep the peace. But the situation kept nagging me, and it wasn't until two days later that I had an answer. Sadly, I won't be able to argue this point with those co-workers, but experience, being a harsh teacher, had readied me for any such future occurrences.

As previously stated, there is much craftsmanship in the most expensive car in the world. No one in their right mind, "evil rich bastard" or not, would pay such a price tag for product that did not meet every standard of excellence, both real or imagined.

This means that perfection was demanded (something we here in the States no longer demand) and was achieved. In order to achieve such perfection, it takes a master craftsman; the Veyron was not built by failing sluggards from public school that do not take pride in their work. The fact that the best was demanded in this product means that the producers gave their best effort and expected nothing less from themselves.

I think Steve Jobs said it best when he introduced the iPhone:

Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. One's very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career.

This has to be true of the Veyron. It's the world's most expensive car and for a time, it held the world record for the fastest production road-legal car. This doesn't not happen by chance or happenstance; punching a clock at 0800 and 1700 won't get this job done. As Belle said to Ebenezer Scrooge, it takes a "master passion" to build a product of this class.

The skills required for such a job take a lifetime to hone. This is work of the creme de la creme. That man should aspire to such a noble goal, defy the odds and make the impossible reality is the story of mankind, told again and again throughout the ages. For those of us who live in the United States, this is the narrative that our country has been based on; truly, this is the American Dream.

Created Jobs
Perhaps the most pungent response I could have contrived, given the current state of the world's economy, is that by the "rich evil bastard" buying such a car, the "rich evil bastard" has created jobs. Every single one of the jobs that it took to put this car together, from the man engaged in final assembly, to the committees that decided what material to use to the companies sub-contracted to provide those raw materials. By wishing that the "rich" take their money and engage in some sort of philanthropy in an altruistic gesture, my co-workers have simultaneously destroyed all of the jobs that the production of this car have created and have made beggars out of the recipients of such guilt-removing charity.

Is it not better that the Value Proposition be employed instead, that value (the Veyron) should be exchanged for value (the "evil rich bastard's" money)? Does this not make both people in the transaction better people than they otherwise would have been?

They both had to work to provide the appropriate level of value required for such a trade to exist. The act of the creation of value implies that the standard of living was raised for both people in the transaction; something was created out of (seemingly) nothing. This isn't an argument for a Creator; rather, that wealth and the ability to produce a car both required outside input; in essence, this is an argument for Newton's Second Law of Thermodynamics.

I've always argued that the best way to give back to the community is to start a business that creates competitive jobs and attracts top talent. In this way, the business owner raises the standard of living for his employees who in turn raise the standard of living for those they do business with, like the local grocer. As the employees create the products, goods or services sold by the company and the company sells them, the owner's standard of living is raised by the profits created by the work produced by his company which in turns allows the cycle to repeat itself.

I have contended for a long time that there are no big businesses, just small companies that grew.

The other problem with the philanthropy proposal is that it presumes altruism which I do not believe exists. One does not engage in philanthropy if one does not care about his fellow man or seek to profit from apparent altruism. As such, there is always something returned to the philanthropist.

In short, I believe that the most productive, nobel and thus the greatest good an "evil rich bastard" could do is to purchase a Bugatti Veyron instead of simply giving his money away to some ephemeral cause.

Originally published at http://conservacorner.livejournal.com/424506.html

[User Picture]From: ehowton
2011-06-02 03:29 pm (UTC)
I tried to leave a comment on the linked site, alas, it could not authenticate me :(
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-06-02 03:38 pm (UTC)
You're not the first person to level that complaint. I think that either there's something screwy going on with LJ. Membership is moderated; I don't know if that applies to comments as well.

The reason I went to the trouble of pointing out the original point of publishing is that there are some people on my FL who also read conservacorner. It was my hope that the footnote would clear up any confusion about having read the article before or why it was appearing here on my blog.

As you can see via the link, I am the original author, so I believe I have the right to publish this piece wherever I see fit as I have not sold or otherwise waived distribution rights.

If you wish to post your comment on the original article, I would suggest joining the community, or at the very least, sending patriotressan LJ private message confirming my suspicion about needing to be part of the community in order to comment.

I am, of course, always wont to read/hear your thoughts even if I disagree with them. Unless you have an overwhelming desire to comment at the original site of publication, you may leave your comment here. Of course, we have dealt with duplicate commenting in the past when I was cross posting between Xanga and LJ, so I think I'll be able to keep up with an LJ community and my blog.

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[User Picture]From: ehowton
2011-06-02 04:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, I discovered that only "friends" can comment - when I hover over the grayed-out Livejournal avatar in the "From" pull-down it states so explicitly.

No worries, when I'm back on my other computer I will leave my reply here.

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[User Picture]From: ehowton
2011-06-02 05:27 pm (UTC)

Just an observation

"Interesting place to post this as everyone here would obviously share your point of view. The more courageous might try posting it on a more liberal website - the response you get there might be a little more challenging than the pats on the back you're getting here."
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-06-02 05:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Just an observation

Referring to conservacorner you may have a point. Here on my personal blog, I have readers from all walks of life and belief systems.

I have no interest in entertaining the notion that philanthropy is the better course of action and that production should be damned, unless the person advocating this course of action has already given away ALL of their worldly possessions.

To quote House:
I'm sure this goes against everything you've been taught, but right and wrong do exist. Just because you don't know what the right answer is - maybe there's even no way you could know what the right answer is - doesn't make your answer right or even okay. It's much simpler than that. It's just plain wrong.

That having been said, if you want to advocate the antithesis of my argument and begin that debate, go right ahead.
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[User Picture]From: rowyn
2011-06-03 06:26 pm (UTC)

Re: Just an observation

It is, actually, possible to advocate that there is value BOTH in using one's money to purchase Bugatti Veyrons AND in donating one's money to philanthropic causes. It is, in fact, quite likely that many purchasers of Bugatti Veyrons are also philanthropists. The two ideas are not antithetical.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-06-13 07:32 pm (UTC)

Re: Just an observation

No, the two ideas are not antithetical, but only one of the two creates jobs and thus permanently raises a person's standard of living.
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[User Picture]From: level_head
2011-06-19 07:40 pm (UTC)

Re: Just an observation

Indeed. It is people for whom a $2.6 million dollar car is a reasonable expense who also consider spending millions on charities to be a reasonable course of action.

But there's another aspect to this car that I think has not been talked about as yet. For the right kind of person, this car represents a tangible and highly desirable reward for working hard to achieve great things and to amass some wealth as a result.

Our host here is obviously that kind of person; his initial comment was about the fact that he found the car highly desirable. The wealthy drive the car, but the car drives our civilization.

Whether it's a big house, a collection of homes, expensive cars, commercial properties, private jets or whatever, people work (in part) to achieve some tangible result. Happily for the economy, this is not just money in the bank (though that is truly not static either), but involves the creation of tangible goods and the compensated work of hundreds, or thousands, of people.

Those people may aspire to such purchases themselves, and if sufficiently motivated, can get there. That process, allowing potential achievers to dream big and providing the sorts of rewards that populate the dreams of some of them, is very valuable. It produces, though such motivators, the sorts of advances that have lifted us out of the lives of mere hunter-gatherers scrabbling in fairly miserable existences, and has given us the leisure and the ability to enjoy these sorts of conversations.

I don't begrudge the persons who have been able to buy such cars at all.

The Bugatti Veyrons and such are the carrots that have pulled the entire wagon of humanity a very long way, and up out of the mire.

The road ahead is still uphill; we unhitch that motivating force at our peril.

===|==============/ Level Head
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[User Picture]From: level_head
2011-06-19 07:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Just an observation

It occurs to me that philanthropy is the by-product of capitalism. Those in a purely communist or socialist society would not, by definition, have "extra" to give anyone else or for any cause.

Thus, if a cause, or a person's needs, have not inspired the State's official (positive) interest, he or she or the cause is out of luck. We've seen in the twentieth century the hundreds of millions of deaths of those who their States felt were better off dead to suit the State's purposes.

As you know, I have a fair involvement in philanthropy, from serving on a medical board to helping local hospitals, educational groups, and biomedical research projects. I like philanthropy and the good it can do, even if it is too-often misguided. But it is not "better" than capitalism, any more than exhaling is "better" than inhaling.

===|==============/ Level Head
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