Lion of the Blogosphere

A positional goods question

Once upon a time on an online lawyers forum, I suggested that associates could save money by driving an inexpensive car like a Honda Civic (which was a small inexpensive car back then).

Some of the responses were in the nature that a Honda Civic would be a career killer, because what if you had to drive a partner or an important client to the airport in your Honda Civic?

I am not sure I believe that anyone cares what car you drive as long as it doesn’t look like a jalopy. On the other hand the attitude in the forum does demonstrate the emotion that I believe drives luxury purchases, which is not the conscious pursuit of status so much as the feeling that people have prove to the world that they are not losers. What do you think?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

April 19, 2015 at 8:02 PM

Posted in Wealth

113 Responses

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  1. I don’t know enough about the personalities of rich people to have a good gauge on how true it is. But it strikes me as very silly. It sounds like something high-income proles would think, that they’re actually impressing people by driving a BMW or Mercedes over a decent, practical car.


    April 19, 2015 at 8:08 PM

    • I agree. I remember someone once telling me that I should try to impress people. I replied that if I tried to impress people, I would simply appear foolish. So long as the car is clean, doesn’t smell bad and the body is straight, people will think it is okay, unless it is a Smart car.

      not too late

      April 19, 2015 at 8:30 PM

  2. You are wrong. A clean, organized truck with nothing on the dashboard makes a different impression. Same goes for driving a car that conveys status and financial success in your case. A sloppy, old truck equals a sloppy unsuccessful mechanic. Why would a successful lawer care to save money by driving a Civic? If he needs to save money this way I would retain him for legal advice because he is a failure.


    April 19, 2015 at 8:10 PM

  3. Some people care. But there are certainly “affordable” cars that transcend class and financial status. Prius, Mini, Golf, among others.


    April 19, 2015 at 8:12 PM

  4. The idea of relative (rather than absolute) comparisons arises from the pathway of human evolution.

    By cooperating, we could create more value than acting separately. Two people can catch more than twice as many fish as one alone.

    But then the immediate question becomes – how shall we share the excess? This is exactly the question of the Prisoners’ Dilemma; how to enforce cooperation when the payoffs can be unequal.

    Humans evolved behaviors to reward sharing and punish selfishness. We have an exquisitely refined sense of relative gain (jealousy and envy). So we’d rather be equally poor than unequally rich.

    Today we know that that is folly. In the past, however, when there were few enough fish to go around, it was wise.

    To bring that back to the original question – we automatically extend that relative valuation to say comparisons of vehicles, or watches, or tailored suits.

    The young associates knew little, but knew enough to be sure they would be deemed worthy to hire by the clients, respected by the judges, and feared by the competition.

    It’s as old a drive as the hunter-gatherers’ had.

    Robert Arvanitis

    April 19, 2015 at 8:15 PM

    • “Two people can catch more than twice as many fish as one alone.”

      Yeah, well there are also folks who are such bad helpers that one would catch more without the “help” of the second.

      There are indeed folks who are such poor workers that not only do they not increase productivity, they sow much discord and reduce the productivity of the workers you already have.

      not too late

      April 19, 2015 at 8:23 PM

  5. Being WASP old, old school, we think it better to appear to have less than we have, so as not to stir up envy in our neighbor’s heart such that he would feel that he needs to overspend in order to fit in. This is for the sake of the weaker brother that he would not be tempted by our behavior. Obviously it is not sinful to buy a nice car or house or jewelry if you can afford it, but for the sake of the weaker brother we should live as modestly in appearance as we can.

    not too late

    April 19, 2015 at 8:19 PM

    • Proverbs 13:7

      Robert Arvanitis

      April 20, 2015 at 7:10 AM

    • Very true.


      April 20, 2015 at 8:14 AM

    • Unless you’re trying to attract women or work in a business such as real estate where your success will arguably coincide with the client’s success, there is absolutely no upside whatsoever to giving strangers the impression you have money.


      April 23, 2015 at 10:07 PM

  6. Don’t want to divulge too much info but a couple months ago I got conscripted on the spur of the moment to pick up from his hotel a university professor visiting from out of town who was THE worldwide expert in his field. My car is a crappy SUV from 1999 that is falling apart, but he just seemed happy to be picked up and have someone interesting to talk with on the drive.

    I’ve heard that at right tail of the distribution driving a cool car (big pickup truck, expensive sports car, etc.) can give you extra points with women and my own observations suggest this is indeed the case. Not sure it is worth the extra cost, though. Half a decade reading Roissy probably works just as well and it is entirely free.

    I agree with your point about proving to the world that you are not a loser, though. Hell, it applies to me as well. I was furious when I got passed for the last promotion not because I particularly need the money to support my minimalist bachelor lifestyle but because I was worried my co-workers would lose respect for me if they saw I wasn’t advancing quickly enough. This is kind of a silly fear because they know me well enough that it is more like, “Man, it is a shame Jokah doesn’t get promoted ’cause he is one of the smartest people here.”

    The implication of all this, though, is that the economy doesn’t care about our happiness. If everyone is content with their status and confident that their friends support them and that they are reasonably attractive to the opposite sex, there is not much of a market for luxury goods. So, it is in the best interest of advertising that everyone remain as anxious and paranoid as possible.

    Jokah Macpherson

    April 19, 2015 at 8:26 PM

    • Getting passed over for a promotion may be the cosmos telling you to get a new job. If you do, you also erase your loserdom.


      April 20, 2015 at 3:12 AM

      • A little less cosmically, if you’re passed over for promotion you’re unlikely to get promoted again. So it may be smarter to leave.

        Of course, past a certain age you can’t get a new job.


        April 20, 2015 at 7:51 PM

      • Indeed, SFG. Just consider what often happens at the top of corporations when a new CEO is appointed: the former lieutenants scatter to the winds.

        In some cases, staying in your unpromoted loser position can also mean you get laid off after a decent interval. So it’s not always the somewhat humiliating but low risk option. On the other hand, some posters here (like E.Rekshun and perhaps, dare I say it, our Lion) seem to have workable plans for finishing up.


        April 21, 2015 at 5:28 AM

  7. “Often, people work long hard hours at jobs they hate, to earn money to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”

    Oswald Spengler

    April 19, 2015 at 8:36 PM

  8. I can see both sides of this particular issue. On the one hand, you may impress the right people if you drive a stylish car. On the other, only a beta simp would believe not driving the right car is a “career killer.”

    Sagi Is My Guru

    April 19, 2015 at 8:52 PM

  9. A young associate splurging on an expensive car would send to me a negative signal in a couple of ways: 1) it says that he needs the job so much he obsesses over non-performance related matters which means he wasn’t born to money; and 2) it suggests he doesn’t have a social network from which he can obtain such a car for show if need be (from his parents). Plus, any wealth person who got that way by being smart fully understands that the best advice can be obtained from the eccentric genius in the back office with the unkempt tie.

    I almost always associate a person born to wealth with a certain prep school cavalier attitude about such things. Being nervous about social impressions always strikes me as middle class.


    April 19, 2015 at 9:18 PM

    • I have found that people who brag about thinking negatively about people trying to impress them have no one trying to impress them.


      April 20, 2015 at 3:32 AM

    • I agree with this. Sounds like something straight from Paul Fussell.

      Lion of the Judah-sphere

      April 20, 2015 at 5:54 AM

    • Yes, Paul Fussell said the middle-class was always worried about their social standing. He said the high proles and UC were not.


      April 20, 2015 at 12:31 PM

      • Or maybe that’s just the way it appeared to someone who rose from middle class to upper-middle/X class.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        April 20, 2015 at 5:41 PM

  10. Most politicians are driven in huge Chevy SUVs, even liberal ones. I think this is done mostly for Machiavellian reasons. Who would respect a person of power who drives a Kia Rio? Big pointless SUVs demonstrate power.


    April 19, 2015 at 9:19 PM

  11. wouldn’t the law associates use a company car.

    grey enlightenment

    April 19, 2015 at 9:24 PM

  12. On the other hand the attitude in the forum does demonstrate the emotion that I believe drives luxury purchases, which is not the conscious pursuit of status so much as the feeling that people have prove to the world that they are not losers. What do you think?

    signaling. luxury goods signal success. an ivy league degree signals competence. etc. Will people stop signaling? probably not

    grey enlightenment

    April 19, 2015 at 9:31 PM

  13. BIGLAW – the most prestigious sector of law practice, has now downsized, and while most big firms are not using low end cars to shuffle their attorneys around town (they mostly use service vehicles like Lincoln Town Cars), the idea of seeming overly important via ostentation, is pretty much over. Clients feel that there is no need for it, where pragmatism overrides appearances.

    Another post of yours, PROVING why Americans are status whoring proles, who are also culturally barren and intellectually challenged!


    April 19, 2015 at 9:56 PM

  14. It depends on just who you are dealing with. But among lawyers, or people of similar education and income, I don’t think cars are a big deal. A “statement” car in this environment would be a Prius.


    April 19, 2015 at 10:21 PM

  15. Fact, a car is a depreciating asset. It eats money and does not raise in value, save for a few highly expensive collectible exceptions. Nevertheless a car says a lot about a person.

    Agreed it must be clean and well organized in the trunk and passenger area.

    There is however an alternative to a cheap new car or expensive new car. You can get a restored classic car. Many places will do an acceptable restoration for about the money as a more expensively appointed Honda, around $20K or so. No you won’t get a Pontiac GTO restored for that, but you can probably get a nice cruising Satellite or Chrysler New Yorker. Maybe even a Caddy.

    No who will make the greater positive impression? A guy pulling up in a Beemer fairly new that looks like everything else or a guy in a nicely restored 1967 Caddy with fins and the full Elvis? The one guy is just like everyone else and the other guy is … just cool.


    April 19, 2015 at 10:26 PM

  16. Seems like it would be cheaper to just rent a nice car if the situation ever came up. I think people just buy stuff like nicer cars because they are boring people with no interests who have nothing else to spend money on.


    April 19, 2015 at 10:38 PM

    • If you’re a law firm associate, and a request comes to drive someone who needs to be impressed, you’re not likely to get enough lead time on that request to get a nice car rented — unless your secretary is really good, and isn’t swamped with filing requests from the other two lawyers you share her with.

      Alex S.

      April 20, 2015 at 1:27 PM

      • Are lawyers regularly asked to drive people around? What do lawyers who are very competent at law but cannot drive do?


        April 21, 2015 at 11:58 AM

      • Except for New York City, everyone who is “competent” at some job owns a car.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        April 21, 2015 at 1:05 PM

      • Are lawyers regularly asked to drive people around?

        It’s unlikely that anyone important will see your suit, your car, or any of your other status symbols on any particular day. However, the day will come. And that day will be an “opportunity.” If you don’t have it, you will be dismissed. If you do, maybe you’ll be invited into the inner circle, or at least further into the inner circle.

        After looking like you belong for awhile, you will get the opportunity to open your mouth about something. And it’s the key opportunity. Some small portion of whatever you say is determined by your competence, but most of it is going to come down to how well you present yourself and your ideas.


        April 21, 2015 at 3:20 PM

  17. which is not the conscious pursuit of status so much as the feeling that people have prove to the world that they are not losers. What do you think?

    In a certain respect it demonstrates insecurity; they constantly signal rank because they haven’t reached the top. The truly elite are so confident in their position they can afford to stop signalling with luxury goods. Hence why the richest man at an auction is often the worst dressed.

    The Undiscovered Jew

    April 19, 2015 at 10:43 PM

  18. Um, cars like Civic are actually really not as comfortable as the more high end cars. There is a real difference, and it’s in everything from how bumpy or smooth the ride is to how much leg room there is. If you’re driving a client who’s used to a Beemer or something he’s going to feel the downgrade.

    There are affordable cars that are comfortable with a smooth ride though, if you could find those you’re fine.

    Miss Minnie

    April 19, 2015 at 10:51 PM

  19. I currently rent condo in complex where the most expensive unit is under $100k.* You would not believe how many Mercedes and BMW’s you see parked in the lot here. When I drive through some of the tonier suburbs, I see a lot of Chryslers and Hondas parked in front of $300,000 homes. Those people are doing the smarter thing by investing in an appreciable asset rather than a depreciating luxury good. To my mind, that makes them “higher status.” But then again I’ve grown leery of the status rat race as I’ve approached my mid-30’s; some of the highest status people I’ve met are the most boring.

    *Side note: $100k can buy you a pretty nice 1 bedroom condo in a nice suburb with good schools in a large Midwestern metropolitan area. yeah I can already hear you saying “but there’s no culture and/or self-actualizing jobs!” To that I reply: during my short stint in the Big Apple very few of the people I knew actually participated in all the vibrant cultural offerings of that city. I’ve actually found that where I live now people have more disposable income to attend cultural events and do so without the jaded faux sophistication you see in the Manhattan-DC-Boston cultural axis. I mean, Van Halen concerts count as culture, right?? (lol)

    New York Sucks

    April 19, 2015 at 10:52 PM

    • Well, most of Murka sucks and also much of the Anglo Prolesphere!

      NYC really has no interesting cultural offerings, besides the usual recycled broadway shows, boring museums, and expensive restaurants. And you said it, NYC attracts high status climbers in the name of insipidness.

      The only place in America I can think of, where you can actually have some sanity in an overall decent place, without the swarms of riff raff (SWPL snobs, proles and NAMs) would be San Diego. A great place to be if you can spend time with healthy minded individuals.


      April 20, 2015 at 12:35 AM

  20. In 2001 I overheard a conversation between two partners in a lucrative SF law firm. The woman partner was telling the man about her car shopping trip with a female associate. She said, “she wanted to get the Camry but I convinced her to get the Lexus.” To me, the very fact that the associate didn’t do her shopping alone spoke volumes about what slaves most attorneys are. In that firm, direct client contact was almost unheard of outside the 3 name-partner/rainmakers, so maybe the strategy was to saddle the associate with a bigger payment so that she’d work harder. In case anyone here doesn’t know, the 2001 Camry was one of the best cars of all time.

    islam isn't peace

    April 19, 2015 at 11:02 PM

    • The key point is probably that it was two women shopping, not two attorneys.


      April 20, 2015 at 3:16 AM

  21. I’m in a business where I deal with construction contractors, a lot of them self-made men. This is a bunch that is extremely sensitive to what their material suppliers’ prices are, and one has to strike a balance between looking like you run a well-managed, financially strong business while not leaving yourself open to crap like “oh, that’s why Sgt. Joe’s company’s prices are so high, look what he drives.” So I drive a late model Ford Expedition. Could I drive a Navigator or Escalade or a Lexus SUV? Sure, if I wanted to, but I’m perfectly happy with what I drive, it looks good, and does the job.

    OTOH, if you’re in real estate in southern California (and most everywhere else, I assume) you have to drive a Mercedes or Lexus or other similar high end vehicle; it’s what buyers and sellers expect to see you in, and if you don’t look like you’re bringing in big commissions, people won’t want to deal with you. The average real estate agent sells only six houses a year, gives percentage of their commission (as much as 50% in some caszes) to the brokerage they work for, and pays for all his/her expenses, including vehicle, out of what’s left. For the average agent, real estate is a really crappy business to be in.

    Sgt. Joe Friday

    April 19, 2015 at 11:27 PM

    • so you sell concrete?


      April 20, 2015 at 12:10 AM

  22. When a guy wears a suit it’s certain he’s gonna steal your money.

    The suit, like the merc, has no other purpose than fronting.

    In a truly efficient economy hedgistanis would dress in shorts and sandles or they’d wear a jumsuit and work on tractors.


    April 20, 2015 at 12:07 AM

  23. Cars are not particularly useful as status markers because some people are into them and some aren’t. In other words, a person might drive a Mitsubishi Mirage* because that’s the only newer car he can afford, or it might be because he doesn’t particularly care about what he drives. Another person might drive a BMW because he wants to show off, or it might be because he is an auto enthusiast who appreciates the brand’s quality.
    * = the Mirage, made in Thailand with a 3 – cylinder motor, is the cheapest new car on the market, for about $14,000



    April 20, 2015 at 12:09 AM

  24. I thought we were past that in developed countries. Living in a developing country I see people obsess about whether they have a car and how nice it is. In the US old people grew up with cars. Some people love cars, others just drive them to get where they are going. I have never been part of the lawyer culture you are asking about but I would find it hard to believe clients and senior partners sit around talking about what cars people drive. There’s always a chance you might have to drive that one guy who hated the ride and complained to your boss about it, but you could also say there is a chance you meet a guy who is impressed by your frugality and common sense. Who knows?


    April 20, 2015 at 12:24 AM

  25. Wasn’t there a well-publicized study (probably from Harh-vard) about how people who dress more casual/ off-beat are perceived as more competent/intelligent? Therefore I agree with the commenter above about driving a well-preserved older car. Alternatively, some WASPs loved Saabs (before the company went under) and Volvos.

    I drive a Honda Civic, and I started seeing a banker-cunt. When she saw my car for the first time, her face soured. Then she got in and expressed surprise that it had a digital speedometer, as if the thing was an antique powered by small animals. She would later fret about whether or not to get another Mercedes or a BMW. She said it had to be expensive because clients wouldn’t trust an unsuccessful person to manage their savings, and that’s probably a reasonable assumption.


    April 20, 2015 at 12:30 AM

    • Do you typically refer to women as c****? There is something wrong with you.


      April 21, 2015 at 8:11 AM

    • I remember that study. They dressed one group of people up in fancy clothes, and another group in swea tpants, and the sweat pants people got better service in a luxery boutique. Their interpretation was something along the lines of: sweatpants signal that you’re there to shop, not to see and be seen, while fancy clothes show that you’re insecure and don’t really belong there.

      My hypothesis: the people who run this study have no idea what fancy clothes are in these days, and you would be better off wearing sweat pants than taking fashion advice from academics.

      PS Yeah, what is with the cussing?

      Libertarianish Economist

      April 22, 2015 at 12:45 AM

  26. You want to avoid weird people – on both ends of the distribution for the particular area. So, driving something that is perceived not normal might harm your sales. Once I was interviewed by a director for a management position. Indian guy showed up 30 min late in red Fiat 500 – four red flags right there.


    April 20, 2015 at 2:59 AM

  27. The trick then is to find an inexpensive car that is not prole.


    April 20, 2015 at 3:18 AM

  28. We’ve been way past peak-BIGLAW for more than 5 years now. Nothing a lawyer can do will confer status on himself.

    Lion of the Judah-sphere

    April 20, 2015 at 5:57 AM

    • Clients of BIGLAW have now stopped paying exorbitant fees, so their lawyers can look extremely important.


      April 20, 2015 at 12:05 PM

  29. Status vis-a-vis cars is different in Manhattan where you also have to pay exorbitant garage rent. Having a car at all conveys a kind of status there. In general a Civic conveys that you are prole or a not so well off middle class college student. Lexus has become a popular status brand for those who want to convey that they are sensible, since the high cost comes with high reliability and resale value. Unfortunately the recent redesigns seem like they are meant to appeal to guidos rather than SWPLs. To answer the question, I disagree. In the suburbs, you are likely to be frequently seen with your car in social or business settings. An older, clean Mercedes/BMW/Audi/Lexus/Acura/Volvo or similar conveys a different message than a Civic or similar.


    April 20, 2015 at 6:19 AM

  30. Apparently many of your readers (but not your, I bet) are unaware that there is a large literature on this topic, both economic and psychological, because positional goods are important to establishing one’s rank in the hierachy. Google Veblen.

    bob sykes

    April 20, 2015 at 7:17 AM

  31. Am I the only one to think people who try to impress others tend to be, on average, bitter losers?


    April 20, 2015 at 7:53 AM

    • Leon pretty much summed it up for me when he said, “I am not sure I believe that anyone cares what car you drive as long as it doesn’t look like a jalopy.” As long as you don’t stand out in a negative way then you’re alright. To repeat part of what I just said on the previous post:

      I care what people think of me to an extent. But I’d never piss away money trying to fit in or impress others. It’s more important to me to live by my values of thrift and anti-consumerism than buy things I don’t really want trying to impress people I don’t really like. People should realize that buying things to impress others doesn’t make someone liked. It makes people jealous, bitter and resentful.


      April 20, 2015 at 9:35 PM

  32. Appearances matter for different purposes. My ex-father-in-law is a CPA, MBA, CFP and runs a successful small consulting business (mostly manufacturing) in the Midwest. I remember the first time we visited him years ago and at the time he was driving an Audi. I forget the model, but it was a nice car, nothing fancy. I asked why an Audi when he could obviously afford a Lexus, Cadillac or any other higher end luxury car. I’ll never forget his response. He told me that the Audi is the car that he visits his clients with and that if he showed up in an expensive car when making his rounds his client’s would figure they’re paying him way too much! So, he drove a modest car to convey a certain message. Appearances matter.


    April 20, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    • This is the Ben Franklin approach to sales, but I think that most salesman today don’t believe in that model.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      April 20, 2015 at 1:59 PM

  33. These days here in the Maryland side of the DC metro, I would say that your neighborhood and house are a the biggest status marker, but the car you drive is considerably less so. An address in Bethesda or Chevy Chase separate you from the proles.

    It is not uncommon to see older cars in the driveways in nice neighborhoods. Most people can get financing for a nice car and working class apartment complexes have parking lots with plenty of nice cars in them.


    April 20, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    • Spot on. I know a number of Avenel families that drive Accord’s, CR-V’s, and Camry’s.

      However, Real-Estate is not purely a positional good.


      April 20, 2015 at 2:12 PM

  34. How long have you been poasting on autoadmit lion?


    April 20, 2015 at 10:28 AM

  35. I am a 45 year old engineering consultant in the wireless industry. My coworkers and I make about $140k annually. If one showed up with a Mercedes or BMW, everyone in the group would think he lost his marbles. I know we aren’t lawyers, but we earn more than the median lawyer and the median Mercedes / BMW purchaser. We see such expenditures on depreciating liabilities as unfathomably foolish, to a person. FWIW.

    Copperhead Joe

    April 20, 2015 at 10:39 AM

    • Agreed!
      Michael, Ph.D., P.E., Consulting wireless communications systems engineer


      May 1, 2015 at 9:25 AM

  36. He who dies with the most toys wins.


    April 20, 2015 at 10:52 AM

  37. Wouldn’t it be easier to just live in the city, not have a car at all, and mock the people who do have them?


    April 20, 2015 at 11:59 AM

  38. I immediately thought of Jimmy’s car in “Better Call Saul”. Lion are you watching that show? How is your STNG watching coming? I watched one episode of “Babylon 5” and realized how uttlerly mislead I had been about that show.


    April 20, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    • Babylon 5 gets really good in the second season, and even the first season picks up towards the end.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      April 20, 2015 at 5:42 PM

      • Love it. Is there anything more indicative of I-don’t-give-a-shit signaling than being into Babylon 5? Making matters worse, YEARS after it was on. You’ve got me beat, and I’m obsessed lately with watching Shipping Wars and Storage Wars.


        April 20, 2015 at 6:50 PM

      • Your posts about rewatching STNG inspired me to rewatch Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) and now I’m working my way through the various Stargate series.


        April 20, 2015 at 8:33 PM

      • I’m still on season 2 of TNG.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        April 20, 2015 at 10:42 PM

  39. I know someone who was a successful investment fund manager. He was smart and ha enough money to splurge but actually knew the value of a buck. His thinking was that he couldn’t pull up to a the golf club without some kind of luxury vehicle but he didn’t want to waste money on frivolous, bad investments just for a status symbol or make the impression that he was. He found a used SAAB that suited perfectly. It cost him in annual maintenance but that didn’t come close to the payments on a new mid-range car.

    I would apply this type of thinking and find something with a uniqueness that might suggest I was a fan of a certain type of car and held on to it to anyone who want to think that way. Volvo or Subaru would fit the bill. Any small or mid-size SUV domestic or foreign is nice enough for the odd time someone important actually sees you in your car much less has to get in. A CRV is just a Civic with bigger wheels and more head and leg room. If someone gets put off just because you won’t blow 60K+ on a car just to impress them, you can let them off at the next light.


    April 20, 2015 at 1:21 PM

    • The reason Subaru has grown like gangbusters (and sells more cars now than VW in the US, which was unthinkable 10-15 years ago) is because saab and Volvo buyers moved to Subaru.

      Even warren buffet drives an outback. It has become the brand for quiet toos money as well as swpl academia types.


      April 21, 2015 at 5:32 PM

      • Being a toos in America is so boring, don’t you think? Your average deep pocketed Ameriprole is boring, and their behavior reflects that of the elite from sullen 3rd world and East Asian nations, basically unremarkable and uninteresting.

        I recently met a few wealthy Italian de Medici type “aristocratic” individuals here in NYC, whose families own a few historic castles and other antique real estate in their native homeland of Italy, and they told me that Americans don’t look at all in harmony with society, meaning they seem overprotective of themselves, and that means those with money are very overprotective of what they have. They were introduced to me by a friend who works in real estate and they were looking to buy property in Manhattan so they can set up an Italian eatery and cultural center, and hire a few New Yorkers while they’re at it, which is a good thing, where you also invest in the people where your property is based – a behavioral trait not found in most wealthy ameriprole – “toos” types.


        April 22, 2015 at 9:06 AM

      • Subaru builds reliable cars that were born for bad weather. They’re still considered “quirky” enough to attract people who don’t want to drive an unreliable piece of crap with horrible build quality (SAAB) or a rebadged Ford (Volvo). Buffett drives one because of winter conditions where he lives.


        April 23, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    • “He found a used SAAB that suited perfectly”

      A SAAB is a bad investment by definition; there are people at your country club who know a lot about cars, and they’d definitely mock you for buying one, possibly to your face (yes, I’ve actually seen that happen). I’d go with a used muscle car (same reliability/maintenance problems, but cool) or a high mileage luxury car – BMW/Mercedes/Porsche or, if possible, a Lexus (much higher quality than a European car, but Japanese, which is a problem in some circles).


      April 23, 2015 at 9:54 PM

  40. Some of the responses were in the nature that a Honda Civic would be a career killer, because what if you had to drive a partner or an important client to the airport in your Honda Civic?
    I am not sure I believe that anyone cares what car you drive as long as it doesn’t look like a jalopy.

    It’s all about what you look like relative to others. If all the other lawyers drive luxury car X and one lawyer drives practical car Y, then the natural instinct is to think less of the person who drives car Y.


    April 20, 2015 at 3:38 PM

  41. Get a 2-3 year old BMW/Mercedes/whatever and pay almost 60% of the new car price (CPO as well). There is a world of difference between a E class Mercedes (as an example) and a Honda Civic, or similar car. If you don’t care about cars, fine. Guys who worry about the depreciating asset aspect of a car have a poverty mindset. This is the traditional BS model of frugality, where you spend “wisely” and save save save and when you’re 60 you will enjoy what? Make more now and enjoy nice things now. Also, the idea that a BMW/Mercedes is fancy is really prole thinking.


    April 20, 2015 at 3:40 PM

  42. AutoAdmit is 180.


    April 20, 2015 at 4:27 PM

  43. OT: Washington Post, 04/16/15 – Meet the woman who tells everyone, ‘I have genital herpes’

    …About 17 percent of people 14 to 49 in the U.S. have genital herpes caused by the HSV-2 infection, the CDC reports. There is enormous racial disparity, according to the most recent CDC data, with more than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black women diagnosed with the infection, compared to less than 20 percent of non-Hispanic white women…

    E. Rekshun

    April 20, 2015 at 5:16 PM

    • “No thanks, I won’t have sex with you. Now go screw some NAM guy”, which exactly what she did!


      April 20, 2015 at 7:21 PM

  44. My dad was a biglaw partner in the 1980s. He bought himself a 72 Corvette for his 50th birthday. The others partners eventually ordered him to stop driving it to the office. My dad went on to run a lucrative solo oil & gas practice.

    Ears Thyrel

    April 20, 2015 at 5:25 PM

    • Corvette isn’t the right car for the BIGLAW environment, probably not even for the Wall St frat types!


      April 20, 2015 at 7:23 PM

      • JS – that is true, but the new 2015 ‘Vette is one sexy vehicle. I predict that in 25 years elite SWPLs will be driving restored 2015 Corvette Sting Rays


        April 20, 2015 at 8:50 PM

      • 25 years from now, seems a bit of stretch to assume SWPLs will be still scurrying around in cities such as New York and San Francisco, or any other liberalopolis!


        April 21, 2015 at 4:02 PM

  45. Back in ’02, I was car shopping and was also about to start a new job. At that time, I really wanted to spend only $4K for a used pick-up. But the new job would require me to frequently meet clients at their businesses and occasionally pick-up out-of-town executives from the airport and show them some VIP treatment at the finer gentlemen’s clubs in Tampa, FL. I ended up spending $12K on a 1-year old Ford Taurus. I know the Taurus is ubiquitous and nothing fancy but it worked out very well for those purposes and overall. I’m glad I bought it and still drive it everyday w/o any problems.

    E. Rekshun

    April 20, 2015 at 5:39 PM

  46. Lion – Do you think living in Manhattan alone is a positional “good” or in a good position?

    Living in a crappy tenement building in the East Village confers more status than some mansion house out in Jamaica Estates, Queens!


    April 20, 2015 at 7:26 PM

  47. Any attorney who thinks he’s going to get clients by driving a BMW is just STUPID! If you’re on a beaver hunt a BMW is a pussy magnet that will get the girls to show you their goods, but that’s because they don’t have to pay for it. I’d never hire an attorney who drives a Beamer because I’d be the one paying for that thing myself with his Ginormous attorney fees.

    Joshua Sinistar

    April 20, 2015 at 7:50 PM

    • If you’re on a beaver hunt…….. a BMW is a pussy magnet …….that will get the girls to show you their goods….

      Congratulations on winning the Official Virgin of the Month Award for that post. LOL.


      April 21, 2015 at 1:58 AM

      • I have to go with Josh on this one. When I was in my 20s, I drove a fairly modest vehicle, but not infrequently drove my brother’s (approx.) $100K sport sedan, and there was a night and day difference in how women who saw me in it treated/reacted to me. And I had a wedding ring on. I think the effect wears off as you get older, but if you’re in your 20’s, an expensive (or perceived to be expensive) car is indeed a “pussy magnet”. Probably not the kind of “pussy” you want to settle down with though.


        April 23, 2015 at 9:33 PM

  48. O/T – If Lion coins a term for a mass murderer with a history of loneliness as beta rage, then here’s a new term for a male loner with trademark hobbies who kills himself – Omegacide

    In the days since Maisel’s disappearance, his family had described him as someone with a sweet tooth, who loved the pier, photography and anime, a style of Japanese comic books and short animation.

    This Max Maisel dude look eerily like Adam Lanza, except he wears glasses.


    April 20, 2015 at 8:14 PM

    • And by the way, most young women could care less of his death. He’s no Paul Walker or Justin Bieber.


      April 20, 2015 at 8:22 PM

    • It’s sad that he committed suicide.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      April 20, 2015 at 10:42 PM

    • It’s sad none of his male relatives stepped up and gave him guidance in how to be more than a “a sweet boy who grew into a sensitive, caring young man.” That sounds like exactly what some girl may have said right after she friend-zoned him.

      Some family to have.


      April 21, 2015 at 2:10 PM

      • His parents aren’t going to say anything bad about him after he died. There’s probably nothing wrong with the kid besides being beta, nonathletic, and not good looking.

        He probably committed suicide because he felt the overwhelming despair of not being liked by girls.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        April 21, 2015 at 2:20 PM

      • Maisel’s father’s eulogy describes him as someone who “had trouble grasping social cues.” Obviously that’s not definitive, but it opens the door to the possibility that he might have fallen somewhere on the autistic spectrum.


        April 21, 2015 at 2:46 PM

      • Possibly. Or because he was not physically attractive and not athletic, he was bullied a lot and didn’t have a chance to develop social skills in high school and middle school.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        April 21, 2015 at 2:47 PM

      • Most of the time, when people refer to someone as “weird” or “socially lacking,” what they actually mean is that they do not fit in for X or Y superficial reason, only the speaker is too stupid to realize how superficial society is.

        Many depressed smart people are depressed because they are smart and they realize how superficial the world is. A lot of smart people look for “reasons” behind things to avoid this reality. It’s hard to view the world as it is: ability counts, but only if you can meet superficial prerequisites first.


        April 21, 2015 at 3:12 PM

      • He looked fine. With a haircut, contact lenses, and a little weight-lifting, he would have been seen as a catch by many girls. More important than appearances though, he needed his father to take an interest in him, explain his value as a man, and encourage him to ask girls out on dates.

        The differing last names of his parents suggest his father was either too busy getting fleeced by his wife, or too socially incompetent to do these things for his son. Clearly his other male relatives didn’t step in to fill the void either.

        Of course the women who raised him were not going to show him how to be more masculine. Though I’m sure they had no shortage lame-brained advice on “being himself” and making sure to be extra “nice” to potential dates.


        April 21, 2015 at 5:33 PM

      • Calling a boy/man, “sweet” or “beautiful” is an insult in my book.


        April 21, 2015 at 6:35 PM

    • It’s the ectomorph curse. A lot of guys hit puberty and they retain very slender shoulders, necks, and extremities. This makes them feel much more vulnerable than boys who fill out width-wise.


      April 21, 2015 at 6:32 PM

  49. There’s a lot of industries where you wouldn’t want to pick up your client for lunch in an extravagant car, because they first thing that should come to their mind is that they ought to reduce your rates.


    April 20, 2015 at 9:51 PM

  50. My former college roommate used to work at one of the big regional offices for Corning Corporation, and they had a WRITTEN policy that executives with front-row parking were not allowed to drive luxury brand cars to work. They felt it was a little too showy and demotivated the other employees at the company further down the pay scale (which was basically everyone).


    April 20, 2015 at 10:49 PM

    • It sounds like somebody up top was doing a good job.


      April 21, 2015 at 1:59 PM

  51. peterike

    April 20, 2015 at 10:51 PM

    • Maybe it means he’s smart enough to realize that’s what voters want, putting him ahead of Rubio and those guys.

      President Bush means we get amnesty for illegal immigrants. Scott Walker, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t have anything to gain politically by reversing himself after elected.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      April 21, 2015 at 6:49 AM

  52. I had a friend who worked at O’Melviny & Meyer in Los Angeles as an associate in the early 2000’s. He told me the story of a female associate who was fired because she refused to replace the car she had since college with a nicer vehicle and showed up at a client meet in her beater.

    The same buddy typically buys a certified pre-owned BMW around four years old. He picked up a 2007 BMW 550 in 2011 for $23,000. Drives that to work.


    April 20, 2015 at 11:38 PM

  53. In The Darwin Economy Robert Frank uses the clothes lawyers wear to job interviews as an example of a positional good.

    Lloyd Llewellyn

    April 21, 2015 at 8:08 AM

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