The "Wheels" column in the New York Times is headlined "More Luxury Buyers Ditch the Imports and Pick Up a Truck."
It features two examples. One man "was leaning toward an Audi A6" but instead:
bought a Raptor version of the Ford F-150. The Raptor is a truck with the soul of a racecar: It has a 450-horsepower engine, a 10-speed transmission, electronic ride settings for seven different road surfaces, big chrome wheels, a power tailgate, cameras at all four corners and an adaptive cruise control system similar to the Audi's. With all those options, the sticker price came to about $80,000.
Another example is a guy who:
just bought an F-150 Lariat with a bevy of options, including heated rear seats. "I can put my mother back there, and she's in heaven," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind this is a luxury vehicle."
Who are these guys? Not law firm partners, investment bankers, successful small businessmen, or plastic surgeons. They seem instead to be retired public employees. The Times identifies the Raptor buyer as "a retired Michigan state trooper," and the Lariat buyer as "a retired school psychologist in Onsted, Mich."
Now, maybe these guys inherited family fortunes, or are married to law firm partners, investment bankers, successful small businesspersons, or plastic surgeons. Maybe they are making bad financial decisions by overspending on expensive new vehicles. Maybe they've been thrifty over time and invested their savings wisely. But I have to admit that the first thought that came to my mind was a comment by a friend of mine who served in New York government. When I told him I planned to leave New York for Boston, his comment was that New York had gotten so expensive that the only people who could still afford to live there were hedge fund managers and retired municipal employees. In other words, the public pension and health care retirement benefits for government retirees are so generous — in part because of the capture of politicians by unions representing public employees — that those retired workers are driving around in fancy cars and trucks funded essentially by taxpayers most of whom can't even dream of affording such expensive luxuries.