We don’t make this stuff up. Really.
● In the United Kingdom, roughly four percent of drivers are uninsured. (That’s far below the 10-16 percent estimated for U.S. motorists.) The government regulators over there are taking the problem seriously and have proposed an unusual means of cracking down.
The intent is to install cameras to watch gas stations and parking lots, then use the already-developed “automatic number plate recognition” and existing databases to identify the uninsured.
Further, the plan says that if the car is in a petrol station, the pump can be turned off if a vehicle is found to be without insurance coverage. Government officials have said they will meet with reps from the petroleum industry to discuss the idea.
You may safely assume that this plan has sprouted opposition from many angles, and various groups are already shouting it down.
● If you think buying a new car is expensive here, consider life in parts of Asia. We mentioned before that Beijing attempts to limit vehicle overpopulation through a lottery for a controlled number of license plates. Your chances run from about 1 in 6 to over 1 in 20 depending on the number of seekers at any one time.
It’s worse in Shanghai, where license plates are auctioned by the government to high bidders. Their auto market continues to expand and a set of new plates recently set a record by going for the equivalent of over $9,300.
Observers note that such prices affect the sales of popular small cars, and favor the wealthy over the average. In other words, who would put a $9000 plate on a $6000 car?
● Regardless of your position on global warming or climate change, the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is well documented. A group of Danish researchers recently forwarded a theory pointing at another possible effect: increased CO2 may contribute to human weight gain and obesity.
Lars-Georg Hersoug and his associates have studied obesity and increased cardiovascular disease across several thousand Danish citizens for 22 years. They found that all people—fat and thin— had put on weight in that period, and that the increase tracked neatly against the increase of atmospheric CO2 in the same period.
Explained briefly, the scientists say neuropeptide hormones in the brain are responsible for alertness and energy. These hormones are also partially responsible for appetite stimulation and may be affected or increased by CO2. You eat more because the brain tells you to. However, they did also note that as always, exercise and activity can overcome the weight gain. Their research continues.
● The economic downturn affected everyone to some degree and many still find themselves in a financial bind. Even allowing for “deferred maintenance,” if a car runs it will need tires sooner or later. But new tires are expensive and can decimate an already shaky budget.
So why buy them when you can rent them? RIMCO, a division of Aaron’s Electronics company in Atlanta, Georgia, and operator of other rent-to-own furniture stores, is now renting tires as well as styled wheels. They originally started with the bling, but that market softened quickly as people chose not to spend money just for looks. Something else was needed, and tires were an obvious choice.
Instead of buying used tires, customers can rent new tires for their ride until the tax refund or their next paycheck arrives. The idea is catching on and has already spawned competitors. Numbers reported in news articles and websites show that a pair of new tires rent for about
$40-50 per month depending on all the usual variables.
Critics and credit counselors caution against using the plan except in the direst circumstances. They noted it’s always best to pay the full purchase price up front to avoid continuing and possibly inflated payments. “The problem with renting anything is you’re going to pay a huge premium,” one credit agency spokesman said.