By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. After watching the documentary about Sheryl Crow on Showtime – which is well worth your time by the way – one of her most famous songs stood out to me: “If It Makes You Happy.” It seems to resonate even more so than it did back in 1996, when it was first released.
Since we’re living in this era of constant rancor and seemingly relentless hatred for anything and everything – including each other – it might be a good time to step back and let things cool a bit. Or at least count to three before lashing out at the outrage du jour, because the hair-trigger overreactions are debilitating and beyond tedious at this point.
Clearly, I’m not just talking about the car business here. This so-called life we’re dealing with seems to be mired in an out-of-control series of events and hostilities that make our stomachs churn and our blood boil. That this has become an unhealthy existence is the understatement of this or any other year.
In automotive terms, the world is flat-out out of control. Cars are not only becoming prohibitively expensive, they’re in painfully short supply. (Honda dealers on average have a 3-day supply. Think about that.) And the combination of the unrelenting chip shortage and the “Grand Transition” to BEV production is compounding the problem. Do you want more? According to a report in the latest edition of Automotive News dealers are selling used cars with over 150,000 miles on them, or more, because of the shortage of vehicles overall. Yes, I know cars are better built these days, but wow. Are people really signing up for that kind of commitment to the unknown? Apparently so.
But then again, if it makes you happy, who am I to suggest otherwise? I look at the stupid money being thrown around when it comes to high-profile cars these days – both used (and new) on Bring A Trailer and in new car showrooms around the country where rapidly ascending price points know no bounds – and it is simply staggering to contemplate.  
Just one example? Once upon a time not too long ago, a Porsche was somewhat affordable, that is if you squinted tightly and gulped really hard. Now? They have joined the ranks of exotics with prices frequently approaching $200,000, or more. Porsche has long prided itself as “the most profitable car company in the world” in statements to the media, but it has now taken its place in the rarefied club of the greediest car companies extant. But they’re not alone. 
Manufacturers will bore you with their studies about demographics and wealth, that this explosion in wealth pretty much has removed traditional limits when it comes to luxury vehicle prices, but I wonder when this “greed circus” will all come crashing down upon their collective bottom lines? It’s not just the German and Italian manufacturers, either. The wave of brand-new Broncos on BaT that approach six-figures – and more – is eye-popping. This goes far beyond the classic first-on-the-block syndrome that has been part of this business almost since its inception. No, this is something else altogether. I have no doubt that a lot of the pricing shenanigans going on right now in this business are simply unsustainable. But then again, I’ve never seen the Swinging Dick-ism Meter being pegged as it is right now. It seems that people have an insatiable desire to flaunt their – ahem – wares through their four-wheel conveyances, more so than at any other time in history. Who would have thought that being “The Biggest Tool in the Shed” would carry such appeal? 
But I digress. Men and women can’t – and shouldn’t – live by the car business alone, in case you haven’t noticed. Yes, I know, in this company town that notion is hard to fathom, but it’s the High-Octane Truth. After all, when you travel to other parts of the country, where anything related to automotive news doesn’t even merit mention in the local newspaper or website business sections and media outlets, you’re quickly reminded that people in the rest of the world really don’t care all that much. I like to remind people buried in this business that this is the case, because I think it’s helpful to at least retain a shred of perspective.
I once counseled an executive friend of mine who was having a terrible time with the then-current leadership at his company. I could see it in his face that it was weighing on him dramatically, and it was getting dangerously close to the point of affecting his health. I pointed out to him that one distinct advantage he had was that he could avail himself of the more fun aspects of this business without “interference” from above. In other words, to go do the things that would make him happy, and I encouraged him to do so whenever he had the chance. I had a conversation with him several months later and he said it was the best advice he ever received. 
Getting back to this idea of stepping back and giving things a little time before jumping on a position or lashing out seems like a strong course of action at this juncture. Living in a state of having a constant short fuse is dangerous for any number of reasons. As Chris Rock once famously said: “They say life is short. No, it ain’t. Life is looong if you’re unhappy.” Truer words were never spoken. 
No, this isn’t a mind-numbing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” sermon. Not by a long shot. Are you kidding? In these too often grim times we’re living in worrying is part and parcel of our existence. And that won’t go away by wishing it to be so. But you can step back and step away, even if it’s for a moment. And do something that makes you happy. If that means going for a long ride or drive to nowhere, then by all means, do it. If it means immersing yourself in a good book or some kick-ass music, why not? 
One thing you can’t do is to stew and percolate in your own juices. If you do that long enough you will start seriously impacting your health. Step back and step away for a while. As Sheryl says:
If it makes you happyIt can’t be that badIf it makes you happyThen why the hell are you so sad
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
Editor’s Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on “Next 1 Entries” below. – WG

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