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Monday, 17 April, 2006

I had one of those nights. Next to no stimulation for twelve hours. However, I had some things to think about and plenty of paper around to work some stuff out.

The reason you don’t see common bicycles at an attractive price point being sold used in retail environments has to do with the math not working out. Were you to buy a common yard sale bike, components to rebuild it (assuming wholesale prices are 66% of Bike Parts USA’s price) not including painting or labor and mark it up so the retail price is wholesale/.66 that price would be perilously close to the price of a new low-end derailleur bike. The used and refurbished bike would run around $160 for a single speed, or closer to $200 for an internally-geared-hub three-speed.

The fly in the ointment is the growing reputation for Pacific’s Schwinn rear-derailleur bikes. While needing a few minor additional components out of the box (the pin holding the seat to the seatpost, the OEM pedals tend to bend, etc.), once fixed they make reasonable city bikes … or so I read on the internet. A sample of this is available at Target and at least one shop in Boston is buying the bikes retail (MSRP $169, street price $99-$149), “fixing” them, adding Freddy Fenders and selling the result for $250 which includes professional assembly.

Another bike in this family, pending the potential of the rear rim allowing itself to be rebuilt, could be converted into a three-speed of a kind Schwinn hasn’t made since the 70’s. Well you’d want a sprung saddle too, also at a $250 price point.

Now, if some smart cookie could figure out a way to market the rebuilt bikes as fashion at a $250 price point (competing with Electra) you might have a business. In fact, this business could directly import India-built bikes (minimum order is usually 80 per style and you need two bikes as shipped to have one salable bike), refurbish them out of the box with components intended to restore classic Raleighs and sell that fashionable cycle for $350, or $400 with a three-speed.

Then again for all that trouble, you may as well go out and buy a Raleigh Venture or an Electra for $350, or a fashionable Breezer for $400. In other words, you can’t beat the system.

The elements are all in place. The war is not about oil, it’s about heroin. The first thing done was to rip up the current distribution network. The second was to create a market, partially by demonizing everything else in the eyes of middle-class high schoolers. After that we have the investment phase which has created tax-free real estate ventures (aka the Southern Baptist Convention’s “Christian Centers”) in which to tie up all that cash. Now we have a campaign designed to create the impression of persecution in the minds of the faithful, while creating an environment where a severe backlash against sanctioned superstition is all but inevitable.

The operating economic theory is that the less workers are paid, the better the overall economy. The nickles and dimes individuals spend are not consequential; only the billion dollar deals actually mean anything. We will eventually see settlements for “Christian” Dominionists many of which will be gated and extremely secure. These will quickly evolve into areas cut off from electronic communication with anywhere other than other camps. Employment and opportunity will, naturally, be difficult to come by. These people will require useful work. In short, the GOP shall exploit the “freaks” and “wackos” of the movement to create work camps of free labor. The residents of the camps will be nice and safe.

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