I just picked up the new car.
I can't believe it - Honda fixed everything I had to gripe about in my original Element.
There's an external temperature gauge on the dash. The cruise control button isn't next to my knee any more. The intermittent wipe has variable delay. It's quieter. The seatbelt isn't in the door.The 10hp and 5 speed AT transforms the driveability of it and at freeway speeds it's a good 800rpm lower than the old one. Ok so the new styling isn't to everyone's taste but hey - I own an Element - I can't really pass judgment on car style.
Like him or not, you can't argue with Obama's policies so far. Well - apart from the bailout package which I still believe is a mistake.
But this time he's taking on the education system. In a bid to do what just about every other civilised country does, he's trying to introduce performance-based pay for school teachers. The better they teach, the better the kids learn, the more money the teachers earn. That's the idea. It's a shame that school teachers need to be given incentives to teach properly like this, but that appears to be the way it is.
Of course the republicans immediately started bleating on about how it was a bad idea and the teachers unions chimed in too. I guess they're afraid that the bad teachers will be laid off. I don't think that's a bad thing. Unionised teachers are paid a guaranteed rate with guaranteed raises every year irrespective of the prevailing economy or their ability to teach. That's not the way to educate the next generation. In fact, it seems that all Obama's ideas to punish poor behaviour and practice are being opposed by the unions and the party that spent the last 8 years taking us down the toilet for the exact opposite reason : they rewarded that behaviour.
I settled the paperwork on a new car this weekend. Far from the high-pressure no-haggle screw-the-customer dealers that we have here in the valley (are you listening Larry H Miller, Ken Garff and Stockton-To-Malone?), Willey Honda up in Bountiful did me proud on the price of the new car. I'm a repeat customer for them - I got the original Element from them in 2006. I went back there because they are a pleasant car dealer, with pleasant staff and a no bullshit pricing approach. For example they didn't lowball me on the trade-in value. In fact they were higher than I'd budgeted for. On the new car they came in at an out-the-door price which was $200 less than the MSRP. Bear in mind the MSRP doesn't include tax, title, license and paperwork etc etc. In short : they came down $2,200 on the price. The best part? It reduces my monthly car payment by $40. Ok so the loan is extended another two years, but in terms of how much cash we have to live on each month, things are a touch better now.