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BSD Film Room: Free Trade

BSD Film Room

With the Penn State football season officially “postponed”, we won’t be previewing next week’s opponent, nor reviewing some aspect of last week’s game - because neither of those options exists. Consequently, and for this week only, at least, we’re breaking down something that may be more useful to our friends than yet another stupid play diagram: sub compact tractors. Let’s go to the still frames.

Kill The Lights

First up is the 2020 Mahindra eMAX20, pictured below.

The Mahindra is made primarily in China, with “some” assembly also performed in Australia and the United States of America. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the version shown above (with 280lb front loader) is $14,975. The tractor pictured above (still new) is available for $11,700, or best offer, on the world wide innernets. This $3,200 haircut off of MSRP is due in part to Mahindra’s reputation for horrendous quality.

1950 Farmall Cub

The Farmall Cub was made exclusively in the United States of America between 1947 and 1979. In 1950, it retailed for $575 (that’s about $5,500 today thanks to fiat currency). Seventy-one years later, the Cub remains ubiquitous, because it was not merely ridiculously reliable, but also incredibly easy to repair. You can still get a working Cub with hydraulics, 540 PTO, a 60” belly mower, a moldboard plow, discs, cultivators, a scraper blade, and a snow plow - all well used, of course, since production ceased 40 years ago - for about $3,000.

What about the engine, you might ask? Great question. The Mahindra uses a 3-cylinder Yanmar (South Korea) diesel. Conversely, the ancient Cub has an inline 4-cylinder gasoline engine. This means the Cub will still start when there is snow outside, without being parked in a garage or barn. The Cub is also more fuel efficient - less than 1 gal per hour of runtime - despite weighing a bit more, and despite Mahindra’s “e is for ecology” marketing. Finally, yes, the 71-year old Cub still pulls better than the Mahindra, despite less horsepower at the drawbar, and despite qualifying for Medicare, because it turns out there’s far more to pulling that just horsepower (this statement has not been approved by the FDA).

Hit The Lights

Let’s recap. If we want a brand new tractor, you and I are asked to pay about 250% more (inflation adjusted), for far less reliable equipment, that is also less efficient / more wasteful, and is impossible to repair without the proprietary software only dealers can afford. Moreover, we’re asked to send our check overseas, in spite of the fact that domestic companies made a better and cheaper product 71 years ago, and thus, didn’t need to drag it across the Pacific Ocean before we could use it.

The existence of this phenomenon is what both political parties have inexplicably termed “free trade” since approximately 1985. Perhaps that’s part of their joke. We can’t know for certain since we’re clearly not in on it.

But in case you’re worried about a political discussion going off the rails in the comment section below - have no fear. Both parties embrace it even today. Thus, if you don’t like it and seek vengeance, know first that your tribe’s complicit.

So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.