A few MO commenters are always encouraging me to keep my politics to myself, which I do as much as I can because I understand people want to read about motorcycles and look at pretty pics when they come here to get away from it all. The problem for me is that if you’re paying attention to your life, including motorcycles, politics can’t be avoided any more than you can just ignore the family of bears who just decided to share your campsite. Politics affects my bottom line.

Stop me if I’ve already addressed this topic before, but what got me onto it again was people lamenting the other day how the motorcycle industry is dying off because the kids don’t want to go outside and ride; they just wanna sit in a sensory deprivation hyperbaric chamber all day and take selfies and play video games. It’s their parents’ fault, they also say, for not exposing them to the Great Outdoors as children.

Personally, I think what’s wrong with the millennials is this: None of them are buying motorcycles because none of them have any money. So, fine, let’s not talk about politics: Let’s talk about economics.

The Motorcycle Diaries is a pretty fun film about a couple of guys whose clapped-out Norton causes them to become Commies.

The Motorcycle Diaries is a pretty fun film about a couple of guys whose clapped-out Norton causes them to become Commies.

I might be willing to go along with the millennial bashers if I didn’t have my own dog in the fight (my son), and if he didn’t have a bunch of friends in the same holey boat. To begin with, if we Boomers had had Playstations, “Call of Duty” and VR headsets, you can be damn sure that the Indulgent Generation (children of the Greatest Gen) would’ve been all over that action, and just like the current one we would’ve grown eventually tired of those toys, too. I can’t remember the last time I saw mine (now 23 years old) shooting up the forces of evil from my couch. He does have his nose in his phone a lot, but every time I expect to find him playing Candy Crush or looking for Pokemons, he’s reading something for a school assignment or doing homework.

I do wish we’d spent more time camping and hiking and doing Great Outdoors things when the kid was growing up, but with his mother and me both working full-time and then some, there never seemed to be enough energy or money, for much of that on the weekends – though for years we did pack up the Ranger (the kid’s still driving it with almost 180,000 miles showing) nearly every weekend for a trip to one of the local MX parks, none of which were nearer than a two-hour drive.

Not like when I was a kid, where you could ride your minibike all kinds of places not necessarily legally but nobody much cared. And I don’t know anybody who packs the kids up in the station wagon every summer for a two-week vacay anymore like we used to do (on one income), though I do know a few people (mostly on Facebook) who are constantly checking in from Monaco or Hawaii or a really expensive restaurant. Their big garages, already groaning with collectible Ducatis, are always gaining new bikes and expensive cars.

I manage not to be too bitter mostly because my MO duties sometimes have my own garage stuffed with great motorcycles, but that wouldn’t be the case if I was having to pay for them. And my son, who was kind of soured on bikes there for a few years after a couple of frightening RM85 mishaps involving gravity, is back into motorcycles now in a big way, so we do have that going for us. We Burnses are simple peasant stock who don’t need much.

If he hadn’t had me for a role model, though, I don’t know that my kid would’ve ever caught the motorcycle bug in the first place. What I see in his generation isn’t a lack of enthusiasm for letting the good times roll, but a much greater and earlier awareness of the harsher realities of life than we Boomers had: Faced with the high cost and need for education, and the expensiveness of lots of things we took for granted (a garage, healthcare, Rolling Stones tickets), I see a frugality that’s more in line with my Children of the Depression parents (save that aluminum foil!) than with my own.

A buddy in Solvang who was looking for new digs sent me this Craigslist: $1450 / 2br - 400ft2 - 5th Wheel on 15 acres (Full Hook-ups) (Solvang)

A buddy in Solvang who was looking for new digs sent me this Craigslist: $1450 / 2br – 400ft2 – 5th Wheel on 15 acres (Full Hook-ups) (Solvang)

That kind of overarching worry about finances had them wondering the same thing: Why would you ride around on a vehicle that’s 38 more times likely to get you killed than a nice sensible Pontiac Bonneville? A lack of money creates a cautious worldview that excludes things like motorcycles, which are both dangerous and toys to outsiders. Google “millennial earnings” to find tons of stories like this one at Forbes.

In the ’60s, we bypassed our parents’ concerns because the world was our ever-expanding oyster and bell-bottoms and bongs were in; shooting guys to the moon was also a dangerous thing with no real economic payoff, but we all got behind it anyway. And the astronauts got Corvettes!

In that era, a lightly-used Camaro or Mustang was not out of reach of the average 20-something; neither was a decent middle-class living for just about anybody who worked 40 hours a week. Homelessness wasn’t yet a thing, not where I grew up anyway. The future, in short, looked rosy, and motorcycle sales, especially cheap Japanese ones, soared. A quick run over to Chevrolet.com informs me that the cheapest new Camaro with a V-8 starts at $37,295.

021517-whatever-apollo-xii-astronauts-corvette

It’s not like there’s not still plenty of money sloshing around in the economy. The problem is very little of it is leaking down into the pockets of people who buy motorcycles anymore, which used to consist mainly of young males. For a while there the Occupy Wall Street movement gained a little traction complaining about things like the CEO-to-worker pay ratio, which has climbed from 42-to-1 in 1980 to its current level of 335-to-1, according to the AFL-CIO. GlassDoor has it at only 204:1. Either way, we’ve moved on to more pressing concerns like transgender bathrooms and walling off Mexico.

021517-whatever-us-motorcycle-sales-1992-2015

Do Americans buy motorcycles when they have money? I think this little chart from webbikeworld.com is worth a thousand words.

One man’s “wealth redistribution” is another man’s “tax reform,” but lately both terms are code for even less disposable income for those just launching themselves into the job market. We worship the wealthy in the U.S. Nobody has a problem with the six heirs to Sam Walton’s Walmart having a net worth greater than the bottom 42% of Americans combined, but make no mistake their six fat straws are drawing from the communal milkshake. Good for them and Sam Walton; I don’t begrudge them their wealth at all. I do know the country was better off when the top tax rates were a bit higher. I was there.

I seriously doubt that the small percentage of us who gravitate toward motorcycles has grown any smaller; blaming the youngsters for a faltering motorcycle industry is a classic case of blaming the victim (even if E-i-C Duke deduced in this editorial that fewer kids today are riding bicycles, creating a bigger hurdle to riding a motorcycle one day).

Meanwhile, the people who do have a few bucks continue to keep Harley-Davidson, BMW and other builders of upscale motos afloat. Ducati and its Scramblers are one bright spot among several, but my intel is that the average Scrambler buyer is 47 years old. (And that’s not even a bad thing if said 47-year old trades in a nice, clean bike for a disadvantaged youth to pick up on the cheap.)

I’m almost ready to throw up my hands and not care anymore, really, since it looks like my own offspring, after taking only five years to secure his four-year degree, appears to have landed a jay-o-bee after he graduates in a few months where he’ll make more than his dear old Dad right out of the chute. I couldn’t be prouder and when it comes to pass, I think it means he’ll be giving back my old R1 – and maybe even the old Ranger truck.

First thing he wanted to know when he called me with the news, was ‘what’s up with that new Ducati Supersport anyway?’ He thinks he needs one. I think I’m going to offer him a smoking R1/Ranger package deal and see if I can finally achieve the Buell XB-9S of my dreams, then pull up the prosperity ladder behind me.

I’m glad we’re able to have this discussion without getting into politics.

What’s a nice pre-owned RC213V-S down to now? Maybe I’ll get one of them...

What’s a nice pre-owned RC213V-S down to now? Maybe I’ll get one of them…

  • Old MOron

    Seasoned pro gives candid and insightful perspective on the economy – as it applies to motorcycles. Amen, except I think the Waltons suck up too much of the communal milkshake through their fat straws.

  • schizuki

    If you’re going to play the correlation=causation card, I’ll see your lowered tax rates on the wealthy and raise you one Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Importing cheap labor seems a hell of a lot more likely to keep disposable income out of a youngster’s pocket than taking less of a rich man’s income. Unless that money used to get distributed directly to the young in cash payments back in your day.

    Stick to motorcycles.

    • Born to Ride

      There are maybe 4 states where you can play the “Dere takin yer job” card. I happen to live in one of them, and the only notable positions I see being occupied by “imported labor” are fry cooks and bussers at private restaurants, agricultural back breakers on orange/avacado groves, automotive technicians in discount repair facilities, janitors, butchers, construction workers, and housekeepers. Of those stereotypical jobs, an average 23 year old might be willing to do a few, but do we honestly believe that is affecting the unemployment rate among young adults appreciably? I don’t.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Hardworking undocumented immigrants do the jobs that most Americans of color or not don’t want to do, especially young people. Farm labor, landscapers, construction, dishwashers, fruit pickers. Hard, sweaty, unhealthy, low paying jobs with limited or no benefits. Our food and groceries would cost twice as much without them and most of the service industry will come to a halt. The best ticket to making money for youngsters is to get educated and learn a trade that is in demand. Any skill that companies can get cheaper elsewhere (India, China) is something to stay away from. Stick to something that cannot be sent abroad: health, construction, civil engineering, high tech, government, law, politics?

        • Born to Ride

          Mechanical engineering for me. I have no pity for those with $100k of student loans and a BA native american studies. Return on investment is another topic that is foreign to young adults.

          • john burns

            Everybody doesn’t have the mental capacity for engineering. I know I don’t. But kids think they have to go to college, and many of them don’t realize how dumb they are till they get there. English department for me!

          • DickRuble

            Most of them don’t realize how dumb they are when they get out.

          • John B.

            My daughter was an English major, and on a regular basis people would ask, “What are you going to do with a degree in English?” As if smart people who can think and write have no employment opportunities. Fortunately, she stuck with it, and now she writes proposals for engineers and software consultants who apparently don’t write particularly well.

          • Born to Ride

            This is hilariously true. I was one of the dumb/smart ones that went to junior college out of high school trying to save a buck on student loans. While I was there I was forced to take 3 english classes to get GE certified. One was composition, one was critical thinking, and the other was business writing(an elective). Because of this, my written communication skills are head and shoulders above my classmates at the polytech university who were only required to take one “Engineering Writing” class, where they teach you how to be a functioning illiterate.

          • JSTNCOL

            Education in liberal arts or humanities is grossly undervalued on pretty much every level.

        • John B.

          See my comment above re economics of labor. Also, law work (document review, discovery, document preparation), accounting (tax return preparation), and medical services (reading x-rays), are already being done in India. Our politicians have abandoned the American worker!!!

          • Born to Ride

            This is why I believe that outsourcing is a far greater peril to the American worker than the illegal labor market. Those are mid-level careers you are talking about there. The kind of jobs that starry eyed graduates are hoping to make a liveable wage in.

          • DickRuble

            Here’s how it works, explained in HS fluid dynamics terms. The world economy is a network of vessels filled with a fluid whose pressure is called “workforce standard of living” or affluence. The affluence in the US has/had a fairly high level. The one in Mexico is pretty low, and in Asia even lower. Between those vats are vanes (tariffs, immigration laws, border controls). You open the vane between any two vats and due to the gradient, the pressures will tend to equalize. When the Japan-US pressure equalized in the 60’s (remember those made in Japan trinkets?), manufacturing went to Korea, and Singapore, then Taiwan. Those vats were small and pressure equalized quickly. We then went to China, much bigger vessel, much lower pressure, can absorb a lot more, but the pressure in EU and USA is not infinite either. It will reach a level (closer to the initial level of China than that of US) and will stay there until a new, lower pressure vat is found.

          • Born to Ride

            Now that is a sound explanation I can get behind. No need to take macroeconomics now. Thanks Dick for putting it in terms we can all understand. =)

          • John A. Stockman

            Nice work there, uh, writing! Effective, easy-to-understand, love it. But do we run out of lower pressure vessels at some point? It is a finite space our planet. Maybe by then, we’ll be able to have other opportunities, resources and methods to get to them if some in positions of power would take off their blinders and realize we live in a “world” and solar system, not some small section of real estate that needs to be cut off and walled-off from the rest of the world.

          • DickRuble

            It’s a complex problem. If you’re interested in the topic, I suggest reading this.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limits_to_Growth

            The book can be found online or at your local library, or on amazon.

            https://www.amazon.com/Limits-Growth-Donella-H-Meadows/dp/193149858X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487709760&sr=1-1&keywords=limits+to+growth

          • Old MOron

            Actually, it’s upper management and the shareholders who have abandoned the American worker. Politicians just follow their lead.

        • JSTNCOL

          Civil engineering is a great profession! Until the economy collapses and construction grinds to a halt.

      • John B.

        What if the jobs you described paid significantly more money? If we removed immigrant labor from the labor force, the supply of labor would drop, with demand for labor remaining constant. To attract people to the jobs immigrants previously held, wages would have to rise until enough workers were willing to offer their labor at the going rate. Simple economics no?

        The extent to which, and whether, the price of certain goods and services would rise due to higher labor rates depends on price elasticity of demand. Most people mistakenly believe increased costs to producers can simply be passed on to the customer. In many cases, this is not the case. Where substitute products exist at the same price, increased costs cannot be passed on to the customers. For example, if tomorrow there were a 10,000 percent tariff on Mexican beer would you expect American consumers to pay something like $6,000 for a bottle of Corona, or merely to switch to another brand of beer like Molson. (Ok not Molson; I digress.) The ready availability of other brands of beer at lower prices makes it impossible to pass on additional costs to consumers.

        I have read several studies that conclude most (certainly not all) of the savings to producers from immigrant labor goes into producers pockets at the expense of the American worker. What’s worse, the American worker bears the brunt of the $111-$125 billion (net) taxpayers pay annually for illegal laborers to live here. (For many reasons, I favor a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens who permanently reside in the U.S., excluding, of course, those who have committed felonies. This would reduce the illegal alien labor pool to near zero.)

        In Texas, where I live, illegal aliens do all the roof work. Roofing companies here typically consist of two or three employees and an owner. The company hires a subcontractor who has access to illegal alien labor. Roofing work costs less here than elsewhere, but most of the savings goes to the business owner. If illegal workers were made U.S. citizens (or were deported en masse), wages would rise, and no matter the job, if the pay is high enough someone will do it.

        In short, I have more faith than you do, that Americans workers will do all the jobs you describe (and do them well) if employers were forced to pay market costs for labor. American workers built the greatest country on Earth; don’t underestimate them.

        • Born to Ride

          Construction jobs like roofing are the major occupation where I can concede that illegal workers truly hurt the American laborer. I remember a time when a lot of young men had decently paying jobs working in construction. Not so much anymore unless you have a skill like carpentry or tile installation. The trouble is that many (not all by any means) young people my peer or my junior believe that manual labor is beneath them. They have been told all their life that they have to go to college and get a degree in something so that they don’t have to do that kind of work. I know because I was told the same thing by dozens of adults growing up. There were no shop classes offered at my high school whatsoever. In contrast, my father still owns and uses tools that he made with his own hands in metal shop class back in the 70s. My lack of faith stems from spending time with individuals who don’t know which end of the screwdriver to hold and have no interest in learning. Kids are being pushed into 4 year undergraduate programs from the time they are 12, but the world needs more welders and machinists and painters than it does anthropologists. As someone else said here, “We can’t all serve each other coffee and work at software companies”.

          • John B.

            I agree with much of what you say above.

            I grew up in Philadelphia, a blue-collar city. I had friends who followed their fathers into various trades, and, in part due to unions, they made more money than I made my first 5 years practicing law! And no student loans to repay. In addition, they had great health insurance and a pension. I have not been back there in awhile, but I bed those jobs aren’t as great as they once were.

            The notion that everyone needs to go (or should go) to college is ridiculous. And yes, adults often give kids bad advice. I’ll leave those topics for another day.

        • JSTNCOL

          There’s no single answer. No one thing that will change it all. Changes need to be made on several fronts. Wait… I take it back. The one thing that would make all the difference… elimination of greed. One way or another.

        • Born to Ride

          Also I would just grab my passport and ride to Mexico for my Corona at that point. Then after drinking half a dozen or so, I’d start an illegal Corona smuggling business so I could be labeled a rapist and a criminal via twitter. Thanks Trump!

    • john burns

      Both of those things, cheap labor and redistribution of wealth upward, would seem to hurt youngsters. Yo, we’re on the same side!

  • schizuki

    You want an economy like the ’50s and ’60s? Just follow these easy steps:

    1) Have Germany, Japan, Poland, and much of France and England rubbled.
    2) Have twenty million Russians killed.
    3) Have Europe looted.
    4) Be an untouched industrial nation.
    5) PROFIT!

    • DickRuble

      6) Tax any income (interest, dividends, etc) over 1 Million at 90%
      7) Kill another 40 Million Russians
      8) Kick out all illegal immigrants and their families, plug all visa loopholes (H1B, etc)
      9) Bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki one more time (each)
      10) Bring the population of China, India, and Indonesia back to the 1950’s level (you choose the method)

      • JSTNCOL

        Number 6 sounds pretty good. An alternative to number 11 would be to only allow white men over the age of 25 into the workforce. No women, no minorities. Actually, I think that’s the way it was in the 50s. Huh.

    • john burns

      funny how none of those things had (recently) happened last time income inequality was this high?https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0019ace23f1ca054e3a4ee647a5af8b6838862870cb675e2ac97f0f67e240572.png

      • DickRuble

        According to the chart, throughout the Great Depression, income inequality persisted. It looks like something started in 1939 that brought the disparity down.. Wait, what was it?

      • Daniel Benjamin

        BURN(s)!!!! Touché señor Burns, touché. Thanks for using data for an argument, it makes the internet a better place 🙂

    • Stuki Moi

      Not sure why you’d want an economy limited to produce 40’s era bikes, but hipsters will be hipsters, I guess………………

      If what you instead wanted, was an economy that allowed young guys who were willing to work even a tiny bit in between going for rides, to buy more contemporary two wheelers, all you’d need to do, was stop actively confiscating the wealth they did create with their work.

      Let them keep it, instead of actively redistributing it, via debasement and regulation, to those who sit on their rear. Doing nothing more than owning the idle so called “assets” that the financialization boom, following Nixon’s 1971 descent into full blown tard-of-the-not-mo kind, kicked off in middle class-, hence civilization-, destroying earnest.

  • 2WheelsinWyoming

    Have you seen the price of new motorcycles? They seem to be creeping, or jumping, upwards. The more high tech goodies, like TC, variable engine modes,etc, the steeper the price goes. The Honda Africa Twin starts at $13,200. Even the Grom is $3300. The Yamaha FZ-07 starts at $7200, an FJ-09 stickers for $10,700 and the new SCR950 is $8700. Someone just getting out of college or even in their 30s may not have the extra money to support an expensive hobby. Then there are those of us who are contemplating plunking down $14,800 for a nice little streetbike called the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR. Admittedly, I’m well past my 30s. Maybe into midlife crisis? The siren’s song calls. Again. Shouldn’t have taken that test ride.

    • Born to Ride

      No excuse, Honda 500s are perfectly affordable if you have to buy new. And 5-6 grand buys a LOT in the used market. If you can afford a 6$ cup of Starbucks every day and a vaping habit, you can afford a used SV650, Versys, sportster, bonneville, cbr500, DRZ, etc.

      • DickRuble

        I have to stop you at the DRZ. For some strange reason you can buy an unmolested SV650 for $2K, but an 8-10 year old DRZ 400 SM will set you back a cool $5800. WTF?

        • Old MOron

          DR-Z 400SM’s rock the world! They last forever with just basic maintenance, and anyone can be a hooligan on one.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          KTM dirt bikes are in the $9000-$11000 range. Even people with good jobs have to think long and hard. The 1986 Harley Softail Custom was $9300 new. Same model in 2007 was $19,000.

      • 2WheelsinWyoming

        There are some people who do not want to buy used. Or at some point want to buy new if they’ve had a used bike.
        And if a Millenial spends $6/day at Starbucks and has a vaping habit they’re probably not into motorcycles anyway. Just sayin’.

        • Born to Ride

          My sad point exactly.

  • Born to Ride

    Well, before I begin fully berating my own generation for their lack of taste and ideological shortcomings, let me just say that I too love video games and spend hundreds of hours a year in front of my computer screen.

    That being said, I also spend an equal amount of untold hours in the saddles of my various motorcycles, for reasons both pragmatic and emotional. I think the biggest factor is learning young and having the opportunity for saddle time. If it wasn’t for my dad, I probably wouldn’t be a motorcyclist. When I was 8, he moved us out to the Temecula wine country before there was anything out there but a few scattered wineries and a bunch of ranches. I was really unhappy there at first because there were very few kids around to play with. So he bought me an XR100 brand new, taught me how to ride it, and that was that. That little red bike was more than just a toy to me growing up. It extended my range so I could hang out with friends, and gave me the opportunity to explore the hills and the trails for miles around our house. As long as I was home by dark and I told my mom where I was going, I could ride it all day long. Riding a motorcycle on a daily basis became part of my life. Naturally that translated into street bikes when I came of age. My SV650, like my XR100 before it, opened up the world to me. New places to go, new sights to see, new skills to learn. It may be cliche to admit it, but riding to me has always been an expression of freedom. I truly believe that is what is lost on adults my age and especially kids growing up today. The need for freedom is slowly being replaced with a need for connectivity. Living just outside the reach of mass connectivity gave me an appreciation of being unplugged. Unlike many of my peers, especially those just 4-5 years younger than me, I remember not having internet(dial up was the best we could get for years) or cell phones(can you hear me now? No? Shit…). I love that when I’m on the bike, nobody can call me, text me, IM me, or generally bug me. Riding had been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately for the industry, not enough kids grow up riding anymore.

    • Jon Jones

      Great post.

      • Born to Ride

        Thanks man, as an avid young motorcyclist, I find it interesting when the old guard postulate about the reasons we choose(or in this case don’t choose) to ride. I figured I could give some perspective on the matter. Though I am certainly an odd duck when it comes to 25 year olds so I can’t speak for anyone else really.

    • azicat

      My parents did everything within their power to keep me away from motorcycles when I was growing up. What they didn’t do was keep me away from reading about them in the library and in magazines. I wore out the back tyre of my BMX practising sick skids. The first thing I did when I got a full time job in the 90s was move out, get my motorcycle licence, and buy a crappy 250cc Kawasaki.

      The younger generation will continue riding once they can afford it, regardless of their family upbringing. Maintaning a presence in the media they encounter will keep motorcycles relevant for years to come.

    • E2Moto

      Ah, Temecula. I really feel you on that one since I’ve known our place as a ‘city of nothing ever happens here’ lol. Surprisingly, Temecula has a crap ton of riders despite it being a small city, and I enjoy riding around on weekends.

      • Born to Ride

        That is because we have 3 MX tracks and Ocotillo Wells all within a two hour drive. A disproportionately large number of kids in this area did actually grow up riding dirt bikes on the weekends. I was more commenting on the state of affairs in general.

        • E2Moto

          That figures. I’ve never finished a single road trip here without seeing a pickup truck carrying dirtbikes and ATVs.

  • John B.

    Congratulations on your son graduating college AND landing a job. That’s fantastic!

    I have two sons ages 23 and 20, and a daughter 26. My daughter isn’t interested in cars or motorcycles, but my sons would become motorcyclists in a heartbeat if they had the dough. Fortunately, they don’t. I’ll leave it at that.

    • Born to Ride

      That’s a simple matter of motivation. You could empty my bank account, take away my job, and throw me on the street with a suitcase and a backpack full of personal belongings, and I guarantee you I’d be riding again in 6 months or less. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be riding a 1991 EX500 with a rattlecan paintjob, but goddammit I’d be riding.

      • John B.

        In every sport/hobby I have pursued there are purists. People like me who still hate the designated hitter rule in baseball, and don’t want changes in golf to make it easier for newcomers. I live in Dallas, and a few miles out of town you can find $40,000 bass boats hitched to $50,000 pick up trucks parked outside mobile homes. Purists always find a way. To grow a sport, however, depends more on the casual fan/participant who has many entertainment choices in 2017.

        Why millennials are not riding motorcycles in numbers similar to Boomers is a complex issue with more than one cause. I don’t have the expertise, nor have I done the research necessary to comment on that issue intelligently. (Manufacturers have the resources and motivation to answer this important question.) I will say, however, what motivates purists is likely inapposite to what motivates millennials. All of us reading these comments are on the motorcycling bandwagon. The people on the sidelines are different from us in some important ways, or they would be here too.

    • john burns

      thank you, JB

  • Starmag

    So we’re supposed to pity a 23 yr old who’s about to make more than than his self-blaming father? Pass.

    Wealth inequality is a real problem. Take your pick, both sides of the aisle loved it:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=wealth+inequality+qe&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=wealth+inequality+quantitative+easing

    The “giant sucking sound” of NAFTA sending manufacturing jobs away didn’t help either. It’s easy to find who signed that. We can’t all serve each other coffee or work at overvalued vaporware companies.

    • Born to Ride

      Even if NAFTA didn’t exist, it is simply too expensive to do business in this country if you have to answer to share holders. When the bottom line is the only thing that matters, sweat shop manufacturing is the only cure.getting rid of NAFTA will only ensure that instead of Mexican-made Levi’s we’ll be wearing Indonesian-made Levi’s. I’d rather give the money to our neighbors than Southeast Asia to be perfectly honest. But if you REALLY want your Levi’s made in the good ol US of A, go on their website and order them. Don’t worry about the 100$ price difference for the same exact cut and material, I’m sure your hard earned dollars will be going to the right people.

      • Starmag

        A “Superpower” with off shore manufacturing? Enjoy your cheap jeans while you can.

        • Born to Ride

          The issue is corporate culture and spreadsheet economics. Ignoring the human element and ethics of business is what has brought us to the place where we are scrambling to compete in ever increasingly competitive job market. Labor unions have advocated their dues paying members out of demand in the market, legislators have punished the manufacturing divisions of the economy with horrendous payroll taxes and regulations that make large scale operations completely noncompetitive with overseas factories, and dividend driven corporate decisions cost millions their jobs. Nobody is without fault, it is the decay of western society at work. All I am saying is that NAFTA wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference if companies weren’t so interested in maximizing profit at all cost, and workers weren’t so interested in screwing their employers out of said profit, and government wasn’t interested in regulating the regulations to perpetuate the circle jerk that is legislation in this country.

          • JSTNCOL

            Yeah. Kind of.

          • Douglas

            The economic (and social) maladies that exist can be laid at the feet of the bankers……int’l bankers, who own/control the central banks of the developed nations AND the media, not just news outlets, but also publishing, i.e., textbooks. That is to say, what is taught (and more importantly, what isn’t) and what spin is put on it. This relatively small group has a plan for the world, and we’re not in it (other than as subservients). Don’t look for things to get any better henceforth.

      • DickRuble

        “if you REALLY want your Levi’s made in the good ol US of A, go on their website and order them.” — Do you see the implied fallacies ( yes, multiple) of your argument? Do you know what the profit margin is, on so called high end garments, which is what Levi’s US Made jeans are?

        • Born to Ride

          Yeah I’m well aware that Levi’s is gouging those patriotic enough to demand the “made in USA” tag on the inside of the jeans. When you have a captured market you get to set your own prices(Like Harley). But I don’t doubt that it costs at least double to manufacture a pair of jeans here as it does in Mexico. And Mexican manufacturing is relatively expensive on a global scale.

          • DickRuble

            The margin on high end garments is about 90%. If you can buy Levi’s jeans at Walmart for $20, you have to figure out it costs them less than half to make. In reality, it costs $0.90 to make a pair of jeans in Bangladesh. WSJ reports that fashionable jeans cost about $50 to make in the USA (I doubt it, but for small runs, with short lead time, it’s possible). Those jeans are then marked up 260%.

            https://www.thebudgetfashionista.com/archive/designer-jeans-make-cost/

    • john burns

      self-blaming? I blame the greedy Boomers I grew up with from sandbox age. Pity my kid? Where did that come from? My point is most Millennials have it rougher economically than most Boomers did. Part of it may be NAFTA depending on who you ask, a big part of it is wealth redistribution upward, a thing all economists and rational observers agree is real.

      • Starmag

        You are a Boomer blaming Boomers. Self blaming.

        You are tying to tell us how rough it is for Millennials/your son and yet he’s about to make more than his Boomer father. I didn’t out earn my father until I was 40. I never thought to blame him for “pulling up the ladder behind him”.

        I agreed with you about increasing wealth disparity. Maybe you didn’t open the link in my last comment. You should.

        I know, it’s always the last guys fault.
        http://fm.cnbc.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/files/2016/07/14/PRESECON-Inequality_0.JPG

        • JSTNCOL

          I tend to hold my tongue. Mostly because I love my mom. And aunts and uncles. They worked hard. The baby boom generation kinda screwed us all though. If not through greed, then through complacency and inaction. Manufacturing jobs and union membership started their declines in the 1970s. And with them the overall economy. Opportunities do not exist in the way they once did.

  • Starmag

    Even name calling in the comments section should be frowned upon, but name calling in the header of an article is flat out unprofessional.

  • Proheli

    You’re just another democrat writer, covertly hiding his political views in a heart tugging piece that is important to all of us. Quite frankly, to me, motorcycles have to do with freedom and I am surprised democrats like them at all. Its more likely they would be trying to ban them because people seem to be happy on them. Smiling. You know, its now official, 51% of the people don’t want to hear your non-sense for the next year, and I’m surprised your readership has a majority of liberals too, and that you are not getting a bit more disgust-mail like this one. There, you can be political, so can I, I’m just more direct about it. Such a shame you ruined a wonderful article, but its yours to ruin.

    • Goose

      You are aware Trump lost the popular vote, aren’t you? More like 49% of voters.

      • Born to Ride

        He embraces the alternative fact that 3 million illegal Mexicans voted for Hilary, instead of the reality that hundreds of thousands of conservatives left the top of their ballot blank and voted down the party line from there.

    • john burns

      “Wonderful article”, gushes Proheli, “a heart-tugging piece that’s important to all of us”!

      • Born to Ride

        haha that’s what I took away too.

      • JSTNCOL

        Welcome to the no spin zone.

    • DickRuble

      “I’m just more direct about it” — no you’re just clueless..

      • John A. Stockman

        There’s always ONE, isn’t there. Burns DID write a good piece, it pointed me to more information, which opened my own eyes a bit more. More knowledge? How improper. The links to various charts of economic issues and the pics, very good. Thanks for that part. Labels do not matter, it’s what you do that counts…as long as it matches up with what you say.

      • John A. Stockman

        There’s always ONE, isn’t there. Burns DID write a good piece, it pointed me to more information, which opened my own eyes a bit more. More knowledge? How improper. The links to various charts of economic issues and the pics, very good. Thanks for that part. Labels do not matter, it’s what you do that counts…as long as it matches up with what you say.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      “51% of the people don’t want to hear your nonsense for the next year”. What’s happening next year?

      • John A. Stockman

        Yes, motorcycling minds want to know! Along with those who like to read…

  • SRMark

    I’ve been helping people start businesses since that Orwellian year of 1984. It means I’m now old. But I’ve seen a bit too. People do try to eek out a living. Many jobs are provided by the government sector. But those jobs are based on taxes. Those taxes come from generators of cash. Good old American commerce. Good schools come from good businesses. Good road come from good business. Good government comes from…well I haven’t lived that long. But I know that this isn’t it. And I do wish the Reds and the Blues would take time to realize most people are good at heart. So let’s please quit assigning blame and get something done. Name callers will be shot.

  • DickRuble

    “The Motorcycle Diaries is a pretty fun film about a couple of guys whose clapped-out Norton causes them to become Commies.”.. Best movie summary ever, best socio-technological analysis of the causes of communism in Latin America. Norton breaks down, massive political purges ensue.

  • Tim Sawatzky

    As a Canadian, we have our own set of political issues that have directly affected the amount of jobs and in turn the amount of motorcycle sales.

    But I do wonder as I look at the US new motorcycle sales charts that you posted. Obviously the 2000’s were a great period for new motorcycle sales, but were they not also a great time of innovation and quality for motorcycles? When there is money, fringe riders buy motorcycles and then don’t ride them, and motorcycles from the 2000’s were well built and last a long time. I just wonder, if the boom of buyers back then, who were fringe riders, offers some really good and low mileage bikes to people today so that when we compare a new bike to a 10 year old bike at a fraction of the cost, we think, “why buy new?” I know I bought a low mileage 2002 Kawasaki and almost every non-biker thinks it’s a brand new motorcycle. And I’ve ridden some new motorcycles that I would not trade for this bike, and they cost 3-4 times what mine is worth. I just wonder if people are really getting out of motorcycling or are the less inclined to buy new, knowing there are some great used options from the motorcycle boom in the early 2000’s? I know that was my case.

    Perhaps Millennials, if they do ride, do not need to have the latest and greatest, but would rather buy something older and more affordable. Crap, am I defending Millennials?

    • Born to Ride

      Check out the motorcycle parking section at any state university in California and you will see a ton of mid 2000s 600cc sport bikes and modern affordable bikes like FZ07-09, CB500 line, ninja 300s, and R3s. Another big factor is insurance costs. I will probably never own that red and silver 2008 CBR1000 I’ve wanted since I was 16 because I refuse to pay two grand a year just for insurance. By the time it’s cheap enough for me to insure, both the bike and I will be relics.

      • Tim Sawatzky

        I wish I could check out motorcycle parking in California, that would mean I could be riding, instead my bike is hibernating from the snow here. Obviously I’m in a different place, my riding season is 6-7 months, but insurance costs are also a big thing. One of the joys of owning a classic “old” bike is the insurance cost is dirt cheap. At least it is here.

  • JMDGT

    If the government saw fit to tax us less things wouldn’t be as out of reach as they are.

    • Born to Ride

      Indeed you do friend, indeed you do.

  • MyName

    Looking only at financial issues, I see some glaring differences between millennials and boomers. Full disclosure, I’m 31, so I’m not really sure what that makes me. A young Gen-Xer? Old Millennial? Whatever… Money simply does not go as far as it used to. College is FAR more expensive ($600 textbooks?!) and necessary, houses are outrageously more expensive, insurance (moto and medical) is much higher, wages are stagnant, and pension funds are going the way of the dinosaur. I’m a teacher in Oregon, so I will use that as an example. A new teacher has 4 years plus a masters degree worth of debt, makes ~$40k, and has a 401k or 403b. A teacher with 20 years of experience has a 4-year degree that was much cheaper, makes ~$65-70k, and has a full pension. I am extremely fortunate to be able to afford my motorcycle (that is 21 years old) and a mortgage, but my wife and I both work full time and we have no kids, yet… Sure, there are some lazy, worthless millennials… but it is completely unfair to say that the newest generation has the same situation as the boomers.

    • Born to Ride

      I can buy a perfectly viable street going motorcycle for a grand on CL so long as I’m not being picky, and pay 100$ a year for insurance on it. The finance issue is secondary to the loss of love/attraction to riding for the generation.

      https://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/mcy/5998559948.html

      That’s 1500$ but as you can see its way clean and low mileage.

      • MyName

        Could be. That is harder to quantify, at least from my experience. I had wanted a bike since I can remember, and my first was a $600 Yamaha XS400 with sh@tty brakes and no power. It was my only transportation in college, and I spent more time fixing it than riding it. I actually turned a small profit when I sold it because I needed first/last months rent and a security deposit for my first apartment after college. Motorcycles, for the vast majority of owners, are luxury toys. Maybe priorities are changing, but it’s pretty clear that fewer young people can afford expensive toys.

  • John B.

    Good News! I did a little research, and conclude if wages continue to fall we will have a motorcycling boom!!!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/45c3421c63d490a588557f4ff84fd485bef5eb2c7044aedb014b23da0ebcf353.jpg

    • SteverinoB

      Yes, good news, but for all the wrong reasons. Thanks for this topic btw👍

  • Mad4TheCrest

    I’d like to believe a little economic prosperity, wisely and fairly distributed, would create a boom in motorcycle sales. But I’m afraid all that would really happen is those of us currently buying new bikes would do so more often or splash for glitzier models. Our progeny will spend their bucks on rare LPs and cheap guitars (both great things), or more thrift shop clothes and apps. But probably not on bikes. They have no equivalent to ‘On Any Sunday’ to inspire them, and too many parents and friends cautioning them against ‘murdercycles’ anyway. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Vern Terwilliger

    Interesting, but i disagree on the cause and effect. You have a child to base some of your thinking on. I have eight. my eldest just graduated peace officer school and i have two others in college. They all ride. They all bought bikes asap on their own beyond the dualsports i bought them. Granted we live in texas which is a much more friendly economic environment than california, but i will say that the number one reason that my kiddos friends dont ride is that mommy will have a meltdown. They all get their living costs covered well into their mid 20’s and they do what mommy says. Then they get married and do what their wife says. When i got married my wife said, “no bikes”. We have 16 in the garage and she rides as well now. Men just do what their told more now. It is intersting how different economics vary from state to state. Funny how people’s thought in each state as to solutions vary as well. Ill take the conservative side, sorry john, but have lived in california, oregon, illinois, and texas, ill take texas’ economic policies everytime.

    • John A. Stockman

      I’ve ran into that situation so many times, my-dad-won’t-let-me, mom-would-have-a-heart-attack, my-wife-is-against-it-because-a-cousin/uncle/brother-in-law-was-hurt/killed-on-one. In spite of the fact that the ones mentioned who were injured didn’t have any skills nor even bothered to take a basic training course, and/or were not wearing any gear. Many were riding a bike that was beyond their experience level. As Jack Lewis recently wrote, “we need the noobs.” I talk to folks almost every day about the tremendous enjoyment that motorcycles bring, and also the inherent risks. Risks that can be managed, not eliminated. I was so very fortunate to have grown up in a family of motorcyclists. Even both my grandmas and my great aunts rode their own machines. Grandpa raced hillclimb and off-road enduros on the same ’39 Indian Chief he rode on the street. I got a little dirt bike in 1967, right before I turned 10. Brand new Honda 50, rode the wee out of it. I still have it, runs great and looks good. I was taught to maintain it and wear my riding gear and if I did not, I wouldn’t be riding it anymore. The unfortunate part is I was afflicted with an insidious joint-wasting, genetic-defect condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis, where the immune system destroys the collagen in joint cartilage. It started presenting itself around the age of 10. I still rode my little dirt bike, but it was becoming more difficult to even get my legs apart enough to straddle the seat. By the time I was 14, my entire spine and both hips had completely fused. Used crutches for 12 years, no motorcycles at all was my future. I had a silly dream to be able to ride again and I found out about hip replacement surgery around 1979. Took over a year to find a surgeon to do the lengthy operations (back then, approx. 6-8 hours) because I stupidly and excitedly told them my goal. Once I kept it to myself, I found a doc to do the “it’s an old person surgery” on me. My muscles had atrophied from 12 years of little movement and the therapy to get them working well enough again was pure torture. The negativity was crushing, how dare I want to ride those death-machines! Here I was severely disabled and I wanted to do what? Motorcycles make people disabled, or dead, what was I, an idiot? I should accept my lot in life. After 3 years and 3 total hip surgeries (the first one failed and had to be re-done) plus 3x-a-week therapy, I got my first street bike in May 1983. A nice used KZ250 with only 500 miles on it. Got a good helmet and the rest of my kit, some rain gear and I was off. I had to modify the bike a bit for the reduced range-of-motion in my other joints, like the footpeg locations, rear brake lever and handlebar bend. I put 38,000 miles on that “you can’t ‘tour’ on that little bike” 250 in 2 years. All over the west and Canada. The feeling like I’d been let out of a 12-year cage was unbelievable! Living the dream, as is said. I practiced and practiced my skills, like my grandpa taught me, took those early training courses and signed up for some local club racing in 1985. Being on the bike after all I went through is difficult to describe, but I’m sure you folks here know. A triumph for me, I’d do it all again no question. The best part was the improvement to my self image and confidence. I hope that my experiences might help someone else realize that life is best lived with risks, and your own ability to manage them using the right tools and attitude. Sure, I could’ve died or became messed up even worse than I was when I started my journey. If I hadn’t, my future was not looking good with the way I felt about myself and how others treated me. I told the naysayers back then, and I tell people now, motorcycles SAVED my life. Here’s the bike that started it all for me. Thanks for all the great comments and perspectives too. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95057c464477da673dc60a2ad992e1e939c252dcee391ef634149bcd5fe2adbc.jpg

  • pcontiman

    Nailed it.
    Enjoyable reading.
    btw, one of the best comment sections ever!

    Maybe I should sell my 10 yr old, oil leaking, underpowered, way too noisy, bag of complete coolness sportster to some poor millennial….I’ll think about it. You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution….or out riding somewhere….

    • Walter

      I agree– very good article and interesting comments with a minimum of the kind of insulting comments that usually follow in most economic threads.

  • Chocodog

    This is exactly the greatest issue facing the growth of the motorcycle industry today. Well said Mr. Burns. When motorcycles die out the motorcycle magazines die out. Some of the venerable magazines such as Cycle World and Motorcyclist are getting thin with diminishing ads. This shows everything is indeed connected to everything else.

    I urge folks to send this article around to other rags, web sites, and politicians because the winner take all economy is leaving far too many behind.

    I love the picture of the poor kids forming a motorcycle, great contribution to our passion Mr. Burns.

    • John A. Stockman

      Watching the mags I’ve read since I old enough to read, which my grandfather passed on to me after he read them, including the British mags he subscribed to and the every-week Cycle News, go out of publication or go to 6-8 issues a year is disappointing. That economics thing again. Love the inter-web for all the cool stuff and great writings, but holding a nice mag with excellent pics and being able to take it with you to paces you must wait for service, nothing like it. Many conversations have been started with total strangers because I was sitting there reading my motorcycle magazine. Finding out I’m a disabled person who rides, curiosity ensues; why, how, when, etc. In many instances I’ll give them the copy of the mag I was reading. Who knows, maybe it’ll spark an interest. If someone sees me on a smart phone, they will likely not even talk to me. Possibly reading a magazine makes me a bit more approachable, like who’s that weirdo reading an actual magazine?

  • paco

    Hey John, I agree with you on the economic reasons. You should research http://www.riders-share.com. That website has potential to help, if writers like you make it popular

  • Martin Buck

    OK, my perspective. First, I have never grown up, so I am my own child. However, I have aged and become infirm and I have been unable to work for many years. I still have a motorcycle in my shed, but I haven’t ridden it in several years. That’s mainly because a fuck up became a Government minister in charge of setting New Zealand’s motorcycle registration fees, which he did shortly after I bought my bike. He more than trebled the fees. They are now at a level where someone in my much reduced financial position is simply unable to afford to put my bike on the highway. I have ridden all my life since was 15, but this intolerable restriction on my lifestyle causes me angst. This is another example of our right wing government’s war on the poor. I demand a revolution. As my bike is not a Norton, there is no need for any card carrying Commies. Form a line on the left.

  • Chocodog