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Where's Mike Rowe when you need him?

July 9, 2008 10:32 AM

(In case you don’t know he’s the host of a show called Dirty Jobs [ http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/dirtyjobs/dirtyjobs.html ] and has my respect for some of the stuff he does.)

So I just got back a little while ago from picking up the replacement front differential for my truck and I’m sitting here digesting some food and frankly dreading the job ahead. The damn thing is nasty and dirty and heavy and I have to deal with 90W gear oil. Now if you’ve never smelled gear oil I suggest you go to somewhere like Jiffy Lube and see if they don’t have something with used gear oil in it so you can take a whiff. It’s not a pleasant smell and frankly everyone should smell it once so they know when their gear oil is burnt or leaking.

I’ve got everything I need to do the job it’s just one of the more annoying repairs you can do on a vehicle. But...as soon as I’m finished digesting here I’ll go out there and do it because it needs to be done. I _am_ going to leave the phones inside though because quite frankly I don’t want my iPhone all greasy and I don’t want to be interrupted once I get started with it.

It’s nice to have a space of my own to do this stuff in though.

I was thinking the other day that this country has an awful lot of space in it and I came up with a crazy idea. (OH NOES! HERE WE GOES AGAIN!)

*ahem*

There are a lot of people that never get the chance to buy a home even though they want one. They’re stuck in a cycle of debt and credit and...well...just crap that they didn’t know any better not to get into and don’t know how to get out of. A big part of why they don’t know that is because they are often not taught the actual worth of the items they have in life nor the money they make.

So how do you break this cycle? Education? That’s one way. But most people work much better when educated in a “hands on” manner so just classes won’t work.

Well I came up with one very simple way to break the cycle but it has to be started from the parents side as soon as they have a child. Start saving money not only for college for your child but for an eighth of an acre near your home. Or an apartment or something if you live in the city. By the time they get about 13 you should easily have enough to buy said property or fund a rental until the kid is 18.

When the child becomes old enough, say...13, give them access to that property and say “Here. This will be yours when you turn 18. I’m not going to do anything but pay the taxes on it until then. You are responsible for every fine, everything you build, anything that happens even if it’s not your fault. It’s yours. When you turn 19 you will have what is on that property and nothing else save what you yourself put there.”.

This property should have: An septic+well, (or city hookup), and some sort of enclosed cooking area - preferably as fireproof as possible, an emergency phone, a copy of the local laws and city/town/county ordinances for homeowners, and a good stout lockable fence. Nothing else. If it’s an apartment it’s a one-room efficiency with no furnishings.

Transfer ownership of the property to the kid on their 18th birthday and then make it illegal for them to sell or allow a lien on the property until they are 21 or move off of it once they turn 19. When they become 21 then it becomes like standard land and you can sell it, etc. They can still go to college and reside elsewhere but they have to pay taxes on the property as well as any fines and fees. And sale of the property is delayed by at least two years from when they get out of college/army/etc.

Yes. This _sounds_ insane on the surface. (And _yes_ I know that people with low wages are going to have a tough time doing this but there are tons of adults I’ve met who had parents that literally had almost NOTHING and still funded their children through school. If they can do it so can you. Remember all those insurance commercials that touted “pennies per day” as the cost? That’s literally all it takes. Pay the necessities, save when you have extra, don’t spend too much.)

But consider the facts:

1) An eighth of an acre using things like hydroponics can support a single person quite easily. And those can be made of reclaimed PVC and other inexpensive parts. And as many home gardeners, legal or otherwise, have shown hydroponics can be done in an apartment as well.

2) There are simple one-room houses that can be made from not only reclaimed materials but new ones as well for not a lot of money. In the case of apartments there is already a structure so something would have to be worked out there. Maybe make it a completely gutted apartment with just insulation and they have to pay for wiring and drywall among other things.

3) This would instill a sense of ownership early in kids so they don’t feel like they have nothing in the world and are thus not constantly grasping for what they can’t afford.

4) This will give them the full blown experience of what it takes to build something of their own from scratch.

All this breeds responsibility.

Now I’m sure some people are screaming that 13 is too young and why should I give anything to my ungrateful so-and-so or that four years is not enough time to get set up and they’ll just use it to party anyway!

Well in my book you’re all entitled to your opinions but consider these points...

Age 13: 13 is well past critical thinking age for most children. Don’t believe me? Ask a parent how many times their 13+ year old child has “out thought” them. Once a child regularly manages to outwit their parent(s) it’s a sure sign that the child is ready for both more responsibility and more latitude in personal decision making.

Why should I?: Well...for starters do you remember those adults who are being nasty, screwing people around them, and taking as if thieves? Those _could_ be your children in the future if you give up on them. And if you don’t think they won’t screw you when they get to that point you’re just kidding yourself. Secondly if you’re any parent at all you want to do right by your kid. And that means ensuring that they will be able to survive in the world. Why not start that process early?

Four years: There are housing/cabin kits now that cost very little money and can be put up in a week. Hell a yurt comes to mind, so does a one-room cabin style house made of reclaimed materials. Most of the time spent in the four years would likely be to make the money to build something. Since apartments already have a structure they could easily be set up within two years if they have a mind to do it.

Parties: Well duh. Yes they will likely have parties on the property. But here’s the kicker: THEY ARE TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS ON THAT PROPERTY. So if they get caught drinking underage or doing drugs or any number of things then for goodness sake don’t immediately bail them out of trouble once they turn 18. By that time they know right from wrong unless you’ve sheltered them so much they never grew in the first place. And if they know right from wrong then they are automatically responsible for their actions.

And who’s job is it to teach them? Hmmm? ;-)

Anyway I’m headed out to the garage to take some responsibility for my truck here...




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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
lysystratae
Jul. 9th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
That's a fantastic idea; I'd have been thrilled ith something like that at that age (hell, I'd have been thrilled with it even 5 years ago, lol).
nimitzbrood
Jul. 11th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
I missed you posting this comment - sorry for the delay and thank you!

I really think that there needs to be some basic changes in how kids are being raised. Unfortunately beyond maybe the basics of food/clothing/cleanup there really doesn't seem to be any true teaching of how to be a good parent. Worse yet that runs afoul of people's personal opinions and family histories which means they reject any change because it's just "not done that way".

It's gotta change somewhere but getting it to change is a tough task. :-/

As for the property thing I've always been of the opinion that a kid should have _some_ space that they are completely responsible for. In most cases that's their room in the house/apartment but it really should be somewhere apart if possible. And they should be made _completely_ responsible for it.

That's the tough part as a parent because you really want to help your kids but helping them too much causes dependence and helping too little causes other problems. It's always a balancing act...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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