The subject came up during my recent conversation with Tom Woods – whom many know as an expositor of libertarian economic and moral principles as well as a man who possesses what some call horse-sense.
We talked about what makes sense when the time comes for a driving-age kid to get his or her own car.
In prior – saner and freer – times, the sound policy was to encourage the teen to begin working and saving for their first car years before they could drive it. Mowing lawns, summer lifeguarding, baby-sitting or a part-time/after-school job, even. If a kid starts working when he’s 13 or 14 he ought to be able to save up a couple thousand bucks by the time he’s 15 or 16.
This used to be enough to buy a beater.
Something that ran, though not necessarily well. Probably rusty, likely ugly. Nothing fancy, certainly. But it beat walking and it built character to own such a first car. Even if it was a blue-smoking, oil-dripping old ’73 Beetle with holes in its floorpans and a passenger side door with a pair of vise-grip pliers in lieu of a window crank, it was their car. Their ticket to ride.
Freedom, at last!
But those were saner – and freer – times.
Beaters now cost more than a new car cost when a ’73 Beetle was new – thanks to the Biden Thing, among other things. Used car prices are up more than 30 percent over the past year.
Teenager earnings probably aren’t.
In addition, there is the cost of insurance – which government-mandating has made so expensive many parents can’t afford it.
More about this, here.
The average “premium” – it ought to be called shakedown, because that’s what it is when you can’t say no to it – for a 16-year-old driver is around $2,000 annually. This is more expensive all by itself than the beater cars bought by teenaged Gen X drivers such as this writer, when he bought his first beater car back in the ’80s for less than half that.
Plus – politically incorrect observation coming – back in the ’80s, insurance was “optional” in that the mechanisms of pantopticonic electronic enforcement did not exist, back then. If you didn’t wreck, who was going to know? Just check the box on the DMV form.
Yup, I’m “covered.”
Today, they’ll know if you’re not – as soon as you’re not. Cue the Hut! Hut! Hut! Even if you didn’t wreck.
The eyes of Sauron are upon you.