Apr 10, 2008

Practical living

We were told by the mechanic initially that only the damaged rotor would have to be replaced for just under $350. Several days later he tells us that the caliper, cable, and whatever else are also bad, and the parts will have to be ordered from the mainland. Now parts and labor totals around $1150. I've seen this happen more times than I care to count, because mechanics are notorious for ripping you off with great frequency.

Admittedly, though I know it does the environment no good, I enjoy driving. Just me, my music, lovely scenery, and the freedom of the open road. However, I believe the sooner I can situate myself where I can commute wherever I must sans automobile, the better off I'll be. When I think about how much money and effort people pour into purchasing, fueling, insuring, maintaining, repairing, and worrying over their automobiles (another example of the things you own ending up owning you), it's enough to make me strongly consider forgoing ever owning my own car again. I would rather forget all the little problems I experienced with the previously owned Honda Civic I drove around Arizona.

I know that owning a car (or two, but preferably at least three) is a critical element of the 'American Dream,' but lately, most of my dreams have been taking place outside of America. I'm fairly disgusted with this country as a whole, but if I do move anywhere else within its borders, it's likely going to be to one of the least 'American' places possible.

On this island, everything is so ridiculously spread out, it's impractical not to have and use a car unless you can afford to live right in the middle of one of the two 'major' towns. If I lived somewhere like Honolulu or Portland, Oregon, however, I would be happy to rely on mass transit, a bicycle, and my good old-fashioned legs. If all else fails, a simple moped would do. Not nearly so much can go wrong with a moped as a car, and they're safer than motorcycles, at least in the sense that you can't really go too fast on one. They would be perfect for an island like Oahu, where steep hills often preclude commuting comfortably by bicycle, but everything is much closer together, and traffic and parking can be a nightmare for those driving automobiles.

Meanwhile, $1150 to replace one disc brake on a pickup truck that is nearly as old as I am. I could get a luxurious widescreen 1080 dpi LCD HDTV for that amount of money... not that I need or even care about having one. Rather than grumbling about the cost of gasoline or food, people need to learn how to adjust to changing times. The media is always convincing people that they absolutely must have this or that, when in fact they don't need it at all and would be better off without it. As paradigms shift rapidly in these bleak economic times, those who possess sound financial judgment and practice better spending disgression today will find it much easier to adjust and ride the wave rather than getting pounded by it. Contrary to what many people seem to believe, it's not how hard you work or how much money you make so much as how you handle the money you do earn. I would prefer a lifestyle where I am working to live, not living to work.

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