February 22, 2005

Tire Education

WITH THE INCREASING SHRINKAGE OF ACADEMIA INTO ARMED HAMLETS OF PAP and circumstantial evidence, and with the coming removal of Harvard's President Summers to a Red Guard-style re-education camp, it makes Top of the World's suggestion, Send Your Kids to Trucking School, seem not just reasonable, but smart:

Some parents in my home town start to worry about college admissions when their kids turn 11.

For years, I've thought it makes more economic sense to send your kids to trucking school when they turn 18. It takes a few weeks. Then co-sign for a Peterbilt tractor. It's all a matter of opportunity cost.

The tads can start earning right away. So if college costs $50K a year, the college-bound will cost $200K in four years (and it often takes longer). Meanwhile, the truckers will be earning, say $50K a year. At the end of four years, your trucker kids will be $400K ahead. And at the end of four years, most college kids will either be (a) going into occupations with mediocre pay, like teaching; (b) going to graduate school; or (c) going into rehab.

He amplifies this at his page, but more and more I think the basic concept is sound. True, his daughters point out that it would take you away from home to much, but so what? If that's a problem, air-conditioning repair in the sunbelt would keep your kids in high clover all their working lives. Or, if that's too airy a task, fall back on the old standby, plumbing.

Last month, a faucet in my yard began leaking at high speed from behind the shut-off valve. Water flowing everywhere including down under the foundation. It was seven in the evening when I discovered this and there was no recourse but to call a plumber up from town. First plumber, out on a job. Second plumber, on a job with another stacked up but could come by at around midnight. Third

plumber? Gone to Vegas for a four day weekend. Fifth plumber? Jackpot. He was at dinner, but no problem, he'd be up in 30 minutes.

And he was right on time.

"Sorry to call you away from you dinner."

"No need, I love to work at night."

"Really. Do much of that?"

"Sure. There's things that can't wait when they go wrong, you know, in the plumbing business."

"Yes," I say. "Things like this."

"Oh, worse. Much, much worse. Well, the first thing to do is shut off all the water to the house. Where's the shut off valve."

"Err... well.... Well, I don't know."

"No worries, I'll find it."

And he does. Then he takes a large power tool out of the truck and, in 15 seconds cuts off the spigot from the wall. Then he takes a threader from the truck and threads the pipe. Then he takes a gigantic bronze plumbing item of serious mien and attaches it to the pipe. Then a new faucet. Turns the water to the house on and, presto, the faucet is back in action with the leak a distant memory.

"Wow, that was quick. Thanks a lot."

"You're welcome. That'll be $210 and I won't charge you for the faucet."

I quietly and carefully write out the check.

"There you are. You been doing this kind of work long?"

"Since I got out of the army about 20 years ago. I love to work at night."

Posted by Vanderleun at February 22, 2005 12:01 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Perhaps mein amigo? And muchas garcias.

Posted by: Steel Turman at February 22, 2005 1:08 AM

BTW. I'd rather enjoy 'white line fever' than a
passel of profesors. Unless of course, they were
on the road. In that case ... I'd doff my Deere
hat over the speedo and put my foot down.

Posted by: Steel Turman at February 22, 2005 1:16 AM

Reminds me of the story of a surgeon who had a plumbing problem.
The plumber did his magic in about fifteen minutes and handed him a bill for several hundred dollars. The surgeon said "Dang! I don't make that kind of money and I'm a surgeon!"
The plumber replied, "I didn't make that either when I was a surgeon."

Posted by: John Ballard at February 22, 2005 2:58 AM

You can't just "be a plumber," you know. Plumbing, like medicine, or the law, is controlled by a powerful guild. This guild keeps the number of new plumbers entering the profession low. The resulting scarcity allows guild members to charge outrageous prices without fear of being undercut. It's also why the first X plumbers you call will always be busy.

Just deciding, out of the F-n blue, to go "be a plumber" is a good way to get your head cracked.

Posted by: DTLV at February 22, 2005 1:45 PM

"The resulting scarcity allows guild members to charge outrageous prices without fear of being undercut. It's also why the first X plumbers you call will always be busy."

you can always be a "handyman" and do all the plumbing and electrical and etc. jobs the guild members don't have time for, and which don't require a license. Which is most of them.

Posted by: Yehudit at February 22, 2005 5:56 PM

This is a sign of a tectonic shift, Folks. The very medium which allows us to post these opinions, allows tens of millions access to quality Distance Learning, at fantastic savings compared to bricks-and-mortar institutions!

And the internet allows ad hoc teams to form for fun and PROFIT, so brick and mortar businesses are not always competetive...

People KNOW priorities, and a burst watermain is one of them! Get on, Plumbers! :)

Posted by: Carridine at February 23, 2005 8:23 PM

Trucking school - brilliant and highly lucrative. My husband began driving a truck after graduating from college. He now has a company with 60+ drivers and makes a very comfortable living. He has always maintained that the college education contributed zip to his success. Meanwhile, I went to graduate school, became a college professor, and made poverty wages (while being harassed by raving liberal lunatics). Trucking - a great choice!

Posted by: Jaye at February 25, 2005 6:25 PM

I too have recently delt with plumbers and crazy prices. A few wanted to charge well over $1000 to simply hook up my sewer drain to an extention I was building. After four estimates I got enough info to get a basic idea of what needed to be done. So I went to HomeDepot rented a jackhammer, broke away the foundation, bought the right pipes and glue and proceeded to hook it with the assistance of my uncle.

Posted by: op at February 26, 2005 9:18 AM

The neat thing is that, if they decide on their own to go to college, they can save up and go on their own dime if, and only if, there's a profit in it.

And they'll be less likely to blow off class if they're spending their own money. They might even finish sooner than they would have if you paid their way through...

Posted by: Ken at February 28, 2005 10:14 AM