Systems that Control You: Transportation

J.C. LaCroix Personal Finance, Personal Productivity, Power Tactics

This brings us to getting around. For the longest time, this could be done by that amazing process known as walking. Now, relax, I’m not going to ask you to start walking everywhere (though, if you’re tubby, it certainly would help) – I’m going to point out something. For a long time, cities were designed so that people didn’t need specialized equipment to get around. Imagine an ancient city where someone else forces everyone to buy a walking permit, to pay for the ability to go places. And, let’s pretend you have to have special shoes that only a specialist can make for you. Finally, a manual comes out on the accepted ways to walk, and it is so complicated, you need trained people to follow you around, correcting how your walking works. Hilarious, right? That’s exactly what a car is, my friends. A transportation permit. Prior to the modern car, and even for a long time after the car was widely available, cities were still arranged to enable self-transport, with no external assistance. And, consider a horse – they were expensive, but you can breed a horse, it is a renewable resource. And, most times, feeding them was pretty minimal. And everyone kinda gets how a horse works.

Modern living demands cars. You have to report to the slave-pens, I mean, work. And, you might end up working anywhere, at any time. Public transit exists, but with notable exceptions, it sucks and smells like poor people. I took the bus here in Indianapolis once, it took me 4 hours to get to my destination, across town, and Indianapolis is a small city. The bus smells like poor people, of course, because only the desperate will use it, because it sucks. A put-put shame circle.

The problem with the car isn’t the vehicle itself, it’s the dependency it creates. Unlike previous modes of transportation, it has three main characteristics:

  1. 1. The cost is high, thus, most people must finance. This creates payments, usually high payments, a further tax on your value. This makes you more dependent on your income, ironically, the main reason you need a car is to get income. A cycle. And, add in plates, insurance, and all the other tidbits and you’ve got your most expensive walking permit in history.
  2. 2. Maintenance costs. A horse, wagon, all these things are self-reparable or renewable. A car is complex. You become dependent on others to fix it. They make a profit when you do.
  3. 3. Fuel. Most cars run on gasoline. The price of gasoline will continue to climb. Accept this fact. More importantly, gasoline is not something you can produce on your own. Again, more Dependency.

So, how do we unplug here? Lots of options, but the first step is knowledge.

Before I get into this, I want to say – I do not consider myself mechanically inclined. And, when I first got into this, I knew nothing. I could program the VCR, but when it came to cars, I was, indeed, a fuckwit.

Start here, and read everything you can find:

How Stuff Works: How a Car Engine Works

Isn’t that amazing? You now know the basics of how these strange, iron, beasts work.

Then, buy and read this:

Auto Repair For Dummies

Its written by a pretty cool lady. Which, for my female readers, I really appreciate. Ironically, up until the Industrial Revolution, women were the handy ones in the household. Take it back, vaginas, take it back.

And yes, it’s a thick book – but no one said Freedom was cheap or easy.

Once you’ve read it and done what it tells you, you now know what, believe it or not, most mechanics know. You really can do what they do, for yourself. And you can keep learning. But, all you need is a basic set of tools and the courage to give yourself permission to fuck up and make stupid mistakes.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Once you are armed with these, you now have more power, as I have said in the past, because you have more options. You now have the ability to find a cheap, used vehicle, buy out of pocket, and fix it up. This reduces Dependency, because you are not forced to finance. And, 90% of the time, you won’t need a mechanic. Usually, unless the process involves welding or deep auto-electrical work, I just do it myself. I also recommend used motorcycles, if you live in a warm area, because the fuel efficiency is so high, and they’re easy to work on.

So, we’ve got you past the financing and repair costs – where we move along to fuel. Once your skill in this area improves (or maybe you are ballsy and reach for this in the beginning), you can obtain a diesel vehicle. Why diesel? Because it can run on biodiesel, a fuel you can make yourself. In fact, you can make it from grease you find at food restaurants. The restaurants pay people to dispose of this crap – to you, it can become liquid gold. See below for a how-to on making your own biodiesel:

How to Make Your OWN Biodiesel

It can be done, I followed that and actually ran my lawn-mower on the stuff.

I’m really excited by that, my current project is developing a diesel powered motorcycle.

I’ve only touched on the tip of the iceberg here, you have a ton of options. Moving closer to work, or vice-versa. Buying a scooter. Remember, the point is to remove the Dependency. I’ve just shown you my way of doing it.