Saturday, February 7, 2009

going and coming

So I'm selling my old clunker, right? Kid emails me, says he wants it. He's 16, looking for a job, lives with mom, who's a single mom with three kids. Mom works at the prison about an hour away, which is where he lives. Can I "deliver" the car?

Well, this is not the most convenient. I work two jobs, and take care of my boys in the afternoon while their mom is at work. But he really wants the car, so I figure out how I can get AAA to tow it to him. I had some other offers, but I thought it meant more to the kid.

Only I can't find the title. I look and I look and I still can't find it. The kid's calling me 2-3 times a day, and I've told him, but he still wants it badly, so I call the truck and it's away. Then I go down to the DMV, staring at my feet, to apply for a replacement title. Sixty-five bucks, it is. The helpful worker at the DMV says that since the car is over 10 years old, I can sign it over to the kid - with these two forms - and he can take it to his DMV with the $65 and buy his registration and plates at the same time, instead of waiting 2 months. The new title will go straight to the kid. Cool! I can cancel the insurance and get about $30 back!

So here I go.

Turns out the kid still has to pay $65 for a new title, and he hasn't got it. And, they say, I have to keep insurance on it until it's out of my name! But, but ... $160 just to sell the car? It's only worth $200! So how do you sell a car like this? Still runs, but not worth much. With the plates and all the kid will have to come up with $140 - with my $65 that puts the total fees we pay collectively over the value of the damn car!

It actually makes more financial sense to just scrap the car. Maybe that's what they want: toss out those old junkers and buy the newer ones. How nice. You can't get a car loan to buy and old car, either, even if you have the credit rating. It's the age of the car. It's bad enough the parts are built to wear out ...

And why is the fee the same for an old clunker and a brand new sportscar anyway? Another instance of the poor paying proportionately more than the rich. Even the license plates and insurance, which are at least graduated according to the worth of the car, are a negligible expense for the rich and a hardship for the poor.

(The legally required car insurance is itself mostly a racket, I'd argue. The supposed rationale is that the insurance companies levelize the risk: everybody pays in and only a smaller number of people get paid, so it evens out. But if your insurance has to pay, even if the "accident wasn't your fault," your rates go up. And your rates are higher if you're young - even with a spotless record - and likewise higher if you live in a neighborhood considered to be crime-ridden, i.e. poor.)

OK, it's my fault I lost the title. But why should I pay for another one that I'm never going to see? They're only producing one, and they're mailing it to him! I paid for a title when I bought the car, paid for another one when we moved to this flatter-than-flat state - now they need their poor subjects to buy two more?

I did eventually find the title - in the garage under my boys' hospital records, after digging through boxes full of mouse nests - so I could mail it to the kid, lend him the $65, get the damn car out of my name, and cancel that insurance. The car needs some work, which I had told the kid before he bought it, but he tells me that prison employees like his mom get their cars worked on virtually for free by the prisoners. There's a helluva story in itself. What a way to run an economy.

1 comment:

VeganLinda said...

This is the crazy way our country keeps going and one of the many reasons I am loathe to own a car again.