I hate to come back so soon with yet another post complaining about the inequities of life, but I’m at a place right now where I’m incredibly frustrated due to the way the world works. It seems like at every turn there is just something in the way of allowing a person to take a leap of faith and try to strike out on their own, artificial barriers to entry that prevent people from pursuing opportunities they might otherwise go after. How many people have ideas for businesses they’d like to start, only to be stymied by rules and regulations that make it overly onerous to even get through all the red tape?
My personal example at the moment is an idea I came up with recently due to the fact that I purchased a big diesel truck as a tow vehicle for my large travel trailer. Because of the weight and length of the trailer, the research I conducted over the years indicated that nothing less than a three-quarter-ton pickup would be heavy and substantial enough to adequately and safely tow such a large object at freeway speeds. Aside from a max weight of right around ten thousand pounds, which most half-ton pickups can’t haul anyway, the fact that it acts like a huge sail running down the road means you need a very heavy vehicle to help counteract all that wind force trying to shove it around.
Despite the purchase, I currently live in a trailer park that isn’t really set up for me to be able to come and go as I please, and my plans of moving out of state ended up being cancelled, so in the end I purchased a big diesel pickup truck to tow my trailer, but I can’t really tow it now. For the last few months I still had a job, I was using it to commute back and forth because I had to sell my car to pay for my trip across country that never ended up happening, as well as perform some upgrades to my trailer. The truck is an extremely expensive commuter vehicle, as it’s designed primarily for heavy duty work.
As I’ve sat here waiting on a good job opportunity, I’ve also been looking into potential methods of starting my own business. One of the biggest dreams I’ve ever had is the idea of working for my own money, rather than relying on an employer to keep the money flowing into my bank account. I don’t recall when I saw it, but I came across this video about an underbody wheel lift that can go on pickup trucks just like mine which can be used for towing cars, vans and even pickup trucks. I enjoy driving for the most part, and it seems like a pretty lucrative business opportunity since roadside assistance and towing services are pretty much always in demand.
Where I’ve run into a roadblock is that there is a massive web of seemingly impenetrable regulation that makes it very difficult to find clear information for my particular situation. I have several questions I need answered by officials who can give me solid answers, not the least of which is whether or not using my light duty pickup truck to tow vehicles for hire would require a commercial driver license. The rules on the DMV website seem to indicate that the kind of vehicles I would be towing does not meet the threshold for the commercial requirement, but other sources say that tow truck drivers are required to have one. While I had a Class B license in Texas back when I was a school bus driver, I had to give it up when I moved back to California, and the process to get one here is pretty ridiculous.
Aside from the questions about licensing, I also need specific information about what the legal requirements are for using my truck as a commercial tow vehicle. I can find little information about anything other than vehicles that fall in the Class A or Class B categories, because the majority of commercial vehicles seem to fall into that category. So while I’m fairly sure I’ll have to register it as a commercial vehicle, what else do I need to be aware of for something as out of the ordinary as using a regular, everyday pickup as a for hire tow vehicle? Information is hard to come by.
Of course, this is only one of the ideas for things I’d like to do that falls into this category of unreasonable barriers to entry. My first love has always been flying, and several years ago I was attending a college in Texas which allowed me to use my GI Bill to pay for flight training. I got all the way through my private pilot certificate and was working on my instrument rating when personal issues arose that forced me to give it up. Since then I haven’t flown at all because it’s just too expensive to pay for out of my own pocket.
I would love to be able to take people up on sight-seeing tours, but the federal government has a complete zero tolerance policy on private pilots hiring out their services in any form or fashion. You can’t even have someone else pay for your fuel; the law requires you pay at least half the cost of the flight out of your own pocket. In order to get paid to fly, you have to have a commercial certificate, which is a minimum of $80,000 in total flight training and hours. At nearly forty years old, and a mandatory retirement age of sixty for many commercial jobs, it doesn’t make sense to invest that kind of money this late in my life.
The same holds true for my second love, which is sailing. Another dream I’ve had is doing sailing charters for people who just want to go out and enjoy being on the water, but yet again the government has strongarmed its way into that potential idea as well. If you want to hire your services as charter captain, even on your own boat, you are required to have a minimum of 360 four-hour days of time on the water before you can even take the test to become a certified captain.
So to even get started, I would have to buy a boat and then accrue 360 days of time on the water before I could even start to make money from the boat. Living here in Southern California, slip fees for boats are anywhere between $600 to $1200 depending on the length of your boat, in addition to any loan and insurance payments you might have. Let’s say boat payments and insurance are rounded to about $1000 per month, which is likely low, that’s $12,000 per year for the boat and another $12,000 per year to park it. Owning a boat is prohibitively expensive here if you’re not in the upper middle class, unless you can figure out a place to live on it…which I’ve found is very difficult here.
Some people might say “well why don’t you move somewhere cheaper then”? I would love to get out of California, but I have certain personal reasons why that just isn’t an option. Because I can’t go somewhere that is less stifling, I’m stuck in an endless cycle of having things I’d love to do, but being barred from doing them because overly cautious bureaucrats have placed the illusion of safety over allowing people the opportunity to go after their dreams. Rather than just going out and trying something to see if you can make it, you have to jump through a million hoops and shell out thousands upon thousands of dollars before you can even get started on what you wanted to do in the first place.
It disgusts me the way our free and entrepreneur based nation has completely stifled the American dream for so many people who just want a chance to make it on their own. Why do I need a business license at all to go out and work for myself? You already get my income tax; why do you need me to register the work I’m doing? If something bad happens, it’s on me to be responsible for it and it’s on my customer to accept the risk that comes with working with me. Why do you need to be involved at all?
America used to be a place where you could come up with an idea and just run with it, and if you worked hard enough and had a bit of luck you could make it as far up the ladder as you wanted. Now people are so afraid of their own shadow that people who would like to give it a shot are stopped before they ever get started, bogged down by webs of regulation and their hands bound by miles and miles of red tape, all in the name of a safety that doesn’t exist anyway.
What boggles my mind the most is the following blatant contradiction in logic: I’m perfectly legal to tow my thirty-four foot, ten thousand pound windcatcher of a travel trailer wherever I wish to take it, but getting paid to tow a four to six thousand pound car isn’t something I can just go do if I want. I mean seriously…how hard is it to tow a car?