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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 3:44 pm | Fair 67º


Tom Purcell: Millennials Need to Own Homes

Get this: The share of millennials who own a home has fallen to a 30-year low.

What’s worse, reports The Wall Street Journal, is that 32 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds are living at home with Mom. The percentage hasn’t been that high since 1940, at the tail end of the Great Depression.

And that’s not good for America.

I had my first taste of homeownership 20 years ago after buying a country house that made Herman Munster’s place look like a Donald Trump estate. Renovating it was awful enough, but all hell really broke loose when my father and I began work on the bathroom.

The bolts that secured the commode to the floor had broken. I raced to the hardware store to buy new bolts. We spent an hour installing them. We slowly lifted the commode into place and fished the bolts through the bolt holes. But the bolts were too short!

“Son of a ... ,” said my father.

“The idiots gave us the wrong bolts!” I said.

I raced back to the hardware store. We toiled another hour and the new bolts worked. But a second problem occurred: The wax goop that seals the commode to the sewage pipe wasn’t thick enough.

“Son of a ... ,” said my father.

“The idiots gave us the wrong goop!” I said.

After several hours of this misery, my father and I completed the bathroom. I thought then that the worst of homeownership was behind me, but it was just getting started.

One day, while weeding a planter, I was attacked by ground bees. I poured two cups of gasoline into the bee hole. I wisely moved the 2.5-gallon gasoline canister 10 feet away, then lit a match. It was then that I learned an important lesson about gasoline.

Gasoline doesn’t burn. Gasoline fumes burn. They burn because they are FLAMMABLE. And they are especially flammable when you create a massive carburetor in a dirt hole in your planter.

As I neared the hole, I heard a giant “WOOOOF,” the sound gasoline fumes make when they explode. A 15-foot flame shot up the side of my freshly painted house. It took me an hour to douse all the flames and keep the neighborhood from burning down.

The point is, owning a home changed me. It transformed me from a reckless, carefree renter into a concerned neighbor and a responsible citizen.

Homeownership makes you aware of nutty government regulations that drive up electric and gas bills — it makes you engage more fully in our country’s political process, which is a good thing.

Homeownership makes you more likely to demand common-sense reforms — such as revisions to the Dodd-Frank banking law passed after the 2008 collapse, which has made it too difficult for many otherwise qualified millennials to buy homes.

The Atlantic cites two other reasons why millennials are not purchasing homes.

Some millennials rent because they desire the freedom to move from city to city and job to job as they climb the career ladder. They can afford to buy but choose not to.

A second group of millennials, however, includes minorities and people who haven’t finished or attended college or trade school. Millennials in this group struggle to find the good-paying work that can support a mortgage.

In any event, the hope is that Republican reforms will unleash economic growth and allow more millennials to pursue homeownership.

If more millennials own homes, they’ll become as miserable as I am. I can’t think of a better way to make America great again.

Tom Purcell, author of Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood and Wicked Is the Whiskey: A Sean McClanahan Mystery, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist; syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @PurcellTom. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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