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How to mooch off your parents in a down economy - Tom Purcell

I can't really blame them, if you want to know the truth.

I speak of the latest down-economy trend: More 20-somethings are moving back home with Mom and Dad, and happily accepting financial assistance. So pronounced is the trend -- some 41 percent of parents are giving their 20-somethings some 10 percent of their combined income -- that Parade magazine published six tips on how to "help grown children without going broke."

Which prompts me to offer 20-somethings tips on how to take advantage of a good situation. Look, 20-somethings, it's only partly your fault that the economy is still a mess -- most of you voted for you know who -- but it isn't your fault that you lack the skills to deal with it. Your generation has been coddled like no other generation before it. Never has any generation been given so much for doing so little, and that is your parents' fault.

It's payback time. Parade suggests your parents charge you at least a token rent. Mom and Dad will likely assume that you'll offer a stipend of some kind. Don't.

Your father will complain to your mother -- eventually they'll get into loud arguments over the matter -- but if you hold steady, you'll likely keep living at home for free. To that end, it will help to gripe loudly about your college loan bills. Mom and Dad will feel guilty that they were unable to pay for all your college costs, further ensuring that Mom won't let Dad ask you for rent.

Complaining about the food is also helpful. No matter how good Mom and Dad's cooking is -- and it surely is better than the grub you prepare for yourself -- point out its shortcomings. In the unlikely event that the subject of rent does come up, you can use this as a bargaining chip. That brings us to your social life. It would be foolish to continue running up your credit cards at nightclubs when Dad's liquor cabinet is full. Have your friends over. Mix your own drinks.

This is sure to agitate Dad further -- he and Mom will be arguing regularly by now -- and cause him to mark the level in his liquor bottles with Scotch tape. Simply adjust the tape as you drain Dad's bottles. Another important tip is earplugs. As you sleep off your hangovers late Saturday mornings, Dad will bang the lawnmower against the bricks under your window, figuring the least you can do is cut the grass. Foam plugs offer the best Dad-noise-blocking capability.

I know some people will complain that I am encouraging you to mooch off your parents. Some will argue that everyone, including 20-somethings, must carry their own load if our country is to thrive. Nuts to that.

The reason we got into our economic mess -- one reason it persists -- is because, like dependent children, so many have come to expect somebody else to bear the consequences of their poor decisions, irresponsible behavior, failure to plan and demands for instant, unearned gratification. The Wall Street boys made risky decisions and the taxpayers bailed them out.

States that overspent during the good times want the federal government to bail them out during the bad times. Our federal government is spending billions more than it is taking in and expects future taxpayers to bail it out.

Since few adults appear to be interested in carrying their own load, who can criticize 20-somethings who are moving home to mooch off Mom and Dad?

A great recession like ours comes along once in a lifetime. Don't let it pass without free drinks from Dad's liquor cabinet.

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.