Thursday, November 14, 2013

2113 Commutin'ism

Commuting. It changed America. From a primarily agrarian country where people stayed home all the time to the car culture of today. The great result of the Federal Highway Act of the 50s, a huge government spending project that created jobs, revived the moribund post-war economy, and kept us out of another depression. Who do we have to thank for it? One of those tax-and-spend presidents.

Dwight David Republican Eisenhower. 

Kind of funny in a way, since the big bugaboo in 50s era politics was the red scare and people worried about communism. It wasn't communism we had to worry about after all. It was commutin'ism.

So now that we’re stuck on the freeway for what seems like a third of our life, what result is that having on our happiness? Depends on whom you ask.  According to a Swiss economist, a person who commutes an hour each way to work has to make 40% more money than a person who lives close to the office to be as satisfied with life. More than 11 million Americans commute more than an hour each way to work. 

Those Swiss, what a cheesy attitude. Because in Britain, a study of 27,556 rail passengers found that 37% fewer felt commuting was a waste of time in 2010 than they did in 2004. The difference? Mobile devices on which they can get email, listen to podcasts, or check the news. 

Another reason to support light rail. People are happier, and people will buy more devices to keep them that way. A good place for Apple to invest all that reserve money they have. Or, hey, the government to tax and spend into a new job-creating infrastructure. 

Because happy people are healthy people. Commutin'ism will lower the costs of health care.

America, ya gotta love it. 

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