The Third Estate
What Is The Third Estate?
What Has It Been Until Now In The Political Order?
What Does It Want To Be?

While I'm Supposed To Be Working

Thursday, June 02, 2011
I'd like to point out to everybody this wonderfully insightful piece by Bradford Plumer. In it Plumer describes how irrational our attitudes towards commuting and home-buying have become, that we gladly fork over hours of our lives every week in order to have a slightly bigger yard of an extra bedroom. What I find compelling about this piece is that it identifies the one really useful thing I learned in my economics classes: the principle of opportunity costs. Whenever you decide to do A, you forgo B, and need to take the value of B into account. For me, time is precious. I had a good friend who referred to it as his "f*@cking around time." One simply did not interfere with it. For every minute of time I spend commuting (or at work, or mowing the lawn - name your unpleasant task), I'm sacrificing time with my lovely wife or my hobbies or a good book.

What does this have to do with commuting? Well, I hate driving. I was in my mid-twenties before I learned how and to this day I gladly hand over the wheel. One of the reasons I hate driving is that I'm not particularly good at it, but another is that I've never investing sitting in a car with the concept of freedom - I just don't get any inherent pleasure from it. At all. To me every second I spend in the car getting from place to place is a second wasted. At least when I'm walking somewhere I can happily space out. When I'm on a train I can open up a book. Cars? They're mainly good for getting annoyed at your fellow motorists.

So like any good middle-class American I love having a house with a yard and spacious kitchen. I don't think I could ever go back to those tiny holes I lived in New York. On the other hand, I miss the ability to go to the grocery store or to work or the movies without having to sit in a damned car. Or (shudder) look for parking. Bradford is right - there are those of us who would pay good money to have slightly smaller homes that were close to mass transit and/or basic services. Unfortunately the cities we've built either demand "great money" rather than simply good, or don't have a yard for my dog.

Maybe I'm just expecting too much.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:47 PM
Post a Comment
<< Home

:: permalink