Friday, August 20, 2010

Luxuries and necessities 

It is interesting how changing circumstances can affect one's sense of the "necessary." Via Ezra Klein, a graph of American attitudes about luxuries and necessities over time.

Luxuries and necessities

Ezra laments the "centrality" of cars -- the widespread and inelastic idea that they are "necessities" -- which will make it difficult to reduce carbon emissions. One need not be a climate alarmist to regret that we have organized our living environment virtually to require an automobile in most circumstances. One can simply resent sending money to evil people who are trying to do us harm. Either way, that number is unlikely to change much until the great swath of American suburbia starts to regulate and plan the use of land quite differently.


By Anonymous Better Than Ezra, at Fri Aug 20, 02:36:00 PM:

I lament the centrality of "communication devices". It started with the printed word, went on to include the telegraph, telephone, radio, television, email, cellphones.

One need not be a chatter overload activist to regret that we have organized our interaction environment to pull in those people from distant places to put up with their ideas and sentiments in most circumstances.

Instead of looking another in the eye and having direct, human contact we degrade ourselves with these communication devices and the unwanted interactions they permit.

Instead we are hostage to the cable company, cellphone providers, Ma Bell, and Ladies Home Journal instead of fostering deep and rewarding personal relationships with people we can reach out and physically touch.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Fri Aug 20, 04:27:00 PM:

Before telephones, people spent enormous amounts of time writing letters to those they could not see face to face.

Car usage could be reduced if zoning laws were relaxed or abolished, to make it easy to start businesses in "residential" areas. Zoning is entirely a bad idea.  

By Blogger buck smith, at Fri Aug 20, 06:58:00 PM:

"One can simply resent sending money to evil people who are trying to do us harm"

Or you can drive a natural gas vehicle  

By Blogger JC, at Fri Aug 20, 08:07:00 PM:

Whats fascinating to me is the almost precipitous decline in most items after 2005 when the global economy was booming..

It does look like people know when a good thing is done and dusted and start changing their perceptions.

And Governments want their citizens to start spending again!

The car thing slightly surprises me.. I would have thought it would be considered more of a necessity over 40 years and mum out working.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Aug 20, 10:34:00 PM:

Motor vehicles equal freedom. From the family & the state run rails and buses.

This is a large country, and there is no reason for those of us in Bergen County (or Princeton) to live as if we're on East 72 nd. Street.

We could as a nation preserve a bit of personal freedom, and send some of our money to evil Alaskans, should our political class deign to allow us to do so.  

By Blogger Kinuachdrach, at Sat Aug 21, 12:11:00 AM:

I wonder how much time those hypocrits who regally bemoan the automobile or suburbia have spent standing in the rain waiting for a bus recently? Or living with active kids in a high rise apartment?

Tigerhawk -- Go stand in the corner for a while. You really let yourself down here.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Aug 21, 11:38:00 AM:

We don't send money to evil people because we drive cars. We send it because environmentalists and politicians won't permit us to produce what they sell here. It's pretty easy to fix really.

I'm surprised "home computer" is so low.

"until the great swath of American suburbia starts to regulate and plan the use of land quite differently"

Maybe suburbia exists because of city planning and regulating. I'm kind of surprised at your remarks here. Somebody check for pods...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Aug 23, 11:31:00 AM:

This chart tracks how people choose to live. Get over the utopianism.

This government assures living choices pay evil people, not Americans' free choice.

What a total distortion of bad government policy to ignore it in favor of a criticism of the 'outcome of freedom'.

Drilling restrictions pay evil people, thanks to environmental bigots and gutless politicians.

Now that's easy to do something about -- right?  

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