Wednesday, August 06, 2008

getting ready to get productive: crunching the numbers

This whole RTA discussion has made me think what it would be like to be a young person again, with a limited amount of cash, looking to be employable or otherwise earn some money. Back in the '60s, we went out and bought a car for $500-1,000 so we could get a job, from somebody else, and get back and forth to the job and to Kent and Geneva after hours. I'd imagine that same type of car would cost $3,000-4,000 today.

That's just about the same as the cost of a high-end Mac and some nifty accessories, or an IBM tablet with all the trimmings. And, all I would have to do to get myself the computer would be to put a car somewhere into a lower priority slot, get a bicycle, and pick up a weekly bus pass for $17.50.

The bike would cost as much as 2-4 tankfuls of gas; each weekly bus pass would cost one-half to one-third of a single tankful. My costs of transportation upkeep would be much reduced. I would not have to buy car insurance at the exhorbitant rates charged younger adults.

Economics writers like David Bach estimate I would be $7,00-8,500 a year ahead of my car-owning, or car-owned, peers.

On the downside, I would have to learn patience and tolerance, I would have to plan my activities ahead and with deliberation, I would have trouble going to a drive-in, I would have no back seat for recreation or sleeping, nor would I have a receptacle for my beer cans, my changes of clothes, or my McDonald's McMuffin wrappers, and I certainly would not have a glove compartment to keep a nickel-plated snub-nosed .38 out of sight, but at the ready.

Not having a car would have made sense for me, 42 years ago, and even more sense if I could have had the trade-off of a computer.

A computer gives you the option to be self-employed and independent, in lieu of or in addition to having a straight job. It links you into that nicer bunch of people our parents told us about. Even though you can't sleep in it, it is a complete office and entertainment emporium.

Young people need to have the option not to have a car, to buy their big computer right off the bat, to have reliable public transportation, just the same as we all need reliable public education. Education and transportation should be provided for the same price--free to the user, paid for by all of us--and used as drivers of the economy.

In cutting back on the buses and trains, we are again missing the boat. (Ewwww...I had to.)


  1. You and Gloria are the youngest minds in the 'hood. And, fighters, too.

  2. Thank you. We hope that we didn't peak years ago and are working backwards towards really, really young. As for fighting, it only looks that way relative to the situation around here. In other places, we're just sort of regular.