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Let's bet some more...

Almost a year ago, in The Global Las Vegas, I told you how the runaway betting on imaginary things screwed up real people. Today I was reminded that nothing has changed, and Goldman Sachs continues to do what they've always done, ripping off clients, while disparaging them verbally. Goldman Sachs, an evil twin of Federal Government, remains the dominant player in our crazy megalopolis, the Earth-encircling Las Vegas.  There is no place to hide anymore, unless we wish to escape into the past.

In the meantime, the real world economy continues to consume Earth's resources at an ever-increasing rate as more of very desperately poor people are now just poor, and want to have some of the same amenities we take for granted. The results are predictable and the price you and I pay to commute in the U.S. is at an all-time high.

To put this price index into perspective, it now costs 10 times more to move from point A to B in the U.S. metropolitan areas than it did 60 years ago.  And the driving costs continue to explode with no relief in sight. Therefore, I take issue with this recent statement by Paul Krugman:
The irony here is that these claims come just as events are confirming what everyone who did the math already knew, namely, that U.S. energy policy has very little effect either on oil prices or on overall U.S. employment.
If people cannot get to work because of the high gasoline price, there will be an impact on U.S. economy.

So where is the heated public debate on transportation alternatives?  Nowhere it seems, as we are wasting precious time widening those roads everywhere.  Road-widening is the only solution we can think of as communities and that's dangerously unimaginative. I used to think that we could see more clearly into the future, but I don't anymore.  Woe on us.

Comments

  1. Prof. Patzek,

    That increase in transportation costs almost exactly parallels the rise in all costs since 1950 (which has rised by a factor of 9.6), while median household income has risen by a factor of about 25. So from 60 years ago to now, the cost of transportation as a fraction of our income has gone down quite a bit. It's better for your argument to focus on the period since 1970, or since 2000, when you could show substantial increases in fuel costs in constant dollars, while real median income has stagnated...

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    Replies
    1. Your are making good points, Mr. Kirk-Davidoff. However, in 1948 there were roughly 50 million employed Americans, while recently there three times as many. So while median household income has grown, so did employment (two people per household vs. one) and the number of commuting miles driven. Thus the cost of commuting to work increased quicker than income. Add to this income stagnation for most people over the last 30-40 years, and one can see that mass transit is coming to the U.S.A.

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