Monday, December 19, 2016

Harder Living with Technology

If you want to see how badly America has misused technology, compare these two videos, one showing parents causing a massive traffic jam when they drop off their children at school in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the other showing children arriving at school in the Netherlands.

Notice that the parents in Charlotte start dropping off children before 7 AM. There are school buses, but most parents think they arrive too early, so they drop off their children on the way to work. Presumably, these children are on an early schedule, so most get home long before their parents get back from work and spend the afternoon alone.

The parents obviously have long work days, since they begin their commutes before 7 AM. So many parents line up to drop off children that they spill out of the school grounds and onto the highway, slowing down everyone's commute.

In the Dutch school, by contrast, the students arrive by bicycle, so they don't create traffic jams and don't have to wait in backed-up traffic. Parents don't have to do the extra work of chauffering children, because the children can get around on their own.

To the inconvenience shown in the Charlotte video, add the fact that American work hours are 25% longer than Dutch work hours, on the average. Dutch employees have the right to choose their own work hours, and about half of them choose to work part-time. They can afford to choose shorter hours partly because they bicycle and don't waste money on auto-dependency.

Americans don't have these choices. Most Americans do not have the option of walking and bicycling. Most Americans can't get a decent job unless they are willing to work full-time. And most Americans need to work full time to support a way of life of high consumption and low satisfaction. It is as if we were deliberately trying to make life harder and not giving people the choice of making it easier.

In the video of Charlotte, you can see that there are no sidewalks, no bike paths, and no neighborhood streets near the school where it is safe to walk. Whether you like it or not, the only way to get around is to drive.

Thanks to Angie Schmitt of for posting the video of Charlotte.