T’was good for the economy”

[T]he late Ivan Illich — half mad to be sure, but I could never tell which half — demonstrated that if we take the total of man-hours devoted to making, fuelling, fixing, insuring, and otherwise accommodating cars (highways, garages, traffic cops, &c), then divide by the grand total of passenger miles driven, for any fixed period, the average actual speed of a car may be calculated. It works out to just over three miles per hour. Which is to say, the same as walking, but considerably slower than a horse. To put this another way, the entire monstrous effort produces a null result.

One can hardly conceive of an evil that does not add a few fiat dollars to the GDP. Say what I like about the collapse of Western Civ, the truth is it was good for the economy. And this can be easily proved, by the numbers, for they get bigger every day.

David Warren, Essays in Idleness

May 1, 2019


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