21 August 2008

Indifferent to Fuel Costs

To celebrate the largest price increase for crude in 2 months, lets blog!

I really wish that the reason I went car-less was because of my earnest desire to help save the environment and mankind. Honestly, though, one of my pet peeves is the nuisance caused by misguided attempts at environmentalism (read: bio-fuel boom, “bio-degradable” anything). Don’t get me wrong, it is a very nice feeling knowing I am not spewing CO2 into the air when I go to work; I have ammunition to spare if people want to get into a righteousness debate. My reason for going cog-crazy can be represented by the indifference curves below:

If we view this n-dimensional concept into two dimensions, then I think it would be fare to boil down the two dimensions to Time (Good X) and Money (Good Y). Unfortunately, time is fixed; the government can’t mint it, and it is the same in both recession and boom. You can only get more free time by working less, but that may affect Good Y in a negative way. Money, in terms of disposable income, is one of the more flexible parameters, growing in inflexibility during a recession.
Before gas prices soared out of control, I bought an old 12 speed off of my friend. I had wanted to get back on a bike, if for anything, to avoid the tedious parking situation I faced every time I went to visit my friends. Then, one Friday, I decided to bike to work. My usual 45-minute, 8 mile commute sublimated into a 30-minute joy-ride. The ride home (which sometimes took as long as an hour to drive) was only 30 minutes. And it was fun; I actually LIKED going to work (and going home was even MORE fun)! After about a month, I noticed that I had all of this Good X and Good Y that I did have before. Suddenly, I was consuming at I2 instead of I1. I was so happy that I stopped reading about the mental health coverage in my HR manual.

At the end of December, I had used my car about three times in the last three months. I was consuming at I3 instead of I2, and then things got complicated. The parking garage across the street from my apt was now offering services to a completely full office building, and would not longer offer spots to the local folks between 10am and 5pm. The only over-night/all day option left was Hollywood and Highland Center. I would rather park in the 4th level below Hell’s wine cellar than have to go into that monstrosity. In need of a quick tax deduction, I took the plunge and donated my old 626 to charity. Again, I didn’t do this because I am a wonderful, generous, community-oriented guy. It was because now that I didn’t have to pay for insurance and parking, I could consume at I4 instead of I3.

Not everyone has the same enthusiasm for bicycles that I have. Even if bicycles weren’t around, I would avoid driving at all costs. In college, I had an hour long commute by public transit to campus or a 40 minute drive. Even though it took 20 minutes longer, I was happy to take transit; it was the only time I could make myself study. I’m just one of those folks that are happier not driving or looking for parking spaces.

Let me direct my final comments to those of you who say you “like” driving. I know you exist, and some of you were in town recently for the celebrated Gumball 3000. I also saw a couple of you on my way into work on Monday (it is extra satisfying to pass genuine race cars, with your carbon-fiber body panels and extra-fancy riveting crawling through Santa Monica Blvd traffic). Most of you who like driving really don’t. If you did, you would not buy a BMW 3 series or a Mercedes 230 (there are non-luxury brands with better performance for a lower price). You would never compromise and get a Prius, because it isn’t fun to drive. While you are driving home from work (that is where everyone reads blogs, right?), consider your indifference curve. And don’t forget the part about cookies; when you ride to work every day, you can eat them at lunch EVERY DAY, guilt-free.


Tom said...

Yeah, I gotta admit I love the cookies.... and the extra sandwich or pizza slice for lunch.... and the cold dark beer waiting for me when I get home....

and I lose weight. But of course, I commute by bike to be greener. No, really.

TheRubb said...

Way to go, Tom!
Whatever it is that gets you pushing the pedals is fine with me. If it makes you feel good, then do it!

emKem said...

I couldn't agree more. I just love biking....even on my worst days, when I'm down and depressed about whatever, biking picks me right back up again. And when people ask about how life has been without a car...I have to say, it's been great. Difficult at times, but never once have I thought, "hmmmm, a car would really make this easier".

Will Campbell... said...

Any day I can get on a bike and ride is automagically a better day. Even if they gave away gas for free.