reply to post by Milkflavour
No problem, thanks for bothering to read it!
I believe I have an answer for your question about cars: money!
I'm not educated on the economy in any formal way, so this is a shot in the dark really. I've had a quick nose through your profile and I've
noticed your background in psychology and counselling, so what I'm about to say might be familiar to you.
Shopping is an important part of our economy, I'm not exactly sure why, but I remember the UK government a while ago urging us all to spend more
money to help us climb out of the recession. They want us to spend, that's how the system keeps itself going.
Unfortunately, humans are inherently lazy beings, given two options we take the path of least resistance. Recently, Teper & Inzlicht published a study
on active and passive actions, in it, they gave participants a test, at the end of the test there were a variety of different scenarios. All the
scenarios involved the participant being asked to help a fellow participant with the test - the general trend was that the easier it was to say yes,
the more people said yes. The easier it was to say no, the more people said no. This also has significant implications on the act of impulse
If you combine this with the convenience of using a car to not only drive to the shopping centres, but to provide large amounts of carrying capacity
for the return journey, cars make it easier for people to spend money by orders of magnitude. If a shopper takes a bike or a bus to the city centre,
they can go home with at most 3 or 4 bags of various items. If you give them a car, they can load up the boot, back seat and floor and stop off for a
burger on the way home. The same is true of grocery shopping, people tend to buy more when it's easier to carry. If someone has to walk 3 miles with
food shopping AND a crate of beer, they might just leave the beer.
This has knock on effects in other ways too, the time lost in transit when compared to a car could be used to passively generate income for other
companies in unlikely ways. For instance, it takes me 10-15 minutes in to town in a car, so a 25 minute round trip. The same trip on a bus is almost 2
hours. The 90 minutes where I'm in transit is dead time, I'm not watching TV, so I'm not increasing channel ratings and increasing the value of
their ad space, I'm not idly consuming food and drink forcing me to shop more often, I'm not using electricity, water or gas which means a loss of
revenue for those companies.
Even more unlikely, but still a factor, I'm not using my appliances like my microwave, oven, dishwasher, washing machine, TV, xbox, pc and so on.
This increases their chronological longevity meaning it will take longer for me to replace it.
Cigarettes cost the taxpayer millions a year in NHS care (I'm not arguing that fact with anyone, according to the government, cigarettes are bad, for
the purposes of this post, we're accepting that as fact) and the reduction in consumption would, overall, save money as they do not generate enough
in taxes to offset their cost.
Cars however, have multiple economic benefits as described above (as well as the cost of tax, insurance, mot, repair, new cars etc, how did I not
think of that earlier?!) which offset any potential damage they might cause.
Actually, I'm not even sure how harmful car exhaust fumes are these days. Catalytic converters have pretty much nullified any old knowledge we might
have had. If you had asked me 20 years ago which kind of smoke I would rather inhale daily, I would have said cigarette smoke, but now catalytic
converters have cornered the market. The output from modern cars consists mainly of water, carbon dioxide and monoxide (in higher levels as the engine
ages) and nitrogen, which is inert and totally harmless, and is in fact 79% of our atmosphere. There are some particulates, sure, but I would argue
that cigarette smoke is more dangerous than car exhaust in comparative volumes these days, I'll have to look in to the volume ratios of cigarette and
car exhaust smoke and compare how cancery they are. That's my weekend sorted then!