I'm more than usually annoyed at civilization's failures today. According to indexmundi.com, the average American spends 25.2 minutes a day commuting. That's 2 hours a week. probably enough time to keep up with an online class. (Especially a class organized for commuters.) If we had comprehensive public transportation, people could spend the time going to and from work on buses and trains, with their laptops or tablets, learning.
Or they could keep up with another reality TV show. Or they could get in a nap. Or they could listen to music and meditate.
Commutes would probably be longer in this paradigm, but that's fine. That's more free time. Time blocked out cleanly in everyone's day.
(I mean, ideally our cities would be built in a way that placed everyone close enough to their workplace that their commutes wouldn't take that long.)
I'm sure there are enough people willing to drive for a living to overcome the sudden absence of hundreds of thousands of amateur drivers. It would reduce carbon emissions. It would make the roads safer -- by reducing the number of cars, and by having only professional drivers on the road.
And, obviously, when I remember about this particular civilizational failure, I'm reminded of many of the other ones: the continued existence of the penny, the horrible structure of student loans, the failures of education systems worldwide, the DMCA, American internet speeds, the war on drugs, etc.
We're suffering, in the United States, from a failure to optimize several societal institutions, because the optimization reduces the number of people who can profit from a reformed system. Our internet isn't being reformed because our ISPs can charge us enough as it is. Our entertainment industry is fighting against freedom of expression because it maximizes their ability to make billion-dollar, broad-appeal action movies. Our education system is nearly a method for converting optimistic young adults into revenue streams for loan companies. Our drug policies primarily benefit private prison owners farming nonviolent offenders for government money.
And our transportation systems are fatally crippled because all the obvious solutions would result in fewer people driving, fewer people buying gas, fewer people living in suburbs and fewer people owning cars.
There are two separate intersections on my commute to school where, no matter how wide a gap I wait for, I'm always terrified that someone is going to crash into me. Part of it is that the roads are poorly designed, but a bigger part is that the roads are crowded with people who have no place operating a motor vehicle -- including me. The fact that we expect everyone to do it means we've lowered our standards for who should be allowed to drive. It's incredibly dangerous, and you really should have to be a lot better at it before they let you do it every day, whenever you want.
I'm pissed about this, because (a.) my life is daily put at needless risk because I happen to live in a country with a fetish for motor vehicles, (b.) I have to pay for this privilege because despite an infrastructure that makes them a necessity our society doesn't treat access to cars as a right, and (c.) it means I start and end every day with stress. I spend about an hour every day being made anxious and irritated, time I could spend studying, or working, or napping, or listening to fracking music. Really, anything other than being the person operating the vehicle would be awesome.