Power to the People

The present drying up of jobs available to low- and middle-income Americans is leading to a drastic and largely unexpected phase change in the way we live and get around. Imagine what would happen if an ever-increasing percentage of the population could no longer afford a roof overhead or basic transportation. Norms for what are now considered “acceptable” lifestyles would be revised downward. Being homeless might be considered somewhat “normal”! Yet Americans are famous for their ingenuity. They like to believe that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  Perhaps a new class of mobile dwellings called motorless homes will evolve. They will be muscle-powered!

Visit Steven M. Johnson at his website.

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There was an experiment here in Helsinki, Finland a couple of years ago, where they gave carts similar to the "portable pullman" to people living on the streets. They featured a bicycle on the front and a covered cart on the back for sleeping and some privacy. It would be interested to know if these port-a-homes are still in action, but I haven't heard from nor seen them after the beginning of the experiment. A great idea though!
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lewen: Yes, someone recently told me about a suspended monorail system being researched by Google, a sort of hanging pod for single bicyclists. No doubt it would be more efficient than my 1990 PEDALTRAIN because there would be less resistance. But I would wonder what would happen to the line of hanging commuters on bikes if one person in the line got a charley-horse and stopped pedaling!
lewen, you are free to use the "Contact Us" feature here to let the manager of the blog know that I should be gotten rid of.
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Rocky: I agree with your "hamsters on a wheel" image. I am so old I can get by with my wife on a couple of very small pensions plus Social Security. But the economy is now seriously in bad shape and I worry about the younger people. Arianna Huffington's book THIRD WORLD AMERICA shows a graph of the growing income gap and it is frightening!
There are different ways I can understand your term "layabouts who got us in this mess": Folks who have investments that earn huge sums off their capital, allowing them to simply lay about; folks with bad habits or reduced social circumstances who simply lay about doing nothing and living off the state; folks like me who have nothing better to do than think up and draw cartoons and odd inventions; folks who through no fault of their own watched vast sectors of the economy tank and watched their job move across the border or overseas. There are many different kinds of laybouts, IMO!
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