Here are three sad but laughable examples of how capitalism throws away our money. After ‘indispensable improvements’ have been paid for, the previous ‘lesser state’ is then promoted as the ‘ultimate progress.’
Bus, Light-Rail Way, Train on Wheels
Great invention: public transportation. Bus lines to every corner serving people waiting for the ride. Problem: Bus drivers get sick. Especially from the draft and bad seats. And then they go on pension. The most expensive part of bus rides is the salary for the drivers – no matter how low.
Solution: double buses. I still remember city officials claiming that it is impossible to drive such lengthy vehicles through the old narrow streets of the center of Amsterdam. The drivers said: Let’s try. And they did it!
Still, that could be cheaper: streetcars. You can get so many people per driver into a line of wagons. The problem is that tracks must be installed. That costs a fortune. That problem is ‘solved’ by letting ‘friends of yours’ install them. The whole of Jerusalem is turned upside-down for light-rail tracks.
But, the always out-to-improve-the-world Ministry of Transportation now has the newest: Trains on wheels. They come from China. Fantastic. No need to install tracks (already there). We will save so much money.
Now, the ministers and civil servants who decided this have never seen public transportation from close-by. They go by official cars with a driver. So, they don’t know that we already have a name for trains on wheels. We call them … buses. What tremendous progress we are booking!
Care Homes in, out
I worked in a nursing home, the largest in Amsterdam and possibly the Netherlands. Wasn’t it cruel to remove these old people from their familiar homes, surroundings? There is a Dutch saying: Old trees you should not move. The standard answer was: Don’t worry. It’s good for them. They meet new people, don’t need to eat alone anymore, do things together, there is always nursing staff available. Nursing homes are the best. But the real reason was: It was considered cheaper to have them all together than servicing everyone at home. (Almost all of them were elderly, until they made a special department for AIDS patients before there was a cure.)
Then came an authoritative economic report. Keeping older people in their old homes and neighborhoods is in fact cheaper. Within two years, almost all nursing homes were closed. No, you should not move old trees. And now, they have their privacy. It’s easier on their minds. They’ll feel better.
Radio, TV, Podcast
At first, there was the radio. It informed, it entertained. But mostly, it let people who have nothing to report talk to people who’re not listening.
But that wasn’t good enough. We got the big screen, we got the small screen. You had to concentrate and follow.
But now, progress has stricken again. The podcast. Don’t break younger people’s hearts by telling them it’s nothing new. It’s just the radio again.