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Imaginary Commuting Inequities September 10, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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Beto O’Rourke keeps flailing about trying to get some traction in his anemic presidential bid. This time he’s seized upon mixing rich people and poor people neighborhoods together so that poor people can live closer to their jobs:

“Living close to work shouldn’t be a luxury for the rich. It’s a right for everyone,” the former Texas congressman tweeted Monday evening.

“Here’s the tough thing to talk about, though we must. Rich people are gonna have to allow — or be forced to allow — lower-income people to live near them, which is what we fail to do in this country right now,” Mr. O’Rourke says in the campaign clip.

Mr. O’Rourke then claims lower-income Americans must drive “one, two, three hours in either direction to get to their jobs, very often minimum wage jobs, so they’re working two or three of them right now.”

Well, first of all, getting to live in a primo spot is not a fundamental right. If it was, we should kick out the current residents and start a lottery for people who want to live on the beach, or in Aspen, or in Manhattan, or in…

Second, do the poor really suffer more than everybody else in terms of commuting time? Naw, in actual fact, they have slightly lower commuting times:

Commuting Times

As you can see, a higher percentage of low income commuters have a short commute, and a lower percentage have a long commute. But the differences aren’t dramatic, and certainly not anything requiring corrective government action to reduce commuting inequities.

I know Beto doesn’t care, but the most effective approaches to reducing commuting times would be:

  • Reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the country
  • Limit future immigration until we adjust the population size such that the infrastructure can cope
  • Improve telecommuting interfaces so that employees are more effective and easier to manage
  • Get Elon Musk to tunnel under every city and build his subterranean commuting systems

The first three would reduce our carbon footprint, and the first two would lead to wage increases for all workers, but especially lower income workers.

But Beto would rather violate actual natural rights to satisfy an imagined right which hasn’t been wronged.

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