Early this year I wrote a post based on a quote from John Maynard Keynes, the famous British economist of the last century. Keynes had an idea about filling a hole with bottles filled with money, covering the hole over with dirt and then selling permits to dig out the bottles. His argument was that during an economic downturn the best thing was to spend, even if the spending seemed to contradict common sense.
Last week I wrote about the falling rate of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the United States and the Northwest. The post goes into a bit of detail about the numbers and asks the question, “Why invest huge dollars in capital infrastructure for new ways to carry cars?”
It’s far from certain what the downturn in VMT means. Part of it is attributable to last year’s price spike in oil and gas prices. But when you look at gasoline consumption (down), VMT (down) and car sales (down) you can’t help but wonder why we’re digging a big hole along the waterfront and filling it with cars. Does a tunnel that will cost billions of dollars still make sense?
Could the possibility that we are significantly changing our driving habits make Keynes’ idea more attractive?