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Archive for March, 2010

Ever wonder how really affordable your house or apartment is? So have I and the Housing and Transit Affordability Index will show you the numbers. Based solely on rent cost, my apartment is fairly affordable, at 17% of my income. However, if you add in transportation costs, it more than doubles, to 40% of my income.

H+T Affordability Index: Seattle–Bellevue–Everett, WA: Comparing Housing Costs, % Income for Renters to Housing + Transportation Costs, % Income for Renters

The Housing + Transportation Affordability Index is an innovative tool that measures the true affordability of housing based on its location.
© Copyright 2003-10 Center for Neighborhood Technology
2125 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 · Tel: (773) 278-4800 · Fax: (773) 278-3840

If I compare the annual cost of driving to work versus the annual cost of transit, I find that I’m saving a ton by working from home and taking the bus whenever I can. The difference is amazing: $51 for transit a year, versus $2,048 for a car per year. The cost of transit is spread out across all riders, while the cost of operating your car is solely in your hands and your pocketbook. It costs more to own a car than to take the bus.

H+T Affordability Index: Seattle–Bellevue–Everett, WA: Comparing Annual VMT Cost ($) to Annual Transit Cost ($)

The Housing + Transportation Affordability Index is an innovative tool that measures the true affordability of housing based on its location.
© Copyright 2003-10 Center for Neighborhood Technology
2125 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 · Tel: (773) 278-4800 · Fax: (773) 278-3840

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In a recent article Barbara O’Brien writes that as 20th century economic models are falling apart the problem was anticipated by E. F.  Schumacher, author of a new economic theory, “Buddhist Economics”.

Schumacher argued that, “…that ever-increasing production and consumption — the foundation of the modern  economy — is unsustainable.” The drive to  increase the bottom-line basically ignored how the growth occurred or how society benefited.

Quoting from O’Brien’s article:

“While in Burma he wrote a paper called “Economics in a Buddhist Country” in which he argued  that economics does not stand on its own feet, but instead ‘is derived from a view of the meaning  and purpose of life — whether the economist himself knows this or not.’  In this paper, he wrote  that a Buddhist approach to economics would be based on two principles:
* The ideal is  sufficiency, not surfeit. ‘Economic ‘progress’ is good only to the point of sufficiency, beyond that, it is evil, destructive, uneconomic.’
* A Buddhist economy distinguishes between renewable and non-renewable resources. A  civilization built on renewable resources is superior to one built on non-renewable resources.”

He argued against ever-increasing consumption, instead promoting the notion that meeting human needs is sufficient. What is sufficient? Therein lies the problem.

As the ongoing economic crisis has clearly shown us, too much of a good thing can lead to disaster. Hopefully, we learned a valuable lesson.

Schumacher’s theories were published in 1973 in, “Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered.” Many of his essays and other writings are available online.

While his ideas were largely scoffed at back then, today they appear to be ahead of their time.

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