When I was a kid, there were no blue zones and all of the curbs at the curb were curbs, not wheelchair ramps. One day when I was 19 years old making 3.25 an hour at the local department store, I remember a lady driving a brand spanking new Mercedes-Benz through the parking lot at about 3 mph. She had a blue piece of plastic hanging from her rear view mirror that said she could park in the blue zone. So she did, and walked into the store. Right about that time, I was driving a 1968 Karmann Ghia with no insurance and no brake pads. The irony stuck.
Obviously rich people get Mercedes, but rich decrepit people with no driving skills who get Mercedes and privileged parking spots grated on my nerves. Why? Because when I was 19 years old living in what we used to call a 'redlined' neighborhood, I knew that I was being punished for being young and she was being rewarded for being old. I hated the insurance industry with a passion that only young ignorant boys can sustain. All these old farts from rich neighborhoods get discounts on their premiums because they never drive fast. Me and my cohort have to suffer the racial calculations of the good hands people. Yeah me and my cohort not my cohort and I, not subjects, objects.
I still think there is something wrong with America specifically engineered by the Baby Boom, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Actually, I recognize all kinds of blue zones, I just don't know what to think about them. Consider this story about artisan toast. I'm not mad that people are making money off hipster crap, and I'm not mad that there are mentally ill people who manage to be functional in society. I'm mad that life keeps getting easier for all classes of marginally competent people. I cannot help but observing the conclusion that society gets softer, and the profit incentive for making people dependent on blue zone after blue zone starts to dominate. Today, you and I both know that for an extra ten grand, that Mercedes has the ability to parallel park itself.
I deal with this dilemma in concert with another I'll call 'Crowding Out Quality' but I'll deal with that in another post. It's just another unresolved aspect of the tradeoffs between modernism and self-sufficiency. I think I'll always give the nod to self-sufficiency.
The conversation came up with my daughter. She saw one of those new three-wheeled motorcycles and she thought it was really cool. But I disagreed and thought it was a poor development. She argued that it is good that they made a new kind of motorcycle that would allow more people to ride. I argued that the roads would be less safe because the people riding them would have less skill than old school motorcyclists. But perhaps the new trikes would be more safe and would indeed require less skill. Wouldn't that be an improvement? I don't know. That's why this is a dilemma for me.
I've got to find some kind of simple test that helps me determine whether it's better or worse when new processes or inventions allow lower skilled people to function in a normal capacity. What do you think? How many blue zones should we create?