An interesting article this week about the ways researchers are trying to solve the ever growing problem of traffic congestion. The brutal truth? So long as the economy and population expand, so will congestion despite new roads, technologies and controls.
Commuters have altered their behavior to deal with the problem. Some get up early and leave early. Some, the other way around. So, what happens when new lanes or roads are installed to deal with congestion? All these people give up the altered times and join the herd again, quickly filling the excess capacity. More money, more cars. More roads, more traffic. China was the focus of media attention over the past couple of weeks for this problem precisely.
The same thing happens in business. Add employees to meet demand. Then get too busy again. Rinse, repeat. A never ending cycle, until there’s a recession. Also at home. Got too much stuff, get a bigger house. Move in, get more stuff. Funny enough though, this week also drew light to the “end of the mcmansion era” – smaller houses are being built to match changing consumer values.
What’d happen if we just maintained what we had, and kept those behaviors altered, like, forever? Fewer roads, but better ones? Smaller houses, but smarter ones? Fewer businesses bent on growth, and more focused on quality? My hunch is the fear that China, India and Brazil will steal our milk money is simply too great to find out. Sip, sip. Grunt, grunt.