Thursday, September 22, 2011

The wise and the Wise

Here is my wise USC colleague Lisa Schweitzer describing her unhappiness with the latest public transit news.  And here is my wise friend Wendell Cox describing continued suburbanization in the U.S.  Both trends were supposed to have turned around in (pick your date, author or source). 

A propos, below is "A Parable" about Wise Elders (this time capitalized), as told by the wise Paul Heyne:
Once upon a time the Wise Leaders of an unnamed country came to the conclusion the experience of watching movies in the theater was essential to the flourishing of the human spirit, and that consequently people should never be denied the opportunity to attend a movie simply because they could not afford it. So the government took over ownership of all the movie theaters and began admitting people free of charge.

Then a quite unexpected thing happened. Going to the movies became a horrible experience. First of all, you had to stand in line every time you wanted to go. Then when you got in you couldn’t find two seats together—unless you had queued up an hour early. And when the movie started you couldn’t hear. People were talking, running around, engaging in all sorts of horseplay. Every movie was full of kids, most of whom seemed to have more interest in socializing than in watching the film. And many of the kids were very little. Troops of small children regularly filed into movie theaters led by someone who looked like a baby sitter. And they usually wound up creating a terrible din. But it wasn’t only the kids. Adults, too, seemed to spend more time going out for pop and popcorn than sitting in their seats. And when they did finally settle down, it was worse than when they were running in and out, because so many of them chattered incessantly. It was as if most of the people who now came to movies weren’t particularly interested in movies, and consequently made movies a horrible experience for those who really did care about them and wanted to see and heart and enjoy the experience that had once been rightly deemed essential to the flourishing of the human spirit. The spirit was no longer flourishing. People regularly got into fights at the movies, and some people, it is believed, started coming to the movies just to watch the fights and cheer them on.

And so the Wise Elders gathered in council to deal with the crisis of congestion in the movies theaters. They debated two alternatives. One proposal called for building more movie theaters to accommodate all the people who now wanted to go to the movies. The other proposal called for subsidies to improve the quality of television programming, in the hope that this would draw enough people out of the theaters to ease congestion. Given the fact that movies were essential to the flourishing of the human spirit, and that people should consequently not be denied admission because of mere inability to pay, there seemed to be no other options. And so the Wise Elders debated long and fiercely: Should they build more theaters? Should they improve the quality of television? Or should they do some of both?”