Garages Undermine Exercise

Garages Require Paved Roads

Among the things we mindlessly consume which sometimes undermines our own happiness are certain conveniences.  In Health in Flames, there’s a chapter that envisions a society where people live without garages. I was meaning to illustrate that the garage is a a problem for our health. Having a garage automatically necessitates 2 things – driveways and paved roads that lead to every single household. Essentially we’ve thereby engineered out the need to use our legs in meaningful way to ambulate.

The Healthiest Places Globally often lack Paved Roads

In contrast, if one were to visit the healthiest populations around the world and ask them the secret for such healthy living, often times the inhabitants of those places don’t seem to know themselves what to tell you. It’s not that it is a closely guarded secret either. What you find in those places is that they typically lack paved roads leading to their household. The result is that they have to rely on walking or bicycling to be able to get around. That translates to some meaningful exertion that in “advanced societies” we deem “exercise”.

Given the Choice, Many People are likely to find Garage-less Communities Attractive

I’ve been criticized for suggesting that our neighborhoods ought to be engineered without garages and roads leading to every household. At least one harsh critic wrote the following about Health in Flames:

“In general I could relate to many of the topics that Mr. George proposed would bring happiness… like reducing consumerism and financial education. Where I found the book lacking was for his call for government to be the solution for all of the ills of the modern world….

I found his chapter on… a community without any roads but a general parking lot… to be ridiculous. When I see people like this make these types of proposals I wonder if they have ever lived in an area with less than a million people. One of the joys I have is to drive my vehicle each day. I love to drive out in the country away from the traffic. In Mr. George’s would I’d be wasting natural resources and polluting the environment.

I feel that Mr. George has a very liberal view of the United States and the role of government. He wants a heavy government influence to force people to act in ways that he deems appropriate.”

There’s a Financial and Health Benefit to be Realized

Unfortunately, many points in the book are easily misunderstood. This is a case in point. For the record, I’ve been criticized by (and have been critical of) both those on the left and the right. In this case, I’m not calling for government intervention outlawing garages and forcing people to live more simply. People living in the imaginary society I bring to life in the book are not forced into living there. No, they choose to live there.

Why would they? Yes, there is a health benefit since walking or bicycling is required to get around. That fact attracts some people. 

Perhaps more attractive, there’s a saving’s benefit that appeals to many others. When you consider that the cost of a garage along with the paved roads and a driveway may run into several tens of thousands or more, you can easily envision a significant savings opportunity for those who opt to live in such a neighborhood. That’s not to say that everyone would do so. In a typical rural community that may not be an attractive option for some since homes are often situated miles apart. That’s okay, no one being is forced to live there or regulated in some way.

As I felt I made clear, I’m for the freedom of the people to choose how they live and work. That’s part of what makes America special in my view. I’ve simply hoped to open their eyes to a better way of living.  In this case, the financial savings of living in this sort of community make financial independence that much more possible and that along with the health benefits is why people may choose to live in such a community.



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