Surprised at how boring this was through most of the book. I know it's from another era, time past, but not all old books are this dull. I wanted to rSurprised at how boring this was through most of the book. I know it's from another era, time past, but not all old books are this dull. I wanted to rate this lower, but since it's Hawthorne, a classic...my rating is 2.5 stars rounded up. I'm sure if I was in an English Literature class and the book was analyzed fully it would not seem as boring on this quick read like it's a modern fluff novel. That it is not, and likely deserves a higher rating. ...more
This is about a journey from around 20 years ago. It would be interesting to find out if people are still kind to a hitchhiking stranger going acrossThis is about a journey from around 20 years ago. It would be interesting to find out if people are still kind to a hitchhiking stranger going across the United States. I like to think yes, one-on-one people are generally nice. But sadly, what McIntrye also found is there was a lot of animosity toward people who don't look them. He was treated well, as he was often told, because he was a clean-cut single white male. Often he cautions to not try this, particularly if female or of color. McIntrye met a few interesting characters but most were just decent folks helping someone out on their journey. We met them and get a little about their life story like Mike does.
Overall a good book, but it ended abruptly and didn't have any post travel insights one might expect. This was somewhat achieved with an interview included at the end of the audio book I listened to. The interview was done 20 years later with the narrator posing the questions.
Robert Frank has a strong message, which is we are spending too much of our money in keeping up with our peers and the rich. We do this in order to liRobert Frank has a strong message, which is we are spending too much of our money in keeping up with our peers and the rich. We do this in order to live in a better neighborhood, and send the kids to a better school, and it sends prices up. The sizes of people’s houses has been increasing as well. When you compare your house to large oversized house suddenly it looks small. But comparing to another poorer country it may seem large. There’s relatively in play.
Frank uses an example of replacing his broken backyard grill. At the store he’s shown a super deluxe do everything grill that costs $5,000. He tells the salesperson there’s no way he’s buying that, so now shown a $1,000 grill that seems like a bargain in comparison. But what he went in to buy he hoped to spend more like a 10th of the cheap one. This is one way people end up spending more than they expect.
When looking at cars, they have become increasingly bigger and heavier. Now a cheaper small car that was more than adequate 20 or 30 years ago is not as safe as it used to be if involved in a car accident. For safety reasons then a family may choose to buy a bigger and heavier car than they need.
Frank also relates research that consistently shows that buying more things, including bigger houses does not make one happier. We need to stop buying bigger houses and heavier cars. We often don’t recognize the trade off, of bigger house to working more hours, which means less time for spending with family and friends. He also goes into some of the research on happiness, or overall satisfaction with one's life.
The voluntary simplicity movement has been talking about reducing buying of stuff for over 20 years and has done little to change the situation. Frank points out that it’s one thing to reduce your spending when you’re a top wage earner, but if you are struggling and already take your lunch to work, have a 15 year old car, there is no room to cut back. Thus the simplicity movement really does not apply to many.
Frank has a policy solution, which is a progressive tax on consumption with no taxes on savings.
It was a short book, I got through it in a day. It felt on occasion somewhat academic as he uses the economist terminology and gives several thought experiments throughout. Since it is a short book, full of information, albeit a little dated, it is worth one’s time to read if interested in this topic.