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Creating a better society

Part 14:
Leadership for the economy
We should design products for society, not sales

11 January 2015


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Free enterprise gives us what we want, not what we need
How weight affects a bicycle
How tires affects a bicycle
How air resistance affects a bicycle
The free enterprise system exploits our weaknesses
What styles of bicycles are best for us?
A city is just a big submarine on land

Software to help you understand bicycles is at this page

Free enterprise gives us what we want, not what we need
 
In previous documents I pointed out that if we can provide ourselves with competent leadership, then we could take control of our economy. This would allow us to make intelligent decisions on which research projects to fund; which products and services to develop; and what features to give our products.

In this document, I will use bicycles as an example of how the free enterprise system cannot provide us with sensible products because the businesses must compete for the attention of consumers. They focus on sales, not on the value of their product. They focus on pleasing us, which might seem wonderful, but what pleases us is not necessarily what is best for us.


Your interests in life are influenced by your environment

Before I begin, in case you do not have an interest in bicycles, you should keep in mind that your lack of interest may simply be due to the fact that the free enterprise system is not providing you with a bicycle that you enjoy, and/or you do not enjoy riding bicycles in your city.

In a previous document, I pointed out that if we were to create some new cities and experiment with our culture, the people in that city should be prepared for the possibility that some of them will want to form new friendships or marriages. Now consider that the people in that new city are also likely to discover that many of them want to change some or all of their leisure activities.

For example, some of the people who have no interest in bicycles may discover that they enjoy an occasional bicycle ride when they live in a city that provides them with free and easy access to a lot of beautiful bicycle paths, and free access to comfortable bicycles. Some of them might also enjoy an occasional ride on a quadcycle with their family or friends.

For another example, some of the people who are currently disgusted with the government and who ignore society are likely to discover that when they live in a city in which they enjoy the people and respect the government, they enjoy getting involved with some aspect of society, such as the holiday celebrations, museums, recreational activities, children's activities, or botanical gardens.

Don't assume that you know what you want from life. When you make decisions about what to do with your future, consider that what you like and dislike in regards to hobbies, products, recreational activities, and social activities is influenced by your environment; mainly the people you live with and the culture of your society, and to a lesser extent, the weather, the city, and the products and services that are available to you.

If you had been born 10,000 years ago, you would have spent your life just like other primitive savages. If you had been born 10,000 years in the future, you would be involved with activities and hobbies that we cannot imagine. You don't need any particular material item or activity in order to enjoy life. Life is like a giant smorgasbord, and there are lots of aspects to enjoy.

For another example of how your leisure activities might change, many people have a botanical garden in their city, but not many people want to drive through traffic and then pay a fee to look at a garden. However, if they were living in a City of Castles, every cluster of apartment buildings would be surrounded by free parks and gardens. When people only have to take a few steps outside of their building to be in a park, many people would discover that they enjoy occasionally walking or riding a bicycle through it.

By extending elevated foot paths out into ponds, people would be able to walk out onto the ponds without getting wet. Many people who currently have no interest in visting ponds are likely to discover that when they have free and easy access to these ponds, they may enjoy occasionally taking a walk out onto one of the ponds and getting a close look at the plants, ducks, and fish.

Many Americans want a large house, several large televisions in different rooms of the house, pet doors for their dogs and cats, and high-speed Internet for video games. They assume that they enjoy spending a lot of leisure time inside their house, but if all of us could experience a variety of different types of cities, economic systems, and government systems, we would discover that our leisure activities change according to the environment we live in.

Some of the people who have no interest in swimming are likely to discover that they enjoy it once in a while, including at night, when they live in a city in which they have free and easy access to beautiful pools, and when they are living among people they enjoy.

Some of the people who have no interest in 3-D printers, bonsai trees, pottery, telescopes, electron microscopes, or CNC wood routers, might discover that when they live in a city that supports a wide variety of free social clubs, and when they enjoy the people in the city, they enjoy occasionally visiting one of the clubs to learn about and experiment with those items, and they may want to join some of the clubs.

When we are young, we tend to develop goals for ourselves, such as buying a big house, flying an airplane, or becoming an athlete. We assume that we must accomplish those goals in order to be happy, but in reality, we can enjoy life in a lot of different ways.


Analyze problems, don't ignore them or become angry

Animals react to problems by either becoming angry or by running away, and people have the same tendency. If we don't like bicycles, we have a tendency to ignore them. If we don't like the government, we tend to either ignore the government or become angry with it.

A more sensible reaction in this modern world is for people to analyze our problems. If you do not like bicycles, for example, you should wonder why not. Is there a way to design them so that they become more appealing to you? Or is it because you don't like riding a bicycle in your city? Is there a way to design a city so that you enjoy riding a bicycle?

Likewise, if you don't like the government, schools, holiday celebrations, city parks, or museums, don't ignore the problem or become angry at somebody. Instead, analyze the situation. Why don't you like it? Is there some way that we can change it to make it more appealing to you?

Imagine living in a city in which people have that attitude. In such a case, when people get together for lunch or social activities, they would occasionally discuss what they do not like about bicycles, the government, the holiday celebrations, the public swimming pools, the city festivals, the museums, and the school system. They would also discuss what type of changes might improve the situation. Through the years, these type of discussions would result in some intelligent ideas on what to experiment with.

Engineers and scientists are following this philosophy in regards to technical issues. They occasionally discuss what they dislike about a cell phone, 3-D printer, or robot, and they discuss possible solutions to the problems. They don't ignore the problems or hate somebody. As a result, they bring us improvements every year. However, we are not yet applying this philosophy to social issues. We are not yet making any attempt to improve our holiday celebrations, recreational activities, economic system, or government system.

For an example of how this change in attitude can result in improvements to society, consider that millions of people live in an area where the trees in the forest change color during the autumn, but not many of those people are interested in walking through the forests and enjoying the beauty. If they were to discuss what they do not like, and if they were to devise possible solutions, they might discover that they would enjoy the forests if they could see the forests in their wild, natural state but without stepping in the mud, slime, and snails. They might realize that by creating elevated foot paths and bicycle paths, we leave the forest in its wild state, and we will be able to enjoy the forest without getting filthy.

Humans have the intelligence necessary to design bicycles, parks, swimming pools, cell phones, holiday celebrations, and other products and activities according to what will provide us with the most pleasant life rather than what will make a business the most profit. However, it requires changing our attitudes towards life and experimenting with an alternative to the free enterprise system.

The free enterprise system is giving us a wide variety of products and services, but they are all designed to make profit rather than to provide us with some true benefit. The free enterprise system is also interfering with our holiday celebrations, universities, and museums because businesses want to profit from those activities. We would create a more pleasant life for ourselves if we took control of society and created products and cultural activities according to what will bring us the most benefit.


“Supercharged bicycles”

The free enterprise system provides us with products that titillate our emotions, but we do not necessarily benefit from products that we enjoy. It is easier to understand this concept with products designed for children, so before I discuss bicycles for adults, consider how free enterprise is providing children with silly and dangerous bicycles.

To a child, a bicycle is both a transportation device and a recreational device, so we should design their bicycles according to what will provide them with the best transportation and recreation, and in a safe manner. Unfortunately, businesses are in competition with one another to attract the attention of children, and so they focus on designing bicycles that appeal to children rather than to provide children with the greatest benefit.

For example, preteen boys enjoy playing in the dirt and mud, and they are titillated by the off-road, MX motorcycles. Bicycle companies respond by designing bicycles that resemble MX motorcycles. They call them "BMX" bicycles. Some of BMX bikes take the imitation to such an extreme that they have decals on them that say such things as "supercharged" and "nitro." And some of the boys occasionally make motorcycle noises as they ride their BMX bicycles.

Bicycle companies and parents might respond that the children enjoy those BMX bicycles, but we should not provide children with products simply because they enjoy them. We should analyze each product to determine whether it is providing benefits that outweigh the disadvantages. Children enjoy candy, but that doesn't justify giving it to them, especially not in whatever quantities they want. Men are titillated by pornography, but that doesn't justify allowing businesses and media companies to saturate society with sexual titillation in advertisements, tradeshows, television programs, and retail stores.

Imagine if two cities are identical in all respects, except that one city has a free enterprise system and is selling BMX bicycles to the boys, and in the other city, the bicycles are designed in a more serious manner for transportation and recreation. How would life be different for the boys in those two cities? Would the boys who have supercharged, BMX bicycles have a more pleasant childhood or become better adults? Not necessarily.

We might discover that the boys in the free enterprise system are injuring themselves more often and irritating adults on a regular basis. Also, even though the children wear helmets when they do stunts on bicycles, they may be suffering from brain damage as often as football players, boxers, and other people who have their brains knocked against their skull.

Do these bicycles make life better for young boys?

Or do they encourage idiotic, dangerous, and irritating behavior?

By comparison, the boys in the other city would be provided with bicycles that were designed for safe and reliable transportation and recreation. Instead of using bicycles to imitate motorcycles or do stunts, they would use bicycles to explore the parks, lakes, and city. In addition to remaining in better health, those boys might develop better attitudes and behavior.

Furthermore, their memories of childhood might be more pleasant because instead of accumulating thousands of miserable memories of pain and injuries, broken bones, hospital rooms, and having dentists fix their broken teeth, they will have lots of nice memories of riding bicycles with their friends and exploring the city.


How do we improve life for children?

Most people assume that happiness comes doing whatever pleases us and avoiding whatever we don't like. This philosophy causes people to seek emotional titillation with food, material items, fame, sex, babies, and drugs, and it causes people to avoid whatever they don't receive pleasure from, such as being responsible, learning, working, cleaning up after themselves, and being considerate.

Parents who follow that philosophy assume that they will provide their child with the best life by giving him as much freedom as possible to do as he pleases, and by giving him lots of material items, pampering, and praise. However, when I look back at my childhood, the pleasant memories that are still with me have nothing to do with freedom, gifts, pampering, or praise. The only exceptions are a few memories of getting candy.

Aside from candy, my most pleasant childhood memories are of doing things with people, such as exploring the nearby creek with other boys, or doing things with my mother or father. For example, on a hot summer afternoon, me and my siblings were playing in our backyard, and my mother cut a watermelon into pieces and brought the pieces out for us to eat. Eating watermelon with her meant more to me than getting a Christmas gift.

Since each person has slightly different emotional and intellectual characteristics, there will be subtle differences in what each of us enjoys about life. For example, if a child doesn't have as much of an interest in other people and is more focused on himself, then when his mother provides watermelon for him and other children, he may focus on enjoying the watermelon, not on enjoying the people. When he gets older, he may have a lot of memories of eating food, but not many memories of the people that he ate with. His memories of Christmas and birthdays might be of getting gifts rather than the people he was with.

I have heard some parents justify giving their children enormous amounts of toys and other items on the grounds that they don't want their children to suffer the type of childhood that they suffered from. Apparently, those people had strong cravings for material items when they were children, and that caused their childhood to be a nearly constant state of envy, misery, pouting, or frustration. Those parents say that they don't want their children to "want things". They assume that providing lots of material wealth to a child will prevent the child from wanting things, thereby making him happy, but that is nonsense.

Whether a child is satisfied with his material wealth has nothing to do with how much wealth he has. Whether a child suffers from "poverty" depends upon the emotional and intellectual characteristics of the child. All of the children in a particular neighborhood are very similar to one another in regards to their level of material wealth, but they are not equal in regards to their satisfaction with their material wealth. At one extreme are the children who are so satisfied that they don't ask for anything more, and at the other extreme are the children who are constantly whining for more items, and are willing to steal, cheat, and manipulate in order to get more.

When children grow up, their mind changes, but their personality remains the same. Children who were satisfied with their material wealth as a child will likely be satisfied with whatever they have as an adult, and the children who were whining and stealing in order to get more items are likely to become adults who whine and steal.

The same situation occurs with food. Some children are satisfied with an adequate amount of food, whereas others - especially those who suffer from Prader-Willi Syndrome - whine for more, and some take food from the kitchen when they are not supposed to.

It is easy for people to understand that a child has a problem if he cannot be satisfied with an adequate amount of food, but we don't want to apply that concept to adults who have extreme cravings for material wealth, status, sex, or babies.

I think the reason every society is promoting the philosophy that material wealth brings happiness, and the reason that we admire billionaires rather than consider them analogous to obese people, is because most people have trouble controlling their cravings for material items, and since humans are very arrogant, each of us prefers to assume that our particular cravings are normal and healthy. We want to be the standard to judge other people. The people who have intense cravings for material items want to believe that it is normal for people to have insatiable cravings for material items. They don't want to think of themselves as having low self-control, or being neurotic, or being like an animal.

If we had proper leadership, our leaders would encourage us to keep our emotional cravings under control, but in a free enterprise system, businesses have no desire to set a good example for us. Instead, businesses take advantage of our craving for material wealth by offering us products that they imply will make our lives better.

The businesses are encouraging the craving of material items rather than encouraging people to control themselves. Businesses do the same with food. Rather than encourage us to eat a proper diet and eat in moderation, they compete with one another to titillate us with new food products. They also compete with one another to titillate children with candies, cereals, and other food products.

The businesses do not make anybody become obese or eat candy, but if we had a better understanding of the human mind, I suspect that we would come to the conclusion that the manipulation and emotional stimulation by businesses is detrimental, especially to the people who have the least self-control. Children cannot think very well, or control themselves very well, so by stimulating children's emotions, businesses are causing them to develop idiotic cravings for particular foods, clothing items, and toys.

Businesses have no desire to encourage children to behave in a sensible manner. They want to manipulate children into purchasing products. This not only causes the children to develop idiotic cravings, it irritates their parents because their parents have to deal with the irrational demands. Furthermore, the businesses are often selling products to children that encourage infantile or obnoxious behavior, such as riding skateboards on public handrails. This results in children being an irritation to all of society.

I suspect that we will create a noticeably more pleasant society, and noticeably better behaved children, when we prohibit businesses from manipulating us, and when we design children's products to have some sensible value rather than merely titillate them. Unfortunately, there is no way to make these changes in a free enterprise system. We must be willing to experiment with new economic and government systems.


“Farm fresh bicycles”

These concepts apply to adults, also. For example, when businesses sell eggs, they describe their eggs with such phrases as "farm fresh" and "all-natural". According to this article, none of these phrases have any meaning. They are just advertising slogans.

What is the difference between describing eggs as "farm fresh" and describing a bicycle as "supercharged"? I don't think there is a difference. Both descriptions are attempts by businesses to manipulate us.

Businesses do not treat us with respect. Instead, they treat us like stupid animals who can be manipulated with emotional stimulation. The reason they do this is simply because they have learned through trial and error that consumers resist thinking and research, and that the easiest way to sell a product is to titillate the emotions of consumers. As with animals, our natural tendency is to follow our emotional feelings rather than think. As a result, businesses don't bother providing serious information about their products. Instead, they focus on attracting our attention with advertisements, pretty women, packaging, and celebrity endorsements.

The marketing and advertising departments of a business are constantly doing research and conducting experiments, but not to figure out how to make products more beneficial to us. Rather, they are trying to figure out how to convince us to purchase their products.

If a bicycle company were to describe one if its bicycles as "farm fresh and 100% natural", most people would probably be able to figure out that the company was trying to manipulate us. However, businesses do not use such obvious methods of manipulation. Instead, they test their advertising slogans and select only those that are subtle enough to fool us. The reason we don't usually notice the manipulation is simply because businesses use only the techniques that have been proven to work.

A free enterprise system provides us with a phenomenal variety of products and services, and businessmen are essentially on their hands and knees and offering to serve us. Consumers are treated like Kings and Queens. This creates the illusion that we have lots of wonderful products to choose from, and that businesses love us.

Furthermore, there are a few business owners and executives who truly do want to do something useful for society, and since we have a tendency to believe whatever we want to believe, we have a tendency to assume that those people are typical of businessmen. In reality, most businessmen seem to be more concerned with money than in improving our lives.

It is difficult for us to notice the problems of a free enterprise system because we don't have any other economic system to compare it to, except for communism, which is obviously much worse. This can lead us to the conclusion that we have the best economic system possible.

However, if the world were to follow my suggestion and let each city be culturally independent, then different cities would be able to experiment with different economic systems, school systems, holiday celebrations, and other culture, and that would make it easy for us to notice that life in some cities is more pleasant than in others. For some examples of how a city without a free enterprise system might be different:

• We would notice that the city does not have "farm fresh" eggs or "supercharged" bicycles. We would notice that their foods, bicycles, cell phones, computers, and industrial items are designed and presented in a more serious manner.

• We would notice that the children spend less time whining for toys, candy, and clothing items.

• We would notice that the pharmaceutical companies do not advertise their drugs, and so the doctors do not have to deal with patients who have been convinced that they need a particular drug.

• We might also notice that the men and women have slightly better relationships when the people are not exposed to daily sexual titillation in advertisements and television programs.

When cities are allowed to be different, it makes it easy for us to compare life in the different cities, and that would help us to realize that businesses in a free enterprise system are abusing and manipulating us, and that many of our products are silly, idiotic, or dangerous. We would notice that the behavior of adults and children is better in cities that don't have a free enterprise system, and we would come to the conclusion that the free enterprise system encourages crude, emotional behavior. The free enterprise system encourages everybody to please themselves rather than think about what makes the most sense for them.

Until we do these type of experiments, we cannot know for sure how to provide ourselves with the most pleasant life. A person is an arrogant fool to assume that he is such a super genius that he can figure out what is best for the human race. We need to experiment with our government system, economic system, holiday celebrations, jobs, schools, and other culture, and we need to allow different cities to do different experiments. We should control our arrogance and refrain from trying to force other people in the world to live, eat, dress, and behave exactly like us. We should try to learn from one another rather than stand on a pedestal and tell other people to follow our orders.


Bicycles are designed to sell, not to improve our lives

In this document, I will show you that businesses are giving us bicycles that appeal to the emotions of consumers, but we would be more likely to use and enjoy bicycles if they were designed in a more serious manner, and if we designed our cities for bicycles. Three of the reasons why it is idiotic for businesses to design bicycles according to what consumers want are:

1) Consumers are ignorant about bicycles
Most consumers do not have much technical information about bicycles, and so they make decisions according to their emotions, common sense, and intuition. For example, our common sense tells us that weight is the most important aspect of a bicycle, and this results in consumers who want a lightweight bicycle. Businesses respond by providing us with bicycles that have been stripped of unnecessary weight, but as I will show in this document, weight is less significant to a bicycle, automobile, and other transportation devices than tires and air resistance.

2) Men want to show off
Male animals try to impress both male and female animals with their physical strength and stamina, and male humans have the same cravings. Men like to believe that they are powerful athletes who can ride bicycles at high speed. They want to show off their amazing physical abilities and impress other people. When we select products, we are concerned about how it will affect our image and status.

For example, when I was in high school, most of us boys were embarrassed to have chain guards or fenders on our bicycles because those accessories were considered to be for sissies or women.

We also wanted the 10-speed race bikes rather than a standard bike so that we could create the impression that we were physically active and athletic. The standard bike, in which a person sits upright, was considered for women and weak men.

When businesses produce products for men, they frequently design them in an irrational manner simply so that the men can imagine that they are special people. We could describe such items as "status products" because the men want them mainly to feel important and show off rather than because they want the function of the product.

Businesses that produce status products are not making our lives better; rather, they are exploiting our cravings for status. Instead of encouraging men to control their crude cravings, businesses are inadvertently encouraging us to act like animals. I think that if there were two cities that were identical in all aspects, except that one city did not produce any status items, the men in that city would have slightly more sensible behavior overall.

3) Consumers tend to mimic other people

The "Goths" and other rebels are as sheep-like and arrogant as the majority of people.
People, especially women and children, have a strong tendency to make decisions about products according to what their peer group is doing, and what the celebrities are endorsing. When businesses produce items to appease those people, they often create products that are desirable only for a few months or years, and then are replaced by some other silly product that happens to be the next latest craze.

It is interesting to note that some people boast that they do not mimic the latest fashion craze. They claim to be independent people who ignore the majority of people and the celebrities. Ironically, those people are just like everybody else. Specifically, they are just as arrogant as everybody else, which is why they boast about their independence, and they mimic other people, just like everybody else. The only difference between them and us is that they mimic a small group of people rather than the majority of people.

If the majority of people were making wise decisions, then it would be acceptable to advise children to follow the majority, but the majority of people are ordinary, and half the population is below average, so it is foolish to follow the majority of people. When businesses produce items to appease the people who follow the latest fashion trend, the businesses are encouraging more of this idiotic, sheep-like behavior rather than encouraging people to make wise decisions about products.

Some people might respond that they enjoy following the latest fashion trend, but do they really? If they could experience life in a more sensible economic system, they might discover that they prefer a society in which the products are designed in a more in intelligent manner.


We should counteract peer pressure and embarrassment

If we take control of our economy, we can do what makes the most intellectual sense for society. For example, we can decide which, if any, status products to produce, and we can design products according to what will be the most beneficial to us, even if some people are embarrassed by them.

In case you wonder what I mean by people being embarrassed by a product, consider the issue of safety glasses. In a free enterprise system, businesses compete with one another to design safety glasses that appeal to consumers. If consumers would make wise decisions, then the businesses would compete to develop the most practical and comfortable safety glasses but, unfortunately, most consumers tend to follow their emotional cravings.

These type of safety glasses are only useful for objects that are coming directly at our eyes.
Since we have a strong craving to look attractive, we have a tendency to choose safety glasses according to how it will affect our visual appearance, rather than the comfort or function of the glasses. The end result is that businesses are under pressure to make safety glasses that consumers consider to be attractive, rather than glasses that provide the greatest eye protection and comfort. A common style of safety glasses is seen in the image to the right. Unfortunately, that style provides protection only for items that are flying towards the face.

Years ago I met a man who suffered a permanent eye injury because he was wearing that style of safety glasses. He was working in a factory, and he had his back to an employee who was on the other side of the room and using an industrial wire wheel to clean a metallic object. One of the wires came off the wheel, flew across the room, ricocheted against the inside of his safety glasses, and penetrated his eye. He did not go blind, but he suffered permanent eye damage as a result. In his particular case, the safety glasses caused an eye injury rather than protect him from injury.

Most of the people who need safety glasses need protection from all directions, but most people have a tendency to select safety glasses that resemble prescription glasses or sunglasses. If objects are coming from the side or behind the person, those type of glasses can make the situation worse by acting like a scoop that collects flying objects.

In a free enterprise system, consumers are allowed to decide for themselves if they want safety glasses, and if so, which style. Since people tend to follow their emotions, they worry about what other people will think about the glasses, so they have a tendency to select glasses according to their visual appearance rather than their function or comfort.

Most of the factory workers who need safety glasses should have protection from items coming from the side and the back, such as these 4 styles.
We need to design safety glasses according to their value to us, not according to what other people are going to think about us.
If we switch to an economic system in which the government makes decisions about products, then we don't have to be concerned about what consumers want or are embarrassed by. We don't have to appease the men who want to create the impression that they are strong, tough, and courageous. We can instead focus on what consumers truly benefit from.

Our government and business leaders would be able to analyze eye injuries and make intelligent decisions about which style of safety glasses has been providing the best protection, and which glasses are the most comfortable, and which jobs require protection from the side and the back. They might come to the conclusion that there is no sensible reason to produce safety glasses that provide protection only from the front.

They would also have no reason to produce "economical" safety glasses. In a free enterprise system, businesses can profit from producing inexpensive, low quality variations of products, but when the government is in control of the economy, there is no sense in putting labor and resources into a product that doesn't truly give us what we need.

With the government in control of the economy, the government would produce a variety of practical and comfortable safety goggles for different purposes. They would want the glasses to be visually appealing, but their primary goal would be function and comfort. We might be embarrassed to wear the safety glasses, but when everybody is forced to wear one of the same embarrassing styles, everybody becomes equal. There will be no peer pressure to wear "fashionable" safety glasses.


Businesses should appease government officials, not consumers

In a free enterprise system, the successful businessman does whatever consumers want with little or no regard for whether his products are practical, functional, reliable, or useful. When government officials make decisions about products, the businessmen would have to impress the government officials rather than the consumers.

Once again I will remind you that my suggestions are not as bizarre as they might seem. The concept of a small group of leaders making decisions about products for the entire organization has already been proven to work. For example, our military is following this type of economic system. When the military wants to purchase equipment or supplies, they do not let the soldiers make their own decisions about which products to purchase. Instead, a small group of military leaders makes decisions. Those military leaders even select clothing and food items for the soldiers.

When businesses want to sell products to the military, they must impress a small group of military leaders, not a large group of soldiers. The engineers do not design military products in an attempt to attract the attention of soldiers. Rather, they design products to appease a small group of military leaders. The military leaders do not want "economical" products, either; rather, they want products that are functional, easy to maintain, and easy to use.

The soldiers are denied the freedom to choose their own products and supplies, but they are not suffering from their lack of freedom. Actually, they benefit because if they had the freedom to choose their own products, they would often make stupid decisions, and they would also make decisions that are incompatible with the other soldiers.

As I write this document, January 2015, the problems with the F35 aircraft are frequently in the news, so I suppose some people will respond that the military has often made dumb purchasing decisions, and that there has been a lot of corruption with military contracts. Yes, the military has made bad decisions, but those problems do not prove that this system is invalid. Rather, those problems support the suggestions I have made in other documents.

For example, we should remove the secrecy that we are providing people in leadership positions so that we can see who is making decisions, and what their reasoning is. That will allow us to pass judgment on which of our leaders are making the worst decisions and should be replaced. We should also stop being so tolerant of criminal behavior among people in leadership positions.


Who is responsible for the problems with the F35?

In 2001, the US Military gave Lockheed a contract to produce the F35 aircraft. It was supposed to be operational by now, but there are some estimates that it will not be finished until 2019. The aircraft is also turning out to be significantly more expensive than original estimates. Some people also complain that even though it will have some advanced features, it will be inferior overall to existing military aircraft.
The F 35 can fly, but will it be useful?
The news articles that describe the problems with the F35 tend to imply that the military is to blame, but I would say that the military is the least guilty. I would say that the people who deserve most of the blame are the business that made promises that they cannot fulfill.

If you are confused by this issue, remember what I mentioned in previous documents; namely, when you are confused by world events, try to imagine the same event on a smaller scale, such as a family. A nation, business, and military is an organization of people, just like a family.

So, imagine that you and your family are living in a typical house in a typical neighborhood. Imagine that you read an article about solar power, and you decide to switch your house to solar power for both electricity and heating. However, assume that you are wealthy, and that you don't want an "ordinary" solar powered home. Instead, you ask for a much more advanced system. You contact a few different companies that offer solar power conversions, tell them what you want, and ask how much it would cost.

Are you to blame if a business fails to deliver on their promise to convert your home to solar electricity?
After analyzing their proposals, you decide to give the job to the Lockheed Solar Company. Unfortunately, when they are supposed to be finished with the job, they are only half finished, and they demand a lot more money to complete the job. Is it your fault that the company cannot deliver on their promises? Is it your fault for asking for something that is too technically advanced? Or should the business be blamed for agreeing to take on a project that they could not handle? Should the business be blamed for not having a good understanding of their abilities?

Or imagine that you hire a company to do some remodeling for your home, or you hire a gardener to do some yard work. If the business cannot deliver on their promises, are you to blame?

In a free enterprise system, businesses are in competition to sell products. They are not in competition to provide the most sensible products, or to provide the most sensible advice to customers. Businesses are rewarded only for selling products, and they are not penalized if they fail to deliver on their promises, or if consumers become disgusted with their products and toss them in the trash.

Because the emphasis in a free enterprise system is on sales, the advertising and marketing departments of a business are its most important divisions, and the people in those divisions tend to make more money than the engineers, assembly-line workers, and technicians.

When Lockheed hires engineers or technicians, they demand that those people have skills and know what they are doing, but when they hire salesmen, they don't care whether the salesmen have any understanding of the products they sell. Salesmen do not get much training, either. Not many companies even care if a salesman has a criminal history. People are given jobs in the sales, advertising, and marketing according to their ability to sell products, not according to their ability to give sensible advice to potential customers.

In a free enterprise system, a salesman is not rewarded for being honest or giving sensible advice to customers. He is rewarded only when he makes a sale. They are under pressure to sell items.

In a free enterprise system, there are no repercussions for a salesman who makes a promise that is difficult or impossible for the company to keep. Actually, the salesman is rewarded with a bonus, and if he promises something that is difficult to deliver, the executives simply put more pressure on the engineers and technicians to put more time and effort into completing the job. Instead of holding the salesman accountable for his incompetence and deception, the engineers and technicians must fix the problem.

Since a free enterprise system does not provide for supervision, there are no leaders to deal with the businesses executives and salesmen who cannot keep the promises they make. In a free enterprise system, consumers are solely responsible for ensuring that the businesses behave in a respectable manner. Consumers are supposed to drive the dishonest and incompetent businesses into bankruptcy.

During the Middle Ages, this philosophy worked very well because there were only a few businesses at that time, and the businesses were so small that the customers personally knew the business owners and employees. Also, the products were so technically simple that everybody could understand them. Even dumb people could understand a loaf of bread, a pair of shoes, and a fur coat. It was easy for people to pass judgment on which products were valuable, and which were worthless or shoddy. In that type of society, it is possible for consumers to drive incompetent businessmen to bankruptcy.

However, in modern society, it is absurd to expect consumers to pass judgment on thousands of giant businesses that they know nothing about, and thousands of technically advanced products. Furthermore, large businesses are likely to get government support when they are failing, so even if consumers tried to drive them to bankruptcy, the government would try to prevent the bankruptcy. The free enterprise system is not working properly today, and we should face this fact.


What lessons can we learn from the F35?

What should we change with our economic system to reduce the type of problems that we see with the F35 program? My suggestion, as I've mentioned in other documents, is to put the government in control of all business activity. This causes the businesses to become departments of the government, and the business executives become employees who work for society rather than for themselves or their stockholders. This allows us to determine who becomes a business leader, and it allows us to review their performance and replace those who are doing the worst job. This will allow us to hold business leaders accountable for their behavior.

If we were using that type of economic system right now, then we would be able to look through the documents and email messages of the Lockheed employees and determine which of the executives, salesmen, and engineers made the dumbest decisions about the F35 program, and then we would consider replacing those people.

It is difficult and time-consuming to analyze our leaders, but the rewards are tremendous. It would allow us to slowly identify and remove the more unrealistic and incompetent people from leadership positions, thereby leaving us with leaders who make impressive decisions.


Business leaders should be responsible for their behavior

The free enterprise system does not have any rules for people to follow. Citizens must follow the laws of their society, but the free enterprise system does not have any laws for the businessmen, salesmen, or consumers. A free enterprise system allows people to make money in any manner they can think of.

The free enterprise system also allows businesses to exaggerate and lie about their products, and it even allows citizens to lie about their job history or their education. People have to follow the laws of their society, but there are no economic laws for us to follow. The free enterprise system is economic anarchy.

The free enterprise system is based on the philosophy that the selfish nature of people will keep the system operating properly. For example, when a business produces low-quality products, consumers are supposed to react by driving the business to bankruptcy. This concept was valid during the Middle Ages, but not today. When a consumer today purchases a product that turns out to be low-quality, he is likely to toss it into the trash, and then purchase another low quality product, and then repeat the cycle. Therefore, rather than drive the businesses into bankruptcy, consumers inadvertently increase their sales and profit. Consumers make the problem worse, not better, when they behave in this manner.

Lockheed is failing miserably on the F35 project, but their failure will have no adverse effect on their business. The free enterprise system doesn't care that Lockheed is failing. The consumer - the military in this case - is supposed to deal with Lockheed, but what can the military do about it? They cannot drive Lockheed into bankruptcy, and even if they did, what good would that do? That will not stop businesses from exaggerating their abilities or trying to deceive customers.

Lockheed will continue to receive government contracts, and the salesmen and business executives who are responsible for exaggerating their capabilities and underestimating the complexity of the F35 project will continue to receive high salaries and bonuses, and they are likely to continue underestimating and exaggerating on future government projects. They will not be held accountable for what they have done. Nothing will be learned from this mistake, and nothing will improve.


We could say the military is partly to blame for the F35

There are different ways to look at life. For example, we could say that Lockheed is solely to blame for the F35 because they made promises that they could not deliver, but we could also say that the military is partly responsible because they did not take an active role in the project. The military didn't follow their standard procedures with the F35. According to this article, instead of providing detailed descriptions of what they want, and routinely reviewing the performance of Lockheed, they gave Lockheed tremendous freedom to conduct the program as they pleased.

If business executives and salesmen were truly the talented, honest, wonderful people that they claim to be, then consumers would never have to check up on what the businesses are doing. We could simply sign a contract, and then let the business do their job. They would complete the work on time, and as promised.

In reality, businessmen are humans, and humans are monkeys. The F35 is more proof that we are foolish to turn our backs on our business leaders and let them do as they please. Businessmen need supervision and performance reviews just as other employees do.

The military made a mistake with the F35 project by assuming that the Lockheed executives could be trusted to deliver on their promises. One of the lessons we should learn from the F35 project is, as I have repeatedly pointed out, that we should consider our leaders as employees who are doing a job. Business executives must be treated just like every other employee.

Unfortunately, all societies are still behaving like groups of monkeys in regards to leadership. Specifically, we allow men to fight with one another for positions of leadership, and we assume that whoever gets into a top leadership position is better than the rest of us and is worthy of our admiration.

It is unnatural for us to consider our leaders to be "ordinary" people who are doing a job. As with monkeys, our natural tendency is to be submissive around our leaders. We want to put our tail between our legs, worship them, pamper them with material wealth, protect them from harm, and make excuses for their bizarre and disgusting behavior.

We must push ourselves into considering our leaders to be employees who are doing a job. We must push ourselves into giving them performance reviews, and replacing the worst performing leaders.

When business leaders get caught committing crimes, we should not make their business pay a fine, or put them in jail for a few months. We should instead prohibit them from positions of leadership, and if they are extremely destructive, remove them from society.


Should we continue developing the F35 airplane?

According to some people, even if the F35 was working as it should, it will not have much value to a military. Some people claim that Boeing's version of the aircraft is better. Are those people correct?

Do we even need another fighter aircraft? Decades ago we were fooled into believing that our enemy was the Nazis, the Communists, the Russians, the Chinese, and the incredibly elusive Arab terrorists, but now that we realize that wars are being instigated by the Chosen People, we need to protect ourselves from the Jews, not the Russians or Chinese.

The F35 project is such a failure, and so expensive, that we ought to consider whether it would make more sense to abandon it and try to salvage the technology that has been developed so far. For example, the helmet that is being developed for the pilots might be an excellent method of controlling robots and drones. That technology might allow us to eliminate a lot of unpleasant and dangerous jobs by allowing people to control robots from the comfort of an air-conditioned office. Those helmets might also make it easier for us to use robots to explore or mine the sea floor, repair satellites, and observe wild animals.

Unfortunately, in a free enterprise system, when a project is very large, it may not be canceled for the same reason that it is nearly impossible to drive a large business to bankruptcy. Specifically, people are frightened of losing their jobs, and so many people will struggle to keep their job even if they realize it is worthless.

A rocket launch facility that nobody wants.
An example of this problem is the rocket launch facility that NASA began years ago in Mississippi. One of its purposes was to launch rockets that would send people back to the moon. That project was eventually canceled, perhaps because many people became fed up with NASA's lies about the moon landing.

However, Roger Wicker, a Republican congressman in Mississippi, led a group of congressmen to force NASA to continue building the facility even though it had no use. We could have put that labor and resources into a useful project, but instead we have a launch facility that may eventually be torn down for scrap metal.

Incidentally, it is important to note that Republicans are responsible for that particular waste of money. Republicans seem to spend more time than Democrats whining about projects that waste tax money, but a serious analysis of our government would show us that both political parties are corrupt and incompetent, and both of them do what they accuse the other of doing.

Many people will want to keep the F35 project in operation - even if it turns out to be of no value - simply because they want to continue making money from the project. I would describe this as a disgusting situation. Our free enterprise system is such a failure in this modern world that it is encouraging bad attitudes and abusive behavior.

A better economic system would reward people for doing something of value for society, including canceling a project that they work for, or figuring out how to make a job or project unnecessary. People who can find a way to eliminate their job should not be penalized with unemployment. Instead, they should be considered as valuable citizens who have the talent to find ways to increase the efficiency of society.


Why do journalists blame the military for the F35's problems?

Journalists who criticize the F35 project tend to imply that the problems are due to the military. For example, on the cover of the January 2015 issue of Atlantic magazine we find, "Why do the best soldiers in the world keep losing? The tragic decline of the American military."

I think the article is too vague and meaningless to be worth reading, but I mention it to point out that journalists tend to blame only the military for the problems with military projects.

I think it makes more sense to say that our free enterprise system and our government system is becoming increasingly inappropriate as our society becomes more advanced. It would make more sense for a magazine to write about, "The Tragic Decline of the Free Enterprise System", or "The Tragic Decline of the American Government".

Why do journalists so often blame the military for problems with military contracts? Are the journalists truly so stupid that they cannot see that Lockheed and other businesses play a major role in those problems? I don't think so. I think it is a deliberate attempt by the Chosen People to hurt the military.

As information about the 9/11 attack spreads around the world, Jews are becoming frightened that military personnel will eventually realize that Jews are responsible for the 9/11 attack, the World Wars, the attack on the USS Liberty, and many other crimes.

A few years ago I mentioned the peculiar relationship between Lady Gaga and Senator Harry Reid, who were working together to force the military to accept homosexuals. Are Gaga and Reid truly concerned about helping homosexuals or the military? I don't think so.

I think the Jews are becoming frightened of the military, and they want to get control of it, and if they cannot do that, they want to destroy it.


Why is there corruption with military contracts?

The human mind was not designed for this complex world. All of us occasionally have trouble controlling our cravings for food, material wealth, status, sex, or babies. A significant percentage has so much trouble controlling their cravings that they occasionally steal what they want. So, instead of blaming the military for corruption, we could say that corruption is the result of people who cannot control their cravings.

An interesting aspect of crime is that the first time a person commits a crime, we could say that it is due to his inability to control himself, but if he commits a second or third crime, we could say that it is because the majority of people have trouble controlling their emotions.

Specifically, the majority of people react to crimes by either ignoring them, or by trying to cure the criminal with punishments or Bible studies. This policy has a 100% failure rate, but most people cannot look critically at themselves or their policies. When a criminal commits a second or third crime, they blame the criminal rather than their legal system.

Since every society is reacting to crime in the same manner, we have no other society to compare ourselves with, so our policy seems "normal". Therefore, it might help you to understand this concept if you imagine a more extreme example.

Imagine that a stupid person has a pitbull for a pet, and one day the dog bites his arm and causes tremendous damage. He reacts by punishing the dog. A month later, the dog bites him again, and he reacts by punishing the dog. A month later the dog bites him again, and he reacts by punishing the dog. Imagine this goes on month after month, year after year. Who would you blame for all of the dog bites? Would you blame the dog on the grounds that the pitbull was bred for fighting, and is therefore a genetic freak rather than a "natural" dog species? Or would you blame the person for allowing the dog to bite him repeatedly?

You would probably describe a person as a retard, or an idiot, but what is the difference between a retard who is bit repeatedly by his pet pitbull, and a society that is repeatedly abused by criminals? What is the difference between a retard who thinks he can cure his pitbull with punishments and a society that thinks that jail has cured Jeffrey Epstein of his problems?

Every day there are crimes in every nation, and most of those crimes are committed by people who have already committed crimes in the past. Every time a crime is committed, we follow the same policy that has failed 100% of the time in the past. Why don't we describe people as "retards" for behaving in this idiotic manner? The reason is because the majority of people behave like this, and we don't want to describe the majority of people as retards.

During prehistoric times, the majority of people were capable of dealing with life, but our situation has changed dramatically. The majority of people today are analogous to fish who are flopping around in the mud of a pond that is slowly drying out.

Most people don't have the emotional and/or intellectual ability to deal with the problems of this modern era. They are as helpless as a retard. They do nothing about the network of Jews who instigate wars and abuse them, and they do nothing about traffic congestion, pollution, email spam, or telemarketers. They will not even make an attempt to stop the children from spraying the city with graffiti. When we let them vote, they select criminals, idiots, and con artists.

We are never going to improve our world if we continue to allow the majority of people to determine who our leaders are, and what our future will be. They might be "nice" people, but they cannot make sensible decisions in the modern world.

Most crimes are committed by people who have already committed one crime. Most of the graffiti is coming from people who have already sprayed graffiti at least once. Therefore, we could say that the majority of people are responsible for most crimes because of their refusal to experiment with more effective crime policies. Their irrational and idiotic behavior is allowing criminals to repeatedly hurt us.

We need to experiment with different policies for crime, but we are not going to be able to do any experiments as long as the majority of people are selecting our leaders for us. We must raise the standards for both voters and leaders.


Our culture encourages crime

Earlier I pointed out that the free enterprise system is encouraging bad behavior with children by titillating their emotions. Ideally, the leaders of society would encourage productive behavior and good attitudes. Our leaders should be setting a good example for us. Unfortunately, our leaders are doing the opposite.

Almost all of the people in a leadership position in our businesses, governments, schools, and other organizations are promoting the philosophy that money is the source of happiness. Since we have a natural attraction to material items, nobody puts up any resistance to this philosophy. It is natural for us to believe it.

We consider wealthy people to be happier than the rest of us, and we regard them as better people. We admire, pamper, and envy them. We encourage people to make as much money as possible. We teach children that the reason they should go to college is so that they can make lots of money and avoid "hard work".

Instead of setting a good example for us, our leaders encourage us to gather material items, avoid "hard" work, and be pampered by servants.

The reason this is a destructive philosophy is because humans have a natural craving for material wealth. When we encourage people to do something that they have a natural craving for, we encourage excessive behavior.

Ideally, our leaders would encourage us to get control of our emotional cravings and think about what would be best for us, but they are instead encouraging us to follow our emotional cravings and collect as much material wealth as possible. They are encouraging animal behavior, not sensible, human behavior.

Promoting the philosophy that money is a source of happiness is as idiotic as telling a group of obese people that donuts are the source of happiness, or telling men that sex is the source of happiness, or telling women that babies are the source of happiness, or telling children that candy is the source of happiness.

We admire wealthy people, and when we want to reward an athlete, employee, or scientist, we give them lots of money. This is encouraging people to crave money. It is as idiotic as a group of obese people who reward one another with giant boxes of donuts.

Why does every society promote the philosophy that material wealth will bring happiness? Why are people in leadership positions around the world struggling to become wealthy rather than setting a good example for us? Why are our leaders focusing on purchasing giant mansions for themselves rather than on developing a more pleasant city for us to live in?

Why do the majority of people go along with the philosophy that money is the source of happiness? Why don't they disregard it? Why do they admire the billionaires rather than consider them to be crude savages who have low self control?

I think the reason that we promote material wealth is the same reason that we make nudity illegal while promoting sexual titillation in advertisements and television. Specifically, we are doing what makes us feel good rather than thinking about what would be best for us.

A man's emotions are titillated by what we describe as "soft pornography", but our emotions are upset by waste products and public nudity. Therefore, when men follow their emotions, they will assume that nudity and waste products are "bad", but soft pornography is acceptable for the entire family.

Likewise, we are titillated by material wealth, and so we consider the gathering of material items to be a healthy activity for the entire family.

Animals do whatever pleases them, and they avoid whatever upsets them. Animals don't have to worry about doing what is best for them. They don't have to worry about doing something excessively, either.

Our primitive ancestors could also do whatever they pleased, and avoid whatever they disliked. They didn't have to worry about what was best for them, or whether they were doing something excessively. However, in this modern world, we must watch out for doing something excessively, such as eating too much of a particular food, or collecting absurd amounts of material items.

Another example of how we are foolish to follow our emotions is our attitude that children should go to college so that they can avoid "hard work". The reason we developed this philosophy is because we experience pain, exhaustion, and fatigue from physical activities, and since we do not like those emotional feelings, our natural reaction is to avoid experiencing them.

The wealthy people and welfare recipients who can take naps all day, every day, are not happier than the people who have to work.
In this modern world, humans need a better attitude. We should consider the physically demanding jobs to be "physically demanding", not as "hard" or "miserable". We are behaving like stupid animals when we promote the philosophy that the people who do physically demanding work are suffering, and that people who sit in an office or lounge on a tropical island are having a better life.

Whether you enjoy a job depends upon your physical and mental abilities, not on whether the job requires physical exertion. Some people enjoy physical activity. Some people consider being a farmer or construction worker to be more enjoyable than sitting at a desk all day.

Our philosophy that money is a source of happiness and that "hard" work is bad does not make a person to become a criminal, but it encourages us to focus more on money than we otherwise would, and it encourages us to look for ways to avoid physical exertion during both our personal life and at our job. This philosophy encourages bad attitudes and bad behavior, and that can lead to criminal activities.

This particular problem is not easy to solve. The unfortunate aspect of life in the 21st century is that the majority of humans have very little control over their emotional cravings. We are still very similar to monkeys.

If we create some new cities, we must restrict immigration to the people who have a greater than average interest in contributing something of value to society. We must avoid the people who want to spend their life lounging, retiring early, or being pampered.

I think we will further improve our situation by switching to an economic system in which there is no money, and all of the homes and other material items are provided for free. In that type of society, there will be no envy of wealthy people, and almost no incentive for anybody to cheat or steal. It also makes it impossible for people to receive inheritances or win lotteries.

By making all jobs virtually equal in regards to material wealth, we can almost eliminate a type of bribery that occurs with government contracts. Specifically, private businesses sometimes offer high-paying jobs to military personnel if they help them get a contract. This is a form of bribery, but instead of getting money for their crime, they get a job.

This form of bribery can be almost completely eliminated if we switch to an economic system in which the government helps people to find jobs, and all jobs provide virtually the same level of material wealth. There will be very little incentive for businesses to bribe government officials with jobs.


Lockheed is just one of many businesses making the F35

Another reason the military contracts suffer from problems is because large projects, such as the F35, cannot be completed by just one company. Lockheed depends upon hundreds of other companies around the world to provide them with components and services, and each of those companies depend upon other companies, and so on.

The F35 aircraft is being built by thousands of companies scattered around the world. Unfortunately, in a free enterprise system, there is no supervision of these businesses. Each business is an independent organization. All of the problems that I previously mentioned with Lockheed apply to each of them. For example:

• The Lockheed executives and salesmen exaggerate their capabilities in order to get a contract from the military, and the companies that Lockheed must purchase parts from will also exaggerate their capabilities in order to get a contract with Lockheed.
• The Lockheed executives have fantasies of mansions, yachts, and gold jewelry, and the executives they are doing business with also have such fantasies.
• Lockheed has problems with employees who don't care about their job and who are working only for money, or who have trouble controlling their cravings to cheat and steal, and other companies also suffer from employees with those attitudes.

When a businessman has to deal with other businessmen, he should imagine that he is looking in a mirror, seeing himself for what he really is, and making a deal with a person who is exactly like him; namely, a crude Neanderthal whose primary concern is status and material wealth.

He should assume that the other businessmen are just as selfish and greedy as he is.

How weight affects a bicycle
 
Our “common sense” is wrong
Everybody can understand the concept that the less a bicycle weighs, the less effort we need to ride the bicycle. However, knowing this fact is meaningless if we don't have an understanding of the magnitude of the issue. Exactly how much faster will we be able to ride with a 20 pound bicycle compared to a 40 pound bicycle? Some people strip their bicycle of fenders, kickstands, and other non-vital components in order to reduce weight by a few more pounds. Exactly how much faster will we be able to ride by removing a kickstand?

In the 1970s, Chester Kyle, a professor of engineering, decided to conduct an experiment with bicycles, and he discovered that air resistance has a larger effect on bicycles than he had expected. Prior to the 1984 Olympics, he and other people, such as Paul Van Valkenburgh, who is involved with racing automobiles, decided to conduct much more extensive experiments in order to get a better understanding of these issues, and to develop a faster bicycle for the American athletes.

The results of their experiments were surprising. For a specific example, a 20 pound bike is only a few tenths a mile per hour faster than a 40 pound bike under typical riding conditions on flat ground. Only an Olympic bicycle racer would care about such a tiny difference in speed, especially when you consider that the 20 pound bike is much more expensive and fragile. However, the difference in speed between one tire and another is up to several miles per hour, and air resistance has a much greater effect on speed.

Rather than announce their discoveries to the world, Kyle and Van Valkenburgh kept their knowledge a secret until after the 1984 Olympics. They decided to use their knowledge to secretly build a new type of race bicycle for the American athletes. Instead of designing a bicycle to be extremely low in weight, their primary priority was to reduce air resistance and rolling resistance.

They created bicycles, such as the one in the photo to the right, in which one or both wheels were supported by solid disks rather than spokes, and the tires were under a very high pressure. The wheels weighed more than standard, spoked wheels, but their lower air and rolling resistance more than compensated for extra weight.

Although the solid disk wheels attracted people's attention, their discovery that weight was not very significant to a bicycle did not have much of an effect on most consumers. I just checked the Wikipedia entry for bicycles, and as of January 2015, they still don't have much information about this subject. They acknowledged that air resistance is a factor in a bicycle, but they don't provide any useful details on the subject of weight, tires, or air resistance.

It has been 30 years since the discovery that weight doesn't have much of an effect on the speed of a bicycle, but people are still continuing to spend a lot of money on lightweight bicycles under the false assumption that the reduced weight will make their ride easier, or allow them to ride faster.

Three of the reasons why this information is not having an effect on the design of bicycles are:

1) Adults behave like trains on a track. Most people are terrified of making changes in their life, thinking new thoughts, or looking critically at themselves or their culture.

2) In a free enterprise system, businesses have no incentive to educate consumers or create sensible products. Instead, businesses struggle to appease consumers. In a free enterprise system, we will find lots of entrepreneurs competing to sell us whatever we want, even if it is dangerous, illegal, or worthless.

3) In a free enterprise system, nobody has to qualify to become a business owner or an executive. This allows people who are ignorant, misinformed, and technically incompetent to become business owners or executives, and they are allowed to produce products that are scientifically fraudulent. This problem is especially severe with health and weight loss products.

The only way the bicycle businesses will use the knowledge that Kyle and Van Valkenburgh discovered to design more sensible bicycles is if we allow the government to take control of the economy. This would allow us to restrict business leadership to people who truly have an understanding of what they are doing, and who have an interest in designing bicycles that will improve life for us rather than simply appeal to us.


Why do we assume weight is so significant to a bicycle?

I think the reason we assume weight is the most important issue in bicycling is because we cannot see air resistance or rolling resistance. As with animals, we tend to make judgments according to what we see, feel, taste, smell, and hear. Since air resistance and rolling resistance are invisible to us, we are oblivious to them.

Our senses are only aware of weight. When we pick a bicycle up off the ground, we notice that our muscles are straining, and the heavier the bicycle is, the more we strain. Our mind then assumes that the heavier bicycle will also be more strenuous to ride. However, lifting something against the force of gravity is not the same as rolling it on wheels.

Furthermore, the human mind does not have a good understanding of acceleration or deceleration. We notice that our muscles strain more when we accelerate a heavy bike, and we also notice that it takes longer for a heavy bicycle to slow down. However, we are oblivious to the concept that once an object is in motion, its weight is meaningless.

Most of the population rides a bicycle either for recreation, or to travel short distances to school, their friend's house, or their job. As I will show in this document, those people do not need to be concerned with the weight of a bicycle.

Another reason most people don't notice that weight is insignificant to a bicycle is because, in a free enterprise system, we must purchase bicycles, and the end result is that most people get experience with only one or two bicycles. We don't have the opportunity to experiment with lots of different bicycles.

If, instead, we were living in a city in which the bicycles were provided for free, then a person could try a particular bicycle for a month, and then try another bicycle for a month, and so on, and he would be more likely to notice that weight does not have much of an effect on his ride.


How weight affects a bicycle ride

Weight affects a bicycle in three ways:
1) Weight creates rolling resistance.
2) Weight slows down the rate we climb hills.
3) Weight slows down our acceleration.
Let's look at each of those issues.
1) Weight creates rolling resistance
Rolling resistance refers to all the forces impeding the rolling of a tire (but not including air resistance). When you sit on a bicycle, the weight of you and the bike presses the tires into the ground. This creates friction between the tires and the road, as well as internal friction inside the rubber of the tire as it deforms. Friction between the tire and road is necessary to provide traction, but friction consumes energy. The friction created inside the rubber of the tires also consumes energy.

The more weight pressing down on the tires, the greater the rolling resistance will be. Lightweight bikes are faster than heavy bikes because they do not create as much friction. But exactly how much faster will we be able to ride a 20 pound bike as compared to a 40 pound bike? And how much faster will we go when we remove our kickstand?

Table 1 shows the speeds reached on bikes of different weights. This table assumes that the rider is 160 pounds, is of average strength and not exerting himself, and is riding a common 10-speed sports bicycle in the nearly vertical posture that most people ride. This table also assumes the rider is on flat ground and there is no wind.

The table shows the speed of five bikes and the time it requires them to cover a mile. Each of the bikes is exactly the same except in weight from 60 pounds to zero. (The zero-pound bike is just to help you understand the effect of weight on a bike.)

Bike's weight (pounds) Speed (miles per hour) Time to travel each mile
60 12.36 4 min 51 secs
40 12.53 4 min 47 secs
30 12.62 4 min 45 secs
20 12.70 4 min 43 secs
zero 12.87 4 min 40 secs
Table 1. Speeds for common 10-speeds of different weights on flat land
 
As the table shows, a light weight bike is indeed faster than a heavy bike, but look closely at just how little. A 20 pound bike is only about 0.2 mph faster that a 40 pound bike. Looking in the third column shows that this translates into a savings of only four seconds per mile! If you are riding 5 miles to your job, you will save 20 seconds on each trip.

A difference of four seconds per mile may seem like a lot; you may think it justifies the extra cost and fragility of the 20 pound bike. You may be thinking, "Wow, saving 20 seconds every 5 miles is significant!" However, in the real world, you would never notice that you are saving 20 seconds.

Imagine conducting the following experiment. For 30 days you ride a 20 pound bicycle 5 miles to your job, and you keep track of the time it takes you to get to your job. (Assume that you won't take a day off during any of the weekends.) You would notice that your average riding time is around 1400 seconds, but your riding time would be very different each day. You would create a graph similar to that below.

 
If you were to then ride a 40 pound bicycle to work for 30 days, you would create a graph that is similar to the one below.
 
Can you see a difference between those two graphs? Those of you who enjoy doing math might assume that you could figure out which bike was lighter in weight by calculating the average time for each month, but that is not true. If there was more wind during one month, or if the rolling resistance was slightly higher during one month, you would be faster during the other month, even if you were riding the heavier bicycle during that month.

In the real world, your riding time will vary significantly as a result of different road conditions, wind, and air resistance. Nobody but an Olympic athlete would notice the minuscule saving in time of a lightweight bicycle.

Notice that Table 1 has an entry for a bicycle the weighs zero pounds. If you had a bicycle that weighed zero pounds, you would save only a few seconds per mile. Do you think you would notice the savings?

You may wonder how weight can have so little effect on bicycles. It is all due to a prehistoric invention: the wheel. It would require a noticeable amount of energy from you to carry a 40 pound bicycle, and it would require a lot of energy to drag it, and you must exert a bit of effort to accelerate it into motion, but once you have it in motion, you don't need much energy to keep it rolling on wheels.

Consider how easily a single locomotive can pull a long line of heavy boxcars. Or how easily a single human can push a stalled car out of the road. It would require several dozen people to carry or drag a car, but one man can push a car on its wheels. And if cars had large diameter, narrow, high pressure tires like bicycles, they would be even easier to push.

I compiled Table 2 to show you what sort of speed increase you can expect when you strip excess weight off your bike. As the table shows, the rumors about removing your kickstand are true; you will reach a higher speed if you remove your kickstand. But before you do so, look at the magnitude of the increase. Not many speedometers have the sensitivity necessary to detect such a tiny increase in speed.

Amount of weight
removed
Speed increase
(miles per hour)
Time saved
per mile
5 pounds 0.042 1 second
1 pound 0.0084 0.2 seconds
1 ounce 0.0005 0.012 seconds
Table 2. Speed increase for stripping weight off a bike on flat land
 
When I was in high school, I felt relieved of that burden when I removed my fenders and saved myself a few ounces of unnecessary weight. It felt good to toss them in the trash. I suppose that if my parents had known how insignificant weight was to a bicycle, they would have responded, "I spent all that money on a bicycle for you, and then you throw your fenders away just so you can ride 0.0084 miles per hour faster? Well, young man, you can now ride your lightweight bike 0.0084 mph faster to the city dump and get those fenders back!"

As a general rule for the typical rider on flat land, for each pound you remove from your bike you can expect to save about 0.2 seconds per mile. Therefore, if a child has to ride 2.5 miles to get to school, for a total of 5 miles each day, he will save one second every day for every pound he removes from his bicycle.

It might seem as if a society would benefit by providing everybody with lightweight bicycles because it would allow children to get to school a few seconds sooner, and it would allow adults who are commuting to work to get to their job a few seconds sooner. So, even though the savings is small, why not provide everybody with lightweight bicycles and allow everybody to save some time and energy?

This issue is similar to what I mentioned in a previous file in which I pointed out that a city benefits by making buildings tall, but there is a point at which they become so tall that they create more problems than benefits.

Lightweight bikes will indeed save us some time, but they require more labor to produce, and they are more fragile, require more maintenance, and have shorter lifetimes. Therefore, they save a few seconds during a bicycle ride, but they require a lot of extra hours to produce, maintain, and replace.

Nothing in life is simple. The issues of a modern society do not have yes or no answers. They are best visualized as a spectrum with a variety of possible solutions from one extreme to another.

If we switch to an economic system in which the government is providing material items for free, our government officials must make decisions about how much time and resources to put into each product. It is a complex decision. As we make bicycles lighter in weight, we increase the time we spent producing and maintaining them. There is a point at which the bicycles have become so light in weight that we are burdening ourselves rather than benefiting.

In a free enterprise system, businesses design bicycles to appeal to consumers, but if the government is in control of the economy, they need to analyze bicycles from the point of view of what will create the most pleasant life for us. Furthermore, if we do not have a peasant class, that means all of us have to contribute to the peasant labor, such as building and maintaining the bicycles. Do you want to spend hours on an assembly line in order to save yourself a few seconds per mile? I don't.

Ideally, we would provide ourselves with government and business leaders who have the intelligence and desire to analyze the benefits and disadvantages of products. They should make decisions about products that are better than what we could make on our own. We should be able to look to our government and business leaders for advice and guidance. If a leader cannot provide us with an intelligent analysis of the issue that he is responsible for, he should be replaced.


Students do not suffer by carrying books on their bicycle

Another way to look at Table 2 is to consider that if you load up a backpack or basket will five pounds of books or food, you will slow down by about 0.042 mph, assuming your air resistance has not also increased because of it. Children who ride their bicycles to school regularly carry books, food, and other items, but none of them notice that their speed is decreasing as a result of that extra weight. If it was true that a few pounds is a significant burden to a bicyclist, then students would slow down whenever they carried items to school.

Also, consider that many people carry water bottles on their bicycle. If weight was truly a significant burden, then they would notice that every time they filled their water bottle, their speed decreases. They would also notice that as they perspire, their speed increases because they are reducing their body weight.

It is also worth noting that stripping five pounds off a bike brings virtually the same tiny speed increase regardless of whether you take it off a 40 pound bike or a 20 pound bike. Your common sense might tell you that it is more significant to take 5 pounds off a 20 pound bike because 5 pounds is a larger percentage of 20 pounds, but the laws of physics do not follow common sense.

To see what I mean, look at the speed of the zero pound bike. Your common sense may have told you that a 20 pound bike will be twice as fast as one that weighs 40 pounds, and that a zero-pound bike will let you break the sound barrier. But a zero-pound bike is only a few seconds faster per mile than a 20 pound bike!

Every once in a while we hear about someone trying to make a bicycle out of carbon fibers, titanium, or reinforced plastics in order to provide the world with a bike that weighs only 15 pounds or so. Magazines give the impression that these bikes will revolutionize cycling. As we read such articles we daydream of riding down the street at 80 mph, and without straining! However, Table 2 shows that a 15 pound, carbon fiber bike will be only a tiny bit faster than a 40 pound, steel bike.

If weight has such a small effect on the speed of a bicycle, why do racers worry so much about it? The reason is simply because a race can be won or lost by hundredths of a second. As Table 2 shows, carrying around a few excess ounces will delay a rider by more than that. An Olympic racer has to worry about weight. A few ounces can make the difference between winning and losing an Olympic race.

The problem that occurs all over the world is that we see the athletes strip their bike of excess ounces and we assume - correctly! - that it is to increase their speed. But then we assume - incorrectly! - that what makes sense for an athlete will make sense for us, too. Unfortunately, it is rarely sensible for ordinary people to mimic the athletes. Athletes do a lot of things in sports events that would be meaningless or dangerous for us ordinary people. For example, many, if not most, bicycle racers shave their legs to reduce air resistance, and some of the hairy men also shave their arms or head. Some Olympic swimmers shave most of their body. The athletes need to worry about hundredths of a second, but the rest of us would be fools to shave our body on the grounds that it will allow us to swim faster and ride bicycles faster.


The faster you ride, the less important weight is

The situation is more complicated than what I have led you to believe. One of the surprising things about bikes is that weight becomes less significant as you ride faster. Your common sense probably told you that excess weight is the same burden no matter how fast you ride, or that weight is more of a burden at high speeds. However, the exact opposite is true: the faster a person rides his bicycle, the less important it is for his bike to be light in weight. The reason is because air resistance increases exponentially.

Table 3 shows what I mean. This table assumes an Olympic athlete is riding the same common 10-speed bike as in the previous tables. The only difference with this table is that, being a professional racer, he is very strong. He is therefore reaching typical racing speeds of about 25 to 30 mph. (On an indoor velodrome, they ride even faster than that.)

Bike's weight (pounds) Speed (miles per hour) Time to travel each mile
60 28.51 2 min 6.3 secs
40 28.59 2 min 5.9 secs
30 28.63 2 min 5.7 secs
20 28.67 2 min 5.6 secs
zero 28.75 2 min 5.2 secs
Table 3. Speeds for a race bike of different weights at typical racing speeds
 
As you can see, the difference between a 40 and a 20 pound bike is much smaller at racing speeds than it is at 12 mph. At racing speeds, a 20 pound race bike is only a few tenths of a second per mile faster than a 40 pound race bike! Compare that to the 4 seconds per mile difference when riding at 12 mph. The faster you ride, the less of a burden weight is, compared to the other burdens.


Consumers are exploited in a free enterprise system

Unfortunately, most consumers do not understand that weight is insignificant to the ordinary person, and so there is still a lot of pressure on bicycle companies to produce lightweight bicycles. Many people are still throwing their fenders and kickstands into the trash under the false assumption that they will save themselves some effort or riding time. Bicycle companies continue to boast about having lightweight bicycles.

Some bicycle stores have expensive components with so many holes punched into them that they look like metallic swiss cheese. Sometimes their weight in grams is proudly displayed by them. A person who is ignorant about the issue of weight will assume that these items must be sensible; that saving even a few grams is significant, but lightweight components are significant only to professional racers, not the common people.

In a free enterprise system, the people who rise to the top are those who excel at making profit, and there is no concern for how that profit is made. A businessman can be successful by selling products that are worthless, low-quality, unnecessary, painful, destructive, inefficient, and shoddy.

In a free enterprise system, a person can become successful in business simply by excelling at exploiting people. He can take advantage of our arrogance by praising us with such idiotic remarks as, "The Customer is King", "You're Number One!", and "The Customer Knows What's Best".

The free enterprise system encourages bad attitudes among both consumers and businessmen. It encourages consumers to become arrogant, selfish, and demanding, and it encourages businessmen to ignore society and do whatever makes money, regardless of the consequences.

If we were to switch to a more sensible economic system, then instead of designing bicycles to appeal to consumers, our leaders would analyze bicycles according to what would make the most sense for us. They would produce different styles of bicycles for different purposes and people, such as for recreation, commuting, elderly people, and children. They would observe which products people are comfortable with and enjoy, but they would not design products to appease consumers. They would instead try to provide consumers with guidance and advice. They would also observe the maintenance and recycling requirements of products, and they would take those issues into account when designing products.


Fenders and chain guards actually save time

Earlier I mentioned that the solid disk wheels on the 1984 Olympic racing bicycles weighed more than spoked wheels, but they allowed the bike to travel faster. Fenders and chain guards also add weight to a bicycle, but they can also save us time in the long run.

Imagine two cities are identical in all respects, except that in one of the cities the bicycles are stripped of fenders and chain guards, whereas the other city provides all of the bicycles with extensive fenders and chain guards. How would life differ for the people in those two cities? In the city in which the bicycles have been stripped of fenders and chain guards, the people save a few seconds during their commute, but they spend more time cleaning their clothing.

Young boys and many adults enjoy playing in the mud. They create the impression that only sissies and girls want fenders and chain guards.
When I was a teenager, most of the boys considered fenders and chain guards to be accessories for girls. Young boys enjoy playing in the mud. As we grow up, our interest in playing in the mud decreases, but many teenagers and adults continue to enjoy playing in the mud. Actually, there are so many adults who enjoy playing in the mud that many businesses have developed to provide "mudfests".

In nations where commuting by bicycle is common, such as Holland, the people have a more sensible attitude. Most of the commuting bicycles have both fenders and chain guards. However, I suggest we consider going even further and completely enclose the chain and sprockets. This requires altering the back wheel so that the driven sprocket is on the outside of the frame rather than the inside.

In the 1980s, I modified a bicycle to have this type of rear wheel, and it has been working fine for me. With this type of design, the chain and sprockets are completely enclosed in a protective plastic shell. Unless the bicycle is submerged in water, the chain and sprockets remain incredibly clean, which significantly reduces maintenance, and completely prevents oil from getting on your hands or clothing. It also allows the rear wheel to be removed without removing the chain or sprockets. (I put some photos of it at this page.)

However, enclosing the chain and sprockets requires either a one speed bicycle, or a different style of transmission. I designed a transmission to fit this design, although I discovered it has a slight problem that needs to be solved before it would be accepted by most people.

From the point of view of a society, the advantage of completely enclosing the chain is that it significantly reduces cleaning and maintenance of both the bicycle and the people's clothing.


Excess weight is more burdensome in off-road riding

Although weight is not very insignificant on flat asphalt or concrete, it is more of a burden on dirt or grass. When you take a bike off-road the friction at your tires will increase by 50%, 100%, or more. That means that each pound of excess weight becomes 50%, 100%, or more burdensome.

At one extreme you could be riding over a hard, smooth dirt path, in which case your rolling resistance will be only a few percent higher than on asphalt, which in turn means that the figures in Tables 1 and 2 will be near the actual values. At the other extreme you could be riding over a soggy grass field, in which case friction will be many times what it is on asphalt. Each excess pound will then be many times as burdensome as the figures shown in Table 2.

Usually an off-road rider will find himself in between the extremes. He will find that for every excess pound he strips off his bike, he will speed up by 1.1 to 2 times the figures in Table 2. But even when tripled those figures do not amount to much of an increase. Even off-road riders should seriously ask themselves whether the expense and fragility of a lightweight bike is worth the tiny increase in speed. The only off-road riders who would actually benefit from a lightweight bike are athletes who race the bicycles.


2) Weight slows down the rate we climb hills.

Although weight is of little importance on flat land, the situation changes radically when climbing hills. When you climb a hill you must overcome gravity, and that is a lot more difficult than overcoming friction.

Hills come in various slopes. A grade of 1% is such a gentle slope that you would hardly notice it, and a grade of 20% is so steep that only a few mountainous areas have them. Highways in America are designed to have a grade less of than 6%. The steepest street in the world is Baldwin Street in New Zealand with a grade of about 35%.

It is fairly easy to climb a gentle hill with a grade below 4%, but when the grade goes above 10% we will struggle. Table 4 shows how much we struggle, and how much easier it would be on a lightweight bike.

Bike's weight
(pounds)
Speed up hill
(miles per hour)
time to reach top
of a 100 foot hill
excess weight
equivalent (pounds)
60 3.08 3 min 42 secs 4,900
40 3.39 3 min 22 secs 4,400
30 3.56 3 min 12 secs 4,200
20 3.75 3 min 3 secs 4,000
zero 4.21 2 min 43 secs 3,600
Table 4. Speed up a 10% grade on a common 10-speed
 
This table assumes the same conditions as in Tables 1 and 2; namely, that the rider is a 160 pound person of typical strength and is riding a typical 10-speed in the typical upright position. However, in this table the rider is assumed to be exerting himself and producing twice as much power as he did in previous tables. (Fortunately, human bodies can produce up to five times their normal power levels for short periods.)

As the table shows, your speed drops to a bit over three miles per hour even though you are producing twice as much power. (If you were producing the same amount of power your speed would be about half those figures.)

A 20 pound bike is almost 0.4 mph faster up the hill than a 40 pound bike. Although that is not much of an increase, it is an increase of about 10% when traveling at such a slow speed. That means a 20 pound bike is about 10% faster up a hill than a 40 pound bike (under the conditions I am assuming for the table). That may interest some people in hilly areas.

The third column shows how long it would take you to climb to the top of a 100 foot hill. A twenty pound bike would get you to the top about 20 seconds sooner than a 40 pound bike. Savings 20 seconds out of a three minute ride is not much, but those are 20 seconds of struggling and straining.

The fourth column shows how much excess weight you would have to carry on your bike on flat land to equal the effect of the hill. For example, as the row for the 40 pound bike shows, when climbing the hill with a 40 pound bike your speed would drop to 3.39 mph. The fourth column shows that on flat land you would have to carry 4,400 pounds of excess weight in order to be slowed down to the same extent. This shows just how different hills are compared to flat land. Hills put a tremendous burden on a rider.

Table 5 shows how much faster you can expect to climb the hill when you strip excess weight off your bike. The speed increases are tiny, but -- as a percentage -- they are ten times greater than those in Table 2. Therefore, we could say that excess weight is ten times as much of a burden when climbing a 10% grade.

Amount of weight
removed
Speed increase
(miles per hour)
Time saved per
100 foot hill
5 pounds 0.2 5 second
1 pound 0.04 1 seconds
1 ounce 0.003 0.06 seconds
Table 5. Speed increase up a 10% grade for a common 10-speed
 
Since a twenty pound bike is about 10% faster up a 10% grade than a forty pound bike, the lightweight bike enthusiasts may feel that they now have good reason to buy a lightweight bike and throw their fenders in the trash. However, try to control your emotions and be serious about this issue. Most people ride bicycles in a relatively flat area. We rarely do any significant hill climbing. Climbing a highway overpass or riding up a steep driveway is not climbing a steep hill; it is merely riding over a "bump" in the road.

It is so difficult to climb hills that most people avoid them. A lightweight bicycle might save you a few seconds every time you encounter an overpass, but that is not significant unless you are an athlete in a bicycle race. Most people don't need to worry about hills.

Furthermore, most of the people who choose to ride up a steep hill are doing so because they want the challenge or the exercise, and in such a case, they are foolish to worry about a few extra pounds on their bicycle. For those people to worry about the weight of the bicycle reminds me of the joke in which a drunk gets into a taxicab and asks to be driven around the city park a dozen times, and the sixth time around the drunk tells the driver, "Could you go a little faster, buddy? I'm in a hurry!"

The people who are riding bicycles for exercise should stop worrying about weight and enjoy the exercise. You should not exercise with the attitude that you are suffering, and that you must find the easiest way to do it. You should change your attitude so that you enjoy what you do.

It's also important to note that motorcycles, automobiles, and trucks also have trouble climbing hills. Climbing a hill is extremely difficult, and even trucks with hundreds of horsepower slow down when climbing hills. You must accept the fact that hills are difficult to climb no matter what type of bicycle you have. Accept it rather than become angry at your bicycle.
 


Your body is the biggest burden on you

As you can see by Table 4, even if you have a zero-pound bike, you would still struggle to get up the hill. The reason is because even with a weightless bike you still have a lot of weight to push up the hill; namely, your body! And since your body is many times the weight of the bike, your body is the biggest burden on you.

This is also true for off-road riders. The reason it is so difficult to ride a bike in dirt is mostly because of your body. Off-road riding would be difficult even with a zero-pound bike.


Light weight bikes are less important to heavy people

To make the issue of weight even more confusing, the heavier you are, the less you need to worry about the weight of your bicycle. Your common sense may tell you that obese people would benefit more than skinny people from lightweight bicycles, but the opposite is true.

In the previous tables I assumed the rider was 160 pounds. With a 40 pound bicycle, his total weight is 200 pounds. If such a person can strip 20 pounds off his bike, he saves 10% of the total weight, thereby allowing him to climb hills about 10% faster. If, however, he weighs 290 pounds, his total weight is 330 pounds. Stripping 20 pounds off his bike in that case saves him only 6%, so he could expect to climb only about 6% faster. He has so much fat to push up the hill that the weight of the bike is much less significant. Conversely, skinny people will notice more of an increase in speed from lightweight bikes. This is true whether riding up hills or on flat land.


3) Weight slows down our acceleration

When you first start pedaling, your energy is used to put the bicycle into motion. The heavier the bicycle is, the more energy you have to produce to get it to move and the longer it will take you to get it up to its cruising speed. You can easily see this with cars. When trying to push a stalled car out of the road, you have to exert yourself for a considerable period of time to get the car moving.

If a bicycle weighed 3000 pounds it would also be difficult to accelerate. You would struggle on the pedals for a couple minutes just to get the bike up to a few miles per hour.

The opposite of this is also true; heavy bikes are more difficult to decelerate. A 3000 pound bicycle, for example, would crush a Volkswagen and knock down several telephone poles before coming to a stop.

It is slightly easier to accelerate a lightweight bicycle, but how much time will you save with a lightweight bicycle? Assume you are stopped at a traffic light; exactly how much time in seconds will you save during the acceleration if you strip 20 pounds off your bike?

The answer is about one second or less, depending on whether you exert yourself during the acceleration. Accelerating 20 pounds to 12 miles per hour is very easy. It requires us to expend only about 0.035 of a calorie (dietary calories). Anyone who has looked at the calorie content of foods knows that 0.035 calorie is a minuscule amount of energy. A single large olive has 200 times as much energy. It is hard to believe that anyone is sensitive enough to feel such a small burden.

However, an interesting thing about acceleration is that in the real world you would discover that there is no formula that can predict your actual acceleration time. The reason is that your acceleration time is affected by your gearing system and your ability to use it. To accelerate quickly and efficiently, you need to start in a very low gear, and then increase to larger gears as you accelerate, just as truck drivers do. Trucks are designed with a lot of gears in order to make them more efficient.

Tests conducted with people on bikes show that our leg muscles are most efficient when we pedal at 50 to 60 rpm. At lower or higher pedaling rates our muscles waste energy.

When most people accelerate from a stop, they stand up on their bike and struggle at a very low pedaling rate. They waste a lot of their energy, and cause a tremendous strain on their leg muscles. If a person is truly concerned about saving time and energy, then they should get off their bicycle at stop lights, and when the light turns green, they should push the bike forward to get it moving, and then they should jump on it, and then they should start pedaling while in a low gear, and increase to higher gears as they increase their speed.

One of the reasons why climbing hills is so brutal is that people remain in a relatively high gear, and they stand up and struggle with very low pedaling rates. Their legs waste energy, which turns into heat. If, instead, they were to shift down to a lower gear and increase their pedaling rate, they would get to the top with a bit less effort. Or, if they are truly concerned about efficiency, they should get off their bicycle and push it up the hill.

What all this means is that most people should not be concerned about accelerating excess weight on a bicycle simply because most people accelerate in such an inefficient manner that they waste more energy during their inefficient accelerations than they could possibly save with a lightweight bicycle.


What about accelerating excess weight on a rotating part?

A rumor I heard in high school is that when excess weight is on rotating part, such as a wheel, it is twice as burdensome during acceleration than excess weight on a non-rotating part, such as the frame. I was told that I needed lightweight aluminum wheels. I was also told that lightweight wheels give the bike a "livelier" feel. Heavy, steel wheels were said to make the bike sluggish.

Are those rumors true? After a few quick calculations everyone agrees that they can indeed be considered true. Excess weight is indeed twice as burdensome when accelerating compared to excess weight on a non-rotating part.

However, be careful! To know that excess weight on a wheel is "twice as burdensome" without knowing the magnitude of the burden is to know nothing. And that magnitude is very small. The difference in weight between one wheel and another is only ounces or pounds. Because those ounces are on a rotating part they are equal to twice as many ounces.

For example, if you were to add 5 ounces of weights to one of your wheels, when you accelerate your bicycle those 5 ounces will be just as much of a burden as if you had added 10 ounces to the frame. However, as the previous tables show, even a few pounds is an insignificant burden to a bicycle. Furthermore, once the wheel is turning, the burden of accelerating it is finished. Only athletes need to be concerned about the burden of accelerating excess weight on the rotating parts.


A flat tire wastes a lot of time

Using heavy, thick tires and inner tubes will reduce flat tires. Unfortunately, some people are afraid to use such tires because of their weight. They save themselves a few seconds per mile with lightweight tires, but if they get a flat tire, they will waste more time with that flat tire than they saved with the lightweight tires.

To a commuter or a recreational rider, a flat tire is a very serious inconvenience and a tremendous waste of time. Therefore, bicycles designed for commuting and recreation should have puncture-resistant tires as one of the main priorities. Weight should be sacrificed in order to reduce the chances of flat tires.


Aluminum wheels or steel wheels?

Because most consumers assume that weight is the most important aspect of a bicycle, bicycle companies offer wheels made of aluminum. By now you should realize that the savings in weight is insignificant to recreational riders and commuters. Furthermore, the aluminum wheels are more fragile than steel wheels, so they are more easily bent, dented, and twisted.

If the bicycle has the typical inexpensive braking system in which rubber pads are squeezed against the rim, the aluminum wheels are slowly abraded by dirt particles that are caught in the rubber pads. One of the authors of the book Bicycling Science mentioned that two of his aluminum wheels ruptured after they had abraded to the point at which they were too weak to hold back the pressure in the tires.

Not many people do so much riding that they have to worry about their wheels rupturing, but if we were to switch to a society in which the material items are provided to us for free, then the bicycles would be shared among the people, and that means that they would be put through a lot of use. In that case, it would be best to provide the bicycles with stronger, more reliable steel wheels, and heavier, puncture-resistant tires.

One of the reason some people justify using aluminum wheels is that aluminum provides better braking action when wet, assuming that the bicycle has the style of brake in which a rubber pad is squeezed against the wheel rim. However, in a society in which material items are provided for free, it might be best to provide the commuter bicycles with disc brakes.


Lightweight bikes are much faster during test rides

Many people who test ride bicycles notice that lightweight bikes seem noticeably faster than heavy bikes. There are two primary reasons for this:

1) As I mentioned earlier, the faster you ride a bicycle, the less significant weight becomes. The opposite is also true. The slower you ride, the more significant weight becomes. Most people test ride a bicycle at very slow speeds. They tend to ride around the retail store, and they tend to do a lot of accelerations, decelerations, and sharp corners. The slower you ride, the more significant weight becomes, and the more you accelerate and decelerate, the more you notice the difference in weight between bicycles. You should test ride a bicycle under the actual conditions that you plan to use it.

2) Lightweight bikes are designed with higher quality components, and their parts are adjusted more accurately. Lightweight bikes are expensive, so the manufacturers assume that the only people who will buy one will also want higher quality. By comparison, the bicycles that are designed to be inexpensive are heavy in order to keep the price down, and they also have lower quality components and less quality control. I have seen one inexpensive bike in which the balls in the crankshaft bearing were of two different sizes! Somebody at the factory must have been goofing off.

The bearings in the pedals are often extremely low quality because most consumers are oblivious to the quality of the pedals. The low quality pedals gives the bicycle a harsher, noisier ride, but a person is likely to assume that the crummy ride is due to the high weight.

I have seen an inexpensive bicycle in which the front and back wheels were so far out of alignment that I could see the difference with my eye, and the bicycle had a strong tendency to pull to one side. When the wheels are not turning in the same plane they waste energy and tire tread, but most people assume the lousy ride is due to the heavy weight.

The higher quality of the lightweight bicycles result in them being slightly more efficient, quieter, and smoother compared to the heavy bikes. The smooth and quiet ride can create the illusion that the bicycle is easier to ride. The bike seems to glide along effortlessly. This illusion can also be seen in cars. When driving an inexpensive car down the highway, there will be a lot of vibration and noise, creating the impression that the car is struggling, but a high-quality car is so quiet and smooth that it doesn't seem to be struggling at all.

If we switch to an economic system in which material items are provided for free, we don't need to produce any low-quality products. Therefore, we could produce high quality 40 pound bicycles that have precision bearings, puncture-resistant tires, disc brakes, and other high quality components. These bicycles would be strong versions of the lightweight bicycles rather than inferior, low-quality versions. These bicycles would be heavy, but they would be efficient, safe, quiet, reliable, smooth, and pleasant.


Weight Summarized

If you want a lightweight bicycle on the grounds that they are easier to ride up a hill, ask yourself why you want to ride the bicycle in the first place. If the strain of climbing a hill bothers you, why don't you drive your car or take a bus? Saving a few pounds is not going to make the hill much easier to climb. If, like most adults, you ride a bike for exercise you have the wrong attitude if you also want a lightweight bike. If all you want exercise, you should meet each hill with enthusiasm. Consider each hill as another opportunity to give your body a workout.

Riding a bicycle for exercise and then going to every possible extreme to make the ride as effortless as possible is like making a decision to go to school to learn a skill and then going to every possible extreme to take the easiest courses and do the least amount of work. What will you learn, and how much fun will it be?

Likewise, it is not good to whine about the burden of a few pounds and daydream of carbon fiber bikes. Your bike is not your enemy; you are making it into one. You should try to develop a more cheerful and sensible attitude. Learn to enjoy your bicycle, and it will become easier to ride. People who worry about weight are making themselves miserable.

When I was growing up, a song that became popular for a while was called "He ain't heavy, he's my brother". Bicycle riders need a similar song: "It ain't heavy, it's my bicycle."

Most of what I heard about bikes as I was growing up, and most of the advertisements about bikes, criticize heavy bikes and glorify the lightweight ones. Bicycle magazines do this also since most of the subscribers to bicycle magazines are racers or bike enthusiasts, all of whom prefer lightweight bikes.

Books are not necessarily any better. The author of one book, for example, tells readers that one of the best things she did was to replace her heavy, steel cranks with lightweight aluminum ones. That is ridiculous. She couldn't have saved herself more than a couple of pounds, and that would translate into a savings of a fraction of a second per mile on flat land. Even when climbing hills her speed would have increased by only a few hundredths of a mile per hour. She could not possibly have been so sensitive as to feel such a tiny difference. It was merely a psychological effect, just as I experienced when I removed my fenders during high school.

The author of another book made an even more ridiculous comment. He claimed that the weight (and air resistance) of a kickstand makes long distance riding "impractical." But let's be serious. If that were true then consider women with sizable breasts. A large breast weighs a couple pounds or more, and if a woman has two of them (as is typically the case) she will be carrying around many pounds of excess weight. She will waste about a second per mile carrying them around on flat land, and she will waste several minutes pushing them up hills. But so what? Is it really impractical for women to take long rides on a bicycle?

Besides, once she gets to the top of a hill, her breasts become valuable reservoirs of potential energy; they will help to pull her down the other side. Which brings me to an interesting point: climbing hills is brutal, but once you get to the top you get back some of your energy when you come down the other side . . . unless you pedal down the hill!

The people who worry about wasting energy on heavy bicycles may as well worry about wasting energy when they pedal down a hill. If a person is truly concerned about saving his energy, then he should let gravity pull him down the hill. He should never pedal down a hill.

Most people are getting carried away worrying about the weight of their bike. The only people who actually need to be concerned about it are racers. If you have a 40 pound bike with a kickstand, you should remind yourself that it is practical for you to ride your bike, even on long trips.

How tires affects a bicycle
 
There are lots of different tires. Some are small, others large; some wide, others narrow; some high pressure, others low. And they all have different tread patterns and sidewalls. What is the difference between them?

Wide, low pressure tires are more comfortable because they do a better job of absorbing shocks from the road, but narrow, high pressure tires have a lower rolling resistance. When selecting bicycle tires, we have to compromise between comfort and rolling resistance.

How much less efficient are the wide tires? How much less efficient are small diameter tires compared to large diameter tires? How does the tread pattern affect the rolling resistance of the tire? In order to answer such questions, Chester Kyle and Paul Van Valkenburgh conducted hundreds of experiments on dozens of tires to determine which tires were the fastest. They tested various brands of tires at various inflation pressures and on various road surfaces.

I took their data and used it to calculate the speed reached by a typical person on a typical 10-speed bicycle. The results are in the following table. Kyle and Van Valkenburgh did not identify the brands, but it doesn't matter because tires are always changing. Besides, the table is only to show you the significance of tires, and the differences between them.

Tire Speed
(miles per hour)
Time to travel
a mile
excess weight
equivalent (pounds)

High pressure clinchers (tested at 100 psi)
Brand A 11.6 5 min 10 secs 440
Brand B 13.1 4 min 36 secs 82

Road racing sew-ups (tested at 100 psi)
Brand C 13.2 4 min 33 secs 55
Brand D 12.3 4 min 52 secs 260

Track racing sew-up (tested at 100 psi)
Brand E 13.4 4 min 28 secs -reference-

All-terrain tires (tested at 40 psi)
Brand F 12.2 4 min 55 secs 290
Brand G 11.9 5 min 1 secs 350

Miscellaneous tires
BMX 9.2 6 min 31 secs 1,070
ordinary 10-speed
tires, 75 psi
12.5 4 min 47 secs 210
under inflated
10-speed tires
10 to 12 up to 6 minutes up to 700
100% efficient 14.2 4 min 13 secs *n/a*

Table 6. Speeds of a 10-speed with different tires on flat land
 

Table 6 assumes the same conditions as the previous tables. All the bikes are common, 40 pound 10-speeds, but they each have different tires. Note: these tests were conducted in the 1980s, and the situation might be different today.

The first two tires in the list are high pressure clinchers. These are designed for racing. As the mile per hour figures in the second columns show, there is a big difference between these two brands. With Brand A tires on your bike you will go 11.6 mph, but switching to Brand B will increase your speed to 13.1 mph! That is an enormous difference in speed, at least when you consider that the difference between light and heavy bikes is only a few tenths of mile per hour.

Column 3 shows that Brand B tires would save you about 34 seconds per mile. Compare that to the 4 seconds per mile saved when a 40 lb bike is reduced to 20 pounds. As you can clearly see, tires have much more of an influence over the speed of a bike than does weight. And in this case the tires were the same type but of different brands.

The fourth column compares all tires to the fastest tire of all (Brand E). As the entry for his tire shows, if you put these tires on your bike you would travel at 13.4 mph. If you then switch to Brand B tires you will slow down to 13.1 mph, just as if you had loaded the bicycle with 82 pounds of weights. In that sense Brand B tires are equivalent to 82 pounds of excess weight.

And Brand A tires are even worse. Putting them on a bike is like loading the bicycle with about 440 pounds. That is a lot of excess weight, and it makes the weight of a kickstand seem insignificant.

Why do Brand A tires have so much rolling resistance? Kyle and Van Valkenburgh speculate that it is due to its tread pattern. Specifically, that brand of tire had a center ridge of soft rubber. That center ridge provides more traction, which is great if you want more traction, but you cannot get traction for free. Traction requires friction, and friction requires energy. Traction and speed are opposite qualities; you can't have both. The fastest tires have the least traction. Train wheels, for example, are extremely efficient, but they have so little traction that trains cannot climb even moderate hills.

The next two tires in the list, Brands C and D, are sew-ups design for road racing. Brand C is the fastest of the two, but it is only slightly faster than the Brand A clincher. Brand D is so much slower that is almost as slow as Brand F, the 2.25" wide, low pressure, all-terrain tire. Sew-ups have the reputation for being the fastest of street tires but, according to the experiments conducted by Kyle and Van Valkenburgh, only the most expensive silk and Kelvar sew-ups lived up to their reputation. In the hundreds of tests they conducted they found that, as a general rule, an ordinary sew-up is slower than a high pressure clincher.

Sew-ups are expensive, more apt to get punctures, and very time consuming and annoying to repair once punctured. Furthermore, if a sew-up tire isn't mounted on the rim properly, its rolling resistance will climb still higher. Sew-up tires are useful only for bicycle races, not commuting or recreation. They are not affordable, convenient, or durable.

The problem tire manufactures face is that many non-racers want sew-ups because Olympic racers have them, but to make a sew-up that is affordable to the general public and durable enough to handle city streets requires modifying the tire. So they modify the tire to make it less expensive and stronger, but after it is modified for city streets, is it still a racing tire? No. It is an inferior imitation. The end result is a tire with all the inconveniences of a sew-up but none of the advantages.

By the way, looking in column 3 shows how much excess weight each sew-up is equal to. Brand D, for example, is equivalent to 260 pounds. One of the reasons people buy sew-ups is because a sew-up and its rim is many ounces lighter than a clincher and its rim. But the high pressure clinchers generally have a lower equivalent weight! Therefore, a bicycle with high pressure clinchers will be faster than a bicycle with ordinary sew-ups for the simple reason that it is better to have the lower rolling resistance than it is to save a few pounds.

The next tire in the list, Brand E, is the track racing sew-up. This is the fastest tire of all. It is an extremely efficient tire, but it is designed only for racing on smooth tracks in stadiums. These are the tires that gave sew-ups the reputation for being the fastest of tires. However, these tires are very delicate, and if taken out into the world of broken bottles, sharp rocks, and thorns, they would quickly go flat. They have no value to anybody but an athlete who races on a track.

Moving on to the all-terrain tires, Brand F and G, we find that these tires have about the same rolling resistance as the worst sew-up. All-terrain tires are designed for both road and dirt. They are not "mountain bike" tires, however. Mountain bike tires are knobby, whereas all-terrain tires have a rough tread on the sidewalls for good traction in dirt, and a relatively smooth strip of tread running down the center of the tire to provide low rolling resistance on asphalt. Mountain bike tires are slower than all-terrain tires. However, since Kyle and Van Valkenburgh were interested only in street racing, they did not conduct many experiments with mountain bikes.

Wide tires make bicycles considerably more enjoyable because of their shock absorbing qualities. If you want maximum comfort in a bike you will want wide tires. A further advantage with these tires is that they have a thicker tread, thereby making them slightly more resistant to punctures. The drawback with these tires is that they will slow you down by a mile per hour or more compared to high pressure, narrow tires. As the last column shows, wide tires will slow you down as much as if you loaded up your bike with a few hundred pounds of weights. And the knobbier the tire is, the smaller its diameter, and the lower the inflation pressure, the slower it will be.

Next in the table is an entry for a BMX tire. This type of tire is slow for four reasons: 1) it is knobby, 2) it is of small diameter, 3) it has low pressure (30-40 psi), and 4) it is wide (2 or more inches). Looking in the third column shows that putting BMX tires on your bike will slow you down just as much as if you loaded up with 1,070 pounds of weights compared to the track racing sew-up. BMX tires are a big burden on a rider.

For children, the BMX tires are an excellent choice because those tires provide them with tremendous traction, which makes the bike less susceptible to falling over when turning sharp corners, and they allow the bike to come to a stop much quicker. They are also durable. These tires will slow the children down, but we don't need children riding bicycles at high speed.

Next in the table we come to an entry for a "typical" 27 x 1.25 inch tire found on the common 10-speed. Almost everyone in America with a 10-speed sports bike has this type of tire. These tires have inflation pressures of about 75 psi. The particular brand that was tested was in between brands A and B, and in between brands C and D. This shows that the "ordinary" tires can be just as fast as the expensive tires.

Next we come to an entry for under inflated 27 x 1.25 inch tires. As the inflation pressure in a tire drops, the rolling resistance goes up, and that in turn wastes the rider's energy. The exact speed you will reach on under inflated tires will depend, of course, on how low the pressure goes and what tire you have, but even if the pressure drops only ten or twenty psi it is like carrying around a lot of excess weight. Under inflated tires are a big burden on a rider. In fact, a 60 lb bike with fully inflated, high pressure tires will be faster than a 20 lb, carbon fiber bike with under inflated tires!

I included this entry to point out that when your air pressure drops, so does your riding speed. However, some recent experiments conducted by Bicycle Quarterly magazine showed that at above a certain level of pressure, there is no increase in speed, but the bicycle becomes more uncomfortable. They explain how to find the optimum pressure in their PDF file here.

When tires are under inflated, the person will waste a small amount of his energy and ride a bit slower than he otherwise would. He is essentially riding around with up to several hundred pounds of excess weight! Ironically, most people are more concerned about the burden of a kickstand! It is more important to maintain proper tire inflation pressures than to worry about a few pounds on a bicycle.

The last entry in the table is the speed for a bike with magic tires that do not have any rolling resistance. As you can see, a bicycle with no rolling resistance is faster than a bicycle that weighs zero pounds.

Table 6 should help you understand that the tires are more significant than weight. The type and brand of tire you put on your bike, and how often you inflate your tires, can make a difference of many miles per hour, as well as affect the comfort of the ride and the likelyhood of punctures.

I previously mentioned that if you were to time yourself as you commute to your job, you would find that your trips vary so much in time that you would never notice that a lightweight bike was saving 20 seconds per trip. Every time you ride your bike, the inflation pressure in your tires will be at a slightly different value, and the road conditions will also be slightly different. Some days the roads might be damp, and other days they will be more dusty, and on some days you will spend more time on the smoother sections of the road. The variations in rolling resistance from one day to the next will have more of an effect on your bicycle ride than the weight of your bicycle.

By the way, as to whether gum wall tires are better than skin walls or other types of walls, the experiments of Kyle and Van Valkenburgh showed that there is no clearly superior type of wall, although gum walls seemed slightly faster as a group. The difference is so insignificant that only athletes would be concerned.


Tires dominate a bicycle at slow speeds

I previously mentioned that one of the reasons a 20 pound race bike is faster than other bikes when you test ride one is because the slower you ride, the more significant the tires become. Table 7 shows what I mean. In this table the rider is assumed to be riding at a very relaxed rate. He is producing only 1/10 of his normal power output. This is what you might do when slowly riding around a parking lot during a test ride.
Tire Speed
(miles per hour)
BMX 1.3
All-terrain, Brand G 2.7
All-terrain, Brand F 3.0
Typical 10-speed (27x1 inch) 3.4
High pressure clinchers, Brand B 4.2
Track racing sew-up, Brand E 4.9

Table 7. Speeds on a 40 pound 10-speed with different tires
when the rider is producing only 1/10 of his normal energy.

 
As you can see, there is an incredible difference between tires at low power levels. A bike with high quality track racing tires, for example, is almost four times faster than the same bike with BMX tires! What that means is that all you have to do is lightly touch the pedals of a race bike and you will find yourself speeding down the road at several miles per hour, whereas the same amount of energy on a mountain bike would barely get you moving. If you didn't know anything about tires you would be fooled into thinking the racing bike is incredibly fast, and you would no doubt assume it is due to its low weight.

However, if you were to test ride bikes at your maximum power level you would find that the difference between bikes diminishes as you produce more power. The reason is that at high speeds air resistance becomes the dominant factor to a bicycle.

How air resistance affects a bicycle
 
Just about everyone who has ridden a bicycle has tried at least once to see how fast he could go. The results are disappointing. Most people cannot reach 20 mph on flat land. Athletes are lucky to exceed 30 mph for more than a few minutes.

Why can't we ride any faster? The problem is the invisible atmosphere. The atmosphere is so easy to walk around in that we rarely pay any attention to it, but it is a very real substance, and it is the most significant factor in bicycling.

The atmosphere is full of tiny molecules bouncing around at incredible speed. When you ride a bike you must push those molecules out of your way. Pushing a single molecule at one mile per hour is very easy, but pushing 200 zillion of them every second at 20 mph requires a considerable amount of energy. The faster you ride, the more energy you must produce to push them out of your way. The following table, Table 8, shows how air resistance affects a bike.

Riding Posture Speed
(miles per hour)
sitting vertical, loose clothing 11.9
slightly inclined, grasping top of handlebars 12.5
semi-crouch, grasping lower part of handlebars 13.1
full crouch, tight clothing, (racing position) 14.0
Table 8. Speeds on a common 10-speed as the rider leans forward.
 
This table assumes the same conditions as in previous tables. All four bikes are the same; the only difference between the entries is that the rider is leaning forward to an increasingly larger degree, and he takes off his loose clothing. (The rider who is sitting vertical has turned his handlebars upwards, as many people do.)

What the table shows is that you can increase your speed by a couple miles per hour just by bending over your bike and wearing tight clothing. Leaning forward reduces the area you expose to the air, which reduces the number of molecules you have to push out of the way.

Comparing Table 8 with Tables 1 and 2 show that leaning over your bike brings larger increases in speed than does taking off 20 pounds. Looking at Table 6 shows that leaning over the bike brings increases in speed of similar magnitude as changing the tires. This is the reason racers crouch over their bikes. Crouching over a bike is uncomfortable and reduces visibility, but athletes are more concerned with winning the contest than enjoying the bicycle ride.

Considering how similar the figures are in Tables 6 and 8 you may wonder how I can make the remark that air resistance is the most significant factor in bicycling. From those tables it appears that tires and air resistance have an equal effect. Actually air resistance is the most significant only at high speeds. In fact, at very slow speeds air resistance is almost non-existent.

For example, when riding at five miles per hour air resistance is very low. The atmosphere will absorb only about 1/4 of your energy at such a low speed. But at 12 mph, about 2/3 of your energy is absorbed by the air. That doesn't leave you with much energy for anything else.

More interesting yet, when an Olympic athlete pushes himself to the limit and reaches speeds near 30 mph, about 90% of his energy is being wasted to air resistance. Of his remaining 10%, most of that is wasted overcoming the rolling resistance created by his 160 pound body. Very little of his energy is expended on pushing his 20 pound bicycle, which is why it wouldn't do him much good if his bike weighed even less than 20 pounds. His body is his biggest burden, and mostly because it is not aerodynamic. High speed bicycle riders need to be more concerned about aerodynamics than anything else.

Table 9 shows what I mean. This table shows the speed attained by a strong athlete on a 40 lb bike and a 0 lb bike. The athlete is assumed to be exerting himself and producing six times as much power as the typical person does. (Any good athlete can produce that much power.)

The speeds in Table 9 may seem high, but speeds of 25 to 30 mph are regularly attained in bike races. However, the rider cannot even reach 24 mph if he sits upright and wears loose clothing -- even if his bike is zero pounds! Weight has little effect on a bike at such high speeds. But he can exceed 28 mph if he wears close fitting clothing and fully crouches over the bike - even if the bike weighs forty pounds. He can gain nearly 5 mph simply by crouching over his bike. Compare that to the fraction of mile per hour he gains by stripping a few pounds off his bike.

Riding Posture Bike's weight
(pounds)
Speed
(miles per hour)
sitting vertical, loose clothing 40 23.5
(same as above) zero 23.6
full crouch, tight clothing 40 28.1
(same as above) zero 28.2
Table 9. Speeds of an athlete on a racing bicycle of different weights
 

The people who are best at crouching will be the fastest

Greg LeMond, Lance Armstrong, and certain other people frequently win bicycle races, and although some people might say it is due to their use of drugs, many or most of the losers of the contests are using drugs also. Drugs by themselves are not enough to allow a person to win an athletic contest.

Once you realize that aerodynamics is the most significant factor in bicycle racing, you ought to wonder if the athletes who win bicycle races are simply the best at maintaining the crouched, aerodynamic racing position. All of the top athletes are very similar to one another in abilities, and so the athletes who can hold the crouched position the longest will have an advantage over the others.

Although I have not conducted a scientific analysis of bicycle races, in the few photos that I have seen, Greg LeMond, Lance Armstrong, and other successful bicycle racers are frequently seen in an extremely crouched position, whereas the losers are often in a more upright position.

Greg LeMond is in the photo to the right. His back is nearly horizontal, and his elbows are bent at almost 90°, causing his forearms to be nearly horizontal, also. He can hold that position for long periods of time. By comparison, many other athletes frequently rise to a more inclined position, and every time they do so, they increase their air resistance, which causes them to slow down significantly.

If there was no such thing as air resistance, we might discover that LeMond, Armstrong, and others can no longer win the bicycle races. We might find that there are other athletes who have greater strength and stamina. However, with air resistance, bicycle racing is more than a test of an athlete's strength or stamina. It is also a test of his ability to maintain an uncomfortable, aerodynamic riding position.

The photo to the right seems typical of a bicycle race. In this case, Bradley Wiggins is in the lead of the 2012 Tour de France.

As with Greg LeMond, Lance Armstrong, and other winners, Wiggins is holding his back horizontal, and his elbows are bent.

The athletes behind him are in a more upright position.

Wind is the most serious problem to a bicyclist

Realizing that air resistance is the most significant resistance to bicyclists will help you to understand Table 10. This table shows what happens when a typical person on a common 10-speed encounters headwinds.
Wind speed
(miles per hour)
Your speed
(miles per hour)
Percent of power
wasted by wind
excess weight
equivalent (pounds)
0 12.53 0% n/a
0.01 12.52 < 1% 1
1 11.7 15% 105
2 10.8 29% 213
3 9.9 41% 327
4 9.0 52% 450
5 8.2 61% 585
6 7.3 68% 739
7 6.4 74% 921
8 5.5 81% 1,147
9 4.6 85% 1,444
10 3.8 89% 1,865
Table 10. Speeds of a typical person on common 10-speed with different headwinds.
 
 
The first row in the table shows how fast you would go without any headwind. The following rows shows what happens when the wind starts to blow.

The third column shows how much of your energy is spent overcoming the headwind. The last column shows how much excess weight you would have to carry to equal the effect of the headwind.

For example, a one mile per hour headwind is so gentle that you normally would not notice it, but it will slow a rider down by almost one mile per hour. In fact, as a general rule for ordinary bicycle riders, for each mile per hour of headwind, your speed will drop by almost the same amount.

The last column shows that you would have to carry about 100 pounds of excess weight to equal the effect of a one mile per hour headwind. The third column shows that the headwind is draining you of 16% of your energy.

Breezes of three or four miles per hour are fairly common, but encountering them is a serious hardship. They will waste about one half of the energy you create. And you have to hope you never have to ride into a ten mile per hour headwind because that would waste about 88% of your energy, which is practically all you have! A ten mile per hour headwind is like riding with 1865 pounds of excess weight.

The opposite of this is also true; when the wind is blowing on your back your speed will increase by amounts of nearly the same magnitude.

I also included the figures for a 0.01 mph headwind to show you how gentle a breeze has to be to equal the burden of a kickstand.

An interesting way to interpret Table 10 is to say that -- compared to track racing sew-ups -- having BMX tires on your bike is like riding into a constant 7 to 8 mph headwind. Or, we could say that letting your tires become under inflated is like riding into a steady headwind of up to 6 mph.

Table 10 explains one of the mysteries about bicycling that confused me when I was a child. When I rode my bike to school it seemed as if even the slightest breeze made riding my bike incredibly difficult, but I never heard anyone mention anything about wind or air resistance. People talked about the burden of weight, but not of wind. Was I just imagining the hardship of a headwind? If wind was such a serious problem, why doesn't anybody talk about it?

Now that I am older I have discovered that headwinds are indeed a serious burden on a rider. The reason nobody talks about the subject is simply because most people have no understanding of air resistance.

Because air resistance wastes so much energy at high speeds, racers are wise to lower it. For example, according to Chester Kyle, who conducted many wind tunnel tests, a full head of bushy hair will slow a racer down by a couple seconds per mile. Looking back at Table 2 shows that 5 pounds has less of an effect than that. Also, Kyle mentions that tests with mannequins with hair glued to their legs shows that shaving arms and legs will save a racer a few tenths of a second per mile. This is why some athletes shave their arms and legs.


Will aerodynamic components make a bike faster?

The figures in Tables 7 and 8 show the speed of a rider as he reduces his own air resistance, but what if we reduce the air resistance of the bike? For example, how much faster will we go with oval tubing instead of round tubes? What will aerodynamic brakes do for us?

Making the bike more aerodynamic will indeed increase your speed, but to make just a few components a bit more aerodynamic is not going to give any noticeable speed increase, except in the Olympics. Of course, if you have a choice between an aerodynamic component and a regular component, and if they are of similar quality and price, you may as well get the aerodynamic one.

The reason that it is of little value to make just one or two components a bit more aerodynamic is that most of the air resistance you encounter is not coming from the bicycle; it comes from your own body! Perhaps the important concept to understand about bicycling is that your body is the most significant burden on you. Your body has most of the weight as well as most of the air resistance.

Our natural tendency is to blame the bicycle for our low riding speed, but the bicycle is an innocent victim. Put the blame where the blame belongs: on your heavy, bulky, non-aerodynamic body, and your weak muscles that cannot produce much power.


The more wind in your city, the less significant weight is

The final point that I want to bring to your attention is that the weight of a bicycle is less significant to the people who live in windy areas. As table 10 shows, if the typical wind speed in your area is 4 mph, it will be equivalent to carrying 450 pounds of weights. You are not going to notice a difference of 20 pounds on your bicycle in that type of wind.

The people who live in a windy area are going to put most of their energy into overcoming air resistance. It will not make much of a difference whether their bicycle is 80 pounds or 0 pounds. They are going to struggle when they ride their bicycle regardless of its weight.


On the moon, human powered vehicles would be practical

Since air resistance is the most significant aspect of a bicycle, when the Olympics are held in cities at high elevations, such as Denver or Mexico City, the bicycle riders can reach higher speeds and break world records.

If there was no air resistance, an ordinary person would ride at 40 mph instead of about 12 mph, and athletes would reach 200 to 300 mph during their races. Human powered vehicles would be practical on the moon because of its lack of air resistance and its low gravity. If a man and his vehicle weighed 1000 pounds here on the earth, they would weigh only 166 pounds on the moon. Without any air resistance, the person only has to overcome rolling resistance, and at only 166 pounds, it would be easy for a person to do that.


Hills test our stamina; air resistance tests our contortion abilities

Many athletes have noticed that hills separate the strongest athletes from the weakest. To understand why this is true, imagine being in a race on a flat road with an Olympic champion. He may produce 6 times as much power as you, but he will not be able to ride 6 times as fast. He may only be twice as fast as you. The reason is because air resistance increases exponentially. If you didn't know anything about air resistance you would think that because the athlete is only twice as fast as you, you are almost equal to an Olympic athlete.

However, the situation changes dramatically when the two of you encounter a steep hill. Both of you will find your speed dropping, but as it drops, so does air resistance. As the athlete is less burdened by air resistance, more of his energy can go into climbing the hill. And since he is producing 6 times as much power, he will climb the hill significantly faster than you. To an observer, he will seem to have some special, hill-climbing ability, but in reality, the steep hill is merely making it easier for people to see how much stronger he is.

On flat land, air resistance is the primary problem to a bicycle, and so the people who are best at putting their body into a crouched position will be the fastest bicycle riders. When riding up a steep hill, gravity is the primary problem, so the people who will be fastest on hills will be those with the greatest strength and stamina.

The free enterprise system exploits our weaknesses
 
Your physical abilities affect your bicycle ride more than anything else
Although weight, tires, and air resistance affect a bicycle ride, a point I would like to emphasize is that the most significant factor of all is the physical abilities of the rider. That may seem obvious when you read it, but the arrogance of men causes us to frequently ignore it.

Men have strong cravings for status, and so we have a tendency to exaggerate our abilities and blame our failures on other people or items. For example:
• When a man is having trouble with his golf game, his emotions want to blame the golf clubs or the weather rather than his abilities.
• When a person is riding his bicycle at a high speed, and somebody passes him, his emotions want to believe that the other person is faster because he has a better bicycle.

It is difficult for a man to look critically at himself and admit that somebody else has more talent than he. Our emotions want to believe that we are the most talented, educated, intelligent, strongest, and best looking man.

The free enterprise system takes advantage of the men who cannot control these emotional cravings. For example, when a man does poorly in his golf game, the businesses will encourage him to purchase new golf clubs and balls by implying that better equipment will allow him to play better.

Men should be encouraged to control their arrogance and their craving to be the top monkey in the hierarchy. Unfortunately, the free enterprise system encourages the exact opposite behavior. Businesses encourage irrational, monkey-like behavior.

Businesses encourage us to believe that we will ride a bicycle faster if we purchase their carbon fiber bicycle; we will do better at baseball if we purchase their special baseball equipment; we will run faster if we purchase their special running shoes; we will lose weight if we purchase their special weight loss program; we will become better people if we purchase their self-help programs; and we will find a spouse if we purchase their dating service.

Businesses are looking for ways to make sales; not for ways to improve our lives. They tell us whatever we want to hear. They make us feel good. They offer us solutions to whatever problems we complain about.

Table 1 shows that there is not much difference in the speed of bicycles of different weights, and Table 6 shows that the difference between tires is only a few miles per hour. The most significant difference between two different bicycle riders is their ability to produce power. At one extreme are the people who can barely walk, and at the other extreme are the athletes who can produce half a horsepower for an hour.

If somebody can ride a bicycle faster than you, don't blame your bicycle. If somebody can play golf better than you, don't blame your golf clubs. If somebody can run faster than you, don't blame your shoes. Don't allow businesses to take advantage of your arrogance by selling you equipment or services that you don't need. Instead, try to understand your strengths and limitations, and enjoy whatever you are.


Men easily become obsessed

Another characteristic of men that businesses take advantage of is that we have a tendency to focus on problems to the point at which we could describe it as "a neurotic obsession". This characteristic was valuable in prehistoric times because it allowed men to put a lot of effort and attention into pounding rocks into sharp knives, and figuring out how to use fire to make pottery.

This characteristic is valuable today, also, but today we have so much leisure time that if we don't think about what we are doing, we could easily put an absurd amount of time and effort into a useless activity. For example, some of the men who ride bicycles spend excessive amounts of time reading about bicycles and worrying about reducing weight and air resistance, and some of the men who enjoy golf put absurd amounts of time and effort into reading about golf and worrying about their golf clubs and golf balls. Businesses take advantage of these men by offering them new and improved items, even though there is nothing wrong with what they already have.

When men are bored, we look for something to do, and if we don't think about what we are doing, we may end up putting excessive amounts of time and effort into our hobbies or competitions. During prehistoric times, people had to spend most of their life surviving, so it was impossible for them to become obsessed with a hobby. Today it is easy for us to put absurd amounts of time and resources into a hobby.

One of the reasons I suggest that the city government support a wide variety of free social and recreational activities is to encourage people to get involved with more than one activity. Instead of a person spending all of his leisure time with just one hobby, he will be living among people who encourage him to get involved with several activities, and this will reduce the chances that he becomes obsessed with any of the activities.

On some Saturday afternoons a man might ride a bicycle, and on other afternoons he might join a group of people for a snorkeling excursion at a local lake, and on other afternoons he might visit one of the social clubs to learn about whatever they do, such as grow mushrooms or do 3-D printing, and on other afternoons he might lead a tour of the factory that he works at, and on other afternoons he might take some school children to a botanical garden and explain some of the plants to them.

I think most people will have a more satisfying life when they get involved with a variety of activities during their leisure time rather than become obsessed with just one hobby. They will also meet more people.


Men need better control of their emotions

The men who can tolerate the pain of crouching over a bicycle, or who don't suffer much pain because their bodies are better able to handle that position, believe that they are better than those of us who complain about the pain. Some of them tell us to "suck it up", or "quit whining".

However, the crouched position of a bicycle racer is unnatural for the human body. We could describe bicycle racers as contortionists because they are forcing their body into the position of an animal that is walking on all four legs. They twist their neck to its maximum rotation, and they put a lot of pressure on their hands and the nerves inside their hands. They also bend their back and hips into an unnatural position.

The human body was designed to walk upright. Our weight is supposed to be on our feet, not our hands. Our crotch was not designed for sitting on a bicycle seat, either, especially not a racing seat.

The positions that these two people are in are unnatural for human bodies.

We are not crybabies when we complain about the pain of the positions that contortionists can put their body into.

Each person has a different ability to handle these two contortions. The majority of people dislike both of them, but we are not inferior because we dislike them. We are simply "typical" humans.

The men who can handle that crouched position should not fool themselves into thinking that they are better than the rest of us. They simply have different abilities.

Ideally, schools would teach children that men have a powerful emotional craving to compete for the top of the social hierarchy. We are always looking for opportunities to boast about ourselves and impress other people. Whenever a man discovers that he can do something that other men cannot do, he will feel special, and other men will feel inferior. This causes the men to compete with one another, even if the competition is senseless.
For example, when a man boasts about his ability to rapidly drink large amounts of alcohol, other men do not think to themselves, “Why would he boast about such an idiotic achievement? What is wrong with his mind?” Instead, their competitive emotions are titillated, and they want to compete with him.

Instead of providing a good example for us and encouraging sensible competitions, businesses exploit the situation by arranging competitions for us, and by selling us books about world records.

Some of the competitions may be dangerous, such as the competition to break the most toilet seats over your head in one minute. We should protect our brain, not use our head as a hammer. However, businesses don't care if the competition is harmful. Businesses are not held accountable for what they do.

In this modern world, schools should teach boys about this emotional characteristic and give them practice in controlling their emotions and making wise decisions. Boys need to be taught to resist getting involved with idiotic and dangerous competitions.

Ideally, our government officials would encourage competitions that are more beneficial. Men don't care what the competition is; they just want to compete. This allows us to create competitions that have some benefit. For example, we could design competitions that encourage people to get some useful exercise, or which bring people together so that they can meet and get to know one another.

We could also design competitions that have some benefit to the city, such as competing to see who can clean a section of a footpath faster than the others, or competing to see who is fastest at removing the weeds from a section of the city gardens.

The people who enjoy arts and crafts could compete to create something useful for the city. For example, some people enjoy competitions in which they carve blocks of wood with a chainsaw. The image to the right shows a tree that has been carved into an eagle at a competition in Wales.

Why not set up competitions in which the woodworkers create items for the city? A city could use statues and benches for the parks, rowboats for the lakes, sections for an elevated footpath in the forest, and decorative wooden bridges for the footpaths. The winners of the competitions would not receive a prize; rather, their work would be used by the city. The losers would have their work ground up for mulch.

Having competitions like that would make the city nicer every year. I also think those type of competitions would provide the winners with more satisfaction because their efforts would be appreciated by all of us, including the future generations, whereas they are currently making artwork that almost nobody sees.

What styles of bicycles are best for us?
 
Products should provide benefits that outweigh the disadvantages
In a free enterprise system, a bicycle business is successful if their bicycles sell, even if they sit unused in garages, but when the government is in control of the economy, our leaders will be considered successful only if they give us bicycles that they can show are bringing more benefits to our lives than disadvantages.

In the society I suggest, the government would scatter the equivalent of retail stores around the city, but instead of selling products, the products would be available for us for free. The government would also support a variety of social clubs to provide us with access to the more complex items and activities that we need training and guidance to use, such as CNC equipment, telescopes, scuba equipment, 3-D printers, drones, and plasma torches.

When a person wanted to use a simple product, such as a camera or bicycle, he would go to one of the stores in the city, pick up the item, and use it. When he was finished with it, he would return it to any of the stores.

By placing bicycle stores in the apartment buildings, industrial complexes, office complexes, and recreational areas, people will have easy access to bicycles no matter where they are in the city, and nobody would have to be bothered with the storage or maintenance of bicycles.

If an official authorized the production of a particular model of bicycle that nobody was interested in using, that failure would tarnish his image. However, an official who creates a bicycle that people enjoy is not necessarily going to be regarded as a successful leader. As I mentioned earlier with the BMX bikes, we must analyze how people are using the bicycles, and what effect the bicycle has on society. We then pass judgment on whether the bicycle is beneficial to us, or whether it is causing brain injuries, bad attitudes, or obnoxious behavior.

For another example of this concept, consider skateboards. Many children enjoy riding skateboards, and this is resulting in children who ride skateboards on public streets, and sometimes on public handrails. Those children are a nuisance to society, and the children who ride on handrails frequently have serious accidents and expect other people to provide them with medical care. Some of those children bang their head on the ground when they fall, and that may be causing just as much brain damage as if they were in a boxing ring.

In a free enterprise system, the businesses don't care what consumers do with their products, and they don't care how often they get injured, or if they suffer brain damage. Businesses are not held accountable for injuries or brain damage. Instead, other businesses exploit the misery by selling medical products and services.

When the government is in control of the economy, the officials are responsible for ensuring that the products they authorize are going to benefit society. If a government official authorizes the production of skateboards, for example, he is responsible for providing the skateboards in an area where the children will be able to use them in a safe manner, and without causing problems for society. For example, he might make the skateboards available only inside specially designated skateboard parks, and prohibit the skateboards from being removed from that park.

It is conceivable that a government official authorizes the production of a particular bicycle, and then scatters them around the city for people to use, but nobody wants to use them because they are too uncomfortable, are too prone to flat tires, or because the bicycle paths are too unpleasant. Or, an official might authorize some bicycle paths be provided with lights for nighttime riding, but almost nobody wants to do recreational bicycle riding at night, at least not in that particular area of the city.

The reason I mention this possibility is because it is happening right now in America. In America, automobiles are the primary transportation device, not bicycles. Most adults are purchasing bicycles for exercise or recreation, but most of those bicycles are sitting unused in garages. The two primary reasons seem to be:
1) Our cities do not have many desirable bicycle paths, and most people do not have easy access to those paths.
2) Most people do not enjoy riding their bicycle because they consider their bicycle to be uncomfortable and filthy.

In a free enterprise system, businesses do not suffer when consumers let their products sit unused in the garage, or when consumers toss their products in the trash. This allows businesses to produce shoddy products, deceptive products, and worthless products. Lockheed, for example, will not suffer if the F35 aircraft turns out to be useless. They have already made a lot of money from the project, and they are going to continue making money from it regardless of its value to us.

By comparison, when the government is in control of the economy, the people making decisions about products will be held responsible for what they do. The government and business leaders who authorize products that turn out to be undesirable or dangerous are going to develop a bad reputation, and they are likely to be replaced. The officials who hold onto their jobs will be those who make better decisions about products.

By switching to this type of economic system, all products and services will be analyzed according to how they will improve our lives. It will not be enough to simply please people. I think that this will result in many products being redesigned, and many other products being discontinued.

I think this type of economic system will result in significant changes to the design and appearance of bicycles. Bicycles for athletes may not change by much, assuming that we decide to support bicycle races, but I think bicycles for the public will change significantly.


Most people want to sit upright on a bicycle

In nations where bicycles are a common transportation device for adults, such as Holland and China, most of the bicycles allow the rider to sit upright, and many of them have fenders, chain guards, bells, kickstands, lights, and baskets or racks.
We are most likely to ride a bicycle when we can sit upright on a comfortable seat.

We also prefer to put our foot on the ground while sitting on the seat, and this requires wheels of a smaller diameter.

We want the ride to be comfortable, and we want puncture resistant tires. This requires making the wheels wider and stronger.

In America, the two most popular styles of bicycles for adults are the 10-speed racing bike and the all-terrain bike, and both styles tend to be stripped of accessories in order to reduce weight. Although Americans believe that they enjoy these types of bicycles, only a small percentage of people enjoy these bicycles enough to spend a lot of time on them.

Although the 10-speed racing bike is an extremely popular bike for Americans, and although I and other teenage boys wanted that style to ride to school, I eventually came to the conclusion that it is inappropriate for both recreational riders and commuters.

More amazing, many people involved with the bicycling business agree with me, but they don't bring this issue to the attention of the public because they don't want to upset the consumers. For example, the September/October 1984 issue of Bicycling magazine has an interview with three American bicycle manufacturers. One of the questions that the editor of the magazine asked:

Moving the discussion towards production bikes, some people would say that for the most part the generic ten-speed today is basically an imitation racing bike. In your opinion, are we really building the bikes that Americans want, that they need for their comfort and reliability and low maintenance?
Why would a magazine editor ask bicycle manufacturers if they were producing appropriate bicycles for consumers? Because, as many people in the bicycle business know, the common ten-speed racing bike is an imitation racing bike, and it is not well suited to the typical person's riding needs. It is analogous to a candy cigarette; namely, a product that is designed to resemble some other product. It is designed to titillate our emotions.


Why is an imitation race bike inappropriate?

It might help you to understand this issue if you consider how it applies to automobiles. Millions of children and adults are attracted to racing cars, but a real race car is expensive, uncomfortable, delicate, noisy, cramped, and inefficient. If the automobile companies provided true race cars for the public, the consumers would complain about the horrible riding conditions, the fuel inefficiency, the noise, the difficulty of getting in and out of the car, the extreme maintenance requirements, and the inability to carry packages. And, of course, they would complain that the price was much too high.

In order to provide race cars to the public, the automobile companies must make tremendous modifications, but after their modifications are finished, the car is no longer a race car. These cars, such as Lamborghinis and Corvettes, could be classified as "adult toys", but since we associate the word "toy" with children, we refer to them as "sports" cars.

The same situation occurs with bicycles. A real racing bicycle is expensive, uncomfortable, and fragile. A real racing bike has a seat that is far above the handlebars, forcing the rider into an extremely uncomfortable, crouched position. The rider has to twist his neck to its maximum extent possible in order to see in front of himself. The nerves in his hands are under a lot of pressure, which can cause numbness and pain.

Notice the difference in the position of the seat to the handlebars, and the difference in size of the tires.
Bicycle companies cannot provide the public with real racing bicycles. Instead, they modify a race bike to make it less expensive, and they make it more comfortable by lowering the seat and raising the handlebars. They make the tires stronger, less expensive, and more durable. However, after they have modified the race bike, it is no longer a race bike. It is analogous to a candy cigarette. It is a "toy" race bike, or a "sports" bike. Some businesses advertise them as "touring" bikes.

We can ride 1 to 3 mph faster on a sports bike compared to other bicycles, mainly because it puts us into a crouched position, and partly because it has large diameter, narrow tires, but not many of us are truly interested in reaching the highest possible speed. When we want to get somewhere quickly, we travel by automobile, bus, or train, not by bicycle.

As the editors of Bicycling magazine are aware, the common 10-speed sports bike is just an imitation of a race bike, and it does not suit the riding needs of the general population. It allows a person to fantasize that he is a bicycle racer, but most people have no interest in exerting themselves to their maximum when they ride a bicycle, and they have no desire to suffer the pains of the crouched position. They don't like the rough ride of the narrow tires, either. Most people, even those that commute to their job, want to be comfortable, and they don't want to deal with flat tires or oily chains. They want the exciting aspects of bicycle racing, such as the high speeds, but they don't want the unpleasant aspects.

Most of the people who have sports bikes rarely use the lower part of their handlebar. Some people go so far as to rotate their handlebars 180° so that they can sit even more upright. It is silly to ride a sports bike if you don't want to ride in a crouched position. It is also silly to ride a sports bike if you want to ride at a comfortable pace rather than at a high speed. It is also silly to ride a bicycle with narrow tires when you would be happier with more comfortable, more puncture-resistant tires.

In a free enterprise system, businesses will produce products, such as these candy cigarettes, simply because people are titillated by them, even if they encourage idiotic behavior.
In the free enterprise system, consumers get whatever they want, but when we take control of the economy, our leaders must keep in mind that what people want is not always what they are happiest with or benefit from the most. We should not design products according to the fantasies or desires of consumers. We should analyze the value and disadvantages of our products and ensure that they are providing us with benefits rather than simply titillating our idiotic emotional cravings.

When we watch sports on television, the athletes make everything seem easy and fun, and they rarely get hurt. Bicycle riders hold a crouched position for hours without any signs of pain. Football players throw one another on the ground, and only rarely show signs of injuries. Unfortunately, television doesn't show us that the athletes are actually suffering a lot of pain, and some of them suffer permanent injuries, such as knee problems or brain damage. Television shows only the excitement of sports.

If we were to create a new city, we should design bicycles and other products according to how we will benefit from them. If we can design bicycles and bicycle paths that people actually enjoy using, then people will get some exercise, explore the city they live in, and meet some people. I think that will be more beneficial to us than encouraging them to pretend that they are high-speed bicycle racers.

A city is just a big submarine on land
 
The free enterprise system severely restricts our options
In a free enterprise system, businesses cannot coordinate their activities with other businesses or government agencies, and a business cannot control how their customers use their products, or whether they maintain or recycle them properly. When the government has control of the economy, then the government officials have complete control over the design of products, and how those products are used, maintained, and recycled. We can coordinate all of the businesses to make any change we please to the products or the city. We have options that are impossible in a free enterprise system.

An example of what we can do happened recently in America when we made a switch from analog to digital television. That conversion was impossible with the free enterprise system. The government had to get involved and coordinate the conversion. By taking control of the economy, we can do those type of conversions whenever we please, and with any product. We become free to design products with no regard to whether they are compatible with existing products. If we determine that a new product is truly superior, we can switch over to the new style.

By comparison, the businesses in a free enterprise system cannot make radical changes to society. Instead, businesses can only modify existing products. For example, millions of people dislike driving automobiles, but what can any business do about this? No business has the ability or authority to design new cities with a new transportation system. Instead, businesses try to improve existing automobiles, trains, airplanes, and ships.

For example, many businesses are spending enormous amounts of money on the development of computers that can drive automobiles, but this is not going to give us a truly superior transportation system. All it will do is reduce some of the irritating aspects of our current system.

We would benefit significantly from self-driving bulldozers, ditch diggers, coal mining equipment, wheat harvesters, and other industrial vehicles, but self-driving passenger cars are not going to make our lives much better.

The self-driving cars could reduce traffic accidents, especially those caused by drunk drivers, but they cannot eliminate accidents because self-driving cars are just as likely to slip on ice and be blown around by the wind.

Self-driving cars will not reduce traffic congestion or shortages of parking spaces, either.

And our cities will continue be to be dominated by ugly asphalt roads, parking lots, auto repair shops, and gasoline stations.

And the air will continue to be contaminated with asphalt, brake pad, and tire dust.

And since roads will be everywhere in the city, everybody in the city will continue to suffer from the noise pollution of automobiles.

Furthermore, self-driving cars will require us to continue to put an enormous amount of technical talent and resources into the production, maintenance, and recycling of automobiles and their tires.

I don't think that self-driving automobiles will make life much nicer for people in the future. I think we would create a much more pleasant life for ourselves if we designed cities that are more attractive, quieter, cleaner, and easier to travel around.

I think the worst aspect of automobiles is that it creates an environment that is inappropriate for humans. Throughout most of human history, people were surrounded by other people and by nature. The painting below, for example, shows Belgium in the 1500s. When those people stepped outside of their home, they were surrounded by grass, trees, flowers, ponds, and other people.

Although the sloppy people tossed trash and waste products wherever they pleased, just as they do today, the areas of the city with better people were clean, quiet, and attractive.

I think this is the environment that we are most happy with, but we cannot achieve this with automobiles.
 

When a city is designed for automobiles, almost all of the land area between the buildings is wasted on roads, parking lots, and automobile-related businesses. I think this type of city is interfering with our lives, but because we have no other city to compare it to, most people don't realize it.

For an example, consider how most employees spend their lunch time. Most people work in factories or office buildings that are surrounded by roads and parking lots, and tend to spend their lunch inside their building, eating by themselves in their automobile, or driving to a restaurant. It seems "normal" for people to spend their lunch time in that manner since most people are doing it, but is that the ideal life for a human? I don't think so.

If we were living in a city as I've described, in which homes and businesses are in tall buildings that are surrounded by parks, swimming areas, bicycle paths, and foot paths, I think a lot of the employees would be interested in going outside during their lunch break to socialize or for recreation. Actually, I think that we would enjoy going outside so much that we would want to experiment with a work schedule in which lunch is the primary meal of the day rather than dinner.

In a previous document I pointed out that the weather is nicest around noon in most cities, but we are currently wasting that beautiful weather inside of factories and office buildings. Most people have to wait for the weekend in order to enjoy the daytime, and if it is raining or windy during the weekend, then they have to wait for the next weekend.

If we change our work schedule so that we have only a small breakfast, and then a three hour lunch break, we will have plenty of time for recreation and food during the nicest part of the day. We will be able to enjoy the daytime every day of the week. We will not have to wait for the weekend. Schools could follow that schedule, also.

We might discover that we remain in better health with that work schedule because I suspect that people are more likely to get exercise around noon, when our bodies are active, rather than in the evening, when our bodies want to relax. We might also find that we have an easier time digesting our meals when we eat most of it during the day, when our body is active, rather than at night, when our bodies become sluggish.

Although this work schedule will extend the workday two hours into the evening, we gain two hours of the some of the best daytime. If none of the homes have kitchens, and all of the food is provided for free at restaurants, then we don't have to worry about rushing home to prepare dinner. If the city is also intolerant of crime, then we don't have to rush home to provide protection for the children, either.

Furthermore, we might lose our desire for daylight savings time because we will have the opportunity to enjoy the daytime during every day of the week. Eliminating daylight savings time would not bring much of a benefit, but every benefit adds up to a more pleasant life.

The cities that have unpleasant weather could build many, large, enclosed areas to provide people with year-round recreation and outdoor meals. This would also significantly reduce the problem with insects. The drawing below is for a proposal to enclose a very large area in Beijing, China, but in their case, it is to protect them from smog rather than weather or insects.

It is idiotic for us to enclose areas for protection against smog. That is equivalent to people carrying guns with them in order to deal with crime. It would make much more sense to design a city with an underground transportation system so that the city remains clean and quiet, and to build enclosed areas purely for our pleasure.

We should eliminate smog, not hide from it. And we should eliminate crime, not prepare for a fight with criminals. Animals react to problems by hiding or fighting. We should react to problems by experimenting with solutions.

By having protected areas around factories, office buildings, and apartment buildings, we would have year-round access to recreational areas and outdoor lunches. And by putting the transportation system underground, the city will be quiet and peaceful. We also have the option of making some of the ponds available for swimming, snorkeling, ice-skating, rowboats, and/or scuba diving, rather than just to look at.


We have phenomenal options, but will we try any of them?

We have a tremendous number of options in regards to transportation devices, work schedules, and material items, but businesses cannot offer us many of those options. Businesses can only make small modifications to what we already have. And businesses have no ability to control the design of cities.

The reason the free enterprise system has this limitation is because it doesn't have leadership to plan and coordinate the businesses. The free enterprise system works, but if we take control of our economy, we will have much more options.

It might help you to understand this concept if you consider how it applies to natural selection. Natural selection is working very well, but living creatures are inferior to what they would be if there was some intelligent guidance to evolution. Humans, for example, have been evolving for millions of years, but we still have some stupid features, such as nerves that run along the outside of our elbow, and a urethra that dribbles droplets of urine. Natural selection cannot overhaul a creature's genetic blueprint. It can only make modifications to the blueprint. It can improve upon existing creatures, but it cannot make any radical changes, or create any radically different life forms.

However, if scientists learn enough about biology to take control of genetic issues, then they will have a tremendous number of options that are impossible with natural selection. For example, they could create completely new animals and plants that have features none of the others have. They could create an insect, for example, that attacks only ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes, and which has no ability to reproduce so it exists only as long as the scientists produce it. They could use that type of creature to eliminate parasites in both the ocean and on land.

If we had the technology to take control of DNA, we would open up an incredible number of options. Likewise, getting control of our economic system provides us with phenomenal options. We become free to make radical changes whenever we please. We could design completely new cities with new types of phone networks, heating and cooling systems, farms, and greenhouses. We could design a completely automated train system that runs only slightly below the ground. We could also design a city with faster and better moving walkways.

Incidentally, in order to truly enjoy some of our options, such as moving walkways, we must set higher standards for the citizens. In America, the moving walkways are being designed for idiots. For example, they have a such a slow speed that many people don't bother with them, and near the end of the walkway they frequently play loud messages to warn us to be careful. It is irritating to sit near those walkways because of those messages. If the walkways were in a part of the city where people wanted to relax for meals or socializing, those messages would be considered as noise pollution.

Left: a moving walkway at a hotel.

Right: a moving walkway at a golf course.

We don't let people drive automobiles until they prove to us that they have the ability to do so, but we let people get on airplanes even if they don't know how to use a seatbelt; we let people vote even if they are senile or illiterate; and we let people use moving walkways even if they don't realize that they must watch for the end of the walkway.

In a more sensible society, parents and schools would prepare children for society, such as teaching them how to use seatbelts, moving walkways, and other products. Children would be taught to be responsible for themselves, and to learn how to use items properly. The people who are too careless, irresponsible, or stupid to function in a modern society should be told to quietly suffer the consequences. We should stop feeling sorry for them, and stop designing society for them.

By setting higher standards for the citizens, we would be able to design moving walkways that don't irritate us with recorded messages, and the walkways could move at a higher speed. By making the moving walkways in independent sections that turn on only when a person is in the area, we don't waste energy or create unnecessary wear of the components for the long walkways.

Also, each section could have a different speed, thereby allowing us to start slowly at the beginning, reach a high speed in the middle, and then slow down towards the end. Walkways like that would be a practical alternative to automobiles, trains, and bicycles for short distances. By walking on the walkways, people would be able to move as quickly as if they were riding on a bicycle.

The drawing to the right shows the cluster of office and apartment buildings that were recently completed in Singapore. Although the artist ignored some of the tall buildings at the right edge of the drawing, we could design a city in which office buildings, factories, and apartment buildings are in clusters like that, and surrounded by parks, swimming pools, and gardens.

Moving walkways would be an excellent method of allowing people to travel between the buildings and recreational areas within that cluster. By connecting different clusters together with an automated, underground train system rather than roads for automobiles, the city will be clean, quiet, and beautiful. Everybody in the city, no matter where he lived or worked, would be surrounded by parks, gardens, and pools.

When we design a city for automobiles, we have a tendency to lay out the roads and trees in a grid pattern (notice the trees in the drawing above), but when a city consists of independent clusters of buildings that are surrounded by parks, the surface only needs paths for walking and bicycles, and those paths can follow whatever curved shape that we find most visually appealing. This allows the trees to also be placed in whatever manner we find most attractive. The city will be more artistic and less geometric, just like the swimming pool near the top of this document.

We should face the fact that the free enterprise system is well suited only to primitive societies in which the majority of businesses are small organizations that bake bread or make shoes. We are severely restricting our options in life by continuing to follow this crude system.


People should occasionally get involved with the government

One of the problems of letting a government dominate society is that a small number of people will make all of the decisions, but those few people cannot be expected to know enough about the world or have enough time to adequately deal with all of the complex issues of a modern society. To deal with this problem, I have suggested that people be encouraged to get involved with the government on a part-time and temporary basis.

For example, a person who has a full-time job as a farmer, engineer, plumber, scientist, or dentist might have some intelligent opinions on bicycles. In a free enterprise system, there is not much he can do about it, but when people are encouraged to get involved with the government, then he can put some effort into developing his ideas into a serious proposal, and then he can post it on the government website for everybody to read. If it is considered to be an intelligent proposal, he would be given a temporary government position so that he could get involved with the decisions for that product.

By encouraging people to get involved with the government, we get a wider variety of opinions. We are not dependent upon just a few government officials. Furthermore, I think that encouraging involvement with government will give people better attitudes because people will not feel as if they are helpless citizens who have no influence in society. Anybody who can develop intelligent opinions will be able to influence society.

Of course, only a small percentage of the population will have something intelligent to say about the design of bicycles or other products, but everybody would be able to get involved with some aspect of the government, such as the holiday celebrations, children's activities, museums, recreational activities, social clubs, law enforcement, clothing styles, or schools. By encouraging people to participate in the government, we will have a much greater variety of ideas, and this will give us a greater variety of city festivals, children's activities, recreational activities, and social clubs, and it eliminates the feeling that we are oppressed slaves of a dictatorial government.

Of course, this will system will work only if the people in the city are capable of compromising on policies. A group of people who are extremely arrogant and selfish are not going to be able to compromise. They will end up in a stalemate during every meeting as a result of each of them demanding that their brilliant ideas be accepted. They will behave just like the neighborhood cats and dogs that fight with one another on a regular basis.

Our government officials do not encourage the citizens to participate in the government. Instead, government officials struggle to suppress, intimidate, blackmail, or kill their competitors. The reason is because they cannot compete fairly. They are incompetent, dishonest, neurotic, and abusive.

NASA officials, for example, do not want citizens to submit proposals to the government for what we should do with our space program. They realize that other people would submit proposals that are more intelligent, and that would make the NASA officials look stupid or corrupt. They want to promote their project to land men on Mars without worrying that somebody will provide an impressive explanation of why that project would be a waste of our labor and resources.

We are currently allowing incompetent and dishonest people to get into leadership positions, and since they cannot compete fairly, they try to suppress competitors. We should not allow people into leadership positions unless they are capable of accepting competition, and unless they can compete in a fair manner. People who react to losing with anger, excuses, accusations, or pouting should be regarded as emotionally unfit for leadership positions.

Ideally, our leaders would encourage people to develop their talents and participate in society, even at the risk of losing their job. They would not try to suppress talented people. They would not be frightened that a competitor would replace them. Ideally, a leader would admire a person who has the talent to replace him.


The free enterprise system was not designed to be fair

The free enterprise system sets up a competitive battle for money, but there are no rules, so there is nothing fair about the competition. The end result is that people are not treated equally. Two of the inequalities that create anger, envy, and pouting are:

   1) We have different income levels.

Assembly-line workers, waitresses, and laborers are paid less than most other people, and they are fired for incompetence, bad attitudes, unpleasant personalities, and criminal activities. By comparison, government officials, journalists, and businessmen are allowed to make enormous amounts of money, and they can behave in abusive, destructive, and dishonest manners without any significant repercussions.
   2) We have to meet different standards.
If a person wants to become an airline pilot or dentist, he has to go through training courses, and then he must demonstrate that he has the talent necessary to do the job properly. However, we do not need any training or demonstrate any talent in order to become a businessman. A free enterprise system allows everybody, including children, to get involved in any type of business they please, and anybody who is capable of making a profit is considered to be a successful businessman, regardless of his effect on society. This is allowing people to make money by selling astrology predictions, by begging for donations, and by posting silly videos on the Internet.

After a person qualifies to become a pilot or dentist, his qualification will be taken away if he shows signs of incompetence or criminal activities. However, businessmen don't need licenses in order to conduct business, so businessmen cannot be prohibited from business activity simply for showing incompetence. When businessmen are caught committing crimes, all we do is make their company pay a small fine, or we put them in jail for a few months, and then we let them continue being a businessman.

Why do we require airline pilots to get training and prove their abilities, but not business owners or executives? Why do we fire waitresses for bad attitudes, but not fire business executives for bad attitudes? The reason is because there is no leadership in a free enterprise system, so the economy is whatever the people make it to be.

Consumers are terrified at the thought of flying on an airplane in which the pilot is incompetent, so there is tremendous pressure on airline businesses to ensure that that pilots have training and are regularly tested. Consumers are also incredibly demanding of waitresses and sales clerks, and so people in those jobs are fired for something as trivial as a bad attitude. However, most consumers don't care who their business owners or executives are, or how they behave, and this allows our business leaders to be abusive, neurotic, and members of crime networks.

As I have repeatedly mentioned in my documents, an organization can only be as good as its members. If the members of an organization are too apathetic to care what their leaders are doing, or if they believe that Al Gore and George Bush are qualified for leadership positions, or if they enjoy imagining themselves as heroes who feel sorry for the "Underdog" and the "disadvantaged", then the organization is likely to become dominated by criminals and incompetent people. A group of monkeys cannot create an impressive economic system, government system, or school system.

The reason businessmen get special treatment in a free enterprise system is because there is no leadership to decide on how to divide the benefits of the economy. The free enterprise system is anarchy. It is an unsupervised, competitive battle in which individual people do whatever they please.

If humans were as wonderful as we like to believe, the competitive battle would be pleasant and fair because we would all treat one another with decency and respect. Unfortunately, humans are just modified monkeys, and when a bunch of monkeys are put into an unsupervised battle, the result will be that the more aggressive monkeys will take more for themselves and abuse those who are submissive, stupid, or weak.

The free enterprise system was not designed to give businessmen special treatment, or even to let them make more money than the employees. The free enterprise system simply sets up a competitive struggle for money. Business leaders are wealthier than the employees simply because they take more money, and the majority of people do nothing to stop it.

If we were to create some new cities in which we set higher standards for the citizens, then we can move beyond this anarchy and take control of our economic system. This will allow us to treat people more equally, and remove the business leaders who are incompetent or abusive.


How do we provide ourselves with better business leadership?

During the Middle Ages, consumers could control who was involved with business simply by driving the undesirable businesses to bankruptcy, but it is impractical for consumers today to know who their business leaders are, or to control who gets into an influential position. We need to develop an economic system that gives us control over our business leaders.

I suggest changing our attitude towards business leaders and treating them as we do pilots and doctors who must earn their position, and who are fired for incompetence. By putting the government in control of the economy, business executives become employees who are hired for a management position. This will enable us to give job performance reviews to our business leaders, and to continuously replace the worst performing leaders. In that type of economic system, the people who become successful business leaders will be those who can impress us with their contributions to society.


Businesses follow this philosophy; a society can, also

The concept of allowing a small group of leaders to make decisions for the entire organization is a valid, proven concept. The military is not the only organization to do this. Businesses do it also. IBM, for example, does not allow each employee to decide for himself which desk to purchase, which phone service to use, or which machines to use on the assembly-lines. Instead, a small group of people in leadership positions makes the decisions for all of the employees.

Although the employees are denied the freedom to choose their own equipment and supplies, they do not suffer as a result of being "oppressed". If the management is intelligent and responsible, they will usually make better decisions than the employees would have made. Responsible leaders will also allow the employees to make suggestions. They will not suppress their competitors.

We could apply this concept to an entire society. In such a case, the public would be treated like soldiers or employees. The public would not be allowed to determine which products will be manufactured, or how the products will be designed. Everybody would be allowed to have opinions and make suggestions, but businesses would not do what consumers were asking for. Instead, a small group of government and business leaders would work together to make decisions on what type of phone networks, bicycles, computers, toys, and other products to produce, and how many different variations to produce. The consumers would have to select from those authorized models.

Some people might respond that years ago the communist Chinese government made decisions about products for the Chinese people, and the end result was that the Chinese people were forced to wear drab, green clothing. However, the atrocious behavior of the Chinese government does not prove that this concept is invalid. It is only proof of what I have said many times; namely, a society can only be as good as its people.

People who believe Henry Kissinger is worthy of a leadership position or a Nobel Prize should be disqualified from voting.
A group of people who believe that Mao Tse-tung, Henry Kissinger, Rush Limbaugh, Angela Merkel, and the Pope are worthy of leadership positions will never create a truly advanced society. The only people who will be able to benefit from a government that makes decisions about products is a group of people who are capable of providing themselves with better leadership than what we see in the world today.

It also requires people who are less tolerant of monarchies, nepotism, corruption, incompetence, lies, and dishonesty. A group of people who run away from the evidence that many influential people are blackmailed pedophiles, or that Jews are responsible for the 9/11 attack, are never going to create much of a society. Instead, they will allow their society to become dominated by criminals.


Don't be frightened to experiment with society

Keep in mind that the natural tendency of a human is to be frightened of the unknown and keep everything as it is. This is especially true of the people who refer to themselves as "conservatives". They are constantly looking for excuses to avoid making changes in their lives.

Try to control your fear of the unknown, and try to enjoy the exploration of life. You are going to live for only a few decades, and you should try to enjoy it. Don't be a frightened rabbit; be an explorer. Don't look for excuses to keep everything as it is; look for opportunities to learn about life, discover your abilities and limitations, and improve society.

There are lots of examples in which leaders have made terrible decisions for their organization, but don't let that frighten you. For example, the leaders of our school system make decisions about what the children will learn, and the end result is that children are taught lies about the 9/11 attack, the creation of Israel, the world wars, the Holocaust, and many other issues.

In addition to lying to the students, our universities offer them worthless classes, and at increasingly higher costs, and the end result is that thousands of students graduate from college every year with enormous debts but no useful skills.

Many conservatives claim that our schools are expensive, dishonest, and ineffective because the government is inherently incompetent. Their solution is to allow private businesses to provide education, and to allow home schooling. However, the private schools are teaching the same lies as the public schools, and some private religious schools have courses that are even more worthless than the public schools.

The problems with our schools are not because governments are inherently corrupt. Rather, these problems are more evidence that a society is only as good as its members can make it. Students who don't care that schools are lying to them about the Apollo moon landing and the 9/11 attack are not going to create an impressive school system. Parents who don't care that their children are taking worthless courses at a university are not going to create an impressive university system. When people are apathetic and allow themselves to be abused, they allow their society to become dominated by dishonest, incompetent, and parasitic people.

Most humans have the intelligence necessary to create a better society, but most people seem to be too emotionally similar to monkeys to do it. Although I don't think the majority of people are capable of creating a better society, if we were to create some new cities, then we could restrict immigration to the people who have better control over their emotions and who are better able to work as a team for the benefit of all. This will enable us to create an impressive government, and the city will become truly more advanced than the others.


A person should qualify to be a business leader

Imagine if we were to treat business executives in the same manner as we treat dentists and pilots. In such a case, a student who wants to become a business executive would first have to take some courses on the issue, and then he would have to prove that he has the ability to provide society with economic leadership. He would then be qualified for a business leadership job, but that qualification would be valid only until his next performance review. His performance would be evaluated on a regular basis, and if it was determined that he was showing signs of incompetence or dishonesty, he would lose his qualification and have to find some other job.

Our schools are currently offering courses about business management, but those courses are designed to teach students how to start and operate a business, how to find investors, how to deal with loans, and how to manipulate customers with advertisements, logos, songs, slogans, celebrity endorsements, and packaging. These courses may be adequate for a free enterprise system, but if we change our economic system, we need to change the training courses.

When the government is in control of the economic system, the role of a business executive changes dramatically. The business executives will no longer be pandering to consumers or stockholders, fighting with other businesses, buying or selling other businesses, abusing government laws, or stealing technology from other businesses.

The business leaders will instead be in a role similar to that of a manager of a department within a corporation, or the captain of a Navy submarine. The business leaders will be in competition with one another, but it will be a friendly competition rather than an attempt to destroy one another. They will be in competition to provide safe and pleasant working conditions for their employees, keep their business running efficiently, and make wise decisions about which products and services to provide.

As I described in other documents, each business would be analogous to a division within a corporation. A corporation does not allow its managers to fight with and hurt one another. The managers are in competition with each other, but they must all behave in a respectable manner, and they must all work together for the benefit of the organization.

If we provide ourselves with that type of economic system, then the students who want to become business leaders need significantly different training courses. Instead of learning about investors and advertising, the students need to learn about human nature and how different working conditions affect our morale, safety, job performance, boredom, and attitude. They need to learn about historical events so they get a better understanding of how improper working conditions have resulted in fires, accidents, deaths, high turnover rates, anger, and unions.

The students also need to be able to analyze products from the point of view of how they affect human life, and what would be best for society. The students need to be given exercises so that they can practice analyzing a product and determining its value.

By designing school courses like that, the only students we would allow in positions of business leadership would be those who have demonstrated an ability to provide sensible analyses of products, working conditions, and safety issues. Although this will not guarantee that the students become excellent business leaders, it will greatly increase our chances compared to the manner in which we select business leaders today, which is to let everybody fight for money.

Remember that we cannot achieve perfection in life; all we can hope for is to improve upon what we have now. By restricting business leadership to the students who have proven an ability to provide intelligent analyses of business issues, we increase our chances of getting business leaders that we can respect, admire, and look to for advice.


My "wild proposals" have already been proven to be successful

Once again I will remind you that I am not proposing anything we are not already doing successfully. It may appear as if I'm advocating a dictatorship when I suggest letting the government dominate society, but what I am advocating is the type of government system that most businesses and military units follow. This type of government system is abusive only when the members of the organization are so incompetent, apathetic, or stupid that they allow incompetent and abusive people in leadership positions, such as Hillary Clinton and Queen Elizabeth.

A Navy submarine is a good example of this concept because a submarine is essentially an independent, isolated society. The people on that submarine are entirely responsible for what happens with that submarine. They cannot blame their problems on their neighbors, or on foreign nations.

The people on a submarine do not operate with a free enterprise system. They are a team that has leadership. The sailors don't own much of anything. Instead, they share the dining room, furniture, laundry facilities, bathrooms, and even the bunkbeds that they sleep in.

If a submarine had retards for leaders, then life on the submarine would be horrible. The food would be terrible, the living conditions would be awful, the submarine would become filthy, morale would be low, and the working conditions would be dangerous and miserable. The submarine might crash or sink as a result. But with proper leadership, the meals will be enjoyable, the submarine will remain clean and well maintained, the working conditions will be safe, and life will be pleasant.

A city is just a giant submarine that is on the land, so a city can follow the same leadership system as a submarine. A city and a submarine are just organizations of people, and it doesn't matter whether that organization is underwater, on flat land, on the top of a mountain, or on Mars.

We could design a city so that its government is equivalent to the leadership of a submarine, and the citizens are in the same role as sailors. The city government would have total control over the people and the activities in the city, just as the leaders of a submarine have complete control over the sailors and the equipment. This would provide the leaders of a city with control over who lives in the city, who visits it, and what job each person has. They would have control over which products are manufactured and imported; how the buildings are designed; and how the buildings are connected to one another with trains, foot paths, moving walkways, and bicycle paths.

The people in a city don't have to own many material items. If they are high quality people, they will be able to share the trains, cameras, swimming pools, telescopes, microscopes, 3-D printers, pottery kilns, kayaks, scuba gear, drones, and many other items, and without money.

If we lived in apartment buildings, it would be easy for us to share robots to clean our homes.
As technology becomes more advanced, sharing items becomes even more valuable. For example, there will eventually be robots that can clean floors, bathrooms, mirrors, windows, and carpets, but how many people will be able to afford their own? If the people can share these complex, expensive items, they will benefit tremendously.

By giving a city government as much control over the city as the captain of a submarine has over his submarine, we provide ourselves with options that are not available in a free enterprise system. For an example of an option that might seem trivial but might turn out to be beneficial, consider the issue of office furniture. In a free enterprise system, each business must purchase whatever desks and chairs they need for their employees. In order to keep their expenses down, businesses buy as few desks and chairs as possible. The end result is that tall men usually have to sit in the same size desk and chairs as the short women.

However, when the government is in control of all aspects of the city, the business executives do not have to be concerned about renting or purchasing land, buildings, or supplies. The government owns all of the land, buildings, and supplies. The desks, computers, phone network, and other items belong to the government, not the business executives, and this allows the city government to produce different sizes of office desks and chairs, and the employees can pick the one that fits them.

Schools provide young children with desks and chairs that are smaller than those that they provide to the older children, and some restaurants offer chairs for young children, but we are not applying this concept to adults. We might discover that people in an office will be slightly more comfortable - and productive - when they can pick desks and chairs that fit their body size.

We would also have the option of experimenting with that concept for restaurants, such as designing restaurant tables to fit the tallest men, and providing several different sizes of chairs for children, short people, and taller people. In a free enterprise system, a restaurant wants to purchase as little as possible, and have as small of a dining room as possible. However, when we take control of the economy, and especially if we also eliminate private kitchens, then we can make the restaurants much more spacious, and we can provide them with different size chairs.

Will we prefer restaurants that offer different sized chairs? Or will we find it awkward and irritating to choose chairs? I don't know, but without the free enterprise system, we can easily experiment with that and other options.


Cell phones could be dumb terminals

Another example of the options we have when we take control of our economy is that we could use a different phone system. In a free enterprise system, businesses compete to sell phones and phone networks, and each consumer is responsible for purchasing a phone and a phone service. When the government is in control of everything, we can dramatically simplify the situation. First of all, we need only one phone network, so nobody has to make a decision on which network to use, and we don't waste resources on competing networks that are duplicating one another's functions.

Second, we could assign each person a unique ID number at birth, and that ID number could become his phone number, Internet address, and email address. He would not need Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, or even a mailing address. All he would need is that one number. If you wanted to send a package to a person, you would address it to his ID number, not his physical address, and the computers would look in the database to see where he was at the time, and then send it to that location.

With this system, a person's ID number would never change, and that means his phone number would never change, even if he moved to a different city that used a different phone network. When a person wanted to use a cell phone, instead of inserting a SIM card, he would identify himself to the phone, either by entering his phone number, or if voice recognition is adequate, by telling the phone who he is.

Third, the phones could be dumb terminals. The phones would not need to hold data. Any photos, messages, or information that people wanted to store in the phone could be transmitted to the city's computers and stored in the person's account.

One advantage to this type of phone system is that if a family or group of friends wanted to go on a hike or swim, they would need to take only one phone with them. Each person on the trip would identify himself to that phone, and the phone would know to answer calls for each of those people. When the phone received a call for one of those people, it would display a message for who the call was for. If one of the people wanted to take a photo, it would be saved on the city's computer in his account.

People would not need to carry phones all the time. The phones would be considered public communication devices rather than private property. Instead of providing phone booths in the city, the city would have stores scattered around that offer phones. If a person did not have a phone with him, he could pick one up at a phone store, identify himself to the phone, and then use it. When he was finished with it, he would clear his identification number from the phone and give it back to one of the stores, or give it to one of his friends or children.

When a city consists of people who are capable of sharing items in this manner, then they don't need to have possession of everything that they want, and they don't have to carry items with them that they may not have any need for. For example, if at the end of the workday, it started to drizzle, and if you wanted to go for a walk with your friends but you did not have a raincoat or umbrella, you could pick one up at a nearby store. You could give it back on some other day when you are finished with it. You would not have to carry umbrellas, raincoats, phones, cameras, or other items everywhere you went.

Another advantage with this system is that it allows people to try different products and models without any obligation. By observing which models people prefer, the engineers would gather valuable information about which aspects of the products are confusing, which features are unnecessary, and which features are used the most often.

When a person had to travel to another city, he would not take his cell phone, camera, or raincoat with him. Instead, he would pick up one of the phones in the other city and identify himself to that phone. All calls for him would then be routed to that phone. This would allow different cities to experiment with different networks, and nobody would have to be concerned about incompatible phone networks.


Most people are already following this system without realizing it

If what I am proposing seems to be an unrealistic fantasy, consider that it is very similar to what is going on inside large businesses and military units. Some employees, such as the maintenance personnel and managers, have to travel around their building. Those people do not have to purchase their own phones, tools, or supplies, and carry them around everywhere they travel. They are allowed to use any of the phones inside the building, and the business also provides tool chests, closets, and storage rooms that have tools and supplies. When a technician needs a tool, such as a screwdriver, he takes one of those that have been provided to him by the business. When he is finished with the tool, he puts it back, and somebody else can then use it.

If a business needs to frequently take photographs of equipment or manufacturing processes, they provide cameras for the employees to use. The employees do not have to purchase their own camera and carry the camera everywhere they go.

Most people are already following the system that I propose when they are at their job. However, not many of them realize it.

Businesses and militaries do not operate on a free enterprise system. The management makes decisions about what type of equipment to purchase, and the employees share those items. The management provides the employees with free office space, free desks, free chairs, free tools, free bathrooms, and free water faucets. Some businesses also provide their employees with free housing and free transportation services.

I am not suggesting that we do something that we have not already done successfully. I am simply suggesting that a society start applying some of the concepts that have been proven to be successful for businesses and militaries.

An entire city can operate as if it was one large business. The city government can provide us with free homes, furniture, water, and food. We can also have free transportation services, telephone networks, and computers. By providing these items for free, we will significantly simplify our lives, and significantly increase the efficiency of society.

A city can operate as efficiently as a business or military if we change our attitudes and follow the philosophy of a business or military. Specifically, we must set higher standards of behavior for both the citizens and the leaders, and we must evict the people who are destructive. It really is that simple. We don't have to develop any new technology or take any dangerous risks. All we have to do is find the emotional strength to treat an entire city as a team of people.

The employees of a business and the soldiers in a military unit are regularly sharing equipment and supplies, and it is entirely possible for the people in a city to share items. We don't need much personal property. We can even share expensive clothing for social affairs, just as we currently rent tuxedos. All we have to do to make that type of society work is follow the philosophy of a business and evict the people who cannot behave properly.


Why is Disneyland so popular?

Every city today is ugly, chaotic, noisy, filthy, and full of crime, graffiti, litter, and homeless vagrants. Our cities are especially ugly and frightening at night. Many people react by spending most evenings inside their homes, and by fantasizing about vacations in some other city, Disneyland, or isolated tropical island.

The photo below shows one of the Disneyland resorts at night. I think the reason so many people enjoy Disneyland is because it allows us to escape the miserable cities that we live in and temporarily be in an environment that is more appropriate for us.

When we are in Disneyland, we can walk around at night without fear of crime, and there is no litter, automobile traffic, homeless families, or children riding skateboards on public handrails. The city is decorative and beautiful, although I would prefer that they make the lights less intense, and reduce the number of them.

If we were living in a city in which all of the buildings were beautiful and decorative, including their rooftops, and if we would not tolerate crime, and if the surface was for people rather than automobiles, and if the city government was providing the city with a wide variety of free recreational and social activities, and if all of the restaurants were free, then I think we would lose our interest in sitting at home by ourselves and visiting Disneyland. I think we would want to spend almost every evening in our own city.

We would be able to take a walk through the parks, go swimming, go to a theater, have dinner or snacks with other people, go to a music concert, or visit one of the social clubs.

I think Disneyland is a symptom of our miserable cities rather than something that we really enjoy.

In a previous document, I pointed out that when a zoo exhibit sets up an inappropriate environment for animals, their behavior will be abnormal. I think that our cities are providing an inappropriate environment for us, but what would be our ideal environment? We will not know until we start experimenting.

We can start experimenting with new cities whenever we find enough people with the emotional ability to give it a try. So find that strength within you, and let's get going!


 
 

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