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Cleaned by Capitalism XXXIII

Posted By Don Boudreaux On February 5, 2013 @ 9:11 am In Cleaned by Capitalism,Growth,Health,Standard of Living | Comments Disabled

I just asked my 15-year-old son, Thomas, if he has ever seen, in real life, someone actually insert a key into an automobile’s outside door lock in order to unlock the car (or to unlock the trunk).  He pondered for a few moments.  ”Ummm….  I think about 15 times,” said he.  15 times in his entire life.  When I was his age I saw such displays probably about 15 times a day.

This lovely little device obviously increases our convenience.  It eases our ability to lock and to unlock our cars, and to unlock (and sometimes even to raise) the trunks or hatchbacks on our cars.  In a small but real way, however, it also makes our personal environments a bit cleaner and safer.

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Because we no longer have to manually employ keys to unlock our automobiles, we can enter our vehicles more quickly.  This fact means that we get less wet in the process of entering our automobiles when it is raining or snowing.  This effect is even greater for passengers who, as recently as 20 years ago, had to wait for the driver to get in to the car and then to hit the automatic “door-unlock” button on the automobile’s inside – or passengers who, as recently as 30 years ago, had to wait for the driver to get in to the car and then to physically lean over to each passenger door in order to unlock each one manually.

The additional soupçon of cleanliness contributed by these now-ubiquitous keyless-entry devices is, I concede, modest.  But it’s nevertheless real.  It ought not be overlooked because its magnitude is modest.  It is a genuine contribution to our prosperity pool [2].

Some of these keyless-entry devices also permit the driver to open the windows of the car from a distance of a hundred or so feet.  On a hot day, opening a car’s windows or moon roof a few seconds before entering the car makes the car much more comfortable to crawl into quickly.  No more opening the car, rolling down the windows, and then waiting for as much as a minute or so outside of the car in the scorching sun in order to let the oven-like heat escape.  (Those of us who have lived for any length of time on the gulf coast should especially appreciate this feature.)

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[2] prosperity pool: http://cafehayek.com/2004/06/the_prosperity_.html

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