Don Boudreaux is brilliant. Insightful. Articulate. And no doubt he's an engaging teacher. It's a pleasure to read the letters he sends to newspapers in response to some wrong headed article, letters he dutifully reproduces at his blog.
But here's where I part with him. At the otherwise excellent blog Cafe Hayek he posted praise for the keyless car key -- the little fob that locks and unlocks new car doors and trunks. The one shown in his photograph looks like it belongs to a vehicle from the Toyota family. Oh yeah, they're convenient, all right. But it's just one more thing that can go wrong. Will a big solar flare lock us out of our cars? Will these things still work in 20 years, or in 2032 will replacing broken electronic gadgets in an old car eventually exceed it's resale value?
There was a time when people bought a car, worked on it themselves, and kept it a very long time. Now with all the computer controlled devices a car out of warranty is a ticking time bomb of expensive repairs.
The highlight of my own experience with the electric car fob was when I lost one of the two that came with the car. First, the replacement fob had to be ordered. Then once it arrived, the locks, the new fob and the spare fob had to be reprogrammed so that they all worked together. The lost fob would no longer work on that car, so anyone finding it would have a useless piece of plastic. As it happened, I'm the one who found the lost fob which is currently a useless piece of plastic.
This is so I don't have to use a brass key or flip a button to manually unlock a vehicle door. Brass keys for the old cars could be duplicated at a nominal cost at any of a number of key duplicating shops and kiosks that used to be everywhere.
We really must be living in a prosperous era if people are employed to invent and manufacture devices so car owners can avoid lifting an arm or twisting a wrist. I suppose that was Mr. Boudreaux's point, but it would seem to say we are getting lazy, too, if we had rather pay extra for an electric motor and a circuit board so that we don't have to move a finger.
So am I the last curmudgeon standing?
Back in my day a guy named Dana Carvey had a popular news commentary where he always made a mighty fine point. And they had the audacity to call him "the grumpy old man." Watch him here and here. Talk about insight, that guy nailed it.
Why, in my day we didn't wear seat belts. When we had a wreck we went sailing through the front windshield, and we liked it!