Today, a little girl had her hand mangled in an escalator at a JC Penney in Anchorage.
Some will assert about this story that it was irresponsible for the mother to leave her child unattended. Others will point their fingers at JC Penney for failing to install modern safety features on the escalator. What I ask is a more profound question.
Why does something such as an escalator even exist? It seems that it is a trade where we expend resources producing a machine that uses power and is dangerous in exchange for the convenience of not having to expend quite as many calories going up and down staircases. Malls use escalators to force patrons to walk past more products and storefronts in search of the one going in the desired direction. Which of these 'benefits' are quantifiable as things that have improved our quality of life? To me, this is just another sad nail in the coffin of the revealed preference model.
Are we serious in our desire to promote a safe, energy efficient society? If so, we should embrace a future where there are no escalators.