May 14, 2011
Wahid Hussaini

US College Bubble Yet to Burst

Looking back about 50 years, the US has seen its heyday when obtaining a college degree was considered an outstanding accomplishment and “hard” skilled workers such as plumbers, electricians, mechanics were of greater value. Only about half of High School graduates went on to obtain a college degree. Today that number is closer to 70% even though education standards in High Schools continue to deteriorate.

American College enrollmentBut even though unemployment for College Graduates is high, more and more High School students are brainwashed in thinking the only way to make it in the real world is by going to College. How many times has the “College grads make one million more dollars than HS grads” quote been repeated by guidance counselors?

More college campuses are offering overpriced degrees in journalism, women’s studies and psychology that don’t lead students anywhere. The more Americans go to college the more useless it is to have a college degree. High Schools are no longer concerned about the future of students, rather they are concerned with their graduation numbers and percentage of students attending college.

The good old days of learning practical things in public school are gone. Instead of home economics, machine shop classes and the like, high schools are teaching kids to simply graduate and go to college, no matter what they may learn.

worthless educationThe degrees that should remain in colleges are the ones who lead to careers that actually contribute to society and for the better of our economy. We should not get rid of degrees in nursing, agriculture, engineering, and medicine for example.

I have come across an editorial on MachineDesign magazine with letters from subscribers. One of the letters particularly caught my attention. This person warned against choosing a career in engineering, or majoring in engineering in college. But who can blame him. There has become less of a need for engineers as we outsource more work to foreign countries. Engineering majors now choose to get their MBA or become investment bankers as opposed to engineers due to the lack of opportunities in their field.

It is only a matter of time before the debt owned by college students spirals out of control to unsustainable levels and the college bubble will burst. More and more Americans now realize that getting a college degree is no longer worth what it used to.

tuition inflationAnd who is responsible for unsustainable levels of tuition inflation?

The federal government who lets college campuses increase their tuition and shells out billions in federal student aide to students who probably shouldn’t even have received their HS diploma.

Banks who lure students and their parents in taking out easy student loans. And those students remaining forever indentured in their debts.

College campuses for increasing tuition faster than natural inflation rates, and offering degrees that don’t help students contribute to society and our local economies.

Blog post inspired by the National Inflation Association

May 9, 2011
Wahid Hussaini

Better Than Going Hybrid: Going Vegan

vegetarianSemi-(dietary)-Vegan Start

Contrary to what you may think from the title, I’m not going to persuade you to become a vegan (or a vegetarian). All I am advocating is to occasionally let go of meat solely for the purpose of saving money and helping the environment, and the welfare of animals. Adding meat to your meals generally adds to the cost of your food purchases and increases your carbon footprint.

Before I move on though, I want to make it clear that I do not intend to undermine the vegan lifestyle by asking the general public to be semi-vegan. I myself have great respect for vegans as they contribute to a better environment and greater welfare for animals.

Vegans are definitely a great example of how people can live sustainable lives. I would love to elaborate but I must move on. Feel free to check out the links below to just two vegan websites for more information.

vegetarian foodCash Strapped

Currently in my fourth (and hopefully last) year of university, I am in a small sum of debt from the past three months, therefore I need ways to save money; desperate times call for desperate measures.

When you are cash-strapped to the point that you are counting every dollar you part with, you tend to think more critically of how to save money. Although it is no secret that avoiding meat saves you money, I didn’t actually practice this until recently.

Start Slow

For the meat lover letting go of meat will be hard I’m sure. Therefore it is best to take baby steps. Maybe start with having no meat for just one day out of every week. If you are willing to go for more, then by all means go right ahead.

The most versatile foods, such as pasta, rice, beans and peanut butter are a lot cheaper than meat products. And even when counting the more expensive vegan products such as soy meat and vegan cookies, the savings will still outweigh the cost of meat.

fun chicken happyIt may sound hypocritical at first, but remember that you don’t have to call yourself vegan. There are no rules. Most people (including myself) are not able to sacrifice meat entirely.

And to people who say that going partially vegan does not help anyone, that would be like saying “I can’t solve all the world’s problems, so I won’t solve any of them.”

Remember that you would only have to avoid meat products for a certain number of days out of every week or a specific number of meals solely to save you money. It may not be vegan, but it’s simply economical and environmentally friendly.

Economically, Environmentally and Animal Friendly

To continue on my last point, going (at least partially) vegan incurs other benefits. Money aside, people who avoid meat products are environmentally friendly.

In fact, you would lower your carbon footprint more so by going vegan than from swapping your car for a hybrid vehicle. There is also the benefit of saving animals; every vegan person saves about 50 animals a year!

milk veganThis also goes for animal products too. Switching from regular cow’s milk to soy or almond milk lowers your carbon footprint further. Raising dairy cows requires much more grain and energy than growing soy.

In addition to the economical and environmental benefits, including more plant-based foods in your diet will incur a much better overall health. You’ll feel better about yourself, the environment and you’ll have a healthier wallet.

Apr 20, 2011
Wahid Hussaini

Efficient Transit through Outer Boroughs

New York City has long boasted its subway system, and continues to lead the rest of the United States with low car-ownership and high bus, subway, and rail ridership. Manhattan, the crown jewel of New York City, is almost completely navigable by subway. With the subway implemented beginning in 1904, the city has continued to expand the subway…until the 1960′s.

Transit Capital of America, Not the World

Taking a look at a New York City subway map you can’t help but notice how Manhattan is practically covered by subway service (specifically below Central Park South) while the other boroughs have lines that travel through them into Manhattan and only into Manhattan. The system is entirely Manhattan-centric. Out of the city’s 26 lines, every single one of them but the G line travel through Manhattan. Compare that to only 10 lines traveling through Queens.

Getting into and through Manhattan from most of the city is rather easy, but getting from one outer borough to another is quite a journey indeed. The total number of commuters (including bus, subway, and car) from Brooklyn and Queens has increased 32% while ridership between Brooklyn and Manhattan increased only 13%. Additionally, people from the Bronx are traveling into Queens and Westchester County instead, while people in Staten Island are traveling more into Brooklyn and New Jersey rather than Manhattan.

Street Car, Subway, Light-Rail and Buses

BQE traffic congestionThe majority of public transit ridership between Brooklyn and Queens is either via bus or via subway. This is of course not including the hordes who travel by car through horrendous traffic. When traveling via subway commuters have to travel through Manhattan first. Brooklyn and Queens border each other, why would anyone travel through Manhattan to get to the other borough? Well bus service is so unbearably slow that traveling via subway through Manhattan is in fact faster. As vast as the transit system is, that is very inefficient for a city that wants to reduce its carbon-footprint even further.

People may argue that it is simply not feasible economically to build a subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. Well, I would agree with them. Instead of a subway, why not implement street cars? They are much more cost effective than a subway, and will be faster to build.

Street cars would be better (and sexier) than Bus Rapid Transit because steel wheels on steel rail is much more efficient than rubber tires on asphault. And people are naturally more inclined towards streetcars as opposed to buses because they are “higher-class” as well as the ability to run as smooth as a subway.

Some kind of light rail, or right-of-way mass transit line, such as the Triborough RX, would cut through traffic and connect almost every single line in the system radially as the following map shows.

Triboro RX

Notice that this line really would pass through every single line in the system (except the G). For people living in these boroughs, they can very easily and quickly notice how much easier it would be to travel to and through other outer boroughs. The economies of the outer boroughs are exploding, and the need for real transit is desperate and hindering further growth.

With gas prices being what they are, there really is no reason not to implement an efficient and much needed addition to the system. The question is not if the outer boroughs need the system, but whether it should be by light rail or subway. And as for the issue of when this should be built, now would be great.

Apr 9, 2011
Wahid Hussaini

Gasoline Prices & Public Transport

The average price of gasoline is fast approaching $4.00 per gallon and there is probably no turning back prices now. Unlike the rice of gas prices in 2008, this rise will most likely remain with us and is likely to only rise further. Why is this?

Oil consumption USA China India

Simply because the USA is now competing for oil with emerging economies in Asia, particularly China and India. China will see no stop with the growth of its economy. And with a growing economy comes the hunger for energy. China has already surpassed Japan to claim the second largest economy in the world. At this rate, China will surpass the US in terms of its economy as well. The question is not if they surpass the US, but when?

China is taking crucial steps so that their infrastructure keeps pace with their exploding economy. For one thing they are implementing high speed rail connecting their major cities. This reduces the need for jet fuel as High Speed trains are much more efficient in transporting large numbers of people. While China is busy with their High Speed Rail, the US seems to be stuck in the Stone age, with our congressmen deciding on weather it is feasible to cut funding for education, cutting taxes for large corporations, neglecting the need for jobs, cutting Planned Parenthood (a mere 0.17 percent of the federal budget), and deciding whether or not Climate Change is real. Congress might as well decide if gravitational theory is actually a conspiracy.

If our leaders continue to waste time on such mundane matters as opposed to updating our outdated infrastructure, we will not only forfeit the number one spot to China, but we will most likely fall behind the rest of the world as well.

Peak Oil

Looking at oil production for the period between 2005 – 2009, you can see the production has hit a plateau. However, China and India don’t seem to be slowing their consumption for energy. The US will undoubtedly pay more for energy unless we make drastic changes to our car cultured lifestyle.

Renewable energy, public transport, walk-ability in our cities, and stopping subsidies on oil and instead shifting it to public transport are measures that we must take immediately in order to prevent an energy crisis.

Wake Up!

Sustainability in Energy, Environment & Economy

If we don't make changes in the way we consume fossil fuels immediately, then we will be forced into it in a few short years. Either we can do transition gracefully now or we'll just pay for it later.

Transit: Public vs. Private

Smart Transportation

Sad Reality

peakoil congestedhighway plasticbottles