It's late and I don't have time to do this justice, but I do want to take a minute and get it in the housing thread, because it concerns a claim that shows up a lot, implicitly and explicitly.
Before the housing crisis reached a boil, the main argument offered by the NYT/Vox YIMBYs was based on the carbon footprint of people driving long distances to their jobs. We might push back on their estimates of the impact of the commuting (particularly in an age of remote work) compared to other green policy changes, but there's no question that having fewer cars on the road driving less would be an environmental win. Nor is there any question that far too many people are forced to make horrifying commutes because they can't find affordable housing closer to major employment centers.
But can we go further and treat housing choice as a simple, straightforward trade-off between commuting distance and affordability? Probably not. There's quite a bit of research around this question that I hopefully will have time to get into later, but for now I've got some interesting counter-examples that are especially relevant to our ongoing discussion.
From the American Community Survey, here are commute times for those who do not work from home. [quick caveat, I'm not familiar with ACS data so it's possible I'm missing something]:
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