To this group [libertarians], which is quite skilled at mustering facts in support of its utterly counterintuitive claims, the only rebuttal is to revert to common sense and a single question: How, by any possible stretch of the imagination, could it be considered efficient, healthy, or even acceptable to have spent the better part of a society’s wealth constructing a national landscape in which most citizens require a one-ton, poison-belching prosthetic device to satisfy their daily needs? (Slap forehead and continue … )Yes, Jeff, let us ignore facts and respond to them with common sense. The most recent administration didn't like facts much, and clearly neither do you. If you don't like the evidence, just ignore it. Because we all know that like George W Bush, Duany knows all, and can't be bother with facts--such as the fact that people all over the world really, really like their cars.
Monday, June 07, 2010
How New Urbanist Jeff Speck would fit into the Bush Adminstration
My colleague Lisa Schweitzer points me to Jeff Speck's screed against those who would question some of the tenants of the New Urbanist movement. This line stands out in particular:
Posted by Richard Green at 9:14 AM
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Well, "really, really like their cars" might be an exaggeration. I live in a two-car household. I find my cars to be necessary. But I'd like to live in a world in which I could more easily do more of my daily commuting (especially to and from work) other than by car. Given my job, the nature of the housing markets in northwest Indiana, and the state of public transportation, I have to drive...not I want to drive...Now, I could live closer to my job, but, frankly, the neighborhood isn't particularly safe. And the public transportation issue would persist.
Our revealed preferences are revealed in light of the institutional frameworks in which we live and in light of the legacy of past political decisions about urban structure and services. And in light of that history, yeah, I really, really like/want/need my car. But...
So, yeah, Speck is over-the-top, and I'd slap him down too. I'd also understand his frustrations.
It would be nice to look at the question itself and respond to that. I think he brings up a good point, at least one worthy of debate. If after that debate and after we understand the true cost of our car culture and corresponding transportation policy, we decide to continue with business as usual so be it. Interestingly if we did have a truly libertarian slant to our transportation policy our world would be quite different. Where would the highways come from? Or the oil? And who would protect the sea lanes to insure the supply of oil for our addiction? Not the government. We are in a time of great change as we watch the economy of our country and our world deteriorate. Our choices may be limited, just how limited remains to be seen. We can become informed about these issues so we can have this debate ( with the help of The University )or we can let policy makers make the choices for us, as they are used to doing.
By all means slap Pigou-taxes on cars to internalize their externalities. But Europeans spend a lot on gas, and yet their cities continue to sprawl, and when people can afford cars, they buy them.
Should we use more fuel efficient cars? Should we live in smaller houses? From a social welfare standpoint, the answer is almost certainly yes. But ground policy choices in getting prices right (as best we can) and letting people decide how to live their lives. And I am suspicious of anyone who snorts, "oh, all you have are facts on your side."
By all means lets keep the government out of our lives as much as we the people may decide but lets also get the government out of providing the tax incentives, loan guarantees, and outright give a ways to corporations that allow them to dictate policy that most Americans can't come close to understanding because they are formulated by corporate lobbists and paid off politicians in back room deals. Bring home our costly navy that we can no longer afford and we will see what happens to our transportation policy or should I say lack there of. And yes, we need reliable facts. That is an excellent point. Nobody can be trusted who claims that they have " all the facts ". Certainly I can not make that claim. And just as certainly I hope I can absorb and understand all sides in the debate. And thank you for raising the level of understanding in your blog.
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