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Re: Wendell Cox

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  • Matt Lyons
    ... I have to agree with you there. After visiting demographia.com to hear Mr. Cox s arguments I came away with the impression that his motives are in line
    Message 1 of 9 , Aug 6 12:01 PM
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      --- In carfree_cities@y..., "Mike Lacey" <firefly956@h...> wrote:

      > Cox's vision is very narrow, being concerned only with traffic
      > reduction. Within that highly restrictive context his analysis is
      > probaly correct. However Cox show no interest in people oriented
      > analysis - personal mobility, quality of life, safety and freedom

      I have to agree with you there. After visiting demographia.com to
      hear Mr. Cox's arguments I came away with the impression that his
      motives are in line with the anti-society libertarian/property rights
      crowd. His statistics are very misleading and are presented in a way
      that tries to make sprawl seem like some sort of utopian paradise.
      To me the most ludicrous thing about his arguments is that they fail
      to address what is so blatently obvious. One only has to look at the
      sprawling, soulless landscape of Wal-Marts, McDonalds, and McMansions
      to see that something has gone terribly wrong with the American dream.

      However, many people in this country just don't realize the magnitude
      of the problem or they just choose to ignore it all together. At
      lunch today I was arguing with a co-worker about why sprawl is such a
      problem. His response was that its what the American public wants
      and that "freedom" comes before everything else. Nevermind that
      there is no real alternative to it in most U.S. cities. He said that
      people are basically greedy and that is why the prefer it. If they
      didn't want this they would vote against it. I'm not so sure that is
      the case. I don't believe people are basically greedy, but rather
      that people in the U.S. have been sold on the misleading idea that
      somehow excessive consumption is good for everything.

      In any case, I just discovered this discussion group a couple days
      ago. I'm originally from Atlanta and grew up there in the 70s in 80s
      (back when it was still a somewhat nice place to live). I moved away
      ten years ago and now live about an hour north of Asheville, NC,
      which is one of the nicest small cities in the U.S. if you ever get a
      chance to visit there. I've always been aware of the problems with
      urban sprawl, but didn't become seriously interested in it until I
      made a trip to France and Germany two years ago. I was literally
      blown away by how much nicer and more liveable their cities are.
      Flying back to Atlanta from Europe was totally surreal, as it became
      immediately obvious that Atlanta for the most part has all the charm
      of a corporate office park. Shortly after that I picked up a copy of
      Andres Duany's Suburban Nation and I've been a New Urbanist convert
      ever since. Urban sprawl is the greatest threat to life in this
      country and the thought of another 50 years of such planning is a
      horrifying indeed.

      Looking forward to continuing this discussion.

      -Matt
    • Mark Rauterkus
      Hi All, ... I m very libertairian, pro propety rights and pro society too. Try not to trip into a dark hole with a string-of-names and without grace nor
      Message 2 of 9 , Aug 6 2:37 PM
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        Hi All,

        Matt wrote in part in this thread:
        > After visiting demographia.com to
        > hear Mr. Cox's arguments I came away with the impression that his
        > motives are in line with the anti-society libertarian/property rights
        > crowd.

        I'm very libertairian, pro propety rights and pro society too. Try not to
        trip into a dark hole with a string-of-names and without grace nor universal
        understanding. I see some shifting sand foundations brewing, so I'll jump in
        here.

        > His statistics are very misleading and are presented in a way
        > that tries to make sprawl seem like some sort of utopian paradise.
        Face it, to some, sprawl is a real utopian paradise. Not me, not you
        perhaps. But, sprawl is "utopian paradise" for some folks and for good
        reason.

        I'd say aim for the roots, not the leaves.

        > To me the most ludicrous thing about his arguments is that they fail
        > to address what is so blatently obvious. One only has to look at the
        > sprawling, soulless landscape of Wal-Marts, McDonalds, and McMansions
        > to see that something has gone terribly wrong with the American dream.

        To play the devil's advocate again -- and that was the quest of this thread
        if I'm not mistaken -- here is another blatently obvious wound: inter-city
        America. Sadly, there are many neighborhoods in my city, Pittsburgh, PA,
        USA, where things are blatently ugly. Hence, we can't overlook those
        conditions as well.

        > His response was that its what the American public wants
        > and that "freedom" comes before everything else.
        I too feel strongly that freedom does come before everything else as well. I
        think you'd be better served not fighting that point on face-value.

        I tell a story, (ask a question). What is your #1 wish for your kids',
        kids', kids', kids (7th generation)? My wish if for them to be free. Many
        will agree with me.

        But, .... where I suggest you lead the conversation is to the realm of
        "responsibility." Every freedom advocate understands as well that
        "restraint" is a measure of freedom as well. There can be no freedom without
        an equal amount of restraint. That is where you win the day -- or expose the
        hope of your convictions.

        > Nevermind that
        > there is no real alternative to it in most U.S. cities. He said that
        > people are basically greedy and that is why the prefer it. If they
        > didn't want this they would vote against it. I'm not so sure that is
        > the case. I don't believe people are basically greedy, but rather
        > that people in the U.S. have been sold on the misleading idea that
        > somehow excessive consumption is good for everything.

        Now you've gone three steps beyond.... and I'm not sure I agree as well. My
        remarks are more for the very root of the discussion.

        > Urban sprawl is the greatest threat to life in this
        > country and the thought of another 50 years of such planning is a
        > horrifying indeed.

        Woops. Can't agree. The loss of freedom is the greatest threat to live in
        this country. Perhaps urban sprawl is a by-product of huge weakness in
        self-government, democracy, freedoms and restraints. IMHO, the city-folks
        have gotten out flanked by a few speculators and have had the rug of
        responsible democratic freedoms pulled from under them by a few with serious
        corporate interests.

        Ta.

        Mark Rauterkus
        mark@...

        http://Rauterkus.com
      • Matt Lyons
        ... not to ... universal ... I ll jump in ... Excellent. I wasn t expecting this sort of response, but I always enjoy a healthy bit of rational discourse. ...
        Message 3 of 9 , Aug 6 4:50 PM
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          --- In carfree_cities@y..., "Mark Rauterkus" <mark@R...> wrote:
          > Hi All,

          > I'm very libertairian, pro propety rights and pro society too. Try
          not to
          > trip into a dark hole with a string-of-names and without grace nor
          universal
          > understanding. I see some shifting sand foundations brewing, so
          I'll jump in
          > here.

          Excellent. I wasn't expecting this sort of response, but I always
          enjoy a healthy bit of rational discourse.

          > Face it, to some, sprawl is a real utopian paradise. Not me, not you
          > perhaps. But, sprawl is "utopian paradise" for some folks and for
          good
          > reason.

          Well the problem is there little or no alternative to sprawl type
          developments in a most parts of the U.S. Due to the postwar era of
          modern planning the traditional mixed use style of development is
          illegal in many places as it violates modern zoning laws. The only
          type of "new" development to choose from is of the suburban
          subdivision/fast food strip/shopping mall variety, as the high demand
          for traditional neighborhoods puts them out of reach of most middle
          class incomes.

          I'm not arguing against your freedom to drive a car or live out in
          the suburbs. I'm arguing for an equal dispersion of tax funds to
          provide for multiple transportation alternatives and the type of
          sustainable growth that I and many others are fond of.

          I'm wondering if you, as a Libertarian, object to the Federal
          government's massive subsidy of highway funds at the expense of other
          transportation alternatives? Since sprawl type development is largely
          dependent on access to cheap land, its not really a truly free market
          when taxpayers are up picking up the tab for that access is it?

          > To play the devil's advocate again -- and that was the quest of
          this thread
          > if I'm not mistaken -- here is another blatently obvious wound:
          inter-city
          > America. Sadly, there are many neighborhoods in my city,
          Pittsburgh, PA,
          > USA, where things are blatently ugly. Hence, we can't overlook those
          > conditions as well.

          Of course its expected that an area that has been abandoned and
          neglected for decades will be ugly. The relocation of the tax base
          from the city to the suburbs pretty much guaranteed that would
          happen.

          > I too feel strongly that freedom does come before everything else
          as well. I
          > think you'd be better served not fighting that point on face-value.

          Well in this case the particular "freedom" I was referring to was the
          notion of unhindered, unlimited consumer freedom. An example of this
          would be the "right" to own an SUV. It may personally provide the
          occupants a small margin of improved safety, but it doesn't do much
          for the majority who don't drive one when they get hit by three tons
          of steel. In a multiple vehicle crash the occupants of the car are
          four times more likely to be killed than the occupants of the SUV, in
          a side-impact collision with an SUV, they are 27 times more likely to
          die.

          http://www.suv.org/safety.html

          But this notion of unhindered consumer freedom says that is OK. The
          fact that your vehicle choice is collectively making driving much
          more dangerous doesn't matter since as an individual you're
          benefiting from it.

          > I tell a story, (ask a question). What is your #1 wish for your
          kids',
          > kids', kids', kids (7th generation)? My wish if for them to be
          free. Many
          > will agree with me.

          Being more than a little bit idealistic here, my wish would be for
          them to live in a free world with clean air, water, and liveable
          cities that doesn't come at of excessive detriment to the natural
          world. One with an efficient transportation system that doesn't
          consume two or three hours of their waking day getting to and from
          work. One where quality of life is a more imporatant concern than
          quantity of life. Not one where our environment is so poisoned by
          excessive self interest that people travel around isolated in little
          steel boxes and live in gated communities because they are afraid of
          the people around them.

          > But, .... where I suggest you lead the conversation is to the realm
          of
          > "responsibility." Every freedom advocate understands as well that
          > "restraint" is a measure of freedom as well. There can be no
          freedom without
          > an equal amount of restraint. That is where you win the day -- or
          expose the
          > hope of your convictions.

          > Woops. Can't agree. The loss of freedom is the greatest threat to
          live in
          > this country. Perhaps urban sprawl is a by-product of huge weakness
          in
          > self-government, democracy, freedoms and restraints. IMHO, the city-
          folks
          > have gotten out flanked by a few speculators and have had the rug of
          > responsible democratic freedoms pulled from under them by a few
          with serious
          > corporate interests.

          The problem is that the particular "freedom" you're defending is
          somewhat exclusive since it requires the ownership of an automobile
          to partake in. Additionally in most cities there is very little
          choice associated with that freedom i.e. I can have any method of
          transport I want as long as it is by automobile. If I'm too young,
          too old, too poor, or otherwise physically prohibited from driving
          then my "freedom" in a city based around sprawl type development is
          very limited.

          You're right that urban sprawl is a of huge weakness in the system of
          self-government, democracy, freedoms and restraints. However I'm a
          little confused here, as in general Libertarians are against any such
          restraints instead favoring the individual responsibility that your
          advocated above. However, it is arguably that very lack
          of "responsibility" that that drives sprawl type development in the
          first place. The perpetrators or sprawl type planning - corporate
          franchises, absentee landowners, and real estate speculators have
          little or no stake in the future of a community. Their only concern
          is to extract wealth from the natural resources and inhabitants of
          the area. As a result such intangible concepts as quality of life
          don't really factor into their concept of responsibilty.

          This however leads into the much bigger issue of corporatization and
          the subjugation of the democratic process which I won't go into
          today. Urban sprawl, however, is in my opinion the most visible
          expression of the corporate "Consume and you will be Free" philosophy
          that more often than not we use to connotate freedom in this day and
          age.

          -Matt
        • Mark Rauterkus
          ... Bingo! Very good point. Case in point: In Pittsburgh, should a row house be torn down (due to total need -- say bad roof for 5 years), it can t be
          Message 4 of 9 , Aug 7 8:11 AM
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            > ... Due to the postwar era of
            > modern planning the traditional mixed use style of development is
            > illegal in many places as it violates modern zoning laws.

            Bingo! Very good point.

            Case in point: In Pittsburgh, should a "row house" be torn down (due to
            total need -- say bad roof for 5 years), it can't be "re-built." The new
            laws say you need say 5-feet on each side of the property line (? exact) for
            new building. Well, many of these row houses are on lots 15-foot wide.

            So, the zoning laws (very un-Libertarian) get in the way for in-fill
            developments in places that used to hold such buildings.

            That is wrong. I'd be in favor of zapping most zoning laws. Too much
            government.

            So, in this case -- the anti-sprawl friends are the pro-society
            Libertarians.

            > I'm wondering if you, as a Libertarian, object to the Federal
            > government's massive subsidy of highway funds at the expense of other
            > transportation alternatives?

            Mostly. But, there are some other transportation alternatives that I'm not
            fond of as well. Maglev (magnetic levitation trains -- high speed) is
            something that I don't think we should purchase for a number of reasons.
            But, I'm in big favor of plain old heavy rail.

            > Since sprawl type development is largely
            > dependent on access to cheap land, its not really a truly free market
            > when taxpayers are up picking up the tab for that access is it?
            Agree. But, I might stress, sprawl development is largely dependent upon the
            flight of urban areas too. The attraction to the new houses out there is
            less than the avoidance to the conditions that have gone bad.

            > Of course its expected that an area that has been abandoned and
            > neglected for decades will be ugly. The relocation of the tax base
            > from the city to the suburbs pretty much guaranteed that would
            > happen.

            I see it a bit in another way. Has the tax base of the city shrunk? If there
            was a "land value tax" -- it is hard to shrink the tax base unless the land
            is annexed to another municipal entity -- or the neighborhood gets flooded
            for some high-dam project. :)

            And, as sprawl happens, the people move in far in advance of the tax base.
            Right. So, the shifting of the taxes (most of all in a TIF setting - tax
            incentive finance deal) comes at a much later date than the original
            building.

            Q: Isn't there a cash-flow problem with sprawl too? The relocation of the
            tax base is more of an artifact to the sprawl, less the cause of it.

            But, the real prime mover (string pullers) is the corporate interests and
            speculators. These folks can control politicians and set the course for
            self-government in their favor. The speculators have out-foxed the citizens
            in the application of the process of democracy.

            >
            > > I too feel strongly that freedom does come before everything else
            > as well. I
            >> think you'd be better served not fighting that point on face-value.
            >
            > Well in this case the particular "freedom" I was referring to was the
            > notion of unhindered, unlimited consumer freedom. An example of this
            > would be the "right" to own an SUV. It may personally provide the
            > occupants a small margin of improved safety, but it doesn't do much
            > for the majority who don't drive one when they get hit by three tons
            > of steel. In a multiple vehicle crash the occupants of the car are
            > four times more likely to be killed than the occupants of the SUV, in
            > a side-impact collision with an SUV, they are 27 times more likely to
            > die.
            >
            > http://www.suv.org/safety.html
            >
            > But this notion of unhindered consumer freedom says that is OK. The
            > fact that your vehicle choice is collectively making driving much
            > more dangerous doesn't matter since as an individual you're
            > benefiting from it.

            You make good points. But, I'd still stand by the original concept that
            there are never any unhindered consumer freedoms. Stress the fact that
            FREEDOMs always come with restraints.

            > Being more than a little bit idealistic here, my wish would be for
            > them to live in a free world with clean air, water, and liveable
            > cities that doesn't come at of excessive detriment to the natural
            > world. One with an efficient transportation system that doesn't
            > consume two or three hours of their waking day getting to and from
            > work. One where quality of life is a more imporatant concern than
            > quantity of life. Not one where our environment is so poisoned by
            > excessive self interest that people travel around isolated in little
            > steel boxes and live in gated communities because they are afraid of
            > the people around them.

            You get just one wish. The genie is going back into the bottle. :)



            >>The loss of freedom is the greatest threat to live in
            >> this country. Perhaps urban sprawl is a by-product of huge weakness
            > in
            >> self-government, democracy, freedoms and restraints. IMHO, the city-
            > folks
            >> have gotten out flanked by a few speculators and have had the rug of
            >> responsible democratic freedoms pulled from under them by a few
            >> with serious corporate interests.
            >
            > The problem is that the particular "freedom" you're defending is
            > somewhat exclusive since it requires the ownership of an automobile
            > to partake in.

            Nope. I'm talking general terms. And, I'm sure that our freedom (in the USA)
            is a vehicle with four flat tires. It isn't healthy today. So, I agree with
            what you say that follows. But, my freedom vision isn't exclusive nor
            particular.

            > Additionally in most cities there is very little
            > choice associated with that freedom i.e. I can have any method of
            > transport I want as long as it is by automobile. If I'm too young,
            > too old, too poor, or otherwise physically prohibited from driving
            > then my "freedom" in a city based around sprawl type development is
            > very limited.


            > You're right that urban sprawl is a of huge weakness in the system of
            > self-government, democracy, freedoms and restraints. However I'm a
            > little confused here, as in general Libertarians are against any such
            > restraints instead favoring the individual responsibility that your
            > advocated above.

            Okay.

            > However, it is arguably that very lack
            > of "responsibility" that that drives sprawl type development in the
            > first place. The perpetrators or sprawl type planning - corporate
            > franchises, absentee landowners, and real estate speculators have
            > little or no stake in the future of a community. Their only concern
            > is to extract wealth from the natural resources and inhabitants of
            > the area. As a result such intangible concepts as quality of life
            > don't really factor into their concept of responsibilty.

            Okay.

            > This however leads into the much bigger issue of corporatization and
            > the subjugation of the democratic process which I won't go into
            > today.

            Fine. FWIW, you've done a good job of not getting into it today anyway. :)

            > Urban sprawl, however, is in my opinion the most visible
            > expression of the corporate "Consume and you will be Free" philosophy
            > that more often than not we use to connotate freedom in this day and
            > age.

            Nods -- so -- we have to have them flip over the coin of freedom that is in
            their own hands/pockets. Don't shame them into it -- or don't steal it back
            from them. Rather, smart them into it for their own good and we have a
            win/win for society.

            The advertised facade of freedom from corporate America is false. The
            heartbeat of America -- whatever -- isn't about turning the ignition key and
            driving down some winding road. We all agree. Let's not run from freedom
            because of some false facade from Madison Avenue. Let's show the other side.
            That is the way to stop them in their tracks once in for all. Cut them at
            their roots.

            Do you know what is really free? Me walking down the steps to work each
            morning. I am free as I take care of my own children. I'm free as I don't
            need to move my car for a week.

            Mark Rauterkus
            mark@...
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