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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: Wendell Cox

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  • 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 1 of 9 , Aug 6, 2001
      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 2 of 9 , Aug 6, 2001
        --- 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 3 of 9 , Aug 7, 2001
          > ... 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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