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Re: Wendell Cox

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  • 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 1 of 9 , Aug 6, 2001
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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 2 of 9 , Aug 7, 2001
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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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