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It's not just about cars (was: "America's Epidemic of Youth Obesity")

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  • turpin
    ... Cars are just one element of how sprawl, generally, is subsidized. Most people who live in the exurbs require not just an automobile to get to the city,
    Message 1 of 33 , Dec 5, 2002
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      Richard Risemberg <rickrise@e...> wrote:
      > Of ocurse many things should be subsidized--
      > that's what the phrase "provide for the
      > common welfare" implies in the Constitution,
      > that's what is the basis of civilization--
      > but something as destructive to both earth
      > and society as total dependence on private
      > cars at public expense is not among them.

      Cars are just one element of how sprawl, generally, is subsidized.
      Most people who live in the exurbs require not just an automobile to
      get to the city, and the roads to travel on, but reasonably
      inexpensive phone lines, electricity, and similar services. The US
      has public policy going back to the early part of the 20th century to
      electrify rural areas, and to regulate utility rates in a way that
      subsidizes those in rural areas (where it was expensive to run line)
      at the expense of the urbanite. The TVA frequently is heralded as the
      shining star of early liberalism, of how an expansive view of
      providing for the common welfare is good for the nation. Even today,
      few people connect such policies with sprawl, the encroachment of low
      density development on formerly cultivated or wild land, and
      automobile dependence.

      But that indeed was the eventual unintended consequence of those
      early policies. Once a public service becomes part of the normal
      environment, it gets locked in, and other subsidies are built on top
      of it. What sense does it make to provide roads, if the evil
      utilities are won't supply economic electricity and phone service?
      And once the government is supplying the roads, well, of course, it
      has to expand them to meet the "demand." Before you know it, half the
      population in many metropolitan areas is living in suburbs that once
      were small farming communities, where the houses are cheap (and the
      electricity, phone, and roads no more expensive), and so what if they
      commute half an hour each way?

      It's ironic, of course, that the suburbanites whose cherished
      environment is the result of a century of liberal subsidies spout
      semi-libertarian criticisms against public subsidies, blind to their
      own dependence on them. But it's equally ironic that the liberals who
      hate exurban sprawl fail to see that it is the accidental but
      inevitable result of a century of programs that liberals still
      herald. There's enough hypocrisy on both sides to start a dozen
      seminaries.
    • paulparma <info@venetianpassage.com>
      ... Should we be targeting the transportation departments as well as , maybe even preceding lobbying the legislators? These guys are are the ones under
      Message 33 of 33 , Dec 11, 2002
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        --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@c...>

        > I see a window of opportunity here. The next year or two are going
        > to be years of budget crises in the USA, especially at the state
        > level. ....................
        >
        > Are we ready? Can we organize to take adantage of this opportunity?
        > Can we start a massive program of writing to legislators and news
        > media? Can anyone take responsibilty for coming up with the best
        > numbers we've got and working them into some generalized press
        > releases? Can others tailor these for local environments and get
        > them into the right hands? Lots of work, but some real chance of
        > a payback.
        >

        Should we be targeting the transportation departments as well as ,
        maybe even preceding lobbying the legislators? These guys are are the
        ones under presure; there's all that federal money, waiting to be
        matched, because we are still driving and paying those federal gas tax
        dollars, so the federal pile keeps getting bigger, and unused. Won't
        the state folks know that as the DIRECT gas taxes go up, the gas usage
        goes down. Which I think, if this is in fact so, can be properly
        countered with, sure, now you'll have all the money you need to do
        what ever people want to pay for.... so trtansit, and most central,
        dense building and rebuilding, wil get a fare shake.

        To me this is the thing we have to discuss, besides the numbers, and
        were it comes from now stuff; that is we need to diccuss what we think
        the very astute sense of the xportation administrators to know that if
        they raise the gas taxes, revinue, especially in a recovered economy
        will be down from what it could be in the current methodology. I
        think that the game has in fact changed in that toll roads are now
        the previlent building mode.... discussion by more informed
        members....

        Paul Parma
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