It's not just about cars (was: "America's Epidemic of Youth Obesity")
- Richard Risemberg <rickrise@e...> wrote:
> Of ocurse many things should be subsidized--Cars are just one element of how sprawl, generally, is 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.
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
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
- --- In email@example.com, "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@c...>
> I see a window of opportunity here. The next year or two are goingShould we be targeting the transportation departments as well as ,
> 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.
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