RE: [carfree_cities] Re: "America's Epidemic of Youth Obesity"-- NYT article
- Many of those wolves have cubs. Not all mature in their parents' mould.
Thomas Kuhn in his "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" (surely one of the
books of the 20thC) says new paradigms only replace the old when those who
believe in and maintain the old one die. They will never be convinced by the
arguments or polemic of an emerging paradigm - which did not mean such
arguments and the research and interpretation that accompanies them should
not be pursued. The old paradigm provides the rigorous structure against
which proponents of the new must direct and most critically hone and
strengthen their understanding of a new version pf reality. (Yes it is
another version of thesis, antitheses and synthesis and rationale for
dialect .. but I prefer Kuhn to Kant or Marx).
From: Richard Risemberg [mailto:rickrise@...]
Sent: 06 December 2002 15:56
Subject: Re: [carfree_cities] Re: "America's Epidemic of Youth
J.H. Crawford wrote:
> I'm no fan of Wendell Cox, but his positions are more nuanced thanI had many long personal exchanges with Wendell Cox several years ago,
> most people think.
and I find he is an intelligent man who told me he simply doesn't
believe Americans will ever choose to do anything other than drive
personal automobiles, even given a choice,....... That no one is
is beside the point; they want to feel like one wolves standing
silhouetted on a crag against a wild sunset even though the mirror would
show a bunch of pigs shouldering each other aside at the trough fo
publoic welfare. Note corporate welfare, after all.
- I have traded a few emails with Cox on his transport-policy listserv. It's
funny, being on this list and his. I find that Cox actually has some
interesting things to say, but the way in which he pursues his agenda with
bombast, misleading figures and pseudo-science obscures the important points
that should legitimately be advanced in discussion.
For example, Cox makes the valid point that many rail systems are often
pitched as "Congestion relief" when at best, they are merely mitigating
influences. Traffic is never going away in America until road pricing is
corrected and land use changes, and public officials that promote transit to
solve congestion are being duplicitous when they say this, because it is
just not true. Nevertheless, rather than sticking on this point, Cox makes
his "We could buy every new light rail rider a Lexus" arguments instead. In
the end, all of his appointments and experience have stemmed from the
strength of his partisanship, not his scholarship, which is lacking.
Cox's true colors shine through in the housing policy debate, where he is
constantly decrying the Portland UGB and how it is horrible for
affordability, often stating that it is unfair to minorities. However, one
never finds Cox or any of his pals (Randall O'Toole et al) speak up for the
location-efficient mortgage (LEM), a private sector solution to qualifying
people for mortgages that gives credit to those living near transit, for the
fact that they spend less on transport, and ergo can afford a higher monthly
payment. Most traditional mortgages solely count income to qualify
borrowers. Even if we never build another Smart Growth development, plenty
of minorities in existing city neighborhoods might move from renting to
owning under the LEM, and begin to accumlate more wealth that could be
reinvested in their communities. It is my belief that since this idea comes
from a pro smart-growth group in Chicago (Center for Neighborhood
Technology), they term it "social engineering" rather than what it is- a
market-based solution to the un-entrepreneurial lending industry which has
forgotten how to manage all but the most common (read: suburban housing
development mortgage lending based on income and credit report alone) types
of loans. If Cox et al were really interested in affordability, they'd
pursue large-lot zoning and LEM's with the same zeal. But they don't. I
called him on this on a Planetizen Op-Ed several months back, and while he
mocked several people who disagreed with him in his response, he did not
bother to address this at all.
Also, Cox will not disclose funding sources for his personal consultancy.
If he did, we would probably get an even clearer picture of where his
predictable conclusions about transit come from. More on this below.
This is an email I sent to my classmates awhile back, detailing how to track
the relationship between corporate interest and libertarian "research."
Generally, these articles by Cox, Randall O'Toole, and others are published
by a variety of "think tanks" or public policy groups around the country.
Many of them are highly libertarian and ideological in their bent (John
Locke Foundation), trying to dismantle as much government as humanly
possible, while others are more pro-business and of a traditionally
conservative bent (Reason Public Policy Foundation).
At first glance, it is easy to say, "well, these are simply the people who
believe very strongly in unlimited free property rights, or small
government." If it were only that simple. Where do these think tanks get
their money? Take a look at the Reason Foundation Annual Report, and you
will get a better idea.
According to this public document, published by Reason, they received $5.3
million in income last year. Of that, 20% (or $1,060,000) came from
corporate donations. On page 30 of the report, you will find a list of the
95 corporate contributors who chose to be identified. Divide the total
amount of corporate money by the 95 donors, and you get an average of
$11,160. Multiply that by the 12 companies listed above, and you get at
least $133,920 a year devoted to paying someone to do nothing but
The list includes:
American Petroleum Institute
Ford Motor Company
General Motors Corporation
National Air Transportation Association
Shell Oil Co.
All of these companies have a vested interest in road-building and the
continued subsidy of cheap oil from the Middle East, or the continued
weakening of investment in high-speed rail in the 100-500 mile distance
range. Notice that you do not see Southwest or JetBlue on here- the
discount carrier air strategy does not focus on hub and spoke operations to
move people distances that are in the 100-500 mile range. More than
anything, the airlines fear high-speed intercity rail that drops passengers
off in convenient locations in cities, not at airports on the fringe.
As you read reports by Wendell Cox and the various public policy groups he
purports to be a member of- note that the articles are usually decrying rail
investment, giving the top ten reasons to destroy Amtrak, and either
advocating further road investment or bus rapid transit. Is this a
coincidence? You decide.
There are other more involved arguments about why their interpretation of
Census data is woefully inadequate. As you guys learn about the dangers of
aggregate data with Asad and public goods theory with Feser and Meenu, you
will see how these factors are largely ignored in Cox's writings.
In conclusion, as planners, it's important to confront arguments like these
and refute them. For better or worse, Wendell Cox is considered an expert
in transportation in this country, despite no formal training whatsoever in
his educational background. It is our responsibility to sit with those who
may be receptive to a critique of his claims and patiently and logically
explain why Cox is not interested solely in community welfare.
Final Exhibit: Cox's speaking brochure
Patrick J. McDonough
Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard Risemberg [mailto:rickrise@...]
> Sent: 06 December 2002 15:56
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: [carfree_cities] Re: "America's Epidemic of Youth
> Obesity"--NYT article
> J.H. Crawford wrote:
> > I'm no fan of Wendell Cox, but his positions are more nuanced than
> > most people think.
> I had many long personal exchanges with Wendell Cox several years ago,
> and I find he is an intelligent man who told me he simply doesn't
> believe Americans will ever choose to do anything other than drive
> personal automobiles, even given a choice,....... That no one is
> is beside the point; they want to feel like one wolves standing
> silhouetted on a crag against a wild sunset even though the mirror would
> show a bunch of pigs shouldering each other aside at the trough fo
> publoic welfare. Note corporate welfare, after all.