|Manufacturing Failure||Winning by Losing|
by Christopher Chantrill
February 26, 2007 at 3:37 am
EVERYONE KNOWS our American cities are blighted by sprawl. In the old days, cities were built with a certain regard for aesthetic qualities and the human scaleas anyone knows who has visited the cities of Europe.
In the United States our neighborhoods are cut in two by gigantic roaring freeways, and cities sprawl out with low-density development at the bidding of the automobile and the commercial strip developer. What is needed is some sort of rational control of sprawl to preserve the human scale and to prevent the bulldozing of open space and irreplaceable farmland into the maw of the insatiable developer.
With mass transit and with rational planning for smart growth driven by urban planners instead of developers we can begin to reverse the damage done to the urban landscape by a century of uncontrolled development driven by the demand of the almighty dollar.
Then theres Smart Growth 54923 in Berlin, Wisconsin, formed to fight the relocation of the local Wal-Mart. According to M.A. Binder: Wal-Marts are a monopoly. They are about greed.
These smart growth activists are actually the third wave of anti-sprawl reformers, according to Robert Bruegmann in Sprawl: A Compact History. Bruegmann is a professor of art history and urban planning at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He finds the great and the good have always worried about urban sprawl, and they usually worry about it during an economic boom. But while they absolutely hate todays sprawl, they often love yesterdays sprawl and fight to preserve it.
Anyway, what exactly is sprawl? Does it mean the 10-acre exurban estates of people who can afford a real mansion landscaped tastefully into a grove of trees? Or does it mean McMansions built in large developments convenient to the stores and offices at a nearby regional mall? What about the hip people gentrifying a run down neighborhood? After gentrification, the population density in hip neighborhoods is invariably lower than when the neighborhood was a bustling working-class community. Does that count as sprawl?
Bruegmann twinkles that Sprawl is subdivisions and strip malls intended for middle- and lower-middle-class families.
But at least you can escape sprawl by moving to Europe. Sorry, advises Bruegmann. Its already too late.
Take the quintessential European city: Paris. Did you know that the population density in the central arrondissements has been declining for a century? It reached 200,000 people per square mile in the mid-nineteenth century, but is now down to 75,000 per square mile. Of the total of 10 million people in the Paris region, the vast majority live in suburbs and exurbsbeyond the violent public-housing estatesin single-family homes and commute from suburb to suburb in their cars.
And that is not all. Did you know that Europeans dont use buses and trains too much? Back in 1950 European bus, rail, and auto use each stood at about 200 billion passenger-kilometers per year. Today, bus and rail use is about the same as fifty years ago. But automobile use is up by an order of magnitude, at 3,500 billion passenger-kilometers per year, in good old mass-transit friendly Europe.
Fortunately, we are soon going to find out whether the ideas of the smart growth planners really work. Portland, Oregon decided to implement rational urban planning in the Portland area back in the 1960s, and has since defined an urban growth boundary to stop sprawl and built a region-wide light-rail system. The idea was to avoid Los Angeles style sprawl. Actually, population density in the Portland area is today about half the population density of the Los Angeles region, so increasing population density in the Portland area will likely make it more like Los Angeles.
The effort to increase population density in Portland should have interesting political effects. Says Bruegmann: The only thing that citizens dislike more than sprawl at the edge is higher density near themselves.
The odd thing is that notorious sprawl cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix dont really sprawl. They have a fairly even population density across the entire metropolitan area. And at the end of the water main, the population density in the desert drops to zero. In the Northeast the high-density cities are surrounded by a vast halo of very low-density exurban dwellings often owned by successful professionals deeply committed to environmental values.
But never call it sprawl. Sprawl is other people living too large and living too close.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel