In California, Cars Drive You

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California filed a lawsuit against the six largest automakers operating in the United States, contending that car and truck emissions are causing global warming, injuring the state's environment, economy and endangering public health.

Further down in that news report (from Washington Post via San Jose Mercury News site):

The complaint blames global warming for raising sea levels along the state's coastline, increasing ozone pollution in big cities, increasing the threat of wildfires and reducing the fresh water flowing from mountain snow packs.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer pegged current damages at "tens of millions of dollars." He said the amount could grow as the lawsuit fight continues over time.

"Money is being spent in our regulatory system preparing for small disruptions in the water supply due to the smaller snow pack, saltwater intrusion of the water supply, beach erosion," Lockyer said in an interview Wednesday. "There is a lot of spending that is already ongoing that we are claiming. The point is, taxpayers shouldn't pay for those damages, the industry should."

Obviously, incredibly complicated questions of causation and blame are involved here (which, we can confidently predict, may or may not be handled with exquisite precision and justice as this lawsuit proceeds and the amount of cash involved, as Lockyer predicts, grows) but an early step along the path ought to be answering the question…who is driving the cars? As a California driver, I'm pretty sure it isn't any of the automakers currently being sued. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that the problems that Lockyer insists California taxpayers should not be paying for may–in some cases–be caused by California taxpayer themselves.

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  1. So your lawnmower exploded when you pulled the cord.

    Hey, man, YOU tried to start it.

  2. Sea levels are not rising.

  3. So my lawnmower cut off a few fingers when I stuck my hand in the spinning blade.

    Hey, man, THEY made it without a finger-protector-auto-shut-off system.

  4. Dude,
    You know what would be really cool? If Automakers boycotted CA. All of them. No more new cars sold in CA.

    It wouldn’t happen, because of the millions of dollars in the CA market. But it would be cool.

    You don’t like cars huh? OK you don’t get any then.

    It would cost CA a whole lot more than it would cost the car companies.

  5. This lawsuit is a lot like the lawsuits that several states brought against gunmakers a couple years ago.

    It would be even more like those lawsuits if those attorneys general and their staffs shot guns haphazardly into crowds as they traveled from place to place: I can only assume that the attorney general and his staff use cars.

  6. Reminds me of the RIAA suing Kazaa because Kazaa’s users could engage in copyright infringement. The idea seems to be ‘if a wrong has been committed, but suing the person responsible might cause a public relations problem, sue any bad guy and make some convoluted allegation of responsibility.’

  7. Isn’t this law suit asking the rest of the country to pay California’s bills? If the state succesfully sues the car companies they will raise their prices throughout the country to recoup their loses over time, effectively tapping the pockets of all Americans and sending that money to Cali. What an odd state…

  8. This makes me want to turn in my bar license and do something more respectable. Like poledance in public for loose change, or cleaning port-a-potties.

  9. I can appreciate Doherty’s larger point, though. Should we sue all the developers who built auto-dependent suburbs? This seems to be a systemic problem with how our society operates, not a case of automobile manufacturers being negligent.

  10. I can appreciate Doherty’s larger point, though. Should we sue all the developers who built auto-dependent suburbs? This seems to be a systemic problem with how our society operates, not a case of automobile manufacturers being negligent.

  11. So the use of a gun to kill someone is okay but making the gun is bad? Do I have that right? If they were really serious, they would round up and incarcerate all drivers in California.

    For those convinced that anthropogenic contributions to global warming are the significant cause, let me just suggest that this kind of hysteria might be a bit off-putting.

  12. “You know what would be really cool? If Automakers boycotted CA.”

    Shortly after California enacted a statewide ban on .50 rifles, the LAPD sent theirs in to Barrett for some refurbishment work.

    Barrett responded with a letter stating that he wasn’t sure when they’d get around to doing the needed repairs, and that he would no longer sell any of his firearms to law enforcement agencies in California.

  13. well, I don’t see where law enforcement needs .50 cal rifles anyway…who do they think they are, the LA Army?

  14. So your lawnmower exploded when you pulled the cord.

    Hey, man, YOU tried to start it.

    You’re kidding, right? The difference, of course, is that a properly functioning lawnmower is not supposed to explode. A properly functioning auto, on the other hand, is going to pollute, and any driver who doesn’t know that is (fill in the blank).

  15. GM offered the EV1 (all electric car) in CA a while back. It didn’t sell. Does that get them off the hook?

  16. As a lifelong resident of California, I am amazed (not to mention more than a little bit disgusted) that Mr. Lockyer decides to sue about this, while declining to lead the charge in defense of our own Prop. 215 medical marijuana initiative.

    Lockyer’s complaint alleges that California’s millions of automobiles constitute a PUBLIC NUISANCE.

    Has there ever been a case, in which something has been declared a PUBLIC NUISANCE, when it has been so pervasively, enthusiastically embraced by the public (despite the fact that less copiously emitting alternatives, such as public transit, exist)? This sounds like the rankest kind of doublespeak to me.

    Lockyer’s suit neglects to mention that we’re not talking about rolling CO2 generators, here. These are conveyances, providing the important public good of transportation. Transportation provided by automotive vehicles helps California’s economy be flexible and nimble, and directly creates to the wealth that is taxed to handle the consequences he cites. In other words, no public good comes without a price, and Mr. Lockyear is declaring that he wants to stick the car companies with much of that bill.

    Did you know that two average cows produce as much CO2 in a year as one average car? The choices of beef-eating, dairy-consuming automobile drivers in CA are responsible for quite a bit of CO2 production, not to mention methane (a worse, yet lucikly less plentiful greenhouse gas). If Mr. Lockyer is successful in his suit against automobile manufacturers, will he next go after beef ranchers and dairy farmers? How about strict curbs on immigration and reproduction? After all, 20 people exhale as much CO2 in a year as the average car produces, and California’s population is growing by leaps and bounds.

    In the end, whatever CO2 balance exists does so because of the mere existence of millions of people, along with their lifestyle choices. This is a problem of “overpopulation” exacerbated by “lifestyle.” If California doesn’t address overpopulation and the lifestyle choices of Californians, it cannot hope to be effective in this matter; but if it DOES address overpopulation and the lifestyle choices of Californians, what is to distinguish it from, say, the government of China?

  17. You know what would be really cool? If Automakers boycotted CA. All of them. No more new cars sold in CA./

    More realistically, maybe automakers could decline to offer the State of California fleet pricing anymore. Boo hoo. Automakers could use the extra money to fend off asinine government cash grabs.

    Barrett responded with a letter stating that he wasn’t sure when they’d get around to doing the needed repairs, and that he would no longer sell any of his firearms to law enforcement agencies in California.

    Good for Barrett for standing on principle. Of course, he probably didn’t lose that much business. And with his sales to the US Military, I’m sure he’s not hurting for business.

  18. People exhale carbon dioxide, you know. I’m suing each and everyone of you in a gigantic reverse class action suit. People who have produced more carbon dioxide exhalers will be liable for treble damages.

    Let’s see. . .300 million times. . .hmmmm.

    How many cars does the State of California own and operate? I’m suing them, too, for contributing to global warming.

  19. I can hardly wait to see the lawsuit against churches for ‘Acts of God.’

  20. “Good for Barrett for standing on principle. Of course, he probably didn’t lose that much business. And with his sales to the US Military, I’m sure he’s not hurting for business.”

    FWIW, it’s also been a marketing coup of the highest order.

  21. “The difference, of course, is that a properly functioning lawnmower is not supposed to explode. A properly functioning auto, on the other hand, is going to pollute…”

    I guess that’s the question, then, isn’t it? Does the contribution to global warming count as what a car is “supposed” to do?

  22. “The difference, of course, is that a properly functioning lawnmower is not supposed to explode. A properly functioning auto, on the other hand, is going to pollute…”

    I guess that’s the question, then, isn’t it? Does the contribution to global warming count as what a car is “supposed” to do?

    Anyway, crimethink, I brought up the point to address the narrow point “…but an early step along the path ought to be answering the question…who is driving the cars? As a California driver, I’m pretty sure it isn’t any of the automakers currently being sued.”

    IF the automobile manufacturers were negligent in producing cars that emitted greenhouse gasses, as we all agree a lawnmower manufacturer would be in producing exploding lawnmowers, then the fact that the consumers purchases and used the product does not void the manufacturer’s liability.

    BTW, I’m pretty sure this case is doomed. I’m just trying to reason through the logic.

  23. Since the state of California sets the emissions standards for cars sold in California, isn’t the state responsible for the emissions?

  24. Should we sue all the developers who built auto-dependent suburbs?

    “We” should avoid conflating our own identities and interests with those who govern us.

    This seems to be a systemic problem with how our society operates, not a case of automobile manufacturers being negligent.

    And I see nothing in any news report or in the attorney general’s press release that says that any attempt will be made to weigh the public harm against the public or private good.

    The consumer surplus on automobiles is absolutely enormous, as evidenced by the fact that people replace their cars often, that few people buy the cheapest car they can buy, and that demand for autos and driving does not vary remarkably with the price of gasoline.

    To blithely sue the manufacturers of a product because its consumers produce public harm while obtaining massive private benefit is simply beyond contempt and shows virtually no understanding of what “public nuisance” means in either economics or common law.

  25. “I guess that’s the question, then, isn’t it? Does the contribution to global warming count as what a car is “supposed” to do?”

    Well, until you develop a car that runs on rainbows and good vibes, I guess we’re sort of stuck with having to deal with cars that emit C02.

  26. The logic is simple:

    • States made billions from tobacco companies.
    • There are other companies with billions that are not tobacco companies.
    • Therefore, states will make billions from companies that are not tobacco companies.

    Simple!

  27. “”We” should avoid conflating our own identities and interests with those who govern us.”

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    …to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ? That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

  28. “I can appreciate Doherty’s larger point, though.” – joe

    Of course you can appreciate Doherty’s larger point. It’s end-consequence is intended to screw over the average folks who buy cars, just like the end-consequence of tobacco settlements screw over the average smoker. What puts us on opposite ends of the spectrum on this is my appreciation for the concept that corporations can be punished in a way that doesn’t end up on the shoulders of consumers.

    “Should we sue all the developers who built auto-dependent suburbs?” – joe

    Obviously not. But with you I can never really tell when you’re asking a rhetorical question.

    “This seems to be a systemic problem with how our society operates, not a case of automobile manufacturers being negligent.” – joe

    Living in the suburbs is a feature, not a bug, of how our society operates.

  29. well, I don’t see where law enforcement needs .50 cal rifles anyway…who do they think they are, the LA Army?

    Yes.

  30. Shortly after California enacted a statewide ban on .50 rifles, the LAPD sent theirs in to Barrett for some refurbishment work.

    Barrett responded with a letter stating that he wasn’t sure when they’d get around to doing the needed repairs, and that he would no longer sell any of his firearms to law enforcement agencies in California.

    Yeah, unfortunately other gun companies still sell to law enfocement agencies in CA. Not if they didn’t that would be cool.

  31. Joe’s comments remind of the South Park sexual harassment episode where you end up with the case of “everyone versus everyone”. Gee, maybe it was the developers. Maybe we are just no suing enough people”. God, Joe why stop there, how about the people who built the roads and made millions? What about all of the evil white suburbanites that abandoned the inner-cities to escape school desegregation? Don’t forget the city councils that passed car friendly zoning ordnances? And of course no lawsuit is complete without suing the oil companies. And the power companies need to be sued to because they are the ones who produce cheap electricity which allowed people to build big homes in the suburbs. And of course Wall-Mart, I am sure you could sue them to.

    In an ideal world, every car company in the world would say, “fine if the State of California thinks our product is a nuisance, then we will cease and desist and from now on refuse to sell to any California resident or to anyone who won’t promise not to take the car into California.” Deprive people of their ability to buy this “nuisance” and this clown would be out of office in about a day.

    I am really loosing my faith in federalism. There are few people on earth more loathsome than state attorney generals. Whether it be guns, drugs, tobacco, food, and now cars, I can’t think of any group more greedy, ignorant and more intent on depriving people of their liberties than state attorney generals. They are all menaces that need to be stopped.

    One last thing, who is Ray@reason.com and why does his server suck so bad?

  32. Neu Mejican,

    Now there’s a lawsuit waiting to be filed: suing the government for breach of contract in failing to follow it’s own Constitution!

  33. Rob,
    “Living in the suburbs is a feature, not a bug, of how our society operates.”

    It is both and feature and a bug with well documented negative impacts…Joe, can fill you in with more details I am sure.

    Here is a nice article
    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/50694/suburban_sprawl_heaven_or_hell.html

    It is responding to this
    http://www.taemag.com/issues/articleID.19175/article_detail.asp

    Which you are much more likely to agree with.

    “It’s end-consequence is intended to screw over the average folks who buy cars, just like the end-consequence of tobacco settlements screw over the average smoker.”

    That is not their intent (in either case), even if that is the ultimate consequence (which is a point that could be debated).

    “Should we sue all the developers who built auto-dependent suburbs?”

    No, smarter laws would be more appropriate since it was government regulation that created an economic incentive towards sprawl.

  34. I don’t really know what a server is, but if I contribute some money, what are the chances that y’all at reason buy a better server?

  35. This seems to be a systemic problem with how our society operates, not a case of automobile manufacturers being negligent.

    What exactly is the systemic problem, again?

    Is it that we have a country so wealthy that nearly everyone has a car (or two)?

    Is it that we live in country that affords most people wide choices about where to live, and many of them choose to live somewhere other than jam-packed into urban hives?

    Is it that we live in a time where technology and society allow people unprecedented freedom of movement and travel?

    Dunno about you, but those all look like systemic benefits, not problems.

    Oh, the CO2 thing. Well, that’s basically a religious thing. No arguing with people who have that global warmenizing religion. For the rest of us, though, well, we await something resembling proof and a workable theory that takes into account at least a plurality of the available data.

  36. mediageek,
    “Well, until you develop a car that runs on rainbows and good vibes, I guess we’re sort of stuck with having to deal with cars that emit C02.”

    Remember this post, and keep an eye out for the Kia Rondo in ’07. If they do what I think they will, you’ll get your rainbows.

  37. mediageek,
    “Well, until you develop a car that runs on rainbows and good vibes, I guess we’re sort of stuck with having to deal with cars that emit C02.”

    Remember this post, and keep an eye out for the Kia Rondo in ’07. If they do what I think they will, you’ll get your rainbows.

  38. Oh come on RC, don’t you know what a paradise life was before cars when everyone owned a horse and our city streets ran over with manure and people lived packed together in tenements?

  39. RC Dean,

    I do not believe you understand which side of the issue requires faith to be maintained…

    Here is a place to learn more, if you are actually interested…pretty balanced, and certainly based on more than the plurality of data.

    http://www.realclimate.org/

    You can even post comments and get into a discussion to demonstrate your superior knowledge on the subject.

  40. I don’t really know what a server is, but if I contribute some money, what are the chances that y’all at reason buy a better server?

    It’s not the server. It’s the blog software they use. IIRC, they’re looking for a different one, but they either haven’t decided on one or are encountering problems in changing over (I’d imagine that migrating the archives would be a PIA).

  41. . Neu Mejican,

    Citing real climate dot org about global warming is like citing to the Vatican in support of the resurrection. There are plenty of legitimate dissenters to the man made global warming conjecture; most notably Bill Gray. In addition, a committee of statisticians has recently ripped the famous “hockey stick chart” for being in simple bad math that never pier reviewed by statisticians. http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/home/07142006_Wegman_fact_sheet.pdf#search=%22global%20warming%20statistical%20analysis%20hockey%20stick%22. The findings were only reviewed by other climatologists who were convinced of its correctness before looking at it. Good luck getting a grant or tenure as a climatologist if you so much as raise an eyebrow at the global warming hysteria. Only an old fart like Gray who doesn’t have to worry about his position can afford to dissent. Once the money and political adulation started coming into the heretofore unknown field of climatology, the study of global warming stopped being about science.

  42. Let`s see the most plentiful green house gas is water vapor ( approx. 94% of all green house gases). So California wants to replace vehicles that produce small amounts of CO2 ( approx. 3% of green house gases) with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that will produce water vapor.

  43. Dave, does that mean instead of moaning about Server Squirrels we should start complaining about “Blog Bunnies”?

  44. Dave, does that mean instead of moaning about Server Squirrels we should start complaining about “Blog Bunnies”?

  45. I heard Lockyer on the Jon and Ken Show(kfi640) yesterday and I am 99% sure I heard Lockyer say he had an SUV. Unfortunately neither Jon nor Ken followed up on it.
    We need a photo of Lockyer getting into his SUV.

  46. The anti-smog devices like catalytic converters are what increased global-warming emissions. (Assuming the culprit gases are actually responsible for global warming in the first place.)

    State: Stop emitting smog-contributing from your cars or we’ll sue.

    Car Company: OK, how about we use these widgets on our cars?

    State: Excellent idea! We approve you to start using those widgets! Then we’ll sue you sometime in the future for whatever bad things those widgets happen to cause.

  47. We have a new example for non sequitor
    The Exploding Lawnmower example.

  48. “No, smarter laws would be more appropriate since it was government regulation that created an economic incentive towards sprawl.” – Neu

    joe, is that you posting under a psudonym? Ok, probably not, but still…

    Seriously, though, how are you going to get smarter laws when in a democracy people are allowed to vote in the gov’t that creates an economic incentive towards sprawl? You know, that’s what’s going to happen when people naturally prefer to live somewhere other than downtown.

    Loaded question #1: “However, think about what you have seen outside of downtowns ? the congested roads and highways, the endless strip malls, the big box stores with their seas of parking lots, the never-ending rows of chain restaurants and fast-food joints (that are pretty much the same everywhere in the nation), and all those cookie-cutter subdivisions covering hills, valleys and once beautiful farmland. Is all of that ‘wonderful?'”

    It is for the people who enjoy living in these places that are so detested by people who think that living on top of one another is somehow closer to “man’s natural state.” Rural areas have less crime, I suspect, because the closer people live to one another the more they tend to be violent. (Animals will fight to the death for space. The less space the more they fight. I learend that from watching crawfish during 6th grade science class.)

    Besides which, do you really think that an argument that bases itself on the idea that restricting economic freedom and forcing people to live in a hive-like apartment complex is going to win any fans on this forum?

    “Right now business interests have too much freedom to make money from sprawl, including land developers, home builders, real estate agents, road builders, and chain stores and restaurants.”

    Here’s the funny part, “For consumers, what the sprawl issue ultimately is all about is freedom ? freedom to choose housing and a community that does not sap our time, heath and money.”

    Yeah, because people can’t ALREADY choose to live in an apartment complex downtown. So what we REALLY need to do is LIMIT their ability to choose to live in the suburbs.

    Bah.

  49. (despite the fact that less copiously emitting alternatives, such as public transit, exist)

    Actually, buses and diesel-electric trains emit far more pollutants per passenger-mile than a modern gasoline-powered automobile does. Environmentalists demand public-transit because they hate cars, because they’re control freaks, and because they’re often quite ignorant on the subjects they preach, not because public transit reduces pollution.

  50. John,

    Regarding Bill Gray
    http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2006/08/bill_gray_revis.html

    Here is a response, to Bill Gray from Real Climate.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/gray-on-agw/

    Look, if you have a problem with the peer review process, that is fine, but it has served science well overall. It takes a bit more cynicism than I am willing to swallow to assume that the scientific consensus on this issue emerged as something other than the weight of the evidence… but have faith.

  51. Stop all these rants about CO2 and warming. It has nothing to do with the issue. Lawyers sue. That’s waht they do for a living, that’s what they love.
    They had a huge success with tobaco. It generated billions of dollars for lawyers.

    They’ll sue anything and anyone that has deep pockets. They haven’t yet heard of the automakers’ losses.

  52. Rob,

    I said nothing about forcing people to live in high density urban neighborhoods.

    I would posit that smarter land-use laws would require those living in the suburbs to pay their own way rather than relying on economic subsidies from the population centers (paying for the roads to their community via tolls would be an example).

    Also getting rid of zoning rules that force developers to provide parking spaces for those that choose to live too far from work to walk/bike would put a more realistic market price on parking spaces.

    There are lots of ways rules can be improved in this area.

    So, here is a market question for you. Why does it cost more to buy/rent a house in a big city than in the suburbs? Isn’t that a market saying that the city offers value the suburbs can’t equal?

  53. Bob Smith,

    I think you need to show me some numbers on that.

    My father did one of the first studies on this issue back in the early 70’s and indeed found what you claim, but there have been just as many advances in technology in public transportation as their have been in automobiles. The most recent figure I read came up with a 66% fuel saving per passenger mile and similar reductions in pollution per passenger mile.

  54. Wow, Reason’s server is ahead of schedule today, only three hours to get this posted. I actually wrote it when there was only one comment.

    Hospers made the argument 30 years ago that it was appropriate to mandate smog controls on vehicles because the harm was measurable yet widely dispersed.

    Yes, you could sue each driver individually, but like requiring mufflers, it is incredibly more cost effective to go to the source of the problem for remedy.

    Many of my libertarian friends in other parts of the country say screw that, your remedy is to move somewhere where the air is cleaner.

    And, there is something to the argument that a gross polluter driving around Montana isn’t doing much measurable harm whereas trillions of gross polluters driving I-5 every day are choking us all.

    Fact is, pollution from vehicles in Ca is 25% of what it was in the bad old days.

    Now, to the problem at hand, California is way out to lunch on this lawsuit (on any number of levels) and, as Brian points out, if the idiots in Ca government want to be consistent, then, let’s just make it illegal to drive cars here. Batta Bing, problem solved.

  55. “So what we REALLY need to do is LIMIT their ability to choose to live in the suburbs.”

    the problem with the choice to live in the burbs is that it’s largely available due to public subsidy. suburban living is so popular because it is artificially affordable.

    people should actually bear the costs of living where they choose to live. not subsidizing a lifestyle is not the same as limiting a person’s choice of lifestyle.

    more to the article, if california really wanted to limit greenhouse emissions from cars – they should stop building and expanding roads – not start suing.

  56. “I said nothing about forcing people to live in high density urban neighborhoods.” – Neu

    Except for the stated desire to change legislation to discourage it.

    “I would posit that smarter land-use laws would require those living in the suburbs to pay their own way rather than relying on economic subsidies from the population centers (paying for the roads to their community via tolls would be an example).” – Neu

    There are compelling arguments that this is simply false: http://americandreamcoalition.org/automyths.html

    “The Subsidy Myth: Autos are popular only because they receive huge government subsidies

    Reality: More than 90 percent of highway costs have been paid by highway user fees.
    The federal and state governments have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on highways in the last fifty to eighty years. Auto opponents often label this spending “subsidies” and claim that it justifies spending more billions on public transit. But the vast majority of spending on highways has come out of gasoline taxes and other taxes and fees that are explicitly collected as highway user fees.
    During the 1990s, highway user fees equaled or exceeded highway spending by both the federal and state governments. Local governments did spend more on roads than they collected in user fees. When everything is totaled, however, user fees account for more than 90 percent of highway expenditures. Moreover, American roads are so heavily used that the remaining subsidy is tiny when measured per vehicle mile or passenger mile. The subsidy per passenger mile is typically around 0.1 to 0.3 cents each. By comparison, transit subsidies average 45 cents per passenger mile, 150 to 450 times as much. For the past thirty years, U.S. subsidies to transit have far exceeded subsidies to auto driving, especially when it is considered that, unlike transit, highways also carry nearly a trillion ton-miles of freight each year. If there are any imbalances in transportation funding, then they are tilted in the direction of transit, not roads.”

    “Also getting rid of zoning rules that force developers to provide parking spaces for those that choose to live too far from work to walk/bike would put a more realistic market price on parking spaces. There are lots of ways rules can be improved in this area.” – Neu

    Right. Because there are employers out there whose required skill pool is so small that they can afford to hire only the people who live within walking distance of their place of employment. While this might fit your ideal world of company town-style housing in the inner city, I’m willing to bet that corporations would rather build a parking lot than only hire people who live within a 15-minute walk/bike from work. I’m sure that would work great if everyone who worked at that business was also between the ages of 18-40, and suffered no physical disabilities that would prevent them from travelling under their own power. Tell that to my co-worker who drives to work because if he travelled via WHEELCHAIR he’d spend more time commuting than working and sleeping combined. What utopian BS have you succumbed to in which everyone is capable of shuttling to and from work under their own power?

    “So, here is a market question for you. Why does it cost more to buy/rent a house in a big city than in the suburbs? Isn’t that a market saying that the city offers value the suburbs can’t equal?”

    No. You first. Based on your iron grip on what economics, subsidies, zoning and legislation can and cannot accomplish, I can’t wait to hear your rationale.

  57. – they should stop building and expanding roads –

    According to the consulting engineers and road builders they did this years ago:)

  58. Rob,

    You so touchy…

    User fees pay for 90% = 10% break to users.

    As for the employee pool argument (and the handicapped) that’s just not the issue you make it to be. People will get to the job if they need it/want it…Employers will buy parking spaces for their employees if needed. Current rules in many many cities REQUIRE them to spend the money on parking. Who is the libertarian here?

    Here are some words from people who put more energy into this than I do…

    “Sustainable transportation requires designing communities around people, not cars: rethinking land use so that we needn’t travel so much. This in turn requires an end-use/least-cost policy framework, where the desired end use is not mobility per se but access?to jobs, goods, services, and recreation. Such policies should foster fair competition between all modes of access, including those that displace the need for physical mobility, such as already being where you want to be.

    Creative public-policy instruments can introduce market mechanisms to a transportation system long crippled by lopsided subsidies and top-down central planning. Most developing countries are following that bad example. But needed innovations are starting to emerge: ways to make parking and driving bear their true costs, improve competing modes, and substitute sensible land-use for physical mobility.

    Urban congestion is largely caused by the overprovision of apparently free downtown roads and parking. There are two kinds of roads and parking: tax-support and user-supported. There are no free roads and parking. Pretending that there are creates a fantasy-world of destructively irrational behavior.

    All around us rises a tide of insupportable costs caused directly by the failure to charge motorists the true price of their driving. The obligations of building and maintaining roads and other auto infrastructure are causing tax revolts in sprawl-ridden communities and squeezing the availability of private capital.

    The link between traffic and parking is less obvious but no less important, most of all in the United States. A third of all U.S. household road mileage is for commuting to work, where employees usually park free in spaces requiring up to several times the square footage of their office space?a hidden but powerful subsidy to driving. Similarly, most American building regulations require developers to provide as much parking for each shop, office, or apartment as people would demand if parking were free. This daft rule diverts investment from buildings into parking spaces, directly contributing to shortages of affordable housing.

    Yet “congestion pricing” for road use does work, as Singapore’s daily user fees demonstrate. Such fees not only discourage driving, but also raise money to pay for the mass transit that must obviously be provided as an alternative. Federal legislation in the United States known as the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act is beginning to enable public funds to be diverted from road-building to mass transit based on least-cost analyses.

    Initiatives by California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District and other jurisdictions may soon introduce fair competition to office parking, requiring (for example) employers to charge fair market value for parking and pay every employee a commuting allowance of equal after-tax value.

    Physical redesign can augment proper pricing. Zoning and land-use planning can provide comprehensive market-based incentives to reward co-location of housing, jobs, and shopping. From Europe to Australia, “traffic calming”?slowing cars with narrow streets set with trees and planters?is emerging as an effective art for discouraging driving and reclaiming neighborhoods. Converting existing highway lanes to high-occupancy-vehicle lanes is one of many incentives for moving the same people in fewer cars.

    Other policies could help rebalance the economics of driving and access. Mortgage and tax rules can be changed to encourage people to live closer to where they work: “location-efficient mortgages,” which qualify buyers for more debt if they don’t have to commute as far, are already being tested by Fannie Mae. A program being promoted (so far unsuccessfully) in California would create “pay-at-the-pump” car insurance; making it work would be complicated, but essentially it would ensure universal insurance coverage and at the same time make the true cost of driving more apparent.

    Such simple concepts of signaling honest prices and maximizing competition can be elaborated. Electric and water utilities are already starting to make markets in “negawatts” and “negagallons”: making saved resources into fungible commodities subject to competitive bidding, arbitrage, futures, options, secondary markets, etc. If it’s cheaper to save the resource than to supply it, entrepreneurs can thereby be rewarded for doing the cheapest thing first. Why not similarly make markets in “negamiles” and “negatrips”? Then we could discover what it’s worth to pay people to stay off the roads so we needn’t build and mend them so much. If people could make money from ways to get access that are socially cheaper than driving cars, wouldn’t we all drive a lot less?”

  59. the subsidy issue really comes into play with new roads. as there are no road miles of a planned road on which to collect revenue via users fees, the source for building new roads comes from those fees collected on existing road miles. so the potential maintenance expenditures per road mile shrinks overall until some time that the new stretch of road has contributed enough in users fees to both pay for its own maintenance as well as replace those revenues lost from other road miles for its construction.

    so an initial public investment is made into roads and the users do not have to bear the full burden of that cost. that is subsidization – even if it might be paid back over 80 years from users fees/gasoline taxes.

  60. “User fees pay for 90% = 10% break to users.” – Neu

    No argument that there is a 10% break to users, IF you’ll posit that considering how much is being paid by the users for auto property taxes, licensing fees, and emissions testing by the average taxpayer, it makes a 10% kickback look like highway robbery. Literally.

    Compared to the subsidies already being paid for public transit? Whew!

    And yet… the users are willing to pay all of this exorbitant nonsense because the benefit of owning a vehicle STILL outweighs the cost increased by the boondoggle you’re referring to. And that doesn’t even REMOTELY take into consideration the parking fines and traffic tickets that have become the life blood of many municipal organizations.

    “As for the employee pool argument (and the handicapped) that’s just not the issue you make it to be.”

    If you say so, it must be true. But I’d like to see some evidence that everyone you need to hire you can hire within walking/biking distance.

    “People will get to the job if they need it/want it…”

    Your compassion for the elderly and handicapped is overwhelming. In your world we’d chuck those people down the drain to support your anti-car utopia, kind of like Logan’s Run, right?

    “Current rules in many many cities REQUIRE them to spend the money on parking. Who is the libertarian here?”

    Ok, reality check. I don’t support zoning. Why would I support a zoning law that forces an employer to build parking? But since we’re both anti-zoning, it pretty well defeats your argument that we should create zoning laws that are “automobile-hostile.” Maybe I’m not the purest anarcho-libertarian in the world, but I can definitely tell that YOU are not the libertarian in this dialogue.

  61. And one last thing, as my crotchety old grandfather used to say…

    Neu – I’m more than happy to see every piece of road in this country privatized. Not only does this make it fair, it will further remove gov’t influence from the system and we’ll see whether people are more willing to ride the bus and live within biking/wlaking distances or pay for a car and the highway it rolls down themselves.

    You’d TOTALLY support the gov’t getting out of the transportation business entirely, including so-called “public transit,” since you’re a much better libertarian than I am, right? Just like you’d totally support cutting all subsidiess to public transit, right?

    I’d give public transit about 3 years before the last of its lines goes the way of Air America anywhere but the most automobile-hostile downtown areas of major mega-cities. And even those lines will probably be seriously limited.

    I’m pretty confident that the market will choose the automobile. How confident are you that it won’t?

  62. “GM offered the EV1 (all electric car) in CA a while back. It didn’t sell. Does that get them off the hook?”

    It didn’t sell…because it was Lease only.

    Anyway, this Californian drives a 2004 MINI Cooepr S, and makes use of an http://www.terrapass.org account. I don’t need the auto manufacturers to remove my CO2.

    Though it would be nice if MINI/BMW made a BioDiesel Hybrid or all-Electric version. It is doable.

  63. Look, government intervention into the market, (transportation, etc.) has scrambled the eggs, so to speak and there’s no way to clarify who benefits most from subsidies except to suppose that those with the greatest influence (follow the money) will manage to secure the most benefits and those with the least influence will suffer the most.

    The average American worker spends about two days of the week paying for government and all its expenses (foreign aid, war making, corporate subsidies, etc.). That’s two days of transport to and from work.

    Then there’s the thought that we operate inefficiently in our resource usage because government has severed the price feedback function from consumers by providing supposedly “free” services.

    But few are willing to consider the invisible downsides of government participation in the economy, because there’s always something that they just can’t believe can be accomplished by any other means except by extorting money from citizens by vote of venal buffoons in the hallowed halls of congress.

  64. I’d give public transit about 3 years before the last of its lines goes the way of Air America anywhere but the most automobile-hostile downtown areas of major mega-cities. And even those lines will probably be seriously limited.

    You think in NYC, Chicago, Boston, etc. that mass transportation would deteriorate if the gov’t got out of it. People would decide within three years that their 3 to 4 hour commute is so much more pleasant than their hour train ride because they are in their own car! Juh?

  65. For all you global warming deniers out there: There is an interesting article at Scientific American right now (www.sciam.com) outlining how global warming (probably volcanic induced) is the likely cause of four of the five major extinctions that have occured in the last five hundred million years. The asteroid that ended the age of dinosaurs 65 million years ago appears to be the exception. The leading theory states that life was devastated across the planet when the oceans’ oxygen levels dropped due to global warming and hydrogen-sulfide producing bacteria grew out of control. The H2S poisoned many species and the rest died when the H2S destroyed the ozone layer. Unlike the end of the dinosaurs, the other four cataclysms occured slowly (tens of thousands of years) and life took even longer to recover.

    So, how much should we be willing to pay to insure against whiping out three quarters of the species and half the life on earth?

  66. Rob,

    “evidence that everyone you need to hire you can hire within walking/biking distance.”

    I never claimed that. Read again. I said people and employers would work that out.

    “But since we’re both anti-zoning, it pretty well defeats your argument that we should create zoning laws that are “automobile-hostile.”

    When did I advocate automobile hostile laws? I said get rid of rules that encourage automobile usage. That is a far different position.

    As for the market taking care of the automobile/public transportation debate…public transportation will only win in areas with enough traffic density for it to make sense. This would include transportation to and from suburbs to those high density areas where most people from the suburbs work (e.g., park and ride). But if those commuting from the suburbs had to choose between paying the full cost of building and maintaining a hiway to their suburb, and building and maintaining an commuter rail service…some would choose trains. Some would choose hiways. But they can only base that decision on the real costs if we change the current rules.

    As for who is a better libertarian…

    I am not a libertarian. I find libertarian ideas a good place to start in a debate about the role of government for any particular issue, but I tend to find myself seeing legitimate cause for the collective action of communities via the mechanism of government in many areas that libertarians would not.

    As for the cost of parking and traffic tickets: take some driving lessons and those go to Zero dollars.

  67. And Rob,

    There are other alternatives in areas with high transportation needs…

    http://www.zipcar.com/
    http://www.flexcar.com/

  68. I’d give public transit about 3 years before the last of its lines goes the way of Air America anywhere but the most automobile-hostile downtown areas of major mega-cities. And even those lines will probably be seriously limited

    Rob, there are plenty of private train lines in Japan, and even the national system, JR, was broken up and is now semi-private. Of course, in Japan, roads are subsidized far less. It costs you about $30 to drive from Kyoto to Osaka on the expressway, for example, which is about an hour. Likewise, it costs a over a hundred bucks to drive from Kyoto to Tokyo, which is a few hundred miles north. The bullet trains are about the same price and faster for the long trip, and the local trains from Kyoto to Osaka are less than FOUR dollars.

    See what happens when BOTH sides are required to pay?

  69. Leading theory….so there’s controversy about this?

  70. Chad,

    Thanks for the info.
    I did not know that.

    Another good example of the way this tension can be played out is Curitiba in Brazil

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curitiba

    They solved their issues with smartly designed buses.

  71. Should we sue all the developers who built auto-dependent suburbs?

    No, joe, we sue the State of California for building the highways and zones them.

  72. “Your compassion for the elderly and handicapped is overwhelming.”

    I must point out (cuz your comment is just funny) that I make my living working with the elderly and the handicapped. The fact that communities are set up around the needs of those in cars does not make their life easier, trust me. In a pedestrian friendly area, a nice one of these

    http://www.thescooterstore.com/products/scooters.aspx

    will do more for your mobility than a car ever could.

  73. Speaking of the elderly and handicapped:

    1: Buses and trains are handicapped accessible. Indeed, both here in and in Japan, I noticed a disproportionate share of handicapped people using public transportation.

    2: As for the elderly, the elderly in Japan are the healthiest in the world. This probably has a hell of a lot to do with the fact that they ride bikes or walk all over the place. Half our elderly who are to weak to walk are only so weak because they DON’T walk.

    Public transporation works, period. It doesn’t even need to be run by government. It does need a level playing field.

  74. Public transporation works, period. It doesn’t
    even need to be run by government.

    I can’t remember the details, but there was a city where the bus system was privatly owned and operated, but the fares were regulated by the local gov’t. To acommodate the effects of (gov’t caused) inflation, the bus company applied to raise fares. The local gov’t denied the application and the bus company folded as a result. The local gov’t then took over the bus line and raised the fares.

  75. Living in the suburbs is a feature, not a bug, of how our society operates.

    Beautiful. The point of the story is idealists will always bitch.

  76. Hydroman wrote:
    “Let`s see the most plentiful green house gas is water vapor ( approx. 94% of all green house gases). So California wants to replace vehicles that produce small amounts of CO2 ( approx. 3% of green house gases) with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that will produce water vapor.”

    Water vapor imbalances have a residence time of about 1 week before precipitating, and thus balancing. Add a little CO2 to the atmosphere (with a residence time of centuries) and the effect is like a pebble falling and slowing causing a long slow avalanche (water vapor being the large boulders); espeically when you factor in the resulting effect of the melting ice caps’ increasing the Earth’s albedo.

    Also automobiles already emit water vapor, so the difference is minimal. Especially if the hydrogen is generated from rain water. See:
    http://www.worldsnest.com/

    and personally I would prefer biodiesels…and California seems tobe rejecting Diesels 🙁

  77. Current rules in many many cities REQUIRE them to spend the money on parking.

    That says nothing about the hostility/freindliness of the requirement. In every case I’m aware of, the required parking space zoning was put in place so people wouldn’t be parking on side streets. (With a certain revenge on parking lot owners charging market prices.)

    Certain businesses find it wise to spend the money on parking spaces as a convenience to customers, but other business get no added value from parking lots. In an industrial area, the parking lot may be considered an employee benefit – without it the employee who drives to work would have to park on a neighborhood street or in a commercial lot.

  78. “You think in NYC, Chicago, Boston, etc. that mass transportation would deteriorate if the gov’t got out of it. People would decide within three years that their 3 to 4 hour commute is so much more pleasant than their hour train ride because they are in their own car! Juh?” -high number

    No, you must have mis-read the bit you quoted. Mega-cities like Boston, NY, etc. I believe would still have public transit. There are enough people, enough density, and enough time & financial incentive for those lines to function at a profit. But to export that model elsewhere where it will be a subsidized drain on the tax base is a bad idea.

    “I never claimed that. Read again. I said people and employers would work that out.” – Neu

    And how do you think they’d go about that? You don’t even have a suggestion for how that would go other than to make it auto-hostile.

    “When did I advocate automobile hostile laws? I said get rid of rules that encourage automobile usage. That is a far different position.” – Neu

    You won’t admit that this is what you want, but that’s essentially what it boils down to. Your desired result is less private transportation. I can guarantee you that removing the relatively minor subsidies to highways is not going to achieve that.

    Look, if I mis-read your position, my bad. What rules would you like to change and how would you like them changed?

    “As for the market taking care of the automobile/public transportation debate…public transportation will only win in areas with enough traffic density for it to make sense.” – Neu

    I agree with you.

    “This would include transportation to and from suburbs to those high density areas where most people from the suburbs work (e.g., park and ride).” – Neu

    If the high density area is auto-hostile enough, yes. If not, then probably not. But people will still want to live in the ‘burbs rather than downtown.

    “But if those commuting from the suburbs had to choose between paying the full cost of building and maintaining a hiway to their suburb, and building and maintaining an commuter rail service…some would choose trains.” – Neu

    Some people would choose apples. Some would choose oranges. Others MIGHT even choose grapefruit. This isn’t a point that can be debated, because given a big enough group some people will ALWAYS choose a minority position. But I doubt that if downtown areas are auto-friendly people would choose public transit.

    “But they can only base that decision on the real costs if we change the current rules. ” – Neu

    Ok, let’s remove all subsidies from public transit and see which collapses in on itself first. As a percentage of operating cost, public transit gets far more in subsidies, though, so I don’t think this is going to go where you’d like it to.

    While I agree that gov’t intervention is bad and I’m for privatization of both highways and public transit (which would make it mass transit), the level of subsidies being routed to public transportation as a percentage of total overall value is overwhelmingly in favor of public transit. And yet, public transit ONLY works at a profit to and from (and in) extremely high-density areas where it is time and money-prohibitive to travel privately.

    “As for the cost of parking and traffic tickets: take some driving lessons and those go to Zero dollars.” – Neu

    No, they don’t. Because driving is like playing the lottery, eventually you will get a ticket – the incentive for tax collectors, er, I mean traffic enforcement officers to meet their quotas is too strong. Couple that with a nearly 100% conviction rate? It’s essentially a taxation lottery system. But that’s a beef I have with the way gov’t does business, not of private transportation.

    “I am not a libertarian.” – Neu
    No kidding. Really? (Sorry, my sarcastic streak gets the better of me occasionally.)

  79. Sam-Hec,

    probably just a typo – but wouldn’t the melting ice caps lower the earth’s albedo? less bright white ice – less reflectivity.

  80. “Public transporation works, period.” – Chad

    Of course it does, in the places that it works. That’s like saying my car runs when it has sufficient gasoline.

    “It doesn’t even need to be run by government.” – Chad
    No business does.

    “It does need a level playing field.” – Chad
    Public transit has a better-than-level playing field. If your argument is that subsidies to highways are cramping public transit, you have to address the huge amount of subsidies that public transit receives. If anything, public transit has the advantage when it comes to subsidies, and it STILL isn’t widespread enough to satisfy public transit advocates.

  81. thanks Downstater, you are right. Too bad we can’t edit posts.

  82. No, you must have mis-read the bit you quoted.

    Again, I say, juh?
    I quoted this, referring to “mega-cities'” public transportation:

    even those lines will probably be seriously limited

    You claimed, apparently, that mass transit in those cities would be “seriously limited” if gov’t didn’t prop up the systems. I disagree. Plenty of people prefer mass transit. I would use it every day if it were feasible. My job is in the suburbs. There is no practical way for me to get from the train station to my office. I do, however, see thousands of people driving from their suburban homes to the train station 4 miles from my office. These commmuters would rather have a traffic free trip on a consistent timetable with 30-45 minutes of free time. Metra ain’t going anywhere if the state privatizes it (which they should).

  83. “You claimed, apparently, that mass transit in those cities would be ‘seriously limited’ if gov’t didn’t prop up the systems.” – high number

    Uh, no. What part of what I said here doesn’t make sense to you: “Mega-cities like Boston, NY, etc. I believe would still have public transit. There are enough people, enough density, and enough time & financial incentive for those lines to function at a profit. But to export that model elsewhere where it will be a subsidized drain on the tax base is a bad idea.”

    Maybe you’re confused by the idea that public transit, once privatized into actual mass transit, might be forced to shut down lines that don’t operate at a profit? Hence a line that no one actually rides would go away and ones that actually go places it doesn’t currently go to might be introduced based on demand.

    Since there seem to be plenty of near-empty busses, I think it more likely that lines will go away than that lines will multiply (especially for lines that were political boondoggles to begin with), particularly when you consider that even with gov’t subsidization most mass transit systems operate in the red rather than the black. That’s basic business sense.

    (My personal lexicon might be confusing you… Public transit = inefficient, gov’t system subject to political whims rather than market needs. Mass transit = privatized for-profit system that operates according to supply and demand.)

    “These commmuters would rather have a traffic free trip on a consistent timetable with 30-45 minutes of free time. Metra ain’t going anywhere if the state privatizes it (which they should).” – high number

    Like I said, as long it’s auto-hostile enough, that’s definitely the case. Downtown areas in major cities tend to be that way. Other, smaller cities, not so much…

  84. Rob,

    Some reading for you.
    http://www.publictransportation.org/reports/asp/how_transit.asp

    I think this is a balanced look at the cost structure between public transportation and roads…

    You may find it interesting.

    You’ll notice in it that when asked, most people choose to spend on improving public transportation before roads, that public transportation has a bigger bang per buck, and that public transportation benefits drivers more than it does riders…

  85. Rob,

    Found some figures for you…

    Transit funding is highly subsidized

    * All transportation is subsidized. ?Funding? for roads subsidizes the ability to conveniently drive an automobile, for which roughly 80% of all federal funding goes towards. Only 20% of federal funding gets allocated towards transit. According to the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) the annual cost for automobile users ranges from $2.1 trillion to $2.9 trillion. User fees cover between $1.7 trillion and $1.9 trillion. This means highways receive an annual subsidy of somewhere between $439 billion and $1 trillion. According to APTA, taxpayers contributed roughly $17 billion annually (2000$) to transit.

    APTA, 2000 Public Transportation Fact Book, http://www.apta.com

  86. Neu – Funny you should use SLC as the example. Up until recently I lived there. Before and after the Light Rail line. My experience? No appreciable difference.

    Sorry, I know you were hoping this would make the scales fall from my eyes, but… the bottom line here is that I am ACTUALLY ALL IN FAVOR of mass transit – privatized bus, light rail, subway, train lines or planes and helicopters for that matter.

    It’s public transit I’m against – gov’t run and gov’t subsidized bus, light rail, subway, train lines or planes and helicopters for that matter.

    The same way I’m against auto-hostile city planning debacles, anti-private transportation zoning, etc.

    The water-shed for mass transit should be “is it economically feasible?” If it is, then find a private company willing to take that business risk. If it’s not, don’t expect the gov’t to fund a project that without gov’t support could not sustain itself. Frankly, I think the public transit model gives mass transit a black eye because the gov’t so often introduces inefficiencies that no business would ever dream of.

  87. Rob,

    And I have no problem with your support for Mass Transit (private) and Private Roads… but that is not the country we live in. Given that in the USA both roads and public transit systems are supported by your money, wouldn’t you want that money to be spent on the system that gives you the best bang for the buck… in this case, the smartest use of public funds is to shift support from sprawl encouraging roads towards more efficient public (Mass) transit systems.

    Where I was hoping to have the scales fall from your eyes is the false impression you have that we are currently supporting public transit disproportionally to roads. This is in fact not the case. Your money is being used to support the less efficient choice, public roads, over the more efficient choice, public transit, on a large scale. That efficiency can be greatly enhanced by having local regulation regarding development maximized to support public transit options over the more costly road construction.

    Advocate the government doing nothing if you want.
    But given the fact that they are going to be involved in transportation, why wouldn’t you support them doing it in the smartest way possible?

    (this can include, by the way, public capital investment, and private operation of a transit system, or other mixed models).

  88. rob,

    What part of your own quote are you misunderstanding:

    I’d give public transit about 3 years before the last of its lines goes the way of Air America anywhere but the most automobile-hostile downtown areas of major mega-cities. And even those lines will probably be seriously limited.

    Are you telling me that I am wrong in interpreting your words to mean that you believe that without public monies mass transit in even the densest population centers would be “seriously limited”?

    I think you need to take a deep breath, re-read what you have written on this page, and then forget all of it and move on.

  89. Russ2000

    You are essentially correct.
    When a business does not provide parking on its land, then people must park somewhere else. In a car centric city plan, this means they have to park on the street, potentially a significant distance from their location, and traffic is increased as people have to drive around looking for parking. Requiring parking spaces moves this congestion off of the public roads. In this way, the requirement is a subsidy to the public road system, off loading some of the captial investment needed to the private land developers.

  90. “Given that in the USA both roads and public transit systems are supported by your money, wouldn’t you want that money to be spent on the system that gives you the best bang for the buck” – Neu

    Actually, I’m willing to pay for the freedom to go where I want, when I want. Without standing in a snowdrift waiting for a bus. However, if I have to choose between subsidizing something I don’t use and something I do use, then I selfishly choose the highway system.

    Regarding your transit subsidy #’s: If transit ISN’T highly subsidized, it can do without that subsidy, right? Why not take the high ground and do it privately, then? You’d have my support – to the point that I’d start screaming loudly about how wrong highway subsidies are!

    “That efficiency can be greatly enhanced by having local regulation regarding development maximized to support public transit options over the more costly road construction.” – Neu

    I knew eventually you’d get around to advocating auto-hostile regulation and development. Sigh…

    “Advocate the government doing nothing if you want.” – Neu

    I do. All the time!

    “But given the fact that they are going to be involved in transportation, why wouldn’t you support them doing it in the smartest way possible?” – Neu

    I think the greatest amount of freedom for the greatest amount of people is a pretty good way to go.

    “Requiring parking spaces moves this congestion off of the public roads. In this way, the requirement is a subsidy to the public road system, off loading some of the captial investment needed to the private land developers.” – Neu

    Let me see if I’ve got this right… It’s a subsidy for the highway system for a business to build a private parking lot to encourage people to shop there? I think your definition of subsidy needs work. In fact, a zoning regulation requiring this seems to be a means of ensuring that public gov’t DOESN’T subsidize their business… It’s like “Through The Looking Glass” in here all of a sudden.

    “Are you telling me that I am wrong in interpreting your words to mean that you believe that without public monies mass transit in even the densest population centers would be ‘seriously limited'”? – high number

    Yep. One last time: I think that in the hypothetical presented, the political boondoggle lines will go away as will any others that are not profitable. The remaining lines would be those that are capable of making a profit. I’m pretty certain, given my experience of sitting in traffic next to empty busses, that many lines would go away. At the very least the schedule for those lines would be adapted to target peak times for riders rather than just peak traffic. What about my saying this is so confusing to you?

    “I think you need to take a deep breath, re-read what you have written on this page, and then forget all of it and move on.” – high number

    Wow. You TOTALLY got me there. You’re right. I’m TOTALLY through for the week, and I’m heading home – sadly, I will not be utilizing privatized mass transit because only subsidized public transit is available and I don’t have enough political pull to get a bus route past my house in the sticks yet.

  91. Forgot to link to this for Neu:

    http://www.lafn.org/~dave/trans/econ/highway_subsidy.html

    It talks in-depth about the very question of subsidies:
    “If one searches the Internet for the answer to the question of highway subsidy, one finds a number of sites that claim that there is high subsidy for highways. The implication of this is that since highways are heavily subsidized, it’s OK to also subsidize other modes of transportation such as mass transit and Amtrak. The fallacy of such reasoning is that one wrong doesn’t justify another (or two wrongs don’t make a right). If highways are subsidized and this subsidy is wrong, it doesn’t justify subsidy to other modes of transportation which may also be wrong.”

    And a quick poke at the Utah “model”:

    http://www.rppi.org/utahtransit.shtml

    “In truth, cities across the nation have been building rail lines they know to be cost-ineffective, and this is due in large part to generous federal subsidies that shift costs away from local communities and towards the nation as a whole.

    Left to their own devices, municipalities have greater incentive to find cost-effective transit solutions, rather than simply following the latest transit trend endorsed by the Sierra Club.

    It is indeed true that UTA will lose money because of this proposal, just like virtually every other transit agency across the country. However, it will become a better, leaner transit agency as a result.

    Ultimately, then, this issue boils down to is a simple maxim: Fairness is not the same as equality. Giving equal funding to transportation projects that yield unequal results is grossly unfair to taxpayers. It isn?t fair to the people of Utah who have often been maligned by federal land grabs and generally ignored in Washington.”

  92. Rob,

    That is an informative link, but seems to say, as far as I read it, that roads are subsidized currently. What it neglects is the economic impact on the community. The benefit per dollar for funds spent on public transit is larger than that spent on the roads. In otherwords, since the driver benefits from the public transit dollar, you shouldn’t deduct that from the subsidy for roads. The reverse case doesn’t work. More money for roads does not benefit the public transit system and does not have a greater benefit to the land owner than the public transit system would.

    Like I said before. Your impression that there is equivalent public financial support for the two models is not supported by facts.

    “I knew eventually you’d get around to advocating auto-hostile regulation and development. Sigh…”

    You have a stange way of viewing my statements. I am not advocating auto-hostile regulations. I advocate getting rid of the current regime which is auto-centric. Let us say I advocate getting rid of the current pedestrian-hostile model, but I do not advocate making the new system auto-hostile.

    Taking away favors is not the same as limiting freedom. You seem unable to see the difference. You want the freedom to use a private vehicle on my dime. I say I would rather spend that dime on something that is more efficient for a larger number of people. . . again I ask how you seem to think you are the libertarian here.

    http://www.rep.org/opinions/op-eds/6.html

    You rely on a model which does not take into account all the costs on the community that result from a car-centric regulatory regime. The society within which the transportation system is embedded is complex. If and when top-down decisions are made, they should be made in ways that maximize benefits across systems (transportation and other systems). No modern transportation system would make sense without a role for automobiles. But placing the automobile at the center transportation system is not the most efficient way to move people around our country.

    http://www.walkablestreets.com/transit.htm

    We will continue to disagree on this, I believe.
    I hope you take the time to read further on the topic so that your opinion is informed by data from multiple perspectives.

  93. rob,

    Maybe I’m dense, but I think I figured it out:
    You are putting me on.
    Even within your own statements, logic seems to take a vacation.

    Example:
    At the very least the schedule for those lines would be adapted to target peak times for riders rather than just peak traffic.

    Cleverly, you follow that up with a question:
    What about my saying this is so confusing to you?

    By the way, the name is not “high number.”
    It is “highnumber.”

  94. “You have a stange way of viewing my statements.” – Neu

    Ditto.

    “Let us say I advocate getting rid of the current pedestrian-hostile model, but I do not advocate making the new system auto-hostile.” – Neu

    Fair enough, then we agree. Unless I’m misunderstanding your earlier posts, your answer is to change the levels of subsidies. I’d like to see subsidies cut out for both mass transit and private transportation. My approach is actually fair, yours (as I read it from above) seems more like a re-allocation of subsidies.

    “Taking away favors is not the same as limiting freedom. You seem unable to see the difference.” – Neu
    I agree with the first sentence. The second is your opinion, and not accurate in my opinion.

    “You want the freedom to use a private vehicle on my dime.” – Neu
    Anything but! I say eliminate subsidies period!

    “I say I would rather spend that dime on something that is more efficient for a larger number of people. . . again I ask how you seem to think you are the libertarian here.” – Neu
    Because I’m the guy who has never met a subsidy he liked.

    “You rely on a model which does not take into account all the costs on the community that result from a car-centric regulatory regime. The society within which the transportation system is embedded is complex.” – Neu
    I don’t think it’s all that complex, frankly. I think that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors that are intended to make it SEEM complex, but the reality is that if you remove subsidization and let the free market handle it, it becomes VERY simple.

    “If and when top-down decisions are made, they should be made in ways that maximize benefits across systems (transportation and other systems)…” – Neu

    That’s just trying to make it SOUND complex. Logistics is not that complicated a field, though accomplishing it well can be a minor miracle.

    “But placing the automobile at the center transportation system is not the most efficient way to move people around our country.” – Neu
    I’m willing to cut all subsidies to private and mass transit and see what would happen. Are you? If so, then we have total agreement on this subject.

    “Maybe I’m dense, but I think I figured it out:
    You are putting me on.” – hn
    No, you’re just dense.

    “Even within your own statements, logic seems to take a vacation. ” – hn
    Just because it seems counter-intuitive to you doesn’t mean that it’s my logic that is faulty.

    “Example: ‘At the very least the schedule for those lines would be adapted to target peak times for riders rather than just peak traffic.’ “Cleverly, you follow that up with a question: ‘What about my saying this is so confusing to you?'””

    Ok, let me spell it out: because peak times for mass transit riders and peak times for car traffic are NOT always the same. Often, they are. But when they’re not, why add an empty bus to the traffic snarl? Again, what about this doesn’t make sense to you? I await what will surely be, this time, a vastly more clever response to my question.

    “By the way, the name is not ‘high number.’
    It is ‘highnumber.'” – highnumber

    Petty much? DUDE, it’s not even your REAL NAME. It’s not like your name is Buddy and I keep calling you Bubba. It’s ONE SPACE. Sheesh.

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