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Sprawling Towards Gomorrah (or Not)

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Stalwart sprawl defender Robert Bruegmann says sprawl's glory days are over:

Even many of the most basic facts usually heard about sprawl are just wrong. Contrary to much accepted wisdom, sprawl in the U.S. is not accelerating. It is declining in the city and suburbs as average lot sizes are becoming smaller, and relatively few really affluent people are moving to the edge. This is especially true of the lowest-density cities of the American South and West. The Los Angeles urbanized area (the U.S. Census Bureau's functional definition of the city, which includes the city center and surrounding suburban areas) has become more than 25% denser over the last 50 years, making it the densest in the country.

This fact, together with the continued decline in densities in all large European urban areas, coupled with a spectacular rise in car ownership and use there, means that U.S. and European urban areas are in many ways converging toward a new 21st-century urban equilibrium. In short, densities will be high enough to provide urban amenities but low enough to allow widespread automobile ownership and use.

If sprawl is dissipating organically, the haunting fear that we shall exurb-anize into socially isolated, polluting, Wal-Mart dependent misanthropists (until urban planners save us, that is) may fade as well. But so should the assumption that low-density living is some pure expression of the American soul. To some extent sprawl is going to be the result of huge government subsidies to drivers in the form of roads, and it's not clear that this particular government initiative makes people better off. Long commutes, for example, negatively affect measures of subjective wellbeing (pdf). 

reason on sprawl here , here , and here .  

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  1. In short, densities will be high enough to provide urban amenities but low enough to allow widespread automobile ownership and use.

    In other words, suburbs.

    To some extent sprawl is going to be the result of huge government subsidies to drivers in the form of roads, and it’s not clear that this particular government initiative makes people better off.

    I could have sworn roads were paid for with gas taxes. Collected from, you know, drivers. If there is a shortfall, how big is it?

  2. Regardless of how roads are paid for, the abundance of them is not a market-driven result. Zoning laws requiring seas of parking lots are also responsible for much of this failure.

  3. If sprawl is dissipating, you can be sure we’ll soon see a neo-liberal movement demanding it be preserved.

  4. Neither the rise of sprawl, nor its decline (if such a thing is actually happening) are remotely “organic.”

    Both the shift to sprawl-style development, and the growth of alternatives over the past decade or so, were the consequence of significant government intervention.

  5. Warren –

    “Think about all the retail jobs that will be lost if we allow denser development! The horrors! What about all the poor people who live in the suburbs? They’ll have to commute farther to work, and they may not be able to afford that! Think about all the abandoned buildings!
    We must stop responsible development that we’ve been pandering for FOREVER from happening!”

    You mean like that?

  6. This doesn’t make sense. It’s almost as if some people prefer high density environments, and others prefer low density. This is impossible, because, as we all know, people are monolithic. What one prefers inescapably dictates what all others prefer. Next, I suppose, you’re going to tell me not everybody likes Hank Williams; some prefer Snoopy Doop Diddly Bling.

    *disclosure: the “lots” in my neighborhood are twenty acres and up. I live and work under the same roof; many days, I never leave home.

  7. In other words, neo-traditional or new urbanist neighborhoods.

    There, fixed that for you.

    The defining design criteria of sprawl-era suburbs was the banishment of densities sufficient to support urban amenities.

  8. Joe says: “Both the shift to sprawl-style development, and the growth of alternatives over the past decade or so, were the consequence of significant government intervention.”

    Because the way our lives are ordered are generally due to government actions, yeah? So my aversion to high-density urban living, and my lesser distaste for very rural communities, is the result of government conditioning, and not at all related to the fact that I hate crowds but don’t want to commute endlessly to get stuff I want? And it would be wrong to posit that the mix of urban, suburban, and rural communities is the aggregate market result of people exercising their preference for such opposing goods as culture versus privacy?

  9. A good sprawl is necessary part of your takedown defense arsenal.

  10. Sprawl happened the way it did because of the way our transportation budget was allocated, but another factor was that young adults wanted to move away from areas that they percieved as “crime-ridden” for the sake of their children. Whatever connection this perception may have with race is not our subject today.

    Fewer (well-off) city dwellers are having children, and they are having them later, so the demand for suburbs is diminishing.

  11. jh –
    I don’t think any of what you posit can be fairly concluded from joe’s statement.

    To me it’s rather obvious and straightforward. Sprawl as it exists today wouldn’t have existed in its present form without government intervention (at least not this quickly), and the recent increase in interest and investment into cities is also facilitated (though not generated) by government policies.

    Your tastes probably aren’t any different than they would have been without the government’s involvement. But the affordability and availability of the lifestyle you prefer is probably different than it otherwise would have been.

  12. I could have sworn roads were paid for with gas taxes. Collected from, you know, drivers. If there is a shortfall, how big is it?

    I don’t know exactly how big but it is substantial. Politicos have hesitated to raise the gas tax since the 70s because it is resisted so vocally. The level of taxation is the one area where they can influence gas prices.

    In order to finance roads you are seeing increasing use of tolls as well as things like local option sales taxes and use of the general revenues.

    While gas taxes are a decent proxy for a user fee for road use (tolls are better, but until we get to 100% open road tolling they are inefficient), sales taxes are not, even if they are voted on by the potential raod users. And using general revenues is an out and out subsidy.

    The other disconnect between road policy and a free market is the fact that many road projects are not built in response to demand (or with any business plan) but rather in response to political influence. Of course the same can be said of many transportation projects. Light rail anyone?

  13. jh, joe’s point, as it always is in these threads (and is correct as always) is that government interference in development, through zoning laws, is a main contributing factor in how these developments have been set up. These laws dictate minimum lot sizes, setbacks, right-of-way widths, house sizes, entry points, stormwater needs, driveway areas, you name it.

    The point he’s made is that these things constrain the developers of individual plots to a pre-determined development pattern. And usually, these are set by the NIMBY’s that already live there, but don’t own that property that’s being developed. What it is NOT is determined by ‘organic’ or even strictly market forces. What it ends up being is as close to what the developer wants as he can build within the zoning regulations – sometimes a far cry from what would be best.

  14. “Both the shift to sprawl-style development, and the growth of alternatives over the past decade or so, were the consequence of significant government intervention.”

    I won’t argue that government intervention hasn’t had an impact, but are you saying it was good, bad or neither?

  15. You must be new here. To joe, government intervention is always good.

  16. “jh, joe’s point, as it always is in these threads (and is correct as always) is that government interference in development, through zoning laws, is a main contributing factor in how these developments have been set up. These laws dictate minimum lot sizes, setbacks, right-of-way widths, house sizes, entry points, stormwater needs, driveway areas, you name it.”

    Thank God for zoning laws. …otherwise evil developers would be out there selling us all tiny houses on tiny lots with no setbacks on narrow, inaccessible streets, streets that flooded every time it rained. …oh, and there wouldn’t be anywhere to park your car either–if it wasn’t for zoning laws.

    I tell you–people don’t know what they want.

    P.S. Funny how designing them so people will buy them, in spite of what the planners want us to do, always seems to be my first concern. …but that’s probably just me.

  17. “You must be new here. To joe, government intervention is always good.”

    Actually, although I often disagree with him, I’ve learned a ton from joe over the years.

    …he’s usually the smartest guy in the thread, so pay attention.

  18. jh,

    No, that’s not what I wrote.

    Government policy has substantially dictated the options that the market has made available to people, regardless of their preferences. People looking for a newish home in a good area, for example, have had their urban-style options severely limited, while the number of sprawl-style options available to them has been significantly expanded, and builiders who might have gone with small-lot single family or attached housing have been pushed, by the government, into large-lot subdivisions.

    If you look at homebuyer surveys, the top two motivating factors for suburban homebuyers – by a mile – are good schools and safe neighborhoods. There is nothing about larger lots or detatched housing that makes the schools better or the streets safer – it’s just that, because of government policy, the nice new neighborhoods have been built in a sprawling style. As nice, new neighborhoods have been built in neo-traditional style, they have been populated mainly by people looking for the same things that would have led them to half-acre-lot subdivisions a generation ago.

    Now, since “good neighborhood = sprawl” has been the rule for three or four generations now, there is naturally going to be some effect on cultural preferences and assumptions, but as the market is allowed to revert to something closer to “organic,” we can expect that prejudice to recede.

  19. I think the transportion-funding argument is overstated. Zoning (which dictated that suburbs would be sprawling) and the multi-faceted problem of urban disinvestment (which steered growth towards the suburbs) are probably bigger factors than road subsidies.

  20. Kerry,

    Congratulations! In the six years I have been reading Reason Online, this is the first time any author has acknowledged that factors other than THE MARKET accounted for sprawl, or that the landscape of sprawling suburbs represents anything other than the values of rugged individualism freed from collectivist government.

    You should have seen the p.o.s. article Virginia Postrel wrote attacking smart growth as “statist” and defending zoning-induced sprawl as “dynamist.”

  21. joe –
    Right on. I’m tired of the libertarian label being used by morons who really just think that a freer market will only lead to more of whatever they happen to like. They like it as a concept, but wouldn’t support it if they thought it would result in it being more expensive for them to drive 20 miles to the grocery store or meant that people started leaving their cozy multiple-acre-lot subdivision for denser, cheaper, and more efficient living spaces. Not that that necessarily happen EVERYWHERE, but I’m just saying…

  22. culture versus privacy

    I’ve never had less privacy than in suburban environments where neighbors always want to know your business. Cities offer *more* privacy, because nobody cares about your business. Just another of the many misconceptions out there…

  23. Because the way our lives are ordered are generally due to government actions, yeah? So my aversion to high-density urban living, and my lesser distaste for very rural communities, is the result of government conditioning, and not at all related to the fact that I hate crowds but don’t want to commute endlessly to get stuff I want? And it would be wrong to posit that the mix of urban, suburban, and rural communities is the aggregate market result of people exercising their preference for such opposing goods as culture versus privacy?

    If the suburban lifestyle wasn’t subsidized by massive government spending, and the people who lived in rural or suburban areas bore all the costs of roads and infrastructure themselves (not including the hidden subsidies such as cheap oil through defending middle east dictatorships like Saudi Arabia), then it would become a lot less economicly feasable to enjoy the suburban or rural lifestyle.

    Minus the subsidized roads and subsidized cheap fuel, very few Americans would be able to afford to life outside urban areas. You only have the choice to move to the suburbs because of Suburb Socialism.

  24. Joe is right. In much of America, it is illegal to use your property in an “urbanist” way. There is no libertarian argument for these zoning laws.

  25. The road issue vexes me. Regarding interstates, which are main feeders from exurbs into cities, Wikipedia says:

    About 56%[5] of the construction and maintenance costs are funded through user fees, primarily gasoline taxes, collected by states and the federal government, and tolls collected on toll roads and bridges. The rest of the costs are borne by the federal budget.

    That is, about half the interstate system is funded through general taxes. And so there remains a huge subsidy to auto manufacturers, oil companies, drivers, and exurban homebuilders.

    If every road was a toll-road (with flexible congestion sensitive pricing) and we had a carbon tax proportionate to the environmental externalities of driving, then I don’t think libertarians would have any reason to gainsay patterns of settlement. But the world we have is one in which massive subsidies for drivers produces inefficient reliance on driving.

  26. Huge subsidies to drivers and huge subsidies for home ownership (as opposed to renting). If there were no subsidy for home ownership, sprawl wouldn’t have occurred at the rate it was for awhile.

  27. I’ve never had less privacy than in suburban environments where neighbors always want to know your business. Cities offer *more* privacy, because nobody cares about your business. Just another of the many misconceptions out there…

    The large majority of suburban dwellers have been born and raised in the suburbs. Their views of urban areas come from cop shows, TV news, the occasional drive downtown for a baseball game or to visit a museum, and of course gansta rap.

    Needless to say, I have never experienced crowds the way I have in the suburbs. In an urban area, if I want to avoid people, I can just walk 30 meters over to the 24 hour grocer at 3AM… or order any sort of food I want, most times of the day, delivered dirt cheap to my home with just a phone call. Or with a less than 15 minute walk I pretty much be alone in a park surrounded by trees. Compared to the constant 30 minute drives in bumper to bumper traffic, and spending another 10 minutes trying to find a parking space in the lot of some monster big box store and another 20 minutes in line with all the other people at the checkout – Virtually any activity requires a minimum of 40 minutes in a crowd of people when I lived in the suburbs.

  28. The transportation subsidies argument is rather chicken / egg in this context. Rarely is there a big new road built to nowhere for future development. More often, you get some development, the trips overload the current roadway network, which is then upgraded, making more development desirable, which leads to more traffic, overcrowded roads, road upgrades… Of course, with such a big capital investment like roadways, they try to plan out what sort of roadway they’ll need for some distance out to the future, since it’s usually cheaper to build 4 lanes now than 2 now, 2 later. Sometimes it’s even cheaper to build 4 lanes now than 2 later (forgetting the 2 now).

    Also, the economy which leads to roadway funding is pretty much a closed loop. So whether the roadways are completely funded by gas taxes (maintenance costs are, but I would think capital costs aren’t), property taxes, income taxes or whatever, in general the roadway’s gonna get built, and it’s gonna cost a certain amount, and it’s gonna get paid for.

    For sure, tho, the government does NOT want you to know whether gas taxes fully pay for the roadway budget. If they actually wanted transparency, they could keep the funds separate. But they don’t.

  29. “There is no libertarian argument for these zoning laws.”

    Exactly; my big peeve is single-use zoning. I suspect many of the property-rights-are-sacred commenters on these threads would be thronged at my door with torches and pitchforks if they found out I was restoring my Porsche in the “great room” of a house on their street.

  30. Privacy and crowding are funny concepts. People think that physical conditions dictate how crowded or private a place is, when culture and power relations are the controlling variables.

  31. Highway,

    The interstate running from one city through 100 miles of farmland to another city was certainly not “built to nowhere for future development,” but for the 80-90 miles between the cities, that’s exactly how it functions, development-wise.

  32. If you look at homebuyer surveys, the top two motivating factors for suburban homebuyers – by a mile – are good schools and safe neighborhoods.

    There is also that niggling little detail of price.

    There are many, many neigborhoods and development in Montgomery County, Maryland (suburban DC) that have safe streets and good schools. The trouble is, I can’t afford most of them, since the median housing price is north of $500,000. Suffice it to say, that’s not even a good starting price for the houses I’m talking about.

    Sure, I could buy a house in a new-urbanist development. The trouble is I get to pay for that with a 90 minute to 2 hour commute one way. Oh, the joy.

    Live in the city you say? You must not know a lot about DC. The “safe streets” cost even more there. Good schools don’t exist for the hoi polloi.

    You should have seen the p.o.s. article Virginia Postrel wrote attacking smart growth as “statist” and defending zoning-induced sprawl as “dynamist.”

    I can’t speak for Ms. Postrel, but not all of us like soylent growth. I don’t want to live cheek and jowl with my neighbor, but I also don’t want a 1-acre lot; that’s too much mowing. So, if I don’t want to live and raise my family in a high-rise apartment, I can move into one of the faux-Mayberries or take my chances with the existing neighborhoods with tree-lined streets and established communities. You know, the sprawl.

    Too bad that won’t be a choice from here on out and we also get the worst of both worlds as the extablished neighborhoods get new developments crammed in between them to satisfy the urban planners’ utopian fetish. Funny thing is that prices don’t seem to be affected; the new homes are just as, if not more, expensive than the old. No surprise, since the supply isn’t going up, it’s just being relocated from exurb inward.

    So, not only do we get the increased congestion and everything else that goes along with high-density zoning, we don’t get the cute ammenities of the faux-Mayberries, like walking to the town center to do our shopping, or the diversity and funkiness of *real* cities. Just a whole lot more pepople crammed in the the same 10 lb salami casing. I still have to get in my car and drive, just now there are twice as many people doing exactly the same thing.

    Gee, thanks joe.

  33. Same amount of land + more housing units per land unit = same number of homes?

    Denser housing + more mixed use areas != walking to town center?

    I don’t think your logic holds, JW.

  34. Funny, isn’t it, how when government does what the statist wants, then the government is all representative and democratic, and what are all you libertarians whining about, anyway.

    But when government does something a statist doesn’t want (like “subsidize” roads and home ownership), then it is a tool of big business.

    I mean, c’mon, that whole move to the suburbs thing would have never happened without corporate/statist social engineering. Nobody in their right mind would want their own house and yard, right?

  35. JW –
    Don’t be such a prick
    Did you even read any of the above comments?
    Not once has joe advocated high-density zoning or anything of the sort.
    Consequently, your bitching is just coming across as sounding like you think we’re advocating MAKING people live more dense lives by eliminating zoning laws and road subsidies.
    “WAHH! I want you to continue to pay for my preferred lifestyle! I’m so incredibly short-sighted that I don’t understand dynamic economies and how prices change to reflect market demand! WAHHHH!”

    Seriously, that’s what it sounds like to me.

  36. Yes, RC, I’m a terrible person.

    Would you like at add anything that bears on the article, or the subject at hand?

  37. I have my own house and yard, RC.

    Still, you’d no doubt consider my street an urban hellhole.

  38. I mean, c’mon, that whole move to the suburbs thing would have never happened without corporate/statist social engineering.

    The point is that people’s desires can be shaped by what’s available. If the government hadn’t deliberately subsidized suburban growth with various programs, fewer people would have considered fleeing let alone done it. I’d like to live on caviar, too–but so far the government isn’t handing that out.

  39. Nobody in their right mind would want their own house and yard, right?

    You are missing the point. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want a Rolls-Royce? Does this mean that if the government subsidized Rolls-Royce cars so that they cost the same as a Honda, that it would be a “free-market”? (After all, people did choose the Rolls-Royce over the Honda!)

    If you actually had to pay the costs associated with owning a house and a yard, and driving a car, instead of using a socialist income redistribution scheme to subsidize it, you might decide the cost of suburban living were not worth the benifits, in the same way you might decide that as nice of a car a Rolls-Royce is Honda might be a better option.

    It is not unreasonable to believe that without the cheap oil, free roads, subsidizing law enforcement and education and fire protection, as well as creating special tax breaks, that suburban living could be 5-20 times more expensive that it is now.

    If you want to live the suburban livestyle, I support your choice 100%. But don’t force others to pay for that choice. Right now, the government is spending more to subsidize your suburban lifestyle than it would on health care if health care was nationalized. How anyone can support such a vast socialist scheme as modern suburban living, and still call themselves libertarians, is beyond me.

  40. The intellectual failure of RC’s line of argument is summed up in the phrase “that whole move to the suburbs thing.”

    People have been moving to suburbs forever, but that’s not the subject of this thread. The subject of this thread is sprawl.

    No, RC, without corporate/state social engineering, the millenia-long process of suburbanization would not have been channeled into sprawl development.

  41. “If you want to live the suburban livestyle, I support your choice 100%. But don’t force others to pay for that choice.”

    And for Christ’s sake, don’t pretend that forbidding others at gunpoint from making a different choice than you doesn’t have an effect on whose choices are catered to more often in the housing market.

  42. Los Angeles … has become more than 25% denser over the last 50 years

    I dunno. The population of SoCal may be the densest in the US, maybe not. I wouldn’t count the population of Texas out of that competition without more research.

  43. “And for Christ’s sake, don’t pretend that forbidding others at gunpoint from making a different choice than you doesn’t have an effect on whose choices are catered to more often in the housing market.” – joe

    Did joe just use the claim that highway subsidies are provided by “taxation at gunpoint”? joe the Libertarian? Now I’ve seen everything… But…

    Why is it that joe fully supports subsidizing “public transportation schemes” (busses, light rail, subways, elevated rail, etc.) yet deplores the very idea of subsidizing a highway?

    Personally I say take away the subsidies for all of it, but if I have to subsidize public transportation how is a highway any less “public transportation” than the Bay Area Rapid Transit? Aren’t those initiatives just as equally “at gunpoint”?

  44. I think we can come together and get rid of some zoning prohibitions and see what happens. My read is that what happens will have much to do with the price of land. If it is cheap, people will want more land and not less to a point. I’m a burbs kind of guy. Ten minutes to farm land and fifteen to decent shopping. By car. Woods in my back yard. I’m building a landscaped patio space on my lot in my back yard. Which I wouldn’t have in a dense development pattern.

  45. rob,

    “Did joe just use the claim that highway subsidies are provided by “taxation at gunpoint”?”

    No, joe wrote, above, that he considers the “transportation subsidies” argument to be overblown, and has been writing about prohibitionary snob zoning as the driving force in steering development into sprawl patterns.

    “Why is it that joe fully supports subsidizing “public transportation schemes” (busses, light rail, subways, elevated rail, etc.) yet deplores the very idea of subsidizing a highway?”

    joe doesn’t. joe thinks the relative levels of subsidization are out of whack, but considers the provision of public goods like a transportation system to be an appropriate role for government.

  46. Dammit, stupid joke handle from a different thread!

  47. JasonL,

    No one is criticizing the existence of suburbs. The issue on the table is the design of those suburbs.

    Suburbs in the 1920s were close to woods and farmland, close to shopping, and were designed to incorporate the automobile.

    You should check out some of Peter Calthorpe’s writings and designs. “The Next American Metropolis” for one. One of the advantages of using a less land-consumptive pattern of development is that people are closer to the woods and to the shops.

    I live in a 1920s-era neighborhood, built at about 9 units per acre, and I’ve got a driveway that fits three cars, a yard big enough for a 50 person cookout, and a paved patio out my back door.

  48. Personally I say take away the subsidies for all of it, but if I have to subsidize public transportation how is a highway any less “public transportation” than the Bay Area Rapid Transit? Aren’t those initiatives just as equally “at gunpoint”?

    You are correct. Morally, taking a dollar to build a freeway and taking a dollar to build rail are equivalent.

    However, because rail is far, far, far more efficent than highways, to build an rout with the same capacity as a freeway or as rail, the rail would be extremly cheaper. That means, less money would need to be stolen at gunpoint with the rail.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am against government funded rail – but rail vs. highway is like school vouchers vs. public schools. It is the less socialist choice of the two.

    I’m a burbs kind of guy. Ten minutes to farm land and fifteen to decent shopping. By car. Woods in my back yard. I’m building a landscaped patio space on my lot in my back yard. Which I wouldn’t have in a dense development pattern.

    Which you wouldn’t have without a vast socialist redistribution program to subsidize your “I’m a burbs kind of guy” lifestyle.

    I mean, I am sure that you love your lifestyle that exists only because you are forcing others to pay for it by gunpoint. I would love it if the government subsidized French wine imports, so that a bottle would cost one tenth of what it does now. But lets not pretend that it isn’t socialism to do so, ok? You are a welfare reciepient, sponging off the tax money of others. If your suburb had to pay for its own roads, schools, police… if the suburbs that are so dependent on gasoline had to pay to subsidize the defense of Kuwuit and Saudi Arabia… if the costs of goods at the local big box store where not subsidized by a government funded distribution network… then it would cost a whole lot more to be a “burbs kind of guy”. In fact, most “burb kinds of guys” wouldn’t be able to afford to live in the burbs.

  49. BTW, the article sucked.

    The type of development he describes in London is the alternative to sprawl that modern critics endorse.

    The authoer just redifines “sprawl” in a manner that none of its critics use, to mean urban growth of any kind, and proceeds to beat the snot out of his straw man.

  50. “You are a welfare reciepient, sponging off the tax money of others. If your suburb had to pay for its own roads, schools, police… if the suburbs that are so dependent on gasoline had to pay to subsidize the defense of Kuwuit and Saudi Arabia… if the costs of goods at the local big box store where not subsidized by a government funded distribution network… then it would cost a whole lot more to be a “burbs kind of guy”. In fact, most “burb kinds of guys” wouldn’t be able to afford to live in the burbs.”

    How do you know he’s sponging off the taxpayer money of others? You would have to specifically know how much he pays in taxes to know that. The top 50% of income earners pay 96% of the federal income taxes. And those income taxes pay for military spending, farm subsidies, various and sundry education subsidies and welfare programs, – on and on. He might be one of those top 50% guys.

    The only people who are “welfare recepients” are those whose net total tax payments of ALL types is exceeded by the total of their pro-rata share of the cost of those particular government activities that are providing them personally with some quantifiable specific benefit.

    Everyone else is a net provider of welfare – not a recepient of it.

  51. Gilbert,

    I think if you pay taxes and receive welfare, no matter how much you pay or receive, you’re still receiving welfare. Wouldn’t it be much more efficient to not have the government middleman essentially taking your money away and giving you less back?

  52. How do you know he’s sponging off the taxpayer money of others? You would have to specifically know how much he pays in taxes to know that. The top 50% of income earners pay 96% of the federal income taxes. And those income taxes pay for military spending, farm subsidies, various and sundry education subsidies and welfare programs, – on and on. He might be one of those top 50% guys.

    I made an assumption, for rhetorical purposes. It could very well be that he is ultra rich, pays super high taxes, and commutes to his own private suburban island via sea-plane. It is possible, and I acknowledge that fact.

    But my point still remains, suburbs are the product of socialism. A lot of suburban dwelling libertarians like to defend suburban sprawl, and ignore the fact that modern sprawl is a product of massive income redistribution. Even, if in that posters specific case he is not a welfare recipient, most suburban dwellers are. Where as urban dwelling was a perfectly viable lifestyle since babylonian times at least, the modern big-box suburban lifestyle is only viable because of massive nationalized income redistribution. The modern suburbs are an example of Soviet style economic planning in the United States. It is truly shocking how this form of socialism on a massive scale has so become the norm that typically pro-free-market libertarians are so blinded to it.

  53. Explain to me how an urban city dwelling land use plan is any more “natural” than a suburban one. Neither one would have occured without government control.

    And I don’t buy the claim that the suburbs result in some “massive” redistribution of income. The “massive” income redistribution that goes on in this country is called social security, medicare and medicaid. And that has nothing to do with roads or zoning or utilities that service the suburbs.

  54. “I think if you pay taxes and receive welfare, no matter how much you pay or receive, you’re still receiving welfare. Wouldn’t it be much more efficient to not have the government middleman essentially taking your money away and giving you less back?”

    No you’re not receiving “welfare” if in aggregate you are paying more in ALL the taxes you pay for all purposes than the value of ALL government services that you back in return.

    And stating that does not mean I’m approving of all the things the government is doing that is part of that calculation.

  55. “joe thinks the relative levels of subsidization are out of whack, but considers the provision of public goods like a transportation system to be an appropriate role for government.”

    Ah. So, taking money at gunpoint is OK if its something you personally support, but not if you don’t. This is how subsidizing Planned Parenthood is something some folks on the right loathe and consider a travesty to spend tax money on, while at the same time they support funding “faith-based initiatives.” (Frankly I consider it to be a travesty that gov’t funds either of them, though I support the good things that both of them do, when they’re doing good things.)

    In other words, subsidizing public transportation boondoggles when most people prefer individual transportation (driving themselves, riding their bicycle, horse, unicycle, motorcycle, etc) is a wrong-headed approach and funding highways that people actually use in droves is a bad use of that money because it doesn’t fit your personal preference for how you feel other people should live. Me, I say cut the tax funding for both and see what happens. In an era of unmatched U.S. prosperity, only a fool would bet that people would choose to ride subways and live closer to one another than they have to.

    You’re not going to win any points with most folks around here by saying that the real problem is that taxes should fund your personal preference more on the basis of dubious claims that without subsidies people will choose mass transit and denser living conditions over spacious homes, spacious yards, and individual transit.

    The idea that people, if they had the money the gov’t takes out of their pockets, wouldn’t choose to spend it living the way most of them obviously already choose to – despite having their pockets picked – seems a dubious claim without any real supporting evidence.

    The argument that highway subsidies are the only reason people can afford to live in the suburbs is just a bridge too far. I think the real argument is that if highway subsidies were diverted to mass transit, then yeah, most wouldn’t be able to afford to live in the suburbs. But if you simply let people have the money they earn without re-distributing it, I doubt you’d end up with a vastly different set-up. Possible, but just not very likely, based on my personal opinion and the numbers of people who live in “sprawl” aka “the suburbs.”

  56. Explain to me how an urban city dwelling land use plan is any more “natural” than a suburban one. Neither one would have occured without government control.

    Well, it was the default throughout human history from the rise of agriculture until about 50 years ago–even in the absence of government “control”. Is that “natural” enough?

    And I don’t buy the claim that the suburbs result in some “massive” redistribution of income.

    Cool. Then you wouldn’t mind doing without low-interest mortgage loans and interest deductions, government funds to extend utilities out to you, or the myriad other benefits the government gives you to promote your lifestyle.

    subsidizing public transportation boondoggles when most people prefer individual transportation

    Public transportation “boondoggles” benefit everyone by being more efficient and taking cars off your roads; or at least they would if more people were able to detach themselves from their cars once in a while. Sprawl of course works against this by being deliberately designed such that you have to drive around to do even the simplest tasks.

  57. “Well, it was the default throughout human history from the rise of agriculture until about 50 years ago–even in the absence of government “control”. Is that “natural” enough?”

    No it was not the “default”. Most of the population of this country when it began lived in rural areas on farms – not in the cities.

    Nor was there an absence of government control in times past when cities were founded by the Greeks and Romans, etc. A big part of the reason for the existence of cities in times past was people needing physical protection from outside forces. Protection that could be more readily provided within cities with walls, etc.

    “Cool. Then you wouldn’t mind doing without low-interest mortgage loans and interest deductions, government funds to extend utilities out to you, or the myriad other benefits the government gives you to promote your lifestyle.”

    Low interest mortgages? Do people in the suburbs get lower interest mortgages than people in cities? I don’t think so. The tax policy supports home purchases generically. It doesn’t favor suburban homes any more than it favors buying a condo in the city. As for utiities, I’m paying my electric bill just like everybody else is. And my septic tank system doesn’t require anybody to extend any sewer system out to my property.

  58. rob,

    Utterly the magical words “you personally support” doesn’t eliminate the reality that there can be better or worse public policies. I personally supported bombing the Serbs; I personally opposed invading Iraq. I was fucking right, objectively, in both cases, and trying to pretend there is no difference except my feelings doesn’t change the objective reality that one was a wise policy, and the other was the bumbling of corrupt morons.

    Nor does noting that people made choices eliminate the fact that the choices available to them have been dramatically expanded in one area (sprawl development) and significantly reduced in another (smart development) through government action. I’ll take a glass of water over a glass of wine and punch in the nose. I’ll take a glass of water and a $20 bill over a glass of wine. Gee, I guess my revealed preference is for water over wine.

    You completely whiffed on both the fact that sprawl has been subsidized, and that alternatives to it have been forbidden.

    And as far as “people around here,” in case you haven’t noticed, most of the comments on this thread agree with me.

  59. Gilbert Martin,

    “Most of the population of this country when it began lived in rural areas on farms – not in the cities.”

    Yes, but this is not a question about living in rural areas vs. metropolitan areas. This is a debate between two different types of development in metropolitan areas. Among those who did not live on farms, everyonen lived in cities or towns comparable to New Urbanist or Neo-traditional developments. There were no – none, not a single one – towns that looked like a modern suburb.

  60. Most of the population of this country when it began lived in rural areas on farms – not in the cities.

    Actually, the American pattern of individual farmhouses, uh, sprawling across the land was unique. In most other times and places, including the Europe our ancestors left, even farmers lived in town.

    A big part of the reason for the existence of cities in times past was people needing physical protection from outside forces.

    Yes, we took care of that problem in America quite nicely, didn’t we.

    Do people in the suburbs get lower interest mortgages than people in cities?

    Tax policy which rewards buying is obviously going to promote suburban growth, given that a higher percentage of suburban units are owned, not rented.

    As for utiities, I’m paying my electric bill just like everybody else is.

    Me too. And it specifically states that one of the taxes is for some bullshit rural electrification project. I live in Brooklyn–why the fuck am I paying for that?

  61. Yes, but this is not a question about living in rural areas vs. metropolitan areas. This is a debate between two different types of development in metropolitan areas. Among those who did not live on farms, everyonen lived in cities or towns comparable to New Urbanist or Neo-traditional developments. There were no – none, not a single one – towns that looked like a modern suburb.

    Just because you want to pick some particular point in history where living patterns corresponded to your personal preferences doesn’t make that living pattern any more “valid” or “natural” than any other that existed before or since that time. Changes in living patterns have been and continue to be driven by changes in techology. It was changes in technology during the industrial revolution that caused large numbers of people to move to cities in the first place. Farm work was becoming more mechanized and more people had to go to cities to get jobs. It wasn’t because they all had some burning desire to live in close proximity to large quantities of people. And they had to live close to where they worked because technology hadn’t developed enough yet (i.e automobiles) to afford them the choice of doing otherwise. The further development of technology enabled a further transformation and those who didn’t want to live in an urban environment started moving back outward. It wasn’t any less “natural” than the prior inflow from the rural areas had been in the first place.

  62. “Me too. And it specifically states that one of the taxes is for some bullshit rural electrification project. I live in Brooklyn–why the fuck am I paying for that?”

    Well maybe it’s some payback for New York city getting it’s water supply from rural areas.

    And that brings up another whole aspect of who is subsidizing who – water usage – particularly in the West. A lot of cities grab water from rural areas a long way from the city. Who says the cities have any more claim on that water than those in the area it’s being pulled out of?

  63. Rhex – I think I agree with what you’re saying, but your tone has me questioning whether we agree. You seem to be angry at people who have responded to incentives (by living in the suburbs). We know people respond to incentives. It would seem you should be angry at the institutions that created the incentives.

  64. Well maybe it’s some payback for New York city getting it’s water supply from rural areas.

    If upstate voters were paying for that water or for transporting it to NYC, you would have a point. However, they don’t; the city of New York pays for all of it.

    It would seem you should be angry at the institutions that created the incentives.

    I would love to see all subsidies and incentives go away. Then we could finally settle the issue once and for all. Common sense tells me that sprawl is less efficient and therefore would be more expensive without the hidden support that the government provides. Yes, we are wealthy enough that many, perhaps most, would still choose sprawl; but it would not be so lopsided as today. And hundreds of decrepit cities in the “heartland” might have remained livable instead of emptying out into the more attractive suburbs or coastal cities.

  65. “If upstate voters were paying for that water or for transporting it to NYC, you would have a point. However, they don’t; the city of New York pays for all of it.

    Who says NYC has any valid ownership claim on that water to begin with? Is NYC paying anyone for the water itself or just paying the cost of moving it? And if NYC is paying somebody for it who is getting paid and is the price a true market based price or a politically determined price?

    I don’t know about New York, but I know that out west, the history of water use is that cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas have essentially used political clout to steal vast supplies of water from other areas.

  66. “Just because you want to pick some particular point in history where living patterns corresponded to your personal preferences…”

    No, Gil. YOU picked some particular point in history because you thought it corresponded to your personal preferences. I just pointed out that you were full of crap.

    “The further development of technology enabled a further transformation and those who didn’t want to live in an urban environment started moving back outward.” Yes, and that explains the development of the car-friendly suburbs of the 1920s – a development scheme being copied today under the names “New Urbanism” and “Neo-traditionalism” and “Traditional Neighborhood Design.” The technology of the automobile, like the streetcar, promoted the development of suburbs – suburbs whose design was very, very similar to the older neighborhoods they abutted, but located slightly farther out.

    The question at hand is why this style of suburb was abandoned for sprawl-style designs, and why it has come back into fashion in such a dramatic manner.

  67. “A lot of cities grab water from rural areas a long way from the city.”

    “the history of water use is that cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas have essentially used political clout to steal vast supplies of water from other areas.”

    Most of the Californians and Nevadans getting their water from distant rural areas live in sprawling suburbs, not urban or traditional neighborhoods.

  68. “No, Gil. YOU picked some particular point in history because you thought it corresponded to your personal preferences. I just pointed out that you were full of crap.”

    Bullshit.

    You’re not “pointing out” anything. You are merely making a claim. You are not any kind of superior authority on this subject or any subject for that matter.

    “The further development of technology enabled a further transformation and those who didn’t want to live in an urban environment started moving back outward.” Yes, and that explains the development of the car-friendly suburbs of the 1920s -”

    Uh Huh and it also explains the continued further movement outward as well as it was just a continuation of that process. Just because you want to grab one point out of the history of the migration of living patterns and claim it represents some epitome of living or was more “natural” or “valid” or whatever other label you want to slap on it doesn’t make it so.

  69. “The question at hand is why this style of suburb was abandoned for sprawl-style designs, and why it has come back into fashion in such a dramatic manner.”

    Who says it has come back in “such a dramatic manner”? Are you claiming the aggregate demand for those designs currently exceeds the aggregate demand for suburbs? And if so, how could that be since you keep claiming the government is engineering everybody into suburbs?

    Here’s an idea. Let the people who want to live in those developments live there and let the people who want to live in the more spread out suburbs live there. It doesn’t bother me if some people choose to live in those type developments.

    You are the one who wants to mandate that that is the only choice.

  70. Who says NYC has any valid ownership claim on that water to begin with?

    New York City purchased the valley in 1942, displacing 974 people, destroying four towns, and submerging nearly ? of the Delaware and Northern Railroad in the process.”

    That’s one reservoir that provides 25% of our drinking water. I don’t have the patience to look up all of them to see if the story is the same, nor to continue this useless argument.

  71. “New York City purchased the valley in 1942, displacing 974 people, destroying four towns, and submerging nearly ? of the Delaware and Northern Railroad in the process.”

    Hmmm – doesn’t sound like a free market transaction to me. I bet politics was involved and some government invocation of immenent domain to grab all that property. The same immenent domain use that people claim means road building is a subsidy.

  72. As a matter of fact, Gil, you DID pick out the period of settlement of the Americas because you thought it matched your personal preference. As a matter of fact, you were wrong about that. As a matter of fact, I did point that out. And as a matter of fact, I’m not only an expert on the subject, I hold master’s degree in it.

    Temper temper. It would probably be best just to say nothing when you’ve been called out and refuted like that, son.

    “Who says it has come back in “such a dramatic manner”?” The author of the article, that author of the blog post, and anyone who’s looked at the direction of development trends.

    “Are you claiming the aggregate demand for those designs currently exceeds the aggregate demand for suburbs?”

    First, I’ll tell you again – both types of development are suburbs. Celebration, Florida is a suburb, just like Laurel, Maryland is a suburb.

    But no, I’m not making a comparison of aggregate demand, just noting that the demand for smarter-designed suburbs is increasing at a dramatic pace. They make up far more of the market than they did ten years ago, and the trend in that direction continues.

    “Uh Huh and it also explains the continued further movement outward as well as it was just a continuation of that process.” Yes, it does. And, once again (perhaps it will get through your skull if I repeat it), this isn’t a debate about suburban growth vs. no growth, but between two varieties of outward suburban growth.

    When you lose your temper like that, Gil, it just draws attention to how badly you are faring in the debate.

  73. “You are the one who wants to mandate that that is the only choice.”

    Really? Am I? Would you care to point out where? Or you just a delusional liar?

    Because the only references to mandated development styles in this thread are criticisms, many by me, of the regulations that mandated that suburban growth occur in a sprawling manner. Not really much of a reader, are you?

    You do poorly enough refuting actual points people make, Gil. You really shouldn’t give yourself the added burden of making up points to refute as well.

  74. Oh, look, Gil just tried to change the subject again to avoid admitting that Rhwyun just smacked him down. Again.

    Stay down, Gil! Don’t get up! He’s going to kill you!

  75. “As a matter of fact, Gil, you DID pick out the period of settlement of the Americas because you thought it matched your personal preference. As a matter of fact, you were wrong about that. As a matter of fact, I did point that out. And as a matter of fact, I’m not only an expert on the subject, I hold master’s degree in it.”

    Nothing but more bullshit.

    Nothing on this earth is a “matter of fact” on your say so. And I don’t care what you have a degree in – you are still not an expert on anything. YOU haven’t proven me to be “wrong” about anything. Nor have you proven that your 1920’s era suburb – a period that you just happened to want to pick out – was any more of a “natural” occurance than anything that came before or after it.

    “When you lose your temper like that, Gil, it just draws attention to how badly you are faring in the debate.”

    Since you aren’t the judge of the debate or anything else your comments are just so much hot air.

  76. “Stay down, Gil! Don’t get up! He’s going to kill you!”

    Nobody is killing me.

    Neither him nor you.

  77. “Because the only references to mandated development styles in this thread are criticisms, many by me, of the regulations that mandated that suburban growth occur in a sprawling manner. Not really much of a reader, are you?”

    More bullshit. You want to selectively engineer the regulations so that only the types of developments you like can occur. You aren’t generically anti-regulation – you’re just selectively anti-regulation.

  78. “Public transportation ‘boondoggles’ benefit everyone by being more efficient and taking cars off your roads; or at least they would if more people were able to detach themselves from their cars once in a while.” – Rhywun

    It’s funny when you contradict yourself in the same sentence that you backhandedly find yourself agreeing with me (that most people prefer to drive themselves to their exact location of choice rather than swap busses six times trying to get to the right neighborhood) and yet managing to also sneer disdainfully at people who prefer not to use public transportation boondoggles.

    “Sprawl of course works against this by being deliberately designed such that you have to drive around to do even the simplest tasks.” – Rhywun

    Ah, but it works TOWARD making people happy with where they live. Which is obviously the higher value for folks who live in “sprawl.”

    “Utter[ing] the magical words ‘you personally support’ doesn’t eliminate the reality that there can be better or worse public policies.” – joe

    Sure. Taxing one’s citizens to provide something that the government shouldn’t be involved in is a bad public policy – regardless of whether it’s highways for individual transportation or mass transit.

    “I was fucking right, objectively, in both cases, and trying to pretend there is no difference except my feelings doesn’t change the objective reality that one was a wise policy, and the other was the bumbling of corrupt morons.” – joe

    That echo chamber must sure be warm and cozy…

    “Nor does noting that people made choices eliminate the fact that the choices available to them have been dramatically expanded in one area (sprawl development) and significantly reduced in another (smart development) through government action.” – joe

    You say this but you can’t really support it. I can’t prove that people would choose to live in the suburbs without what you claim is subsidization, but my personal feeling is that if the gov’t got out of the road-building and public transit business there’d be less public transit lines and more highways. The U.S. national character just seems (to me) to be that way.

    “I’ll take a glass of water over a glass of wine and punch in the nose. I’ll take a glass of water and a $20 bill over a glass of wine. Gee, I guess my revealed preference is for water over wine.” – joe

    That made no sense whatsoever. Because the reality is that living in the burbs is the glass of wine without the punch in the nose if you remove subsidies. Mass transit is the glass of water you’d like to steal $20 from me to deliver.

    “You completely whiffed on both the fact that sprawl has been subsidized, and that alternatives to it have been forbidden.” – joe

    No, but you’ve certainly shown that you feel this to be true (like all the other things you calim to be “objectively” right about – in the Al Gore-ish and incredibly arrogant belief that only idiots disagree with you.)

    “And as far as ‘people around here,’ in case you haven’t noticed, most of the comments on this thread agree with me.” – joe

    No, most libertarians agree with you that subsidizing highways is bad – that doesn’t mean they agree with you that subsidizing mass transit is good. But it doesn’t surprise me that you can’t understand that over the reverberations of your own nonsense in the echo chamber that is the “Mind of joe.”

    BTW, joe, just answer your question for Gil about where you reveal your desire to mandate your preferred choice, when you stump for greater subsidies for your preferred choice (mass transit, denser neighborhoods) it means that you are as wrong as those who support the highway subsidies. You see the one as wrong, but not the other. Why is that? If one is gov’t intervention that is wrong, so is the other. It doesn’t matter which of your neighbors you steal from or why you stole from them, it’s still a crime.

  79. Gil – Don’t let him get to you. When joe receives a rhetorical beat down, one of his favorite tactics is to loudly proclaim that he just kicked your ass. It makes him feel better about being treated like a human pinata.

    Yeah, basically joe loves to play Park Sun Hi to his opponent’s Roy Jones, Jr.

    (For non-boxing fans, that was the match in which “Jones represented the United States at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games where he won the silver medal. His participation there proved to be controversial when he lost a highly disputed 3-2 decision in the final. Jones lost to South Korean fighter Park Si-Hun, despite pummeling Park for three rounds, landing 86 punches to Park’s 32. Allegedly, Park himself apologized to Jones afterwards. One judge shortly thereafter admitted the decision was a mistake, and all three judges voting against Jones were eventually suspended. Most observers still believe the judges were either bribed or otherwise coerced to vote for the local fighter by Korean officials. However, the official IOC investigation concluding in 1997 found that 3 of the judges were wined and dined by Korean officials, and the IOC still officially stands by the decision. Jones was awarded the Val Barker trophy as the best stylistic boxer of the 1988 games. The incident, along with another highly disputed decision against American Michael Carbajal in the same games, led Olympic organizers to establish a new scoring system for Olympic boxing.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Jones_Jr.)

  80. You got nuthin, Gil. Swearing and nuh-uh, and that’s it.

  81. rob,

    That echo chamber is two thirds of the public and growing. People like you are openly mocked throughout the country these days. Clinging to obvious failure will do that.

  82. “You say this but you can’t really support it.”

    Yes, I can. Why don’t you call up the zoning map for a few suburban communities, and compare the areas where small lots, mixed uses, and multifamily homes are allowed, to the areas that only allow large lot single family housing.

    “my personal feeling is that if the gov’t got out of the road-building and public transit business there’d be less public transit lines and more highways.” If you look back at what I’ve written, I’ve been attributing the growth of sprawl development to prohibitionary snob zoning regulations in the suburbs, not to transportation funding. Perhaps you got me confused with someone else.

    And your response is – what? Sharing your feelings? Stop sharing your feelings, rob, and try to learn something about development, real estate, and planning if you want to argue this subject with me. Feelings. Gee, that’s nice.

    BTW, it is fucking hilarious that you can read the exchange between Gil and me and conclude that I’ve gotten my ass kicked. It just goes to the lack of objectivity and wishful thinking that guides you in these threads – you just cannot see what is in front of your eyes, and you’ve just proven that to anyone who bothers to read this far down in the thread.

    You’re usually more of a challenge than this, rob. All you’ve managed to put up is to refute a transportation argument I didn’t make; make a laughably false assertion about suburban communities not restricting land use to sprawl patterns; and lauding Gilbert Martin for his debating skills.

    LoL.

  83. Wow, that was a zinger of a come-back, joe. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of weak posts… One tool that can’t fix anything. (Actually, now that I think of it, “one tool that can’t fix anything” is probably the dictionary entry next to “joe.”)

    You could strenghten your point – instead of confirming defeat – if you’d actually responded to points I made. Everyone understands that for you to actually refuting any of my points is just a bridge too far for you.

    Here’s an example of addressing specific points, feel free to adapt it to your personal writing style:

    “That echo chamber is two thirds of the public and growing.” – joe

    The echo chamber inside your head is an individual problem, joe, don’t try to pawn it off on the rest of the public.

    “People like you are openly mocked throughout the country these days.” – joe

    Yeah, people openly mock people who believe in equality before the law, the rule of law, democratic capitalism as means of improving the lot of most people, and private property. I see a lot of that going on. But it’s by drooling goof-balls like Lou Dobbs.

    “Clinging to obvious failure will do that.”

    Clinging to obvious failure? Aren’t you the guy who is still whining about stolen presidential elections? Sheesh… Talk about lame talking points with a desperate death-grip on obvious failures.

  84. Who cares what you say, rob? You’re obviously blinded by your partisanship.

    You think that Gilbert Martin put forward a series of winning arguments.

    Res ips, dude. Your delusion speaks for itself.

  85. “Why don’t you call up the zoning map for a few suburban communities, and compare the areas where small lots, mixed uses, and multifamily homes are allowed, to the areas that only allow large lot single family housing.” – joe

    Or maybe you could link to something that shows you to be undeniably in the right on this? I’m sure a “brilliant” city planner such as yourself has many such examples close to hand.

    “you look back at what I’ve written, I’ve been attributing the growth of sprawl development to prohibitionary snob zoning regulations in the suburbs, not to transportation funding. Perhaps you got me confused with someone else.” -joe

    You haven’t made that claim? Maybe not on this thread, but I’m willing to bet you’ve made it before on HNR. Are you willing to go to the tale of the tape on that one? I sure am…

    And regardless of your shifting rationale, you’re still claiming that it’s those evil people you don’t like (“snobs”) who are creating the “evil sprawl” through icky gov’t regulation. But you refuse to face the reality that it’s the gov’t regulation that’s the problem, instead pretending that it’s what that regulation is designed to accomplish that’s wrong.

    “And your response is – what? Sharing your feelings? Stop sharing your feelings, rob, and try to learn something about development, real estate, and planning if you want to argue this subject with me. Feelings. Gee, that’s nice.” – joe

    You’re kinda sad, really. I point out that you’ve based your argument on your personal feelings and point out that I have feelings that are contrary to yours to show you how little weight your feelings about good vs. bad gov’t regulation should carry, and you try to take me to task for talking about feelings? I guess it’s not satire if you can’t spot the irony.

    “it is fucking hilarious that you can read the exchange between Gil and me and conclude that I’ve gotten my ass kicked.” – joe

    Actually, I was just pointing out that you always do that BS victory dance when you’re unable to actually carry your points.

    “It just goes to the lack of objectivity and wishful thinking that guides you in these threads – you just cannot see what is in front of your eyes, and you’ve just proven that to anyone who bothers to read this far down in the thread.

    “You’re usually more of a challenge than this, rob.” – joe

    You usually try to make actual points, joe. it’s hard to bring my “A Game” against a line of thought that doesn’t even require effort to refute it.

    Allow me to provide the Cliff’s Notes version for you:

    joe: “Gov’t regulation has led to things I don’t like and consider to be BAD and hence these are BAD gov’t regulations, but if we regulated things the way I think it should be, then it would be GOOD and that means it would be GOOD gov’t regulation.”

    rob: “Most, if not all, gov’t regulation is BAD gov’t regulation. Regulating to subsidize or regulate people into what you think is good is essentially the same BAD thing you decry, and in my opinion worse (because I prefer to live the way I do, which happens to dove-tail with what you dislike).”

    joe: “I WIN! Everyone who disagrees with me is a big, fat, and worst of all REPUBLICAN idiot!”

    rob: “Here we go again.”

  86. Zoning and highway subsidies are a partisan issue? Wow… Now you’re REALLY going off the rails.

    Oh, wait, I guess technically the desire to control and funnel how other people live through gov’t regulation IS a recognizably leftist, authoritarian approach to the world…

    Let’s hear it for joe’s “Great Zoning Leap Forward!”

  87. Who cares, rob?

    You’ve obviously taken leave your senses; you just congratulated Gilbert Martin for winning an argument, when he didn’t make a single point that wasn’t refuted.

    I think you should go lie down. I don’t think you’re at all well.

  88. Actually, I wasn’t telling Gil he was “world champeen” I was just referring to how pathetic your claims of being “world champeen” are:

    “Actually, I was just pointing out that you always do that BS victory dance when you’re unable to actually carry your points.”

    Maybe you need to lie down, take a nap, and come back when your vision is a bit clearer. I think you’re coming down with a case of “Stalin fever” – which normally presents as a tendency to want to regulate where and how other people live.

  89. “You got nuthin, Gil. Swearing and nuh-uh, and that’s it.”

    No Joe – it’s you who has nothing.

    You can keep trying to pass your personal opinions off as objective truth all you want – it won’t make it so no matter how many times you say it.

    There isn’t anyone on this earth who is the least bit capable of proving that any particular living pattern that humans have chosen to engage in at any point in history was more “naturally occuring” than any other.

    The denser suburbs you happen to like were no more the result of a “natural” development of unregulated human living patterns than the more spread out ones you don’t like. That’s why you don’t see any chemical plants or gasoline refineries smack dab in the middle of them next door to somebody’s bungalow.

    “That echo chamber is two thirds of the public and growing.”

    No one has elected you spokesman for two thirds of the public – or as spokesman for anyone other than yourself for that matter.

  90. “Allow me to provide the Cliff’s Notes version for you:

    joe: “Gov’t regulation has led to things I don’t like and consider to be BAD and hence these are BAD gov’t regulations, but if we regulated things the way I think it should be, then it would be GOOD and that means it would be GOOD gov’t regulation.””

    Indeed so rob.

    And lefties like joe certainly aren’t opposed to regulations or subsidies – they just want to unilaterally reserve to themselves the right to decide which things get regulated and/or subsidized and which don’t. In, fact that is a big part of the hatred that these liberal elitists have for the suburbs. They think all these folks should be required to remain in the city limits and be part of the rate base that is forced to pay for the plethora of social welfare programs for the homeless, the poor, etc. that have been created there that they approve of.

    You don’t see any of them out campaiging for the elimination of social security, medicare and medicaid – the absolute biggest subsidy programs in the history of the country. No, they want to selectively start squawking about “sprawl suburbs” being “subsidized” as a tactic to force everybody else to live the way they want as if somebody had conferred some particular authority upon them to define what is and isn’t a subsidy and which ones are “good” and should be kept in place and which ones are “bad” and should be eliminated.

    It’s total bullshit from beginning to end.

  91. With his most recent post I can definitely say that it is an “objective truth” that Gilbert Martin WHUPPED joe’s tail REAL GOOD! I now declare Gilbert Martin to be the “world champeen” of this thread with exactly the same measure of authority that joe declares his victories and with the same level of credibilty joe deserves when he claims that his beliefs are “objectively true.”

    DISCLOSURE: In other words, no authority whatsoever and using similarly specious claims to “objective truth” that are identical to the kind of rhetorical clap-trap that all authoritarians use to rationalize their desire to control others. (Except I’m not trying to control anyone, I’m just pointing out that this is bedrock basis of joe’s belief system.)

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  92. Maybe you guys should just get on a conference call or something and shout it out.

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