Public transportation

Let People Live Where They Choose

Mass transit and "planned spaces" appeal to the bureaucratic mind, but Americans want to stay in their suburban homes.

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"Tea party members don't think there's a federal role in transportation!" complained Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) last week, near the site of a $5.8 million highway project. If only most tea party members were that radical. While Brown and other big-government folks worry that Republicans will cut spending, Republicans debate adding another $10.5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to keep it going another year—without deciding how to reform it.

Now, there's no doubt some roads and bridges need work. But too little transportation money spent by government goes to building and repairing roads. 

As Cato Institute transportation analyst Randal O'Toole points out, the construction of the nation's federal highways was largely complete in 1982, but instead of reducing the gas tax that helped pay for them, Congress raised the tax and spent much of the money on things like bicycle trails and "mass" transit. 

"Building an interstate highway system," writes O'Toole, "has been replaced by a complex and often contradictory set of missions: maintaining infrastructure, enhancing mobility, reducing air pollution, discouraging driving, supporting transit, building expensive rail lines, promoting economic development, stimulating the economy, stopping climate change and ending urban sprawl, among others." 

Then, when roads deteriorate, the federal government laments that it doesn't have enough money. 

We should have known that an inevitable side effect of a distant central government spending these billions is that road construction isn't determined by local supply and demand. Often "mass" transit carries few passengers, while nearby roads are congested. 

Urban planners, who work closely with government and distrust markets, are convinced that people will leave comfortable suburban homes and flock to dense urban areas with walkable streets, if government just pours money into mass transit. But even after Congress spent billions on public transportation projects, even rebuilding the downtowns of some cities to make them more pedestrian-friendly, it turned out most Americans wanted to stay in their suburban homes. 

Then urban planners assumed adults would relocate to cities once their kids left for college or jobs, but a recent Fannie Mae report found baby boomers are not doing that. The planners are surprised. They shouldn't be. "After all," writes O'Toole, "baby boomers' parents overwhelmingly preferred to 'age in place' rather than move when their children left home; why should baby boomers be any different?" 

~BostonBill~/Flickr

It turns out that government spent your billions on urban transit based on surveys that asked people if they want to live in "walkable communities." Of course people said yes! Who doesn't want to live in a neighborhood where you can "walk to shops"?

But if they'd asked, "Are you willing to spend about four times as much per square foot to live in a city instead of a spacious suburban home?" they'd get different answers. 

Now, I live the way bureaucrats want you to live. I have an apartment in New York City, one of the most densely populated places on Earth. I take the subway system to get around and sometimes ride my bicycle. I like living this way. But bureaucrats shouldn't try to force you to live the way I live. 

In fact, herding people into denser urban areas sounds suspiciously like something that makes life easier for the bureaucrats themselves. It was a popular idea with communist planners in Romania and North Korea. Mass transit and "planned spaces" appeal to the bureaucratic mind. 

How about going the opposite route? Let people live where they choose, let private entities build roads and mass transit (many roads and even most of New York City's subways were privately built), and let user fees from commuters pay for roads and transit. 

There is justice in that idea: People who love to drive will pay for it, and those who don't want to pay have an extra incentive to move to those urban spaces planners like so much. In a market, everybody wins. With government planners, it's always "My way or the highway." 

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  1. “With government planners, it’s always ‘My way or the highway.'” Or the highway? Ha. With government, it’s always either my way or I put a gun to your head and it’s still my way.

    1. We’re from the government We’re here to help.

      1. ourselves to the contents of your wallet.

    2. With government it’s my way and my highway, and you’ll do what I say cuz it’s the law.

  2. while Congress uses gas taxes to pay for things like bicycle trails and urban transit.

    The Congress takes gas taxes from the poor, the rural and the middle class in the name of building roads everyone will use and then spends it on stuff white people like. All of those things are nothing but give away programs to the liberal gentry. That is it. Even urban transit is a fucking hipster sham. They don’t spend that money on bus systems. You see buses are things poor people use. And hipsters and gentry liberals don’t want to ride with anymore than a couple of poor people to add flavor to the experience. They spend it on rail, which is expensive and generally worthless and thus rarely used by the poor. They still the money so little Caleb and Joshua can ride the choo choo and have a path to take their single gear bikes down.

    Seriously, fuck Congress. Fuck them in the ear.

    1. Baltimore has the Charm City Circulator, a free bus ride!

      Of course, it only runs through the inner harbor.

      1. Your government created transportation only takes people a distance they could walk through the ghetto too??? Neat!!!

        1. No, no, this free transit is in the safe(r) part of the city.

          1. oooooooohhhh!!! So only my city was fuck dumb enough to do that…

            1. Well no, Baltimore does have a fairly decent subway system that no one uses because it runs straight through the worst parts of the city.

              1. To clarify, decent only based on speed.

                1. oh oh oh! Ours is going to take 45 minutes to go 3 miles!!!

                  1. Ours is going to take 45 minutes to go 3 miles!!!

                    So you can pace it on foot?

                    1. yep! But whrere’s the fun in that when you can ride a streetcar???

                    2. Methinks, you live in Cincy. Who Dey. What’s not to love about the streetcar? It goes up and down Over the Rhine…..and no where else. Because who doesn’t want to get shot in OTR?

                    3. I live in OTR, and have for a few years. But the goddamn streetcar doesn’t go to my part of OTR with the businesses, and safety. Oh no, it’s going to go up Elm Street to McMicken with the gun violence and scabies…

                    4. NO IT WON’T!!! They can’t even get the private funding they were promised, it will go the way of the Cincinnati Subway.

                    5. Well we won’t need any of it once they get done turning half of central parkway into bike lanes!!!

                2. I’ve been to Bmore about 10 times in the past 3 years and this is the first I’ve heard of a subway.

                  1. One line, travels from Owings Mills to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

      2. And Fed Hill, where the rich white people live.

    2. Can you imagine what a city with a truly free market in transportation would look like? Air conditioned buses with free wireless and TVs. Uber-like, on-demand shuttle service. I bet you’d also see partnerships between transportation companies and local businesses as a way of competing for customers (e.g., discounted rides to certain restaurants, special offers for customers of certain transit companies). It would be awesome.

      1. I suspect such a system would have a lot of cars and car services, see Uber. When you think about it, all Uber is is car pooling for profit. If I am going into town, I would rather go alone. But if a stranger can make it profitable, why not take him along?

      2. In most latin american megacities, there is two teirs of transit for most people:
        1. jammed like sardines into rickety minivans with smelly construction workers and music blarring – costs almost nothing;
        2. fairly nice minivans with the latest telenovela playing and moderately priced.

        There are a third category of government trains and buses but they seem to be focused on moving government workers from their preferred suburbs to the government district. Imagine that.

      3. Bus + Food Truck = Fuck Yeah.

      4. Can you imagine what a city with a truly free market in transportation would look like?

        It would have a shitload less single-occupant cars during typical commuting and business hours, that’s for sure.

        But the rich would have fancy buses with TV and wi-fi while the poor would have to live with just windows that open.

        Of course, the rich would be paying 3x the fares the poor would be paying. So instead – thanks to government interference – the rich get air-conditioned trains with no TV and wi-fi for half the price and the poor still can’t afford them. But they are “more affordable” than the trains with TV and wi-fi!!

      5. well, in a truly free market, no one would “own” land, so buying it up for rail lines would be cheap

        there would be 5x more lines, and the systems would be constantly changing (in a good way)

    3. “stuff white people like”

      That’s too general. They spend it in stuff trendy liberal intellectuals like. There are plenty of conservative libertarian, or just sensible white people who think that spending Federal money earmarked for Transportation on bike paths is fraud. It’s the Liberal Intellectuals who see that as “alternative transportation” and not as “spending money on recreation that should be spent on making commutes easier”.

      1. Why should money be “spent on making commutes easier”? Don’t like your commute? Suck it up, move or change jobs. Don’t whine to the govn’t to fix your commute with everyone else’s money.

        Whose commutes matter & whose don’t? Workers in big cities who ride mass transit have some of the longest commute times. Workers in mid-sized cities have the shortest: http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acs-15.pdf (look at page 3 & 11).

        If you wanted to spend tax money to make people’s commutes easier (and I don’t) -you’d spend it in the cities.

        1. You seem determined to miss my point, which is that most people consider “Transportation” money to be for the transport that most concerns them; getting to and from their jobs. And if the taxes that obtain that money have been sold as “for Transportation”, spending it on bike paths a d similar recreational transportation borders on fraud.

          Of course when you get right down to it, the same can be said of most government programs.

    4. The previous mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn, a militant bicycling activist, reduced lanes of existing city streets (not an exaggeration…he called it the “Road Diet“) by extending sidewalks and concrete planters into the middle of the streets. In his little pea brain, that was a great way to force people to walk and commute everywhere by bicycle.

      Not coincidentally, because this type of smug, liberal-gentry Lifestyle Gestapo thinking is rampant around here, WA pays the 9th highest gas taxes in the nation.

      And they must be taking that money and using it to light their farts, because they’re still whining that public transit is going to die if we don’t give it even MORE money. Fortunately, most voters didn’t buy that bullshit, and are finally getting smart enough to ask the question, “What are you doing with the money you’re already taking from us?

    5. it’s not that rail is useless, it just has to be done right. Fast mass transit (“ugly” caternary lines), normal rail stock, having the right of way.

      Light rail and all that other crap is bullshit. As they say, it’s a bus on rails, with no advantage over a bus

  3. Hmmm…leaving it up to local government sucks too honestly. Where I’m from (Cincinnati) they approved a $145 million streetcar last year. It will first run in September of 2016, and it will have a total distance of 3.6 miles, with 20 stops, half of which are IN THE FUCKING GHETTO. Basically, it can move people, for a price, a distance they could easily walk, into neighborhoods they avoid anyway.

    1. Mass transit sucks. It died out when people could afford cars for a reason. But urban planners hate people and hate freedom. They just can’t stand the idea of all of these nasty people going where they want when they want and not moving in controlled and planned ways with the herd.

      1. But could the goddamn thing at least move me from downtown to uptown!?!?!? I mean geez! No one, and I mean no one, needs or wants transport from the Ohio River to Over-the-Rhine!!! (he said realizing no one has any idea what those places are…)

        1. Given that they are in Cincinnati, I assume they are shitty.

          1. 🙂 You sir, are right on all levels!

        2. You know who else didn’t want anyone transported over the Rhine?

          1. Anyone who saw the movie “Traffic”? Michael Douglas in the movie “Traffic”!

      2. It died out when people could afford cars for a reason.

        It mostly died when government forced the private carriers into a price-fixing racket that couldn’t cover the capital costs and they all went broke.

      3. Urban planners hate that people free to make choices frequently do not make the choices their “betters” think they should.

        Buttinskis.

      4. //Mass transit sucks. It died out when people could afford cars for a reason.

        well, no. Riding rail sure as shit beats driving or taking the bus if you avoid all that shitty traffic, which we have plenty of here in NY/NJ. Going into the city or Hudson County I prefer to use the rails

    2. They’re planning something similar in Atlanta. Huge boondoggle to run a street car from the Capitol building to the MLK center. The whole line is about 3 miles long, and goes through neighborhoods that I wouldn’t go in without my 45 and an extra clip.

      1. Atlanta already has the MARTA, which cost a fortune, goes nowhere and is rarely used.

        1. MARTA is used all the time when people want to go to Braves games, but don’t want to park their cars in the ghetto. Other than that, it’s basically a drunk tank with less rules.

          1. And in a year or two, it won’t go to Braves games anymore.

        2. I think instead of calling ours “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta” we’re thinking of going with “Transporting Heroin Addicts To South Downtown, Undermining Many Businesses”

          1. THATSDUMB? OK. I can go with it.

        3. I live in Atlanta. It’s not that MARTA doesn’t have a bus component that doesn’t go anywhere, it’s that it really is just easier to drive wherever you want to go. Yes, even in traffic it’s just easier to drive. The tards here love to propose new streetcar routes that already have an obvious bus route on them. The train doesn’t really do much of anything. Even if I gave you a magic marker and time machine back to 1968 you couldn’t draw up a better rail system. There really wasn’t anything to design it to back then other than the airport, Braves stadium, and center city. Two out three aint too bad.

          Oh, and the streetcar might finally open in November. Rejoice!

          http://www.ajc.com/news/news/s…..ber/nggDc/

          1. Lets not forget the Beltline the leftists here are so in love with. a loop to nowhere through some of the roughest parts of town.

          2. Streetcars?! Streetcars are fucking ridiculous, barely worth even keeping up in legacy systems, and people are building new lines??!

    3. There is something about politicians that makes them suckers for light rail projects. Maybe it’s because the opening of a rail station is such a good photo-op.

      They will, of course, defend it as transportation for the poor to get to their jobs, but somehow the question of how much more service 9not to mention flexibility) they could have gotten with busses will never be raised.

      1. Oddly enough the minority community was very opposed to MARTA when originally proposed as primarily a rail project. They viewed it as the white man’s subway. It wasn’t until a significant bus component was added that could service the poor demographic that the bond issue could pass.

        Look, a source!

        http://barthildreth.com/images….._MARTA.pdf

        1. Despite voting in lockstep with the Democrat Party 9one of the Propaganda triumphs of all human history), “minority” poor (brown people) frequently show considerable sense on local issues. They overwhelmingly support school choice, busses over light rail, and other common sense matters. If the Republicans had the guts to really fight poverty pimps like Al “the way I take advantage of Blacks, and race, if I were white I’d be a Grand Dragon” Sharpton, they might take the black vote back.

  4. One of the new trends I’ve seen are “neighborhood zones”. It’s an attempt to give people the big suburban homes they want, but to zone the areas for mixed use so that there are shops, restaurants, and businesses nearby. It will fail, because people will get tired of going to the same old shops and restaurants, and will want to visit other areas.

    1. I’d predict they’ll fail because the shops and businesses won’t have enough ‘walking distance’ density of customers to stay in business. They’ll also have parking restrictions to discourage outsiders from frequenting their businesses.

      1. I’D predict they’d fail because the kind of Grand Planners who go for this kind of thing are the kind who think they know just what KIND of shops should go where. No room for variation, or the unexpected. Doom.

    2. Actually there are retirement communities & upscale developments that function successfully on that model. It all depends on how much people want to go to other areas.

  5. As Cato Institute transportation analyst Randal O’Toole points out, the construction of the nation’s federal highways was largely complete in 1982, but instead of reducing the gas tax that helped pay for them, Congress raised the tax and spent much of the money on things like bicycle trails and “mass” transit.

    If I am faced with the ROADZ dilemma, I generally back down and say fine, the government can build the fucking roads and do so with gas taxes, if the gas tax is only used to build and maintain roads.

    Then I can at least enjoy the mental breakdown when the rube realizes gas taxes are pissed away just like any other tax revenue.

    1. If they would go to build and maintain roads, I think gas taxes are fine. They are by far the best way to apportion the cost for roads among those who use them. It is not perfect, but the price of getting it perfect is doing something like tracking everyone’s millage and invading people’s privacy.

      The only thing I would do differently, other than spend the money on roads, is tax the living fuck out of electric cars and bicycles since they use the roads but dodge paying for them in gas taxes.

      1. Tolls are better than gas tax.

        1. You’ve never been to New Jersey, I take it.

        2. I’m with KDN; New Jersey is living proof that you can pound toll money down a rat hole just as effectively as you can with gas tax money.

          1. New Jersey is living proof that you can pound toll money down a rat hole just as effectively as you can with gas tax money.

            With the added bonus of unnecessarily creating traffic jams every ten miles.

            1. Most states manage that, tolls or no tolls.

            2. Tolls reduce congestion.

              1. I prefer cough medicine.

              2. Not anywhere I have ever seen.

        3. They are but are a little more difficult and expensive to implement historically. Electronic tolls have improved that quite a bit.

          1. I said I don’t want to be tracked! From the data points available, e-tolls are little different from usage taxes

            1. Yup, that’s a problem. So are cell phones for that matter. You could argue cell phone data is private, but I don’t think you’d be happy with private toll roads either. A gas tax solves the anonymity problem by degrading the usage attribution.

            2. User fees are always better than tax.

              1. IF you can get the government to not build huge databases on who uses what and what that might imply.

                And you probably can’t.

                1. They do that anyway.

              2. User fees are always better than tax.

                Every driver paying a toll is also paying a gas tax.

                Or am I supposed to believe that gas taxes would be even higher without tolls?

            3. If you don’t want to be tracked, make all the people where you’re going wear blindfolds.

          2. Electronic tolls improve it a lot. We’re at the point now where tolling local streets is feasible, and probably even better with congestion pricing.

        4. No they are not. Tolls allow people who own roads a critical junctions to charge a premium and get above market returns and thus parasite from the system. If I own the one bridge across the river, I can charge people tolls right up to the point that they get so high, it makes sense to build a competing bridge. That price ceiling is way above the cost of building the bridge and giving the market rate of return on the investment.

          Basically, any return above the market on my investment over the long term, is me stealing from the public.

          Gas taxes are much more efficient overall because they prevent that. Have tolls and you either overpay people who own the critical roads or you double build those roads to ensure competition. Have a gas tax and you just build one road and no one gets to skim any above market returns.

          The libertarian obsession with tolls always amazes me. But in fairness a lot of economists do the same thing. It is like congestion tolls. Yes, you can solve congestion by making it too expensive to drive when people most want to. And it makes things look more efficient because you don’t have any more traffic jams. What doesn’t show is all of the hidden costs of people no longer being able to travel when they most need to or paying a premium to do so. In short, there is more to solving a traffic problem then just lowering the amount of traffic.

          1. This is Tony level stupid. Charging someone for using your stuff = capitalism.

            Road tolls work. They reduce congestion, while gas tax treats an SUV using the road the same as a gas-sipper. It’s nonsense. Gas tax should only cover environmental costs.

            1. You only think it is stupid because you don’t understand how markets work.

              Roads tolls work. They reduce congestion,

              That right there show how profoundly ignorant you are. You just assume reducing congestion is a good and always an efficient result hat comes without cost. We could reduce congestion by randomly shooting anyone caught on the roads at certain times. The resulting reduction in congestion, however, would not mean the program worked. It never occurs to you that perhaps congestion is the most efficient result. There is nothing that says the costs associated with congestion necessarily outweigh the benefits of people being able to travel whenever they choose and paying for it in time rather than money.

              You are just madly simple minded about these things and have what can only be described as a religious view of markets such that as long as the right magic words are spoken the result must be efficient. Ah no. It is a bit more complex than that. Sadly, I doubt you will ever figure that out no matter how hard I try to explain it to you.

              1. People value non-congestion. The less-congested road (or less-congested anything) is worth more to the users. Don’t take literally Yogi Berra’s quip, “Nobody goes there any more, it’s too crowded.”

                1. How people should drive on a congested situation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGFqfTCL2fs

                  1. Also, urban planners: Roundabouts and anarchy work better for safer streets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVLaYHNpS7M

              2. //There is nothing that says the costs associated with congestion necessarily outweigh the benefits of people being able to travel whenever they choose and paying for it in time rather than money.

                Huh, this is very insightful. I never thought of it like that

          2. I prefer gas taxes because of the anonymity factor, but it’s hardly reasonable to lament tolls as “unlibertarian”.

            A toll charges me (in my ’72 Plymouth) the same for the space I take up on the road, and the damage I do to it as it does someone in a 2010 VW TDI wagon. Which is as it should be, because the cars weigh the same and are roughly the same dimensions. Whereas a gasoline tax… I’m paying roughly 4x as much for using the same amount of road.

            I’m willing to entertain the notion that I possibly should be paying that much more, to deal with the externalised costs of the greater amount of pollution I create, but that’s completely unrelated to what I should be charged for the use of the road.

          3. Fuel taxes overcharge for local streets, because that’s where your gas mileage is worst.

      2. Why tax the living fuck out of bikes? They occupy a tiny fraction of road surface and put hardly any wear on it. I could see putting tolls on them at certain points, but otherwise you might as well let them literally free-ride.

    2. When confronted with the ROADZ dilemma, I simply respond that, if your shining example of the efficacy of government results in rush hour traffic, you have lost the debate entirely.

  6. The sheer waste of government is so insane. If we didn’t allow the government to steal our money and use it for so much that is worthless, pointless, or even positively adverse to our interests, where would we be now? We have such opportunities for technological and scientific advance and all that could mean for human comfort, happiness, and affluence, but we let this massive parasite slow that down to a relative crawl, because. . .because of some bullshit.

    1. The progs eventually kill everything they touch. Say what you want about the old FDR Truman liberals but at least they actually managed to build shit. Maybe we shouldn’t have built said shit but at least they left something to show for their folly. Today’s progs can’t even do that. They literally can do nothing but take and squander and leave nothing to show for it. They are going to manage to destroy an entire civilization in waste and excess and not even leave behind any monuments or buildings to show for it.

      1. And we reward our worst and dimmest.

      2. Yes, they built some things but with an entirely different population. The core of WPA was a group of out of work men who felt the shame of being so and the responsibility of providing for themselves and their families. The core of that group today has been seriously corroded by decades of welfare programs and “education” telling them of their entitlement birthright.

        1. What virtues do Americans tend to have now? Are we down to an average of near zero yet?

      3. Today’s progs want environmental studies done a decade and a half before anything is done. They aren’t like FDR who would damn up a river for electricity’s sake. That’s China today.

    2. Governments do seem to have a positive effect on the building of networks that are of value to society, but which people won’t pay for in fees. The Railroads come to mind; the feeder lines lost money, the trunk lines could go either way, the fortunes were made in real estate speculation (and from government grant land), and society got cheap transportation.

      Unfortunately, government isn’t good at telling which networks are needed and which are obsolete wastes of money.

      But i’m not totally sure I believe that the free market is the most efficient in this one category.

      1. “the building of networks that are of value to society” – ah, therein lies the rub. Never have quite figured out who this “society” fellow is.

        1. Well, the British Canal system helped fuel (literally, in the case of transporting coal cheaply) the Industrial Revolution. Lots of Progs think that was A Bad Thing, but the verdict of history is that factory workers ate better and were less ignorant than the “Simple peasants” the Progs claim to love so goddamned much.

          The American Railroads built the post Civl War boom. Rural Electrification was generally an improvement in living conditions. The list goes on for some length. The problem, as I mentioned, is that governments are frequently slow to recognize when the useful service of a network is waning or over. Hence the large sums spent on failed canals in the U.S., the sums wasted on Amtrack, etc.

          Support doesn’t have to be lavish lashings of tax money, either. The transcontinental railroad was encouraged with large grants of land that were next to worthless until the railroads were working.

          The subject needs to be examined in more detail. There’s probably a PhD thesis or twelve in it, but I’m no scholar.

  7. Ha, the picture of the house on the headline is in Westlake, Daly City. You can tell it’s summer there by the swirling fog.

  8. In Minneapolis, we are well on our way to a $300 million trolley line that will cover the three mile distance between two neighborhoods people don’t really go to. But hey, it creates jobz!

    1. “We will create a transit link between the neighborhoods of Boone and Doggle. We will call it the Boone-Doggle Line!”

    2. $300MM is nothing compared to the Southwest Corridor and that doesn’t even cross a river.

    3. Austin here, 9 mile stretch of rail costing $1.6B on the way.

      Our current single line of rail operates at a $12M loss annually, btw.

    4. And you have to pay a toll to ride on it.

      1. But at least the train won’t be congested.

  9. I’m a little more partial to density and less partial to suburbia than many here. I would like to point out that government zoning laws often favor and push sprawl while making it difficult to build density or rent out. This is another case of the government pushing the gas peddle and the brake simultaneously.

    1. Me too, and I would like to point out that roadz are built with general tax dollars too. I’m all for a free market in transportation but hyperventilating over trolleys isn’t adding much to the discussion.

    2. Not in the Bay Area. There is a local “law” called Plan Bay Area that coercively demands all suburbs build high-density housing in their downtowns.

      Our little village, which is all narrow streets with people living on hillsides, often with houses on stilts, has a “downtown” in the city’s only small valley, that is only five blocks long and two blocks wide. It is completely full, with things like a hardware store and grocer, and a few restaurants, that is perfect for the people to drive down for their errands. Other than that, the town is completely “built out” and there is no room for new housing. The average house is worth well over $1 million.

      So Plan Bay Area is demanding that this little town build 800 (!) new housing units by 2022 (half must be for “low income”) or lose all state and federal transportation funds. Where can these be built? They are actually looking at bulldozing churches to put in 5-story apartment building housing projects, which would actually be 21st-century tenements. Or perhaps we’ll lose the grocery store for this.

      Developers love this law, as does our city council members, who are mostly from the real estate industry. The rest of the town’s residents don’t want it, but what can they do? Anyone against the idea is called racist or classist, supposedly afraid of the “diversity” this will bring. So in the middle of this sleepy bedroom community with only 2-story homes, there will soon be one tall building full of section 8 apartments.

      1. The USG will be broke soon so you’re losing the state and federal transportation funds anyway.

        1. Umm, construction workers have wheelbarrows. They’ll be the last to lose out. Duh.

      2. Get the “downtown” area, the churches especially, named to a Landmarks registry. Then you can let one bunch of “we know best” buttinskies fight another bunch. Or run the developers out on a rail, and tell the state and federal governments to take their transportation fund and stuff them. Use local taxes to keep up local roads and when others complain that you are’t “keeping up” with their road building plans tell them “You want it? You pay for it.”.

    3. I would like to point out that government zoning laws often favor and push sprawl

      Bullshit.

      Government taxes and restrictions create sprawl. Most suburbs were built because cities over-taxed their inhabitants (residential and commercial.) The city of Detroit has less density than most Detroit suburbs now.

    1. Is that Gerry from Parks ‘n Rec?

    2. “Represent Us” is pretty stupid.

      The only thing that will fix our corrupt political system is to remove the potential for corruption, i.e removing the power the biggest sacks of shit the human race has control over our lives.

  10. In fact, herding people into denser urban areas sounds suspiciously like something that makes life easier for the bureaucrats themselves.

    Ah, there it is. “Moor the ships close together so they’ll be easier to watch.”

  11. How about going the opposite route?

    You know, when I ask that question in real life (to non-libertarians) about just about anything that doesn’t seem to be working out as planned, the blank looks I get from most people is disheartening.

  12. Stossel’s article was pretty good in mentioning a lot of the ways that drivers gas tax money is wasted but he left out one of the biggest: paying for overpriced union labor on every federal construction project courtesy of the Davis-Bacon Act.

    That has been around since the 1930’s and there is no telling how many billions of the taxpayers dollars have been wasted on a cumulatiive basis on what is essentially nothing more than political giveaways to labor unions.

  13. At what point will the government not need more money?

    1. Good point. Not even when you’re dead.

  14. I’ll admit it, I went to grad school for Urban Planning, and more importantly, Real Estate Development. I was open minded going in but after completing the program and dealing w/ the progressives who taught at the school and worked in the community, I learned that they didn’t have a fucking clue about how the real world operates, so I ignored them. On the plus side, I learned how a pro forma works and how to deal w/ a planning council and developers, which comes in handy for a new building proposal or redesign. Overall, though, planning and zoning are overused and while big public transportation projects are the go-to for many communities, they are usually a giant waste of money, but when it comes to gov’t, when don’t they waste money?

  15. Stossel,

    You can ask the same thing to drivers: “Are you willing to spend about four times as much per mile to live in a spacious suburban home?”

    Drivers are not paying even half the cost of state and local roads from the gas tax http://taxfoundation.org/artic…..d-spending It’s time we go fiscally responsible and charged drivers for the use of the road to recover 100% of the cost.

    You’re article begins with the highway trust fund, and goes into urban planning – which has nothing to do with the federal highway system.

  16. I share the visceral negative reaction to enviro-facists who want to push me out of my house and into an urban apartment tower. But we must acknowledge that our suburban landscape is not strictly the result of free markets carrying out consumer preferences. NIMBY restrictions prevent developers from increasing density to meet the demand for more affordable housing. In many areas suburban zoning basically says that you can build Cadillacs, but not Chevys.

  17. Y’all are overlooking one important factor…….the millennials are trending back into the cities. But, hey, who cares about the upcoming generations? Certainly not the angry mainly over 45 crazy Tea Party people.

  18. You guys forget a couple of things here:

    as it is now, the entire culture sees houses as an “investment” (which is false), and our government is still trying to push that to be so, even after the crash. This is what drives a lot of suburbia. I mean, don’t will still have fannie mae and freddie mac? And the mortgage interest deduction?

    a lot of housebuying also comes from wives, not guys. A dude buys a house to get his wife to shut up. Since marriage is also falling apart, this is also declining. And in the first place, it’s based off a woman’s “keeping up with the Joneses’ instinct”, so even for her it isn’t entirely rational. Ditto school districts. Indeed Either Roosh or Captain Capitalism I remember once wrote “I’ve never met a man who actually wanted a house”

    So, in short you guys have to remember that the demand for suburban houses is highly pushed by the government and the owning of houses is highly subsidized by the government

    and…
    you know I’m pretty sure I was going somewhere else with that but I can’t remember

    the point is that in a real free market, if we had had one from 1900-2000, the country would be like 5x more urbanist, with way more public transit

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