The ever-effervescent Jane Galt has some smart remarks on “smart growth.” Like Jane, I believe that the world’s future lies in sprawl, not in concentrated central cities. Even Paris (can you imagine a nicer, more livable city?) has been losing population over the last fifty years.
Here is one good bit:
Smart growth is great if you are an upscale professional, preferably without children, who can score a relatively large apartment fairly close to work. It’s a lot less fun for the majority trying to cram your family into four or five rooms. Smart growth is great if you are savvy enough to manipulate an urban school system into keeping your children away from the poor kids; it is not so nice for the majority who must make do. Smart growth is great if you can afford to have everything you buy delivered, or are in excellent physical condition with a physically undemanding job; it is not so great if you have to come home from your shift at the nursing home to lug groceries a quarter-mile down the street, and then up three flights of stairs. Smart growth is great if you can afford to eat in the plethora of restaurants; it is not so enjoyable if you have to scrape up an extra 20% for the ingredients in tuna casserole. Smart growth is great if you have a nanny to take the kids to the park during the day; it is not so terrific if you have to choose between wasting several precious hours standing around the playground, or letting your kids languish inside. Smart growth is great if you can afford taxis when you need them; it is not so good if you are forced to take three busses to get somewhere you really need to be. Smart growth is great if your family members are all affluent enough to take care of themselves; it is not so fulfilling when you have to shove your ailing mother into the kids room when her resources fail.
Smart growth, in other words, is wonderful for those with the werewithal to smooth over its little rough spots. But ask the priced out secretaries commuting 2 hours a day from Yonkers how “liveable” New York is.
Also read the attached New York Times article, a brilliant defense of the automobile by James Tierney. Now if we could only get Jane to move to the suburbs…