Linky Friday #46

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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207 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    RE UPS: Really, that’s damn creepy. But why do you need to know the specific window a package will be delivered, assuming it’s not perisable? When ship overnight stuff via UPS I know when it’s going to be delivered within a 2 hr window. Fail to see how this improves upon that, and the “track your package” is free and gives you the day.

    RE Tax people for driving: Love this. States squandered the “transportation fund” by taking from it to fund general spending and now, when tranportation funds need to be roads, etc., there isn’t enough around, so we need more taxes. Nice. Guess I need to wrap my EDR in tin foil. 🙂Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Damon,
      The simplest solution is to either build better roads (ala the New Deal), or to let ’em go back to being dirt again.
      As a bonus to the conservatives among us, it will improve the social communication on the road.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        All roads need maintainence. My state’s transportation fund was looted to cover overspendinging by the legislature on non transportation related spending. Now the gov’t complains that the transportation fund is low on money and more taxes are needed. Err No. They money for the roads was there, you “borrowed” it, didn’t replace it, and now there is no money for roads. I see no reason why my taxes went up because you looted the fund for some other purpose.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Damon,
        Did you think the “other purpose” was a good idea? (naturally, i don’t know what it was).Report

      • My state’s transportation fund was looted to cover overspendinging by the legislature on non transportation related spending. Now the gov’t complains that the transportation fund is low on money and more taxes are needed.

        Things basically ran in the opposite direction in my state. Once the fuel taxes and vehicle fees (which the state constitution protects) weren’t enough to cover the cost of roads, the legislature began adding General Fund dollars to the road funding. That came to a halt during the early-2000s recession when General Fund revenues declined. We’re in a peculiar situation here in Colorado in that the legislature can’t increase tax rates. There was a broad hike in vehicle fees a few years ago to generate money specifically to repair the bridges that were in the worst shape. Urban and suburban areas seem to be maintaining their roads reasonably with local dollars; the real pain is falling on the sparsely-populated rural counties that are more dependent on money raised at the state level.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Kim,
        It doesn’t matter if the purpose was good or not. Gas taxes in my state are put into the transportation fund to pay for road/highway maint. Any removal of those funds impacts the state’s ability to continue to maintain safe effective roads, so baring an extreme catastrophe, there is no reason to loot the fund. Specificially, the funds were used to cover budget shortfalls in the general budget. If the state’s got a problem with the general fund, they can raise different taxes, not loot “earmarked” funds.Report

  2. Avatar Kim says:

    The “burbs are back” …yeah, sure. They’re still a stupid idea, economically speaking, and a drain to everyone’s pocketbooks.

    It is a fundamental misunderstanding of cyclical behavior to look at “rapid growth” and say “see! there’s suburbs! They’re still hot!” The presence of a virtuous cycle belies the far more prevalent vicious cycles.

    That said? Gas is cheap, for now. I completely disagree with him — if the economy revs up, the exurbs/suburbs will become slums — often energy slums. People have built too big, and too stupidly.Report

    • Avatar Roger says:

      I never get why some people think other people are stupid to live in the burbs.

      Some of us really like lots of square footage. We like big open yards with lots of room for kids and dogs to play and a big divide from neighbors. We like getting off the track of pass-through traffic with its noise, smells and dangers. We love the parks and golf courses, rolling hills and charming little lakes criss crossed with countless bike paths.

      We know that one of the most important influences a parent has on their kids is in the character of the friends and people that the kid associates with. Thus we move to places which are frequented by similar thinking parents with similarly acculturated kids and excellent schools.

      It is fine for you to disagree with these values. But if someone does have these values then it is not economically stupid.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        1) My stats say that very little of the extra square footage is used, for most people living in the burbs. (most of it just gets used for hoarding, or piled with junk)
        2) Fewer and fewer kids are actually going out to play (yes, I do consider this a bad thing) — but in the burbs, you often can’t even send the kid out to play without driving him to his friend’s house.
        3) If you’ve actually got enough bike paths to commute (and a good proportion of people take ’em), I’m probably not actually bitching about you ;-P

        4) I’m not trying to say that people are stupid (they are clearly pursuing economically exploitative ways to live really cheaply at other people’s expense). It is economically wasteful, and has a direct negative impact on my health. So, believe me, I have some personal interest here.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        In other words, your judgment on other people’s situation, needs, tradeoffs and values is wiser than my theirs.

        How is my buying a house in the burbs exploitative to you?

        How does it harm your health?

        Why is your judgment of economic waste superior to the one actually paying the bill?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Also, with rising gas prices, urban sprawl divides workforces. Which makes an MSA less economically viable.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        My stats say that very little of the extra square footage is used, for most people living in the burbs. (most of it just gets used for hoarding, or piled with junk)

        I.e., if you’re not using your space in a way I approve, you’re not actually using that space properly.

        Sigh.

        I don’t really care if you can understand the value I get from looking out my kitchen window at my 200 foot deep backyard* instead of the neighbor’s house next door, but it’s a bit rich for you to say I’m not “using” that space. Not that I live the burbs myself (my lot is barely wider than my house, in fact), but the very fact that the deep lot was a major factor in my decision to buy the house means it has value to me. And how I use that space to produce that value to me–barring any negative externalities–is none of your fishing business, thank you very much.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Suburbs ARE wonderful, for the reasons you mention, which is what makes them so popular.
        But of course they come with their own set of problems. The “traditional” bedroom community suburbs, with their low density, and imbalance of residential to commercial space, can’t create enough jobs to sustain themselves- they are usually appendages to the city economically.

        While its true that suburbs are not going to disappear, what is obvious is that in order to survive they have to change form.
        The ones Kotkin cites are mostly different than the “traditional” bedroom community suburb. They are mostly “edge city” types clustered around a core of new industries. Essentially they are small towns in their own right, often just an updating of the old mill towns, where they rely on a single employer to drive the economy.

        What Kotkin praises- their higher-than-normal income demographic- is the weakness often cited by city planners.
        If your city’s business plan – i.e., your tax revenue projection- is dependent on everyone being above average, you can’t accomodate the inevitable downturns and stresses of an aging infrastructure.
        Plus, the entire premise of the suburbs- low density forever- freezes the ability to handle economic growth- think San Fransisco, hemmed in by geography, except suburbs do it by political fiat.

        Which comes right back to the first point- many, if not most, of the people who move to suburbs are attracted by the very fact that there are no slums or poverty.

        Suburbs don’t handle poverty very well, but they don’t handle prosperity very well either.
        When rents zoom high, land owners are fobidden to build more square footage to capture the demand. When they crash, they are forbidden to switch to multifamily, or use the land for other uses. Once a single family dwelling, always a single family dwelling.

        It would be better, instead of gushing over the new suburbs, to look at the old ones, and see how they have handled the problems of aging.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        If only someone had articulated a theory on how different people could look at the same situation, arrive at different responses/attitudes, and BOTH be right…Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        James,
        I was talking house utilization. Quite frankly, I don’t give a fish about what you do with your outdoors. Build a waterfall, for all I care.
        I’ll readily admit to a very large category of “things people might want to do outdoors” that I’d consider “quite fine by me” (including naked sunbathing, if properly screened).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Roger,
        “In other words, your judgment on other people’s situation, needs, tradeoffs and values is wiser than my theirs.”

        Doesn’t take much of a genius to look at vicious cycles and places built for “cheapest taxes possible” (read: least infrastructure possible), and see that people are doing things that are not good for the environment. Suburbs are the next ghosttowns. (you already see squatters). Moreover, since most people concentrate their wealth in their house, a suburb — which doesn’t have much inherent “why buy here” is prone to a far worse vicious cycle than most cities as people grayup. Older people, being poorer, dont’ want to pay for good schools… and good schools are pretty much the only force for people paying high prices to live in old suburbs.

        “How is my buying a house in the burbs exploitative to you?”
        you wind up paying a lot less taxes than I do, and getting more out of it. That’s exploitation. (Now, am I willing to sign up for some? Sure. But I’d rather it go towards rural areas — spin it as a national security issue if you must).

        “How does it harm your health?”
        PM2.5, Sulphur Emissions, Inability to exercise safely outside.
        Cant’ sleep, the air stinks. The list goes on.

        People are heating bigger houses than they need, and they’re driving cars way out into the exurbs. (note: you want reasonably sized houses in streetcar friendly suburbs? I’m down with that).

        “Why is your judgment of economic waste superior to the one actually paying the bill?”
        First, You’re assuming the bill is getting paid. Second, mine isn’t and wasn’t explicitly designed to be racist (redistribution of people away from the city core was.) Thirdly, I am paying part of the bill.

        (these are good questions, if a trifle hostile — keep ’em coming! No need to apologize, sorry if I pushed any of your buttons).Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        The articles on London and San Francisco help put the article on–and critiques of–suburbs into perspective. While everyone’s talking about how suburbs impose costs on cities, to some extent cities are responsible for causing suburbs.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        If suburbs can’t persist then they won’t. You don’t need master planners forcing it down our throats for our own good.

        Of course, the suburbs my grand parents moved into in the thirties oddly are still there. Transformed, yes. But still there.

        The suburbs my parents moved into in the sixties and seventies are thriving still (and one is a bedroom community to San Francisco).

        The suburbs I moved into in the eighties and nineties are doing great as well.

        What exactly is it about suburbs progressives get all bent out of shape by?

        I am not sure if intolerance is one of the cardinal sins, but I would be willing to nominate it.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        James,
        Favor to ask: Can we please use Paris instead of London?
        London’s real estate market is being used as a reserve currency.
        … that makes it pretty much unlike any other place on earth.
        (May not change conclusions much)Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I don’t think the suburbs are going away.

        I don’t think Joel Koktin is the best advocate considering is perpetual dismissal of urban living. See below.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Roger,
        re:suburbs:
        Well, maybe where you live. Not around here and not where I grew up.

        (please note: most of my comments about liking cities ought to be taken in context.
        Pittsburgh has a lot of practically free land lying about (condemned houses and such),
        and is in general a somewhat low density city.)

        Yeah, but do we really need to spend more money putting up soon-to-be ghost towns?Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        Kim,

        So your argument is that suburbs are a problem because of some insignificant pollution externalities? This comes across as a feeble rationalization.

        Let’s find actions be people we progressives do not approve of. Let’s find one sided arguments using negative externalities to justify our prohibiting what we don’t approve of.

        And you guys want us to empower you guys to control for global climate. Reminds me of something that rhymes with bluster truck.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        “Yeah, but do we really need to spend more money putting up soon-to-be ghost towns?”

        It is my money, and I will put it wherever I want, thank you. Quit telling me to live by your values.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Roger,
        putting progressives in charge of “fixing global warming” is still probably a better plan than letting conservatives continue to inculcate sociopaths.

        I’m going to tell you now, so that we’re clear. Trivializing my health, and my husbands, is a good way to get you on my shit list. Trivializing a very clear overall decrease in life expectancy is a better way to get on my shit list.

        My health is not trivial. I have spent more on my health in the past year (outside of actual health care costs) than you have (probably) spent on your car. It’s worth a lot to me.

        Conservatives (of which I know you’re not one) seem to find a lot of things to prohibit. I think they’d prohibit being poor if they could (see last week’s article on flophouses).

        I can advocate for people not being stupid without wanting to prohibit them (though, in this case, i’m somewhat agnostic — falling more on teh side of “no new development when older development is falling to ruin”). I’d rather they simply pay their fair share…Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Roger,
        You can’t take my Acadia!
        (Even if it /was/ yours.)
        😉Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Kim,

        No. Read the article on London.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        James, the problem isn’t that people like the suburban life but that the suburban life is heavily subsidized by federal and state governments at the expense of urban life. Its a lot easier to get funding for a new road in Wester Chester County than it is for the 2nd Avenue subway in NYC even though the 2nd Avenue subway would serve millions of more people and make life easier in NYC by releaving the heavily congested 4, 5, and 6 line.

        Suburban home ownsership is also more massively subsidized through the tax code than urban homeownership or renting anywhere. If suburbanites had to pay their own way or if they were more willign to give us urbanites subsidies than we would be happier.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        James,
        am I missing something? I thought there was an article about britain in general (which is fine), was there a different one about london?Report

      • Not to pick on Lee, but it’s funny to see on what issues people get angry about who is subsidizing whom.

        I would be more inclined to lessen all sorts of cross-subsidization than the average liberal, I would estimate. I am also of the view that people who view commuter freeways as suburban subsidies would be disappointed to see what happened if we changed it. I think (though this is speculation) it’s easier for large numbers of employers to move outward than employees to move inward.

        Either way, though, I’d be perfectly happy to let the market decide, to whatever extent possible. Of course, as JH alludes to elsewhere, I think the biggest policy gifts to suburbia are the regulatory preferences of cities.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        Lee,

        Here is a novel idea. Let’s get the federal government back out of funding local roads and out of rent seeking within the tax code. Perhaps an amendment….nah.

        Central government is captured by interest groups. Problem is the suburbs!Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        Wow, nice to know I am to blame for your health. Must be my SUV and my lawn.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        No new cars until the old ones are all used up. No new paper until both sides are written on and we flush it down the toilet covered in crap.

        No new puppies until all the old doggies die.

        Buzz off.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Will,
        I think (though this is speculation) it’s easier for large numbers of employers to move outward than employees to move inward.
        … stats don’t generally support this, from what I’ve heard.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        @kim, fine, then let’s look at all the British cities.

        @Lee, there’s truth to that, but that doesn’t even begin to address Kim’s apparent belief that she would value the yard she didn’t pay for better than the person who did pay for it. And it doesn’t address the failures of the cities themselves. Look at the effects of NYC’s rent control, with I think literally thousands of abandoned buildings that could be housing people? Where the hell else are people going to live?

        Keep in mind much of the suburbanization trend expanded as crime rates exploded in the 60s and 70s–it wasn’t all about race (which isn’t to pretend that it wasn’t also about that, or that fears of race and crime weren’t well mingled together)–and cities didn’t deal appropriately with it.

        It’s easy to say cities are infrastructurally cheaper, but the fact is that infrastructure in the suburbs is usually better maintained (and can be a lot cheaper to maintain despite being less concentrated because it’s easier to get to and work is less disruptive precisely because of reduced population density). That in itself makes suburbs a lot more attractive to people. Basically, a lot of cities have simply been doing everything wrong and chasing people away. And then we blame the people who left and complain about how we’re subsidizing them.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        @will-truman

        I think (though this is speculation) it’s easier for large numbers of employers to move outward than employees to move inward.

        I think this is probably right. Look at L.A., where there really is no one true commercial center (anyone familiar with SF, Chicago, New York Boston will find “downtown” L.A. spookily empty), and large employers set up out in the burbs. My wife’s hometown has grown from a few disconnected villages set among agriculture to a classic commuter suburb to having a semi-successful industrial park to now having an increasing number of large firms headquartered there (like Princess Cruises, for example). It’s been a weird pattern of growth in the sense that they’re belatedly trying to create a “downtown” that is centered around the shopping mall, but it’s more or less working, even if it’s very non-traditional. I don’t see any reason why other suburbs might not follow a similar path, especially if–as Kim’s prediction would imply–property values decline, and firms look around and see low costs and a reasonably well-educated labor force composed of people who no longer want to drive an hour to work.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        @jm3z-aitch @roger

        The issue with funding for the 2nd Avenue subway has more to do with Albany and Washington politics than it does with NYC funds. The funding is always there and NYC provides it. The legislature in Albany has a way of taking money from NYC and giving it to the rest of the state. Upstate New York has a strong love/hate relationship with downstate (anything south of Dutchess County). Upstate New York would even more economically depressed without downstate but upstate still manages to be bitter about NYC being an international, economic powerhouse that fuels most of the state.

        Washington D.C. has always favored spending on highways over public transit.

        And potentially surrounding states like New Jersey and Connecticut.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Keep the master planners hands off my suburbs!

        Don’t let the government take away our low density zoning laws, or let those meddling bureaucrats strip away the use restrictions on our land!

        If we want to mandate that all houses have beige stucco and red tile roofs, by God, no tyrannical government is going to prevent us!

        There may be arguments for suburban planning, but libertarian arguments are not among them.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        James, LA operates in a very weird place in the urban and suburban hierarchy. It provided the decentralized template for post WWII suburban growth but LA, city and county, are still more densely poulated than most other suburban metropolises like Atlanta. Its so densely populated that LA county decided to rebuild its public transportaion network. Its gone from the model of car-centric, decentralized development to attempting more urbanization.

        I agree that a lot of the growth in suburbs had to do with the crime waves that hit the cities during the 1960s and 1970s. However, the ground work for suburban growth was laid long before the crime wave occured through the decision to favor cars and roads over trams and trains at all political levels and the great subsidies given to home ownership.

        Roger, state governments are just as bad with these issues.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        New Dealer,

        You’re not a fan of federalism, right? But here you’re actually complaining about a problem of too little federalism (or more precisely, too little subsidiarity).Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        IIRC, there are thousands of new residential units under construction in downtown LA, and more planned.

        The city core hasn’t been “spookily empty” for about 10 years.

        http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/the-next-downtown-apartment-boom/article_34a95458-f943-11e1-8666-0019bb2963f4.htmlReport

      • LWA, what’s funny is that, among a great many libertarians, you will find ardent opposition to intrusive HOAs and low-density zoning laws. And by “funny” I mean “entirely logical.”

        I’m not a libertarian, but I am the quasi-authoritarian sort who doesn’t like HOA’s and low-density laws even if they are democratically chosen.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        @leeesq
        Its gone from the model of car-centric, decentralized development to attempting more urbanization.

        Half and half, really. It’s not even remotely contemplating leaving the car era, but it has come to grips with the fact that continually building new road capacity is a Sysyphean task and is trying to find a balance between the two models.

        @lwa
        There may be arguments for suburban planning, but libertarian arguments are not among them.

        Once again LWA reveals his unimpressive ignorance about libertarianism, having obviously never learned that libertarians tend to favor subsidiarity. In a just world, his level of stupidity would produce painful shocks, in a sort of Pavlovian conditioning that would guide him away from his ideological blindness.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        @lwa
        The city core hasn’t been “spookily empty” for about 10 years.

        OK, my experience was from the early-mid ’90s, which was considerably more than a decade ago, so I’ll take your word on that.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        James,
        Okay, take LA as your example of a place where it works.
        Take Atlanta as your example of a place where it doesn’t work.
        (spreading jobs out from the core essentially creates “minicities” of
        lower mobility labor — something that gets worse as income drops
        vis gas prices).

        We may be seeing an actual economy of scale issue here, ya?

        “It’s easy to say cities are infrastructurally cheaper, but the fact is that infrastructure in the suburbs is usually better maintained (and can be a lot cheaper to maintain despite being less concentrated because it’s easier to get to and work is less disruptive precisely because of reduced population density). That in itself makes suburbs a lot more attractive to people. Basically, a lot of cities have simply been doing everything wrong and chasing people away. And then we blame the people who left and complain about how we’re subsidizing them.”

        A major problem with suburbs is that they are built on the “low taxes!! low density!!” model. This lends itself poorly to maintenance, because as the population grays, they are in need of higher services than the suburb can support. (vicious cycles aren’t fun, and there’s no reason to prefer one suburb over the next). Detroit is in significantly more trouble because of its urban sprawl.

        And yes, the cities have done really poor jobs of many things — including building “suburbs in the city” that nobody wanted then or now.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        James,
        are you pro or con on single room living?
        “Kim’s apparent belief that she would value the yard she didn’t pay for better than the person who did pay for it.”
        … actually, I was talking housing. But if you want me to argue about the housing price differential for living within walking distance of a nice park in the city… 😉 Think I could win that one?Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        Here is my proposal…

        If people want to live in the suburbs they should be free to do so as long as they pay their own way.

        If people want to live in the city they should be similarly free under the same terms and conditions.

        To the extent this bothers the intolerant, busy-body master planners, I solute it.

        My tee shirt says “Be intolerant of intolerance.”Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Roger,
        in principle i approve.
        But let me be a pest, and ask the troublesome questions:
        What of the person who invests in a suburb and sees
        their wealth shrink to the point of irrelevancy. Do they go
        to the poor house, or are we going to subsidize them after
        the fact?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        @kim
        are you pro or con on single room living?

        For whom? Begin with an understanding of subjective value and the question resolves itself.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        You’re not a fan of federalism, right? But here you’re actually complaining about a problem of too little federalism (or more precisely, too little subsidiarity).

        I’ve actually long been mulling a post saying exactly that federalism for me is exactly not what it’s big advocates want it to be: a general principle. I’m not against federalism nor am I strongly for it. My view is, everything in its right place: there will be good arguments for subsidiarity in some areas and persuasive arguments for centralized policy in others. I have the radical position to be neutral on the question in approaching nearly every case, rather than having a general predisposition toward one and a higher burden of proog for the other. Medicaid, for example, IMO should absolutely not be a decentralized program, while IMO federalism, not ideas about universal rights to own lethal killing machines, should dictate gun control policy (though that doesn’t slam the door on arguments for national policy – but it just makes sense to me for localities to be able to make their own gun laws, while very little for the advantages of universal basic health coverage for the poor to be foregone in the name of federalism.)

        But that doesn’t need to be a post; it can just be a comment of precisely this length.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        But that doesn’t need to be a post; it can just be a comment of precisely this length.

        If you make it a post people will want to know precisely where you come down on every imaginable policy issue.

        Trust me on that. 😉Report

      • Well, since I’m not even sure I believe in my don’t-make-it-a-principle-principle as a principle, at this point it doesn’t much look like I’m going to be subjecting myself to that.

        BTW, I consciously tried not to be one of the people pressing you on the individual specifics on the recent proposal. No way can you have a comprehensive view of every particular. Though my position on it ended up being related that kind of pressing on a meta-level, as ultimately the amendment would necessitate that someone (in particular, an additional set of institutions to the ones that already do, namely courts) would have to develop all those individual answers, and at this point to me that sounds like it has a lot more costs than benefits. But that’s neither here nor there.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        Michael,

        “Subsidiarity is an organising principle of decentralisation, stating that a matter ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralised authority capable of addressing that matter effectively.” Wikipedia.

        The idea of subsidiarity is not that things should be handled locally. It is that they should be handled at the lowest level capable of handling them well.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        My view is, everything in its right place: there will be good arguments for subsidiarity in some areas and persuasive arguments for centralized policy in others. I have the radical position to be neutral on the question in approaching nearly every case, rather than having a general predisposition toward one and a higher burden of proog for the other.

        So how’s that working out in practice?Report

      • Effectiveness isn’t objective nor binary. You have to decide what you want to achieve; you have to decide what places and whose fortunes you care about; etc.; you have to decide what level of good outcome you are trying to get to, not just wether it’s effective *or not*. Something could be handled “effectively” by someone’s binary standard at one level, but if that policy area were handled at a higher level, by another person’s reckoning it might be able to be handled more effectively still, even if they acknowledge that the lower level treatment isn’t outright ineffective. I’m that latter person – I give no privilege to handling things at the lowest level whose treatment we can shoehorn into calling “effective” based on an unnecessarily binary assessment of effectiveness. Look at all possible aims, all possible levels of resource devotion, and all possible sets of outcomes, and choose what looks best, handling things at the levels that produce the best outcomes. However friendly you want to try to make a precommitment to subsidiarity sound to me, I’m fairly sure that I can assure you I still am not interested.Report

      • Brandon,

        It’s working out okay. Thanks for asking.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Putting in two cents on the definition of subsidiarity:

        It’s really about handling things at the lowest level where it can be resolved to the satisfaction of the relevant set of stakeholders.

        This implies two things. First, if not all stakeholders are involved, you’re at too low a level. (Of course determining who is a stakeholder is not always a precise science.) Second, if the problem can be resolved to the stakeholders’ satisfaction, it’s been handled effectively (enough).Report

      • …OTOH, Brandon, federalism actually is a principle that people actually try to pay some homage to in designing institutions in our system, so it’s not like the purely neutral approach I’m talking about really is being pursued. There actually is a thumb on the scale, even if it’s become largely rhetorical and definitely gotten lighter over time.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        “LWA, what’s funny is that, among a great many libertarians, you will find ardent opposition to intrusive HOAs and low-density zoning laws.””

        Exactly. Without massive and intrusive land planning regulations, taxpayer funded infrastructure and HOAs, etc., suburbs as we know them wouldn’t exist. There isn’t really a libertarian argument that would support all the governmental apparatus that is needed to create suburbs.

        The free/freed/free-er marketplace WOULD create suburbs- they would just be incredibly expensive, an enclave of the rich only. Most of the post WWII suburban creation- the highway system, FHA/ VA loans, and so on were deliberate interventions intended to distort the market and make the suburbs affordable.

        For the record, I am quite sure that the libertarians here would observe principle and refuse to support the market distortions and subsidies required to create the suburbs. I just don’t think they have much company.

        What I see a lot of, is “libertarianism-of-convenience”, suburbanites advocating for all the taxpayer goodies today, then tomorrow ardently defending the free market.Report

      • So you’re arguing that support for the subsidies is not a libertarian position. And you’re arguing that the libertarians here don’t support them. So your mockery there is quite puzzling.

        I personally believe that even if we could appropriately direct the cost, suburbs likely would exist. People like space, and the USA has a lot of it. The main difference, to the extent that there is one, is that the subsidy has allowed a lot more non-wealthy people access to the space and convenience of the suburbs. The people supporting the subsidies largely because they do like them. I’d argue that the causality here runs both ways.

        Personally, though again I’m not a libertarian, I’d be perfectly happy to see the market sort itself on this one. The one who disagrees with me on that is, as best as I can tell, you, who believe that these decisions should be made democratically.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        So, LWA, you think libertarianism requires being opposed to all “taxpayer funded infrastructure”?

        You might be able to find libertarians out there who argue for eliminating public funding for all roads and waste treatment systems, but an honest person–you are, aren’t you?–would recognize them as a distinct minority, and conclude that therefore libertarianism doesn’t require such a position.

        Have you ever considered actually listening to what libertarians actually say, instead of just listening to the cartoon version in your head?Report

      • If LWA is saying that libertarians oppose all infrastructure, that would be highly problematic. However, if he’s saying that libertarians oppose the sheer scope of infrastructure that make suburbs as uniquitous as they are, that could be right. It depends on how much of suburbia we can attribute to government action. It’s there that I suspect I am at least somewhat in disagreement with LWA. We both agree that suburbs would exist for the wealthy. I think they would exist for the wealthy and comfortable middle class. At most, I think it would be the working class and lower-middle that would be priced out. It’s hard to say for sure. The answer is could actually be that we’d both be looking at the same thing and I am saying “That’s a suburb” and he’s saying “That’s not a suburb.”Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Will,

        I’m largely in agreement with you. LWA makes a classic mistake in thinking he can look at just one variable and predict an emergent future from it. It’s kind of the classic central-planner’s mindset, in fact, so it’s not surprising he does that.

        Suburbs are more varied than he seems to recognize. Kazzy, iirc, just the other day said something about his suburb not having sidewalks. There’s some infrastructure savings right there. Low density suburbs also don’t need as much road capacity, so there’s some kind of interesting mixture going on there where there’s a savings that makes a suburb less costly than otherwise, which should make it somewhat more accessible to the middle class, but which might therefore draw in more people (dependent upon any density constraint regulations) which might require upgrading of roads, but when there are enough people to make that not such a costly burden. (There’s also a dynamic process here, whereas LWA’s approach seems to assume a static, fixed, character; another trait of the centralized-planner.)

        Is it fairly easy to make a suburb where only the wealthy can afford to live? Sure, it’s not hard at all. Require very large lots, large minimum house sizes with big propertyline setbacks, and maybe a couple other rules I’m not thinking of, and you can guarantee only the elite will be able to live there. But allow smaller lot sizes, smaller houses, and limit the setback requirements, and suddenly things are quite a bit more affordable even if the infrastructure costs are higher.

        But thinking things through like that requires us to get past ideology, and some folks are rather better at that than others.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Will, thats exactly what I am saying, that while libertarians generally support the legitimacy of a government, and zoning, (most of them as least) and some form of infrastructure spending and coercive taxation to pay for it all, the suburbs as we know them simply can’t exist without things which I think most libertarians DON’T support.
        Functional zoning, a top-down fiat that says you can’t add a granny flat to your house?
        Use restrictions, that prevent you from turning your garage into a auto repair shop?

        Deficit spending that purchases the infrastructure, to be paid back with bonds over time?
        Government backed FHA loans?

        Enforcement of HOAs that limit your house to beige?

        It seems incoherent to marvel at how wonderful suburbs are, then angrily rail against “master planners forcing it down our throats for our own good.”

        Its the old argument we have had, about engagement vs disengagement.
        The suburbanite has already entered into an engagement with the larger community, already sought its protection and services, already indicated a willingness to play by its rules, already accepted its terms.

        Its too late to play the “I wanna be left alone” card.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Here’s a good reading for anyone interested in suburban sprawl.
        http://www.mclw.org/pages/perspectives/sprawlreport.htm

        Keep in mind this report was written in 1995, by a alliance of various environmental groups, and Bank of America. IOW, it is not written simply by those with a liberal political agenda.

        Feel free to read the whole thing if you want, but here is a nugget:
        “Sprawling suburbs may be cheaper in the short-term for individuals and families who buy houses in new communities, but their “hidden” costs may ultimately be passed on to taxpayers in a variety of ways.

        The cost of building and maintaining highways and other major infrastructure improvements to serve distant suburbs.

        The cost of dealing with social problems that fester in older neighborhoods when they are neglected or abandoned.

        The cost of solving environmental problems (wetlands, endangered species, air pollution, water pollution) caused by development of virgin land on the metropolitan fringe.”

        This is part of what makes the “everybody pay their own way” claims so unsupportable. Suburbs DON’T pay their own way, and they are not separate autonomous entities from the communities that feed them. There is an engagement, a relationship between city and suburb that creates an interdependency and mutual obligation.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        LWA,

        You recommend systems where Peter pays Paul and Paul pays Peter then complain that neither one of them is paying his own way. (Or more accurately you complain about the one you don’t like)

        Priceless.Report

      • LWA, you may make a libertarian out of me yet.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        Michael,

        Food for thought then as you build out your ideas…

        “Effectiveness isn’t objective nor binary.”

        Exactly!! This is the argument for subsidiarity. Because effectiveness is subjective, contextual and value dependent, one leg up for doing things at the lowest effective level is that it allows people to choose that which is most effective for them. If the majority like A in the suburbs and the majority prefer B in the city, then allowing them each to choose their preference leads to mathematically more effectiveness. It also creates the ability for the minority in the city and the suburbs to exit to the other to achieve their preference.

        The other benefits of subsidiarity are;
        1) Benchmarking. The existence of competing models allows benchmarking to reveal the relative quality of an institutional solution. It gives constituents something to compare against. It gives the institution something to learn from. According to Popper, Campbell and just about everyone else who has ever written on learning, all learning comes from experimentation, trial and error real or vicarious. Thus the more units trying different things, the better. They can learn not just from each other’s successes. But their failures as well. (Note this argument does NOT argue for all things at the lowest level, but for a mix of levels)

        2) Competition. All organizations are subject to ossification, sclerosis, internal rent seeking, bureaucratic red tape and change resistance. It is endemic. Competition and the potential of exit by citizens helps mitigate this cancerous effect in organizations. It keeps them honest and fair.

        3). Change. Institutions are not fixed things, and the conditions of the world constantly require adaptation and learning. All organizations resist change, and absent competition they will pretty much succeed. The above arguments on more trials, etc help institutions adapt.

        4). Exploitation. Organizations can exploit people, and exploitation is bad. Exit rights created by subsidiarity give people an out.

        The lowest level is of course at the individual level. This is the market ideal. Allow competing firms to offer terms and services and allow an individual to choose the model perfect for them without worrying about compromise with others where not necessary.

        “You have to decide what you want to achieve; you have to decide what places and whose fortunes you care about; etc.; you have to decide what level of good outcome you are trying to get to, not just wether it’s effective *or not*.”

        No, you don’t. If you think a central planner has to decide then you miss the entire point of subsidiarity. You can get there (imperfectly) bottoms up by asking people what level they want to address the issue. Sometimes they will wisely choose the highest level.Report

      • Not to pick on Lee, but it’s funny to see on what issues people get angry about who is subsidizing whom.

        My thinking on the subject is no doubt biased by living in the Denver metro area for the last quarter-century (man, does it seem weird when I write it down that way). Denver and its suburbs get along reasonably well, but they work at it. The Denver Regional Council of Governments dates back to 1955 and is the coordinating authority for several things. Mass transit falls under the control of a regional district, with a regional tax, as does air quality. Just my opinion, but the inner-ring suburbs are going to benefit more from the growing light rail system than Denver is. There’s a regional scientific and cultural district with its own tax. My suburb doesn’t get the same kind of funding from them that the Buell Theater complex downtown gets, but we have a very nice facility for smaller theater and music productions, thank you. The public funding share for the Rockies’ ballpark and Broncos’ stadium were raised by a tax across the seven-county metro area, even though the stadiums are located on the edge of downtown.

        My kids are grown and gone now, so most of my suburban driving could be handled by a small, light, two-seater-plus-some-cargo-space vehicle capable of getting by on 250 watt-hours per mile. A 12.5 kWh battery pack would give me a 50-mile range, more than enough for >90% of my days. Add in the light rail system that we’ll have in a few more years, plus simple car-sharing centered on the light-rail stations, and I’m set. I suspect that a large fraction of the Denver suburbs could adapt to that. The most likely exception is going to be trades that require some heavy transport: the people who deliver and install granite countertops, for example, need a considerably larger vehicle.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Re: Peter v. Paul:

        Who’s complaining? I just don’t want to listen to Paul bitch about having to repay Peter.
        And as for “pay your own way”- how would that even work with regard to land subdivision and suburban development?

        Lets toss out an example. We, the majority establish a system whereby the government has a monopoly on power to define and recognize land claims, with an assessor’s parcel map and recorded deeds.
        Are the libertarians cool with this?

        Ok, lets go on. ABC Development has a parcel of land; they want to subdivide it into lots, and have this division recognized by the government.

        The government says, We will allow this division of land, and allow a connection to our sewer, storm, and utility infrastructure, only on certain conditions, #1 thru #1,000 including ABC establish an HOA, limit all future repainting to beige, and permanently pay for the establishment of a soup kitchen downtown.

        Are the libertarians still cool with all this? Is this a legitimate negotiation, or is this unjustified coercion?

        What are ABCs rights to their land, versus the community’s right to determine their own conditions for development?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Roger,

        By saying “you” have to decide those things, I was saying any given person or group has to decide those questions in the course of deciding what level of decision making they think a given policy are should be decided at, not that every single such decision should be made by one centralized authority (how do you get that I’m saying the latter out of what I wrote?).

        The rest of your points for me add up to good reason to give subsidiarity its due consideration, which I’ve said is what I’m inclined to do.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        @lwa,

        Lets toss out an example. We, the majority establish a system whereby the government has a monopoly on power to define and recognize land claims, with an assessor’s parcel map and recorded deeds.
        Are the libertarians cool with this?

        Are libertarians cool with the definition of property rights?

        Is LWA incorrectly implying that they aren’t, or is he implicitly (finally) admitting that he doesn’t understand libertarianis, and is at last asking an honest question?

        The answer us, yes. Libertarians overwhelmingly see this as one of the few legitimate actions of government.

        <em€Ok, lets go on. ABC Development has a parcel of land; they want to subdivide it into lots, and have this division recognized by the government.
        The government says, We will allow this division of land, and allow a connection to our sewer, storm, and utility infrastructure, only on certain conditions, #1 thru #1,000 including ABC establish an HOA, limit all future repainting to beige, and permanently pay for the establishment of a soup kitchen downtown.
        Are the libertarians still cool with all this? Is this a legitimate negotiation, or is this unjustified coercion?

        If you take it that far, libertarians would say it’s unjustified coercion (there’s a legitimate question whether at that point one can meaningfully be said to have actual property rights–there’s a whole literature on that, not just libertarian but also in that bidy kf work we call constitutional law). But of course you’ve taken the demands to an extreme, so you’ve rigged the game o push the libertarian to say no. Try a minimal set of requirements, like “you must pay a fair amount for the increased infrastructure costs” and you’ll find the overwhelming majority of them say it’s legitimate. And as you slide down the scale from that minimal demand toward your maximal demand, you’ll continue to lose libertarian support (surprise, they’re not a hive mind!).

        What are ABCs rights to their land, versus the community’s right to determine their own conditions for development?
        As a start, see, e.g., Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council and Dolan v. City of Tigard. While you’re busy genuflecting at the shrine of the mythical collective will, SCOTUS has decided that the collective can’t extort individuals. Goddam pesky Constitution and its struggle with democracy!Report

      • Colorado has a “rural power” movement — my name for it, not theirs — that put a non-binding resolution calling for a 51st state on the ballot in eleven counties earlier this month. One of the organizers described the recent legislative session as the urban-dominated legislature declaring war on rural Colorado as the reason for the secession push. It’s harder to get things on the ballot in Kansas and Nebraska, but there have been similar complaints from time to time in the western parts of those states (going back a long time — the Nebraska Panhandle threatened to secede to Wyoming back in the 1890s).

        The resolution failed in six of eleven counties, but I took the liberty this past week to carve a “Central Great Plains” state out of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska (county-by-county map here). The new state would satisfy what I perceive as the basic desire of the secession advocates — it’s entirely rural and small town, with no urban/suburban areas to push them around. It’s also of reasonable physical size — it would be 15th largest state in the country by area.

        I ran the map data through some cartogram software (result here) that resized the counties based on population. That makes it fairly obvious why the three state legislatures no longer pay much attention to that area. And the situation is getting worse: the counties with the largest populations are growing, while many of those in the “51st state” are shrinking.

        I have no meaningful ideas for solutions.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Michael,

        Do any of those folks realize that the U.S. Constitution (which I’m sure they think they revere) regulates the process of creating new states? That they can’t just secede by internal vote, but have to get the agreement of that very legislature they’re trying to leave, and after that get the agreement of the U.S. Congress?Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        @michael-drew

        Looking forward to more thoughts in the future.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        @Roger, likewise. I appreciate the friendly word after the recent tension we’ve had.Report

      • @jm3z-aitch
        Yes, they do seem to be aware of the difficulties (although as I have noted occasionally, tongue-in-cheek, they are working at being obnoxious enough, in Colorado, that the rest of the state would be willing to vote to let them go). OTOH, now that the secession votes went poorly, they’re talking about amendments to the Colorado state constitution (which they could probably get on the ballot next year) to change the way representatives and/or senators are allocated. One of the simpler proposals has been to simply give each of the 64 counties one representative. Which makes it clear that they’re ignorant of Reynolds v Sims.Report

    • Avatar LWA says:

      So we all agree that the engagement between a property owner and a community is a two-way negotiation, where the property owner asks for services, and the community demands conditions. All of this negotiation is under the purview of the state and federal consitution, which limits both their terms. So for example, the city can’t demand the developer build a shrine to Baal, and the developer can’t demand the city adopt Baal as its deity.

      So doesn’t this lead to a conclusion that the community has a rightful interest in everyone’s property, and that even private contracts are not absolute, but conditioned and bounded?

      So with regard to Social Security, Civil Rights Act, the minimum wage laws, family leave laws which limits the allowable scope of contract between employer and employee, do libertarians view these as violations of rights, or just unsound policy?Report

      • So we all agree that the engagement between a property owner and a community is a two-way negotiation,

        Did you actually doubt this? I’m truly curious about that.

        I have to drive for a while now. If you answer that question I’ll address the remainder of your comment when I return home.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Sure. Its not hard to find self described libertarians who view property and contract rights as near-absolute, in practice if not theory.Report

      • But you will never find a libertarian who thinks a builder should be able to tap into local infrastructure without paying for the cost of their impact on that infrastructure. Because otherwise, who would be paying for it? The public/state? You think that’s who libertarians think should pay for it, or you just didn’t think it through to that step?

        Again you demonstrate that you truly have a very poor grasp if libertarianism. You have a cartoony extremist version if it that you seem to believe is the only, or the true, version. If I painted as cartoony and extreme a version of liberalism here on these pages real liberals would be howling. I could easily do it by drawing on the more extremist liberal stuff easily found out there on the web, but it would be dishonest to pretend that’s what liberalism is. I’m calling on you to start being more honest about libertarianism, instead of defining it just to your rhetorical/ideological advantage.

        As to your question:
        So doesn’t this lead to a conclusion that the community has a rightful interest in everyone’s property, and that even private contracts are not absolute, but conditioned and bounded?

        Actually, no, in two ways it does not establish that. Some other argument might, but this one does not do so.

        First, the connection to the infrastructure is not about a community interest in the property, but about the external effects if the usage of the property–about what happens beyond the boundary of the property. Imagine a hypothetical development that does not have off-property effects. All waste is recycled on site, all activity is underground, nothing comes in by road, it has it’s own sufficient emergency and medical personnel…some SciFi type development like that.

        What interest would the community in which that development exists have in that property? So it’s not an interest in the property itself that the community has, but an interest in the cross-boundary effects if that property. And you won’t find any problem with that in liberalism, because it explicitly recognizes that external effects are not a property right but an infringement on others’ property rights, or if the effect is on public infrastructure, then each property owner should bear his own cost.

        Second, since the argument fails to establish a community interest in the property per se, we certainly can’t take the logical leap to say it implies there is a community interest in contracts in general. I’m not even clear on how that logic is supposed to work.

        I will a caveat. First, more extreme libertarians are indeed too cavalier by far about externalities. They usually understand the role of externalities in the theory, but are too quick to dismiss their presence in practice. They’re wrong and deserving of criticism. But it’s not libertarianism that is wrong about externalities; it’s a set if thoughtless people who don’t understand their own ism well that are wrong.

        <emSo with regard to Social Security, Civil Rights Act, the minimum wage laws, family leave laws which limits the allowable scope of contract between employer and employee, do libertarians view these as violations of rights, or just unsound policy?
        We’re not monolithic. Some indeed view them as violations of rights. Others view them as merely unsound policy. Some undoubtedly view some one way and some the other. They do, as a group, tend to disfavor them, but not all for precisely the same reason or with the same degree of disapproval. For example, on the ENDA thread I said I would allow private discrimination (in my hypothetical libertarian city, say), but it’s so far down on my priority list if issues I can hardly be bothered to discuss it much, much less fight for it. Once we’ve successfully eliminated state discrimination against LGBTQs, ended the war in drugs, ended the national security state, reigned in the ever-increasing power of the presidency, and eliminated economic protectionism…in that fantasy world, then I’ll pause, take a deep breath, and think, “OK, now what remaining issues are there, how should I prioritize them, and are any of them worth my energy, or should I just go sit ony front porch and drink beer?” I’d probably just sit on the porch drinking. Some libertarians I know would join me, others would choose to fight some of the remaining issues, and others would have been arguing all along that I had prioritized the wrong issues.”

        Because at the end of the day, libertarianism and libertarians aren’t the two-dimensional caricature you keep drawing.

        I don’t know why that’s a hard thing to come to grips with.Report

      • LWA,

        This is a little off-topic, but here’s a libertarian who’s far more immoderate than I, arguing for the value of that great collective and publicly supplied good, common law.

        That is how real libertarians think about things.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Its only externalities that cause a community to have a claim on a property?

        Doesn’t the community have the right to assert that simply recognizing, codifying and defending the property claim against agressors, both internationally and locally, all constitute services that justify a claim?
        According to your logic, this should be so. I mean, these are pretty valuable services, and no one should be expected to provide them free of charge.

        So I am hard pressed to even imagine any such parcel of property in which the community has zero claim, to taxes or regulation.

        Likewise with contracts; is there any contract that doesn’t rely on the community to enforce it? Doesn’t this give the community the right to determine under what circumstances they will or won’t enforce them?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Doesn’t the community have the right to assert that simply recognizing, codifying and defending the property claim against agressors, both internationally and locally, all constitute services that justify a claim? … I mean, these are pretty valuable services, and no one should be expected to provide them free of charge.

        What do you think basic fees and taxes are for? When have you registered property for free? When have libertartarians demanded that pokice should protect them from theft at no charge, or at…well, whose charge? (Some more extreme ones believe in private police, but they don’t believe there should be no charge.). What these things cost should be paid, but that they justify taxes and fees does not mean they justify community controls beyond taxes and fees. Again, there may be an argument that gets there, but this one doesn’t logically get you there. You keep trying to reach an end-point conclusion from a first assumption, but logical argument requires that you connect the steps in-between.

        So I am hard pressed to even imagine any such parcel of property in which the community has zero claim, to taxes or regulation.

        But of course I never remotely claimed either such thing. I’ve already explained why taxes and fees can be justified, for the actual services provided, and my prior references to externalities necessarily imply that regulation to prevent externalities is legitimate. That doesn’t mean all regulation is legitimate, but it necessarily means some is legitimate.

        This is where it gets very frustrating trying to have a conversation with you. You keep claiming I am saying things I am not saying. I am trying to tell you what real libertatians think, and yet you insist on interpreting my words through the filter of the comic book libertarian in your head, that apparently is telling you libertarians believe in free government services and the right to use our own absolute property rights to infringe on others’ absolute property rights through unregulated externalities. But that’s totally incoherent from a real libertarian’s perspective. If you’d please set aside these inaccurate preconceptions, real communication might become possible.

        Likewise with contracts; is there any contract that doesn’t rely on the community to enforce it?
        Well, ask the mafia. More positively, look at studies of the iterated prisoner’s dilemma. The answer, surprisingly perhaps, is yes. But I won’t push that too because your basic point here is on-target. And guess what, libertarians believe in the justice system to enforce contracts, just as emphasized in that link I gave you.

        Doesn’t this give the community the right to determine under what circumstances they will or won’t enforce them?

        This is more problematic than you think. The reason to enforce contracts is to prevent fraud and non-performance, which are forms of theft and coercion. If I knowingly and voluntarily agree to condition, and then later regret it, the person I’ve contracted with has not defrauded, stolen, or coerced me. In fact I am guilty if non-fulfillment. So how does the community’s interest in preventing these things guve them a “right” to not enforce non-fraud, non-coercion, non-theft?

        Again, you have gone from beginning assumption to conclusion without connecting any steps. Maybe such connecting steps exist. Certainly my analysis here does not logically exclude that theoretical possibility. But you have to show them, not just assume them.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        James-
        You lay out your terms of engagement for the communities claim on property and contract- namely, cost of services rendered, and fraud.

        But remember, this is a negotiation. You are, literally, asking the community to do something.

        Can’t the community assert its own views of what is justified or not, set out its own terms and conditions, different and more expansive than yours? Assuming they don’t violate a right?

        Now, I completely understand that you think these are unwise, incorrect, and result in adverse consequences. And who knows, you may be right!

        But wouldn’t you agree that the community has the moral right to do so? Or is going beyond your described terms a violation of rights?
        If so, what right?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        LWA,

        So in order to connect to the sewer, and in order to get the community to prorotect my property rights from theft, they have a moral right to use their monoply position to demand more from me than the cost of those services? How much more? At what point does it pass beyond a moral right and become extortion, and how do we recognize that point? Or is there no point at which the community’s demand on the individual reduces to extortion?

        Persuade me. You have not yet made a posititive argument for your case, where you actually craft a logical justification for your claims. It’s been all assumptions and assertions, but now it’s time for you to do your share of the heavy lifting.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        I want to emphasize that the community has monopoly power here. Do you consider a negotiation between a consumer and a firm facing market competition equal to a negotiation between a consumer and a monopoly firm? Does the monoply firm have a moral right to use its monopoly power to push its demands further than it could were it facing competition?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        {Crickets}

        I know you feel these things strongly, LWA, but if you can’t intellectually defend them it raises the question of whether you have any understanding of the intellectual foundations of your own beliefs. Combine that with your many inaccurate statements about libertarianism, and I’m left wondering what you do understand.

        Architecture? It’s an interesting topic that I know a little about, but not as much as I’d like. Why don’t you engage me on that, instead of on issues about which you have nothing to say?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I’ll take a shot at an answer J@m3z,

        So in order to connect to the sewer, and in order to get the community to prorotect my property rights from theft, they have a moral right to use their monoply position to demand more from me than the cost of those services?

        Not necessarily more than the bare cost of those services – since I think we’re into normative grounds here as well as pragmatics regarding what the community goals are and how well trade-offs balance at the end of the day – but an argument can certainly be made that taxes can be (and often justifably are) collected for in excess of the mere provision of basic services. (Eg, in certain European cities taxes are collected for the purpose of incentivizing tourism into that town, which seems like a perfectly justifiable use of government taxing powers. Does the extraction of “beautification taxes constitute an unfair burden on individual firms and property owners? By one line of thinking the answer is clearly yes; on another line of thinking that burden is – or could be – justified as promoting a collective good measured in increased individual incomes.) I think other community concerns can (at least in principle) be justified along similar

        How much more? At what point does it pass beyond a moral right and become extortion, and how do we recognize that point?

        That’s a good question, and one where your view clearly offers a succinct answer: anything above bare costs are either unjustified (unjustifiable) or bear a heavy burden of justification according to some pretty tight calculus. The liberal view certainly does get squishy here, but I think things like building design codes, height restrictions, taxes for parks and other public spaces, (others) can be justified – not by decree, of course, but by the slow and imperfect machinations of democracy.

        Or is there no point at which the community’s demand on the individual reduces to extortion?

        Not to get too cute here, but one answer to that would be a categorical “No!” If a person believes that the concept of individualism makes no sense independent from community (in the widest sense of those terms), then the answer to your question sort of trivially follows. If, on the other hand, a person holds the view that the concept of individualism can be made coherent independently of the concept of community, then the answer would be a trivially following “Yes!”

        Maybe that’s where the dispute lies on this issue – the different ways you and LWA view the interdependences which form the communities we’re all a part of.Report

      • Stillwater,

        Can’t help yourself, can you? But I’m not asking for the liberal argument because I’m unfamiliar with it. I’m asking whether LWA understands it well enough to articulate it.

        I know some liberals can (hell, I can), but that’s irrelevant to the question I’m asking.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Oh! I didn’t realize you were testing LWA’s naulijez. I thought it was something you sincerely wanted an answer to.

        My bad.Report

  3. Avatar Kim says:

    “Disaffected youths” are probably a decent proxy for unwed mothers. Ya?
    Particularly in places where they drop out of school to care for the baby.

    I don’t think the graph is saying what the authors think it’s saying…Report

    • Possibly. Seems to me that you could check the statistics here against the statistics there and get an idea of how much of it is that. My understanding (which could be flawed) is that disaffection is on the rise (while young unwed mothers, as far as I know, is not on the rise – or not on the rise to the same extent).Report

  4. Avatar Kim says:

    Okay, so that mapping of “which cultures moved where…” seems odd. I’m not sure where you put Pittsburgh, but bisecting its MSA seems unwarranted (culturally, religiously, and linguistically).
    And wouldn’t Austin count as part of the Midlands? Nobody else seems to track so much of Appalachia moving so deep into Texas…

    Count me skeptical about the Borderlander’s aggression being because of herding. Far more likely to be because of political pressures, putting them much more in the realm of Cossacks than Laplanders.

    And his Extension of Yankeedom to Minnesota? Odd, odd, odd. I’d think it more likely to be part of the Midlands. Connecticut, despite the maps, didn’t have much of a hold on Cleveland. I’d love to know how he gets Cleveland into Yankeedom.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    E2: Some of the topics covered under Social zJustice math

    Credit cards, managing debt, paying for college
    Saving/budgeting money, opening bank accounts
    High-cost loans. check cashers, loan sharks
    Filing taxes

    Sounds pretty valuable to me.Report

  6. Avatar Rod says:

    [A4] It would be relatively easy to do this with big trucks. We already have to track and report our miles driven in each state on a quarterly basis for IFTA. That’s an interstate compact to equalize fuel tax receipts between the states. See, we have pretty big fuel tanks, up to 400 gallons, and we can drive for quite a ways, through multiple states, on a fillup. So basically we track the miles driven in each state and the fuel purchased, along with fuel taxes paid at the pump, in each state as well. Then that all goes on a spreadsheet that figures how much each state should have received had the fuel to drive those miles actually been purchased in each state. Then, depending on how the calculations work out, the trucker either owes or is owed and the states cut checks back and forth to work it all out. Anyway, since the miles are already tracked it would be pretty simple to go to a mile-use tax. And, in fact, Oregon already does that for trucks. Apparently they want to extend that to cars as well .

    The basic problem is that technically, fuel use is not as good a proxy for miles driven as before combined with the political problem of raising fuel taxes.Report

  7. Avatar Kolohe says:

    a4: the articles analysis is erroneous. The push for a mileage tax not because Americans don’t like higher gas taxes (which is nonetheless true), but because there’s increasingly diminishing returns on straight up gas tax taxes as vehicle efficiency has dramatically increased (and is supposed to double again in 10 years due to government fiat).

    But there’s the other issue that total vehicle miles travelled has flatlined over the last half-decade, and its not entirely (but it is mostly) due to the Great Recession and sluggish recovery. So even charging for vehicle miles isn’t quite the replacement that people aspire it to be.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Getting rid of the roads might be a decent solution.Report

      • Roads are helpful at getting places.Report

      • I’m down with such things as long as they are a part of a comperehensive strategy for reducing government spending.

        As opposed to it being a product of sticking it to the ungrateful rural moochers and seeing how they like them apples (which I don’t think you’re doing, but which I am see more and more of in recent years).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Will,
        I find it really troubling the idea that we can afford to forget about the rural people. Maybe they don’t always need “car-worthy” roads (bicycling out to more major roads — making the assumption that farm vehicles can take a tougher road…) But I believe very firmly that we should be working on making good-quality transportation available for everyone. It’s particularly significant with medical care.

        The difference in life expectancy between a 5 min ambulance ride and a 30 minute ambulance ride is pretty harsh.

        (I think we might want to have more of a discussion on “who we want to privilege” in terms of living in rural areas, as well… Farmers, sure — but maybe we can do a better job for everyone by not having retirees way out in the boonies.)

        [I have far more of a problem with suburbs being mooches. Rural folks at least have economic reason to be out there.]Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Rural folks at least have economic reason to be out there.]

        Technically, everyone has an economic reason to be exactly where they are, wherever they happen to be, at every moment of every day.

        But if you mean most rural people have some work-related reason to be where they are, that’s not correct. The overwhelming majority of rural people commute to towns to work.Report

      • Technically, everyone has an economic reason to be exactly where they are, wherever they happen to be, at every moment of every day.

        What’s the economic reason for your choice to be at one of your daughters’ swim meets rather than at home reading a not-work-related book or playing guitar on a given night?Report

      • Avatar Rod says:

        Technically, everyone has an economic reason to be exactly where they are, wherever they happen to be, at every moment of every day.

        Ecchh… If every single facet of life is “economic” then the word ceases to have any meaning. Now we have to come up with some other word to describe the stuff you learn in Econ class.

        But if you mean most rural people have some work-related reason to be where they are, that’s not correct. The overwhelming majority of rural people commute to towns to work.

        I suspect that depends a lot on definitions of “rural” and “towns”. I mean, if I live in a small town in a rural area (like I do) and drive across town (maybe a mile) to work, does that count as a “rural person commuting to a town to work”? I’m pretty sure Kim was talking about farmers.Report

      • Michael and Rod,

        Econ 101: Economics is about choices between how we use scarce resources. That doesn’t cease to describe what you learn in Econ 101, it is what you learn in Econ 101.

        From Paul Krugman’s textbook:
        “Economics is the study of scarcity and choice”

        From Roger Miller’s textbook:
        “Economics is the study of how people allocate their limited resources in an attempt to satisfy their unlimited wants. As such, economics is the study of how people make choices.”

        And from the great 19th century economist Alfred Marshall, the father of marginalizing (the basis of microeconomics):
        “Economics is the study of mankind in the ordinary business of life.”

        (I have more, direct from the stack of Econ texts in my office, but I’ll be merciful.)

        To say using the term that way strips it of meaning is to argue against the basic understanding of the discipline. All life is about trade offs between scarce resources. In the example Michael gives, the scarce resource is my time, and presumably I choose the highest (subjectively) valued use of that time.

        All the other stuff to which people want to incorrectly restrict the term, those are just more specific case studies of how we behave economically. But choosing whether a house near my job in the city or out where I have quiet and fresh air, deciding whether to expand my current restaurant or open a new one, or whether to read a book today or go watch my daughter swim, those are all, at rock bottom, choices about how best to use our limited resources for greatest value, and that is what economics is about.Report

      • Rod,

        Re: rural. It doesn’t really matter which definition we use. Most people who live outside of towns in indisputably rural locations are not farmers, but commuters. They like living in the country rather than in town, but they normally own 1/2 acre to ~5 acres, and their primary crop is lawn grass.

        That’s not a criticism of them, by the way, just a descriptive statement.Report

      • Fair enough. So, what’s your economic reason for it?Report

      • I value my kids more than a good book read in peace and quiet.

        More precisely, most often the net marginal subjective value of being there with and for my kids exceeds the net marginal subjective value of reading a book in leave and quiet. But because of the law of increasing marginal costs and decreasing marginal benefits, given enough time at kids’ swim meets, plays, music performances (that’s today), etc., occadiknally the the net marginal subjective value of the book read in peace and quiet is superior–in other words, I have been known to ocassionally beg to stay behind at the hotel for an hour or two before joining the rest of the family at the meet.Report

    • You recoup the diminishing returns with more higher taxes.

      Gas taxes and VMT are two efforts at the same thing: Taxing driving. Now, as Rod points out, VMT’s are a better metric for this. And if you combine VMT with car weight, you have the best metric there is. Far better than gas consumption. However! We are at a place right now where we want to “reward” (comparatively speaking) people who drive fuel efficient vehicles and “punish” (aka “capture the negative externalities”) of people who drive fuel inefficient cars.

      Paying people to buy fuel efficient cars, and then turning around and trying to make sure they are paying their fair share of taxes, is rather silly. At best. Even setting aside the ACLU’s argument (I look forward to being lectured about how ridiculous it is to think that the government might misuse this information immediately prior to being lectured about how ridiculous it is to have ever thought that we wouldn’t so get over it already)… a cynical part of me points out that people who can afford to buy new cars get a tax break while we find ways to make sure that people who buy cheap small used cars (often a less fortunate subset of the population) are “paying their fair share.”

      Ultimately, I think it very much does come down to gas tax aversion. Since the Clinton administration, it’s been toxic to talk about raising taxes. So this policy, and our entire environmental policy discussion, seems dedicated to dancing around the obvious concern that we’re using too much (dirty) fuel and energy and maybe if we just tax it all the right way nobody will actually notice (and if they tax it the right way, people might not except insofar as they blame corporate America).

      A cynical part of me points out that if you don’t tax by mileage and weightReport

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        …they’re going to start taxing words so better stop now? 🙂 (no really, what was the end of this, I’m dying to know)

        fwiw, Maryland just raise their gas tax, and Governor O’Malley is as likely as anyone whose last name doesn’t start with a C to be the next President of the United States.

        A carbon tax does loom large in such a dramatic policy shift (between taxing gas to taxing miles), but, of course, has its own battlefield and legions on either side.

        My own take is to toll ‘freeways’ – i.e. any and all limited access express-ish roads – to pay for themselves in terms of construction and maintenance. EZ pass type systems make this eminently feasible these days. Prices are already variable on existing toll roads based on # of axles, wouldn’t be much more complicated to provide a rate based on weight class. There’s still the government data problem, but just as a gut feel, this still seems less intrusive than the government reading off your odometer every year or more often.

        Let the other ‘last mile’ roads continued to be paid for by gas taxes and other local/state levies. Funding sources which may also be applied to mass transit alternatives, where appropriate.Report

      • I hate it when I leave danglers like that. The thought started at the end landed in a previous paragraph.

        I’d argue that Biden is, at this ridiculously early juncture, the third most likely to become our next president.

        I have mixed feelings about toll roads. I complained about Delaware, though it was a fair point someone made that people drive on their roads without actually filling up in the states. The best argument in favor of VMT is not the generation of extra revenue or the targeting of high-mileage vehicles, but appropriate tax localization. Making sure the right taxes go to the right jurisdictions. So I will at least grant that.Report

  8. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    A1-I’m not really a fan of reductive works like American Nations or Albion’s Seed. I think they function more as “how so” stories for American poltiics rather than actual explanations for voting patterns. American society has been highly mobile for a long time and out political history can’t be reduced to simple cultural facts that easily.

    Theories like this also whitewash a lot of racism that existed in the North, Mid-West, and West Coast and simply seek to make the South and to a lesser extent, the Far West, the bad guys of American polticis. However, white fear of and racism against African-Americans and other non-whites has been pretty damn universal throughout America until relatively recently. It might have been more explicit in some parts than others but not everywhere.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Lee,
      Soda versus Pop. There’s a lot of stuff that folks inherit, from where they come from and from who lived there before.

      How many people do you know from Oklahoma? “highly mobile” may be a way of saying coastal people move from coast to coast.

      A proper study, as Albion’s Seed did, notes the strong anti-slavery propensity of Appalachia and the Borderlanders. There were a lot of abolitionists up in the hills, and the people in the mountains weren’t exactly enthusiastic about the Civil War (lot of them needed to be forced to join the military. and some joined the Union)Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        I am well aware that the people of Appalachia were ambivalent about slavery and the Confederacy. Its why West Virginia became a state.

        Why I’m not fond of Albion’s Seed or its less scholarly off-shots is that a lot of these sort of studies is based on stereotypes of some sort or another. Saying that people from a particular region share particular characteristics is no more charitable than associating specific characteristics to a particular racial or ethnic group. Albion’s Seed does a better job of mitigating this factor by focusing more on folk beliefs but its lesser children does not.

        I also think that the lesser children of Albion’s Seed does a lot of whitewashing of northern, mid-Western, and Western racism against non-whites. Its a too much pat our selves on the back, lets fight against evil Southerners type of thing.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Are you familiar with Chomsky’s work?
        There is a substantial amount of voluntary association
        contained in where folks live, and their pride in their
        town/region/country.

        I don’t think we ought to be charitable. I think
        accuracy is far more important.

        I’d rather know which populations practice incest
        or child abandonment — rather than not know.

        Most “jokes” about someone’s ethnicity or
        religion or … have some element (the core)
        of truth in them.

        If they weren’t at least somewhat insightful,
        somewhere along the way, they wouldn’t
        have been propagated.

        [I think the dumb pollack jokes have been
        overplayed to the point of “oh god whyyyy”
        but that might just be me.]Report

  9. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    J3- I think that both Ozimek and McArdle are really misrepresenting the anger against McDonalds by liberals on this matter. What we think that McDonalds and other corporations are doing is using the various parts of a welfare state in order to avoid paying their workers a liveable wage. In other words, thanks to food stamps we don’t need to pay our employees enough to buy their groceries. The argument isn’t against food stamps; its against allowing corporations to pay lower wages because of food stamps and other welfare state provisions.

    Reading the comments section in articles about the wages of fast food workers is always an exercise in frustration. The conservative commentators like to argue that these sorts of jobs were never intended to be full time employment for adults but ways for students to earn pocket money. The problem with this argument is that fast food places are basically open twenty-four/seven or something close to it and they need non-students to work during school times. The non-students working during these times tend to be adults who are using these jobs as a full time job rather than as a source of pocket money. Reality is different than the ideal.Report

    • Avatar LWA says:

      This argument- “these sorts of jobs were never intended to be full time employment for adults ” then raises the question of why our economy is such that adults- head of household breadwinners- are in fact using these jobs for full time employment, and what should we as citizens do in response to this.Report

    • If the result of food stamps is that employers cut pay accordingly, then why should we have them? I mean, without them, the fast food places would have to pay their employees more, right? So let’s do away with working people’s food stamps…

      The reason not to do this, of course, is that I don’t think McDonald’s critics actually think that McD’s would respond to government benefit cuts with wage enhancements. Which in turn suggests that the low wages are not actually a product of government benefits to the employees.

      I recall the statistics on what percentage of fast food workers are from low-income households (ie fast food is the sole or primary source of income. I remember it being relatively low (considerably less than half, though correct me with numbers if I am remembering incorrectly). It strikes me as kind of screwy to revamp an entire pay structure for a minority of employees. Especially when, for the sake of that minority, we can complement their income with government benefits.

      Which is actually how we got here to begin with. Which is why the government gives them food stamps. Which is the system that liberals are complaining about.Report

    • Avatar Fnord says:

      When considering the extent to which food stamps (and other welfare programs) act as a subsidy for low-wage employers and/or reduce wage rates, don’t forget the work requirements that are frequently associated with such programs. It seems likely that requiring people to work or to accept any suitable job offer in order to qualify for benefits makes them significantly more likely to accept low-wage jobs.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        So…what? If the government abolished the welfare programs, then people would just choose not to work, and starve to death?

        I strongly suspect that the effects of people simply choosing not to work would be dwarfed by those who chose to work even more to compensate for the loss of welfare benefits.

        I guess you can say that if we had welfare but not work requirements, that would make McDonald’s worse off. But really, it would make all of us worse off to have a bunch of people consuming without producing.Report

      • Avatar Fnord says:

        If the government abolished the welfare programs, then people would just choose not to work, and starve to death?

        Would they completely stop working and starve to death? Probably not.

        Would they spend longer looking, in order to secure a higher paying job? Would one member of a multiperson household drop out of the labor force and focus on home production? On the the margin?

        I guess you can say that if we had welfare but not work requirements, that would make McDonald’s worse off. But really, it would make all of us worse off to have a bunch of people consuming without producing.

        If the intent of a job search requirement is to reduce the long-term drain on the public fisc by ensuring that people able to work don’t freeload, then a job that still leaves the worker eligible for welfare doesn’t solve that problem.Report

  10. Avatar Mo says:

    [P2] – I am speaking only semi-informed here*, but these questions are being pulled from a credit reporting agency (or similar) and I am about 90% certain that UPS never sees the questions or the answers, they just get a certainty score from the identity verification service. Things like where you lived are going to be on your credit report and public records and the name, birth date and parents are public records. We need to be careful what these companies do with the information, but let’s not confuse the customer of the service, UPS, with the holder of the information, Experian/Transunion/Fair Isaac.

    * I don’t have knowledge of UPS’s exact system, but I do know a bit about identity verificationReport

  11. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I don’t think people think it’s unreasonable to expect people to climb out of the holes they’ve dug themselves into. The issue is whether there’s a hiring culture so risk-averse these days that it’s actually possible to ever really get up onto equal ground once you’re in that particular kind of hole. I’m actually not sure even convictions are necessary for this kind of indelible stigma to attach to a person. To a lesser degree, I think any kind of legal black – such as merely an arrest, or even a bankruptcy – is something that, as long as it remains on your record, puts you in a kind of semi-untouchable “other”category that employers go to only when in a real pinch. A lot of that could change under full employment, but I’m really not sure how much it would. Some, but not entirely.

    Now, if you want to say that essentially life-long if slightly decreasing employability stigma is a consequence of legal trouble that we want to say is just a consequence of bad choices, that’s fine. But talking about climbing out of holes is a bad because falsely positive metaphor to use if that is the actual view one holds.Report

    • Avatar Roger says:

      It does seem socially desirable to have a process to expunge criminal records for those making mistakes early in life.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        It seems almost silly not to have a process by which x years crime free (and I’m assuming x could vary depending on the original crime committed, or perhaps the number of previous offenses) means that for all purposes outside of the criminal justice system — getting a job, voting, housing, etc. — your record is clean.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Except for teens who post self-nudies of themselves. They’re sexual deviants who should be branded and shunned for life.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Don’t we already have that? IIRC, job applications usually ask stuff like, “Have you been convicted of a felony in the last seven years?”Report

      • I’ve more frequently seen it as ten. And the function of that is to get you to disclose it to make it easier for them to identify who’s had trouble. If you don’t disclose everything and they run a check and find something, that’s when they toss the ap without any further questions (which is reasonable). But that doesn’t mean they’re uninterested in convictions or other issues from earlier on; they just don’t hold it against you for not disclosing them on the application. They still run plenty of background checks.

        I’ve also found that employers seem to not really understand what they’re asking with that question. They seem pretty concerned about issues far short of an actual *felony conviction*, and don’t seem to react well when those aren’t disclosed, even when the correct answer to the question is “no.” (Not to lay too much on the table about my checkered background or anything…).Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        don’t seem to react well when those aren’t disclosed, even when the correct answer to the question is “no.” (Not to lay too much on the table about my checkered background or anything…).

        You went to UW, right? They should assume just from that you’ve got a few tailgating-related misdemeanors; minor-in-possession, drunk and disorderly, urinating in public, . 😉Report

      • This is true, although I will state for the record that I have never been arrested in my hometown.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Also, the same infraction can result in a criminal record or a mild slap on the wrist, depending on class and race (this is especially true of, thought not limited to, drug infractions.) That difference following you around for the rest of your life is an especially pernicious compounding of existing inequalities.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      I can tell you from about two or so years of legal searching that very few people advertise entry level jobs as far as I can tell.

      Every job posting I have seen asks for a minimum of three years of experience. The usually number is 5. They also have very detailed requirements about work done depending on the kind of law.

      Basically it seems that no one wants to train anymore. 5 years is about the amount of experience needed to be a self-starter. You can give that mid-level associate a client and/or case and have him or her do it without too much oversight.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      And you were talking about something completely different.Report

    • Avatar Roger says:

      Not sure that it needs to be said among adults, but we do all realize the effect of minimum wages, overly-strict deep-pocket employer liability, and mandatory benefits does to relatively undesirable classes like poor inner city youths and criminals…right?

      Every employer in the US didn’t become spontaneously more demanding. We made them more demanding.

      Said another way, if we raise the minimum wage to $10 and require health insurance on full time employees do we think we will get more or less hiring of ex cons?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        More. Just look at MexicoReport

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        That depends upon who pays for the health insurance more than anything else.

        Secondarily, if we raise the minimum wage I expect we’ll lose some jobs on the margins and we’ll increase wages overall, so whether or not it turns out to be a net win or loss depends upon how many jobs it costs and what the implications are for people near the poverty line.Report

  12. E4 demonstrates the resilience of eternal justice and truth.Report

  13. Avatar NewDealer says:

    H1: Is unsurprising if depressing. Part of it has to do with the continued state of chaos of urban school districts. There are signs of improvement but it takes a long time to make up for years of underfunding. A lot people make the decision that they can afford to live in a nice suburb with good public schools and less of a competitive rat race. I’ve seen some more middle class people like working artists make the case for NYC and other big city public schools but I wonder if the enthusiastic attitude will continue past elementary school.

    H2: That being said, it is always hard for me to take Joel Kotktin seriously on this issue because he has always been dismissive of the vitality of the cities. He has all the prejudices of a white flight baby boomer. That being said, I am not sure I quite believe the idea that the suburbs are getting browner and poorer even though Dana Goldstein seems to think there is plenty of data to show that and there might be. Most of my friends are starting to have their first kids or sometimes multiple kids. The ones that stay in the city so far are very wealthy or very modest in their socio-economics. The ones in the middle ground have either fled the city or are eyeing towards it in once the kids reach school age or so I am guessing.

    H4: You neglect the tech boom issue that is pushing people out. There is also an issue that it is getting so bad you have relatively well-off people like me who feel powerless against 23-27 year old kids with more money than anyone else. They also have the “charming” attitude of thinking that anyone over 30 is over the hill many times. Mark Zuckerberg’s statements on the issue of age and innovation bring him very close to an age discrimination suit.

    H5: I think we need to have a serious conversation about whether homeowner ship is good or not because I think there are schizophrenic policy and statements on the issue. I’ve heard economists make the argument that homeownerhip is a not a worthwhile economic goal or potentially even a good idea. Yet articles like the Buzzfeed one seem to indicate that most people would like to own a house or flat, potentially more for security/emotional/psychological reasons than anything else.
    So which is it? If homeownership is not a worthy policy or goal, how do we convince people that it is okay to be a life long renter. I imagine this worries people because they think they will be outpriced and evicted when they are old and can no longer work.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      H2: check out paris. Or some of the inner ring pittsburgh suburbs. (are we weird?)

      H5:
      1) Having everyone own a house is unbelieveably stupid. Not only does it negatively impact labor mobility, but it is not something that everyone is constitutionally set up for.

      2) That said, a home is where most people stash most of their wealth. And we stack the deck towards those who own a home.Report

    • [H1] If funding is the problem with failing schools, it seems weird that these magnets of money have such troublesome school districts.

      [H2] I agree that Kotkin takes his urban animus too far, but I always cite him because he’s making points that few others are. Suburbs are turning more brown (even Kotkin says as much) and less affluent, but the same people gloating about this are the ones who previously criticized suburbs as white-bread wealth-escapists. From a systems level, it’s neither positive nor negative that more working class people and minorities have the means and the desire to relocate to the suburbs. And it’s a bit late to argue that wealthy people moving someplace is indicative of its superiority after years of poo-pooing the upper middle class for moving to the cities. (That last comment was not targeted at you, ND.)

      [H4] Well, I think there is a strong argument that the demand of living there – combined with the lack of development – is a driver of increased costs and relocation. The ages and specifics are less important in that regard, though.

      [H5] I agree. On the one hand, homeownership correlates with many social goods. The kind of stuff that goes along with stability. These social goods have economic value. On the other hand, it’s economically constraining (harder to move if you own your house). I think we have gone too far into the ownership direction, but not as far too far as some people are suggesting.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        School districts are based on property taxes and since most urban residents rent and don’t own. Property taxes tend to be lower.

        Urban areas also work on a very delicate social contract with a lot of different groups who don’t really like each other living and working together. These groups can often have very different ideals and needs for what they want out of public schools or schools in general.

        I’ve mentioned this with LeeEsq’s neighborhood of Williamsburg. You have two groups that use the school district. Generally poor hispanics who might not speak English very well and newer arrived gentrifying hipsters with artsy/professional careers. Both groups have different ideas about what their children need to learn and how they should be taught. It is not an easy dynamic to deal with. And I don’t mean this to be a talking point for conservatives or homogenity.

        There might also be children from Eastern European immigrants as well.Report

      • School districts are based on property taxes and since most urban residents rent and don’t own. Property taxes tend to be lower.

        I don’t see how that follows. People who rent are renting from owners who pay property taxes. And if they aren’t themselves paying the tax (it’s not transparent to them) I’d think that they would be more rather than less supportive of property tax hikes.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        People who rent are renting from owners who pay property taxes.

        This depends.

        In California, a number of property owners have had their property for long enough that Prop 13 has given them a fairly sizable property tax advantage over new homeowners, because of the way California’s Prop 13 limits property tax increases.

        So if you have a neighborhood that is predominantly owner-occupied, and it is also predominantly “newish family” homes, there has been property ownership turnover and the property taxes are assessed at current market value… whereas the renter’s neighborhood may have long-term property management company ownership and be paying a much smaller assessment.

        My uncle owns a house that’s worth probably in excess of a million dollars in Santa Clara, just for the lot, but he bought the place in 1972 and I think his property tax bill is something on the order of a hundred bucks a year. If he sold that place, the new owner would be paying property taxes on the million dollar assessment, which would be significantly higher.

        How this affects schools is a different issue because California doesn’t do direct funding of schools via property taxes, any more.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

      You neglect the tech boom issue that is pushing people out.

      You mean demand has increased, right?

      Which is all the more reason why limitations on supply are a problem.Report

  14. Avatar NewDealer says:

    J3: My big issue is that this seems to be a schizophrenic message on the right and of the Republican Party and that they want to have it both ways. They rail against the welfare state and social safety net measures because they create a “culture of dependency.” Yet what happens when workers can’t make a living on their wages, they say “go on food stamps.” I thought the whole idea of work and labor was to be self-dependent. And I’m a cynic so I wonder if the head of McDonald’s supports Republican politicians who keep on trying to slash food stamps.

    It is not the existence of foodstamps that I mind. It is the rank hypocrisy of the situation.Report

    • At least some of the source of the alleged “both ways” is that conservative opinion differs. Speaking for myself, I prefer food stamps over forced wage hikes because I think that’s actually better for all involved. As we potentially move into an economy where we cannot expect 40 hours a week to naturally generate enough value for what we, as a society, deem a respectable standard of living, I am more amenable towards government benefits than a lot of conservatives are.

      A lot of conservatives, though, support just what I said above: If this is a problem, do away with the food stamps. They just don’t blame McDonald’s for the system. I don’t quite agree, but I think that’s just as consistent as supporting government policies and then getting angry at the alleged benefit to McDonald’s. If these benefits are seriously benefiting corporate America, and these benefits are supported by liberals, it seems goofy to turn around and yell at conservatives for supporting corporate welfare (in this case).Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        If McDonalds protests against cuts to food stamps and lobbies for their expansion, their policy is not hypocritical even if it is not my ideal.

        If they give money to politicians who try to slash and slash at food stamps while encouraging their workers to go on them and also continuing to cut hours. Then they deserve ire.Report

      • If food stamps are a gift to McDonald’s, why would they lobby against them? If they lobby against them, then it seems as likely as not they’re not the gift that people are saying they are.

        As for supporting specific candidates who happen to want to cut food stamps… there are a number of explanations for that. It could be that while they are supportive of food stamps there are other more important issues for them to decide who to support. Or maybe they oppose food stamps, but since they’re there they might as well help eligible employees take advantage of them.

        To use an example someone else gave: Just because I oppose the construction of a neighborhood rec center doesn’t mean that I am prohibited from using it, once it’s built.Report

  15. Avatar NewDealer says:

    More on Suburbs:

    I also think we need to have a serious conversation about what we mean when we talk about suburbs. There are too many definitions in the United States.

    There are inner-ring suburbs like my hometown. LWA called them traditional bedroom communities. Almost every major American city has inner-ring suburbs. They tend to be a 30-40 minute commute into the city and are serviced by trains or some other public transportation. In New York, you have towns on the North Shore of Long Island and in Westchester. In San Francisco, you have Marin and and towns in the East Bay like Lafayette and Orinda or Redwood City and Atherton on the Penninsula. Sometimes they can even be in the same county as their anchor city, this always confused me. The residents of these inner-ring suburbs tend to commute to the city for work and often enough for pleasure. They prefer the inner-ring suburbs for good public schools and quiet. Sometimes like Mill Valley or some of the older East Coast towns, inner ring suburbs have their own central town which can be quite nice instead of strip malls.

    The you have second-ring suburbs and exurbs which might have more people working in office parks or have a one-industry kind of nature as LWA pointed out above.

    I don’t think the inner-ring suburbs are going away. There are enough upper-middle class professionals who don’t want to deal with the city school systems and want their kids to grow up in a house with a yard but still be close to the city for cultural offerings like museums, the symphony, ballet, theatre, restaurants, etc.

    Koktin seems to sneer at cities and inner-ring suburbs for resentiment reasons (those damn urbanish liberals and their tastes) and goes on to trump the second-ring and exurban suburbs. He seems more based on conclusion that evidence and data.Report

    • I agree that more standard definitions are helpful. I was raised in something that LWA might call an edge city. The houses were there and so were the jobs for the most part. I didn’t know anyone whose parents commuted to the city.

      But in every other context, when people look at where I was raised, the word they would use to describe it would be… suburb.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        It all depends on your geography. Suburbs that existed before WWII tend to be more towny, for lack of a better word, than suburbs that were built up after WWII, which tend to have no dowtown or discernable center and stricter zoning. The more towny suburbs are usually quite a bit more walkable than the non-towny ones. A lot of suburbs of the major pre-war cities in the North East are like this. Older Chicago suburbs are also like this.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        It all depends on your geography. Suburbs that existed before WWII tend to be more towny, for lack of a better word, than suburbs that were built up after WWII, which tend to have no dowtown or discernable center and stricter zoning. The more towny suburbs are usually quite a bit more walkable than the non-towny ones. A lot of suburbs of the major pre-war cities in the North East are like this. Older Chicago suburbs are also like this.Report

      • My own particular neighborhood was built some time in the 50’s or 60’s, I think. Walkability tends to depend on where in the neighborhood you live. I had easy walking to the comic book store and the grocery store. Now there’s a school within walking distance, though there wasn’t back then. The same is true of the newer developments, though I geReport

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        Lee,

        I think older “bedroom communities” were built on the model of a traditional English village.Report

      • t the sense that only a smaller portion of those neighborhoods let you walk anywhere.

        But even granted the car-dependence, you needed the car to typically still go only short distances. People didn’t need to go to he city very often, except the airport. In that suburb, and the other suburbs surrounding the host city, jobs were. My roommates and I commuted further out of town for as many jobs as we commuted into town, even though we were living in an inner-ring suburb.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I just think most people have a very lose definition of a suburb and it seems to be “within three hours of a major city”Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        ND,
        Scranton is NOT a suburb of NYC. maybe an exurb… maybe…Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        ND, the bedroom communities were built on the model of an English or Dutch village or market town because a lot of them were originally the American equivalent. The older a suburb is, the more towny it is because it was originally well, a town before it was a bedroom community. Without age and New York City, Long Island suburbs would be a lot more like suburbs elsewhere.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      I have a yard, I live in the city. Heck, one might call my neighborhood a streetcar suburb, despite paying citytaxes.Report

  16. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    H1: Had they gone somewhere when I wasn’t looking?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      The UN temporarily banned them under their shadowy protocols and replaced car-dependent suburubia with metropolitan cities based on downtowns, apartment buildings, mixed use zoning, and rail based transit. Luckily Glenn Beck saved the day.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Is this about the suburbs?

      This has been a particuarily wonky fight in the culture wars for recent years.

      A lot of younger policy wonks and new urban planners have been arguing for more and more urban and urban-esque living. Light Rail, Mixed-Use development like shops on the ground floor and nice condos above, etc. There have also been demographic trends that show people in their 20s and 30s tend to prefer living in cities and are not moving to the suburbs once they have children as per was the tradition of the past few decades. This is the rise of Brownstone Brooklyn.

      Joel Kotkin is the right’s urban planner and plays the role of being largely dismissive of the new urbanism and arguing that suburbs are still where it is at.Report

  17. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    H1- I think Kevin Drum’s chart is about something that goes beyond simple economic segregation. Its about the collapse of the middle-income group in general. Fewer people are living in middle-income areas before a smaller percentage of the American population falls in a middle-income socio-economic group. Its about income inequality in general.

    The rich and poor always lived separately, its just that modern transportation always the rich to live a lot further away from the poor.Report

    • Avatar Roger says:

      Not sure why you say this, Lee.

      I look at it and see “more efficient” sorting. I use scare quotes around the term, because I have no idea what the proper distribution is or should be. I am sure someone could build an argument for or against better segmentation by income group.

      However, the middle quintiles are not going away. Statistics will ensure this.

      In other words, what do you see as a problem here?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Pittsburgh’s put a lot of funding toward “mixed income” housing. I tend to like it, myself, as an idea.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        What I meant is that even though the poor or rich always lived in different neighborhoods, lack of transportation arguments ensured that they were in walking distance from each other. When your choices for getting around are your own feet, an animal of some sort, or a boat; there is only so far you can separate rich and poor neighborhoods. Even in the age of the train and tram, the rich living on 5th avenue were in walking distance or weren’t so far from the poor in lower Manhattan.

        The car allows people to travel large distances in a short amount of time. This supports economic segregation by not requiring the rich to support the poor.Report

      • On the other hand, the sprawl that comes with the car culture makes who your specific neighbor is less important. Having a poor person live in the next house over is different than having them live in the next apartment over.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        So the negative thing is that increased segmentation theoretically leads to less support of the poor by the rich?

        Does this mean less income transfers (I assume no, as income transfers are probably at an all time high now, though perhaps you fear it could reduce future income transfers due to some delayed effect?)

        Or does it mean economic support — shopping at the same stores and bidding for the same houses and such? This doesn’t seem like it is all roses either, as I can envision resentment by the poor of having richer people bid up the prices of scarce goods (ND made just such an argument earlier).

        I am still confused. I still see a trend but have no idea what the desired state is. More segmentation or less, the same or different?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @roger , that was actually a typo. I meant it means that the poor are less visible to the rich. However, you can argue that people are less likely to care about problems they can not see. A factory thats your neighborhood thats polluting the local river is lot more likely to get you to act than thousands of factories polluting the water in another country.

        @will-truman, the sprawl actually makes it incredibly less likely that people of different income levels would live close together. The way property values work, its highly unlikely that the house next to a rich person’s house in the suburbs would be affordable to poor person. It didn’t work that way in cities, its just that the more compact nature of pre-car cities, towns, and even rural areas made poverty more visible.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Roger,
        There are tons of efforts going on to reduce income redistribution.
        One pernicious one is “Charter Schools” (which, in of itself, is not the problem. But the ringleaders just want to reduce the income redistribution. Which means any “subsidies” for charters will evaporate the minute people get greedy (and by people I mean the upper middle class)).

        You may ask, “What the hell does she know?” Well, I know someone who used to work for these dudes. They were pretty horrible, both as employers and as human beings.Report

  18. How is nobody talking about Mr. Feeny?

    I don’t even know you people anymore.Report

  19. Roger, are you familiar with Market Urbanism? Seems like it would be up your alley.Report

    • Avatar Roger says:

      Thanks for sharing. Interesting site.

      At first I thought you were linking me to Jacob’s work! which I was remotely familiar with. Then It dawned on me this is a web site on this stuff. Lots of interesting stuff to read…

      Cool.Report

  20. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    I like the idea of New Netherland. However, I would also include Suffolk County NY and Ocean County NJ and get rid of Mercer County NJ. I would also include Orange County NY, but I will defer to @kazzy on this matter.

    People from North Jersey and Lawn Guy Land are more similar than either of us care to admit.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I would not include OC in New Netherland, which seems to be aimed at capturing the NY Metro area. You do have folks who live up here and commute down into the city, but they are typically seeking a very different lifestyle than our neighbors to the south and east. OC is much more rural… look at a satellite map and you’ll see tons of farmland* just to the west of me. There is nothing cosmopolitan about this area, which most of the other parts of the proposed new nation seem to embrace.

      Growing up where I did (Teaneck) always put us in a funny spot. We would never claim to be from NY because we weren’t; we were from NJ. But many of the typical NJ tropes didn’t really apply to us. We weren’t Joisey or Jersey Shore or Jersey-licisous or any of that. For all intents and purposes, the western portion of Bergen County (particular along the Route 4, 80, 46, and 495 corridors) might as well be part of NYC. The only problem is there is a river in the way. My town was more urban than certain areas of the Bronx and Queens, but was still considered a suburb. Though I bet many people here would like at my town and say, “Shit man, that’s a fishin’ city!”

      Where do you hail from again, @scarletnumbers

      * Relative to the rest of the area. ANY farmland seems like tons of farmland when you’re a stones throw NYC.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

        Since I am politically active I don’t like to specifically say, so I just say I live in the 95 corridor between the Meadowlands and Rutgers.

        I know enough of Teaneck so that the following names have meaning for me, as I’m sure they do for you:

        Joseph White, Gary Spath, Philip Pannell, Bischoff’s.

        So when the last time you went to Bischoff’s? Or the White Manna, for that matter?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        @scarletnumbers

        (Sorry I missed this… use the @ sign when possible so I get the email alert)

        Joe White was my principal for 6 years… 2 in middle and 4 in high school. The initial round of allegations surfaced shortly after I graduated.

        Spath/Pannel happened when I was a wee lad. I remember the town going to hell and then getting these weird shirts with Simpsons-stylized figures shaking hands (one black, one white), but not really understanding.

        If you can ignore Bischoff’s sketchy past (they apparently used to hold meetings of the local Nazi Party during WWII), they make fantastic ice cream. Their seasonal pumpkin fudge (currently available through Thanksgiving) is to die for.

        White Manna — which is in neighboring Hackensack — is a fave but I have to be in a particular self-loathing mood to subject my body to that sort of pain. A good trip home involves lunch at WM, a milkshake from Bischoffs, and than a panicked rush to a couch before it all starts to set in.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Oh, so that’s why I sometimes get email alerts – I never intentionally click the ‘notify me of followup comments via email’ but figured I maybe did it accidentally.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

        @kazzy

        I didn’t think I had to use the @ to get your attention since I replied to your post, but I will from now on.

        I didn’t know about Bischoff’s past, but I can assure you that it will have no effect on me going there.

        Yes, I knew White Manna is in Hackensack, which is why I didn’t put it in the original list, but I figured it was close enough for me to ask about.

        I have done the White Manna/Bischoff’s double header more times than I care to admit. In fact, what I would do is get my burgers from WM, get my fries from McDonald’s, then get my shake from Bischoff’s.

        (As an aside to others, White Manna is known for selling hamburgers in the same vein as sliders from White Castle. Except, White Manna uses fresh ingredients. Their fries are just frozen ones from the supermarket, though, which is why I get my fries from McDonald’s across the street. As for Bischoff’s, it is the kind of place that was featured in the last scene of The Sopranos. The scene wasn’t filmed at Bischoff’s per se, but at a place called Holsten’s in nearby Bloomfield.)Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      I’m from Nassau and consider myself to be a member of New Netherlands.Report

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