Wendell Cox: Intellectual Terrorist

4 01 2010

Our Most Senior Fellow (OMSF): “As those of us who have been following this blog know, we here at The Placemaking Institute are adament that the so-called ‘basic God-given Patriotic American right to drive the biggest vehicle one can afford on an increasingly extensive roadway system’ myth that has been artificially inculcated into us virtually from birth (and benefits very few at the expense of many) should most definitely not supersede our basic human right to live our lives in healthy manners.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists: “Transportation is the largest single source of air pollution in the United States. It causes over half of the carbon monoxide, over a third of the nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons in our atmosphere in 2006. With the number of vehicles on the road and the number of vehicle miles traveled escalating rapidly, we are on the fast lane to smoggy skies and dirty air.”

OMSF: “But beyond individual health, sprawl’s ravening need for consuming more and more oil faster and faster has also instigated national security issues that are adversely impacting us collectively, no?”

Rand Corporation: “The United States would benefit from policies that diminish the sensitivity of the U.S. economy to an abrupt decline in the supply of oil, regardless of its import dependence. The United States would also benefit from policies that would push down the world market price of oil by curbing demand or increasing competitive alternative supplies. U.S. terms of trade would improve, to the benefit of U.S. consumers; rogue oil exporters would have fewer funds at their disposal; and oil exporters that support Hamas and Hizballah would have less money to give to these organizations. The United States might also benefit from more cost-sharing with allies and other nations to protect Persian Gulf oil supplies and transport routes. The United States could encourage allies to share the burden of patrolling sea-lanes and ensuring that oil-producing nations are secure.”

U.S. Energy Information Administration: “Total crude oil imports averaged 8.566 million barrels per day in October, which is a decrease of (0.657) million barrels per day from September 2009.”

OMSF: “And why are a majority of both U.S. political parties so apparently intent upon spilling blood by occupying Iraq and Afghanistan?”

U.S. Energy Information Administration: “Development of Caspian Sea oil and natural gas, along with the necessary export pipelines, has been slowed by regional conflicts, political instability, and a lack of regional cooperation…Most of these conflicts are in the Trans-Caucasus part of the Caspian region, where conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia, and the Chechen republic of southern Russia have hindered the development of export routes westward from the Caspian Sea. On the east side of the Caspian, the unstable situation in Afghanistan, following over 23 years of war, has stifled the development of export routes to the southeast, and the continued threat of Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia, especially in Uzbekistan, may prohibit any new export pipelines involving that country. The threat of war between Pakistan and India serves as a further deterrent to Caspian export pipelines running southeast, either via Iran or Afghanistan.”

OMSF: “We as a society can no longer afford solely focusing upon and so very extensively subsidizing building more and more highways, each bigger than the last one, in order to relieve congestion and mitigate smog. Needless to say, blindly following this outmoded sprawl strategy will not provide any anecdote whatsoever to our societal illth and will, in fact, only exacerbate it both here and abroad. Not only that but it’s fiscally impossible to do so. Right?”

Texas Transportation Institute: “If a region’s vehicle-miles of travel were to increase by five percent per year, roadway lane-miles would need to increase by five percent each year to maintain the initial congestion level…(Our) analysis shows that it would be almost impossible to attempt to maintain a constant congestion level with road construction only.”

OMSF: “Yet there are still those so-called patriotic entities out there like the Heritage Foundation and the Reason Institute and Wendell Cox’ the Public Purpose – “

Samuel Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

OMSF: “Yet these so-called patriots are still contriving ingeniously stupendously counterintuitive conclusions like we as a society should be driving more and that increasing urban density will only increase the amount of vehicle miles driven per capita and thus our multi-modality should solely be confined to building more and more auto-centric roadways, tollroads and flyovers to relieve congestion and mitigate smog?”

Texas Transportation Institute: ” Over the past 2 decades, less than 50 percent of the needed mileage was actually added. This means that it would require at least twice the level of current-day road expansion funding to attempt this road construction strategy. An even larger problem would be to find suitable roads that can be widened, or areas where roads can be added, year after year.”

OMSF: “Then why, someone please pray tell, when it has already been acknowledged that, largely because of our sprawl mentality, this young generation will fare worse than their parents’ generation, are mindsets like Cox still fabricating and perpetuating (at the very least) myths (if not outright lies) that only prove them more than willing to sacrifice future generations by keeping us on a bleed-until-bankrupt transportation plan Osama Bin Laden would be proud of?”

Taylor Bowlden/LightRailNow!: “(Cox and a gaggle of cohorts with far-right extremist agendas) are far from ‘neutral’, ‘scholarly’ experts. Instead, say critics, (they) are nothing more than highly biased crusaders for roadways and road-based transportation industrial interests (such as asphalt and rubber-tire vendors), who distort facts through misrepresentation and cleverly selective manipulation of data to mislead their audience… – all behind the facade of disinterested, altruistic, intellectual endeavor, of course.”

OMSF: “So it’s just because they’re afraid of losing some plum sinecure?! So abject greed is their overarching motive?”

TB/LRN!: “Wendell Cox, for example, has been on the bankroll of the American Highway Users Alliance, a lobbying group founded in the 1930s by General Motors Corp. And, according to a June 1999 Texas Observer article, the Wendell Cox Consultancy has done a lot of work for private bus companies who bid on the very contracts which Cox promotes after rail projects are scuttled.”

OMSF: “Shame on him.”

TB/LRN!: “Transportation planning, and the evaluation of options and alternatives, demands a nonpartisan, truly unbiased environment, where researchers and analysts – and their consultants – bring open minds and impartiality to bear on these problems and potential solutions. Clearly, both in their ties to highway-oriented corporate interests and their obvious political alignments, Wendell Cox and the Reason group have demonstrated that their role in such an open-minded environment is highly questionable.”

OMSF: “Again, all’s I can say right now is shame on him.”

Joel S. Hirschhorn: “Sometimes it is necessary to bring attention to terrible work because many people can be conned and believe its lies, distortions and misinformation. Wendell Cox is a sprawl shill-meister with a long history of presenting pro-sprawl propaganda in the guise of scholarly work. But as others have also concluded, his work does not stand up to scrutiny.”

G. B. Arrington (renowned transit expert): “In every instance, Cox’s statements are either inaccurate, distortions or claims not supported by the facts. Cox’s technique seems to be to start with a snippet of the truth and stretch it like taffy until it turns into something else that supports his position.”

OMSF: “Right now I would like to point out that Sophistry is a Greek-derived word that means subtly deceptive reasoning or deceitful argumentation apparently plausible in form but actually invalid. A person who employs such rhetoric is called a Sophist.”

Haynes Goddard (University of Cincinnati Professor): “(Cox and his anti-transit crowd produce) superficial, poorly thought out and misleading arguments;” (the work represents) “either intellectual laziness, or more seriously, intellectual dishonesty” (which results because) “all ideologues are blind to reality and to the vacuousness of their arguments.”

Hirschhorn: “(Americans) have seen the increasing attention to the high costs of sprawl development by citizens and policymakers. The terrible fiscal condition of most local and state governments has created more interest in replacing suburban sprawl with smart growth development. So scared are the sprawl shills that Cox has concocted this ‘junk science’ analysis as a counterpunch.”

OMSF: “Would any one like to provide an example that we here at The Placemaking Institute’s roundtable discussion can kick around?”

Kevin Libin: “It’s not that environmentally minded transit promoters are being dishonest when they argue that city buses are more efficient than private cars: It’s that they’re talking about a fictional world where far more people ride buses. Mass transit vehicles use up roughly the same energy whether they are full or empty, and for much of the time, they’re more empty than full.”

OMSF: “Perfect, thanks. You’re up first, Mister Cox, any comment?”

Wendell Cox: “Subsidized transit is not sustainable by definition. The potential of public transit has been so overblown it’s almost scandalousThe problem is that where the automobile has become the dominant form of transport, and where urban areas have become decentralized and highly suburbanized, there are simply not a sufficient number of people going to the same place at the same time to justify urban rail. As a result, it is typically less expensive to provide a new car for each new rider than to build an urban rail system(I) believe agencies should seek to obtain maximum value for every dollar of taxes and fees expended, using whatever transportation choices maximize ridership.”

OMSF: “Good day, sir.”

Cox: “(But I’ve yet to say that) a lot of what passes for a public process in this country is what I would call a dictatorship of busybodies (and) – “

OMSF: “I said good day.”

John Norquist (former Milwaukee Mayor and current head of the Congress for New Urbanism): “I think Wendell Cox is one of the biggest advocates of big [government] spending I’ve ever encountered in my 28-year political career.”

Jarrett Walker (international consultant in public transit network design and policy): “Meanwhile, back in the real world, transit agencies have to balance contradictory demands to (a) maximize ridership and (b) provide a little bit of service everywhere regardless of ridership, both to meet demands for ‘equity’ and to serve the needs of transit-dependent persons…To describe the resulting empty buses as a failure of transit, as Cox does, is simply a false description of transit’s real, and conflicted, objectives.”

OMSF: “Diverting arguments with logical fallacies, which nowadays we call a ‘red herring,’ has no place whatsoever in any serious debate, and its usage indicates the medieval kind of mind that first comes up with a conclusion and then does everything in their power to reach that foregone conclusion, putting every premise of theirs up for immediate dismissal.”

Paul Milenkovic: “I looked up the 2003 figures for Madison Metro and Indianapolis along with PACE, the suburban Chicago bus network. The diesel-powered bus mpgs were 3.8, 4.5, and 3.9. The average numbers of passengers per bus were 7.4, 8.1, and 9.6. Taking into account that gasoline has less energy than diesel, the gasoline-equivalent passenger mpgs were 25.3, 32.9, and 33.3. The average trip length was 3.1 miles in Madison, 5.0 miles in Indy, and 6.4 miles for PACE. Only seven passengers on an average bus? On what planet? Every time I get on the bus, it’s standing-room only. Heck, there must be 60 people fighting for my oxygen. And if a bus gets three mpg, I reckon I’m getting 180 mpg on the ride home. What kind of car gets fuel efficiency like that?”

OMSF: “And so there we have it, folks, Wendell Cox: Intellectual terrorist – He gains from your loss.”


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5 responses

10 01 2010
Alon Levy

It’s not true that Cox takes a kernel of truth and twists it. Often, he plain lies. See, for example, the recent argument in the Human Transit comments about his claim that driving a Prius is greener than taking New York City Transit. The Cliff notes are that a weighted average of NYCT buses and subway service by passenger-miles would give an overall emission equivalent average of 90 passenger-mpg. And that includes the fact that NYC streets are more congested than average, lowering bus fuel economy, which would also affect the Prius… and still the Prius at average load would get less fuel economy, even on uncongested streets. You’d expect Cox to at least be right if you compare the right kind of apple to the right kind of orange, but no.

P.S. Yes, 7 passengers per bus can happen a lot including off-peak service. From the passenger’s point of view, however, the perceived average would always be higher, unless every bus ran at the same load. Say a bus runs with 2 passengers half the time and with 12 half the time. The average is 7 for fuel economy purposes. But for passenger load purposes, a passenger is 6 times more likely to be on a 12-passenger bus, so the perceived average is 10.57 passengers.

11 01 2010
placemakinginstitute

Yes, I know, he is one of those people who can look a person directly in the eye and do so…and yes I saw your dialogue with that knucklehead on that Human Transit post. The first I came across Cox’ burgeoning Prius argument was a couple of months ago here: http://www.newgeography.com/content/001208-contrived-sustainability and the earliest reference to it I could find is here: http://www.heartland.org/policybot/results/15340/Why_Not_Just_Buy_Them_Cars.html

My response begins there and heretofore ends here: http://placemakinginstitute.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/contriving-multi-modal-contrivances/

Thanks for the P.S.

(To further your Prius argument, it requires 90 barrels of oil to manufacture one.)

2 02 2010
Streetsblog Capitol Hill » How Can Transit Backers Sway Conservatives? Oberstar Joins the Debate

[...] Paul Weyrich to debunk many of the anti-transit, pro-roads myths trotted out by Randal O'Toole, Wendell Cox, and other pundits on the [...]

2 02 2010
Streetsblog San Francisco » How Can Transit Backers Sway Conservatives? Oberstar Joins the Debate

[...] Paul Weyrich to debunk many of the anti-transit, pro-roads myths trotted out by Randal O'Toole, Wendell Cox, and other pundits on the [...]

9 12 2011
Bryan Kavanagh

More about ol’ Wendell here: http://thedepression.org.au/?p=5165

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