A MODEST PROPOSAL

28 01 2010

How soon, for example, will a city be able to create a combination of density, design, and mixture of uses that yields the same performance as an old city that naturally has those features?

Upon this question Our Most Senior Fellow retrospects, first from an individual structural point of view: “It is going to take a very, very long time. The recent real estate bubble was not only the culmination of an absurd travesty in regards to lending practices and locational choices but was also an absurd travesty in regards to general construction contracting practices. Structures today are comprised of shoddy material and, instead of the focus being a good job, labor is now a cost that has been extremely minimized and, as a result, so has the ROI on that cost. Furthermore, structures are still generally being built only to last as long as the mortgage; so after thirty years or so they are considered a diminishing asset. The resulting structures reflect all of that. And they will not decay gracefully.”

Then, while subsequently pondering about how, one, the intent of the Federal Housing Act was for folks to get houses they would then turn into long-term homes but what are now considered to be homes are in fact nothing but short-term investments; and, two, how the implementation of the Interstate Highway System effectively cut the throat of Urbanity after which about twenty years later its guts were ripped out by so-called Urban Renewal; a fad that, three, occurred at roughly the same time this country began messing with its manufacturing sector (first outsourcing domestically [i.e., to the South/Southwest] and then abroad) so all its citizens could become footloose and fancy-free cogs within the post-industrial service sector machine, a shift now so complete that our manufacturing capacity has been eroded to such an extent that there are scarcely any more stable well-paying middle-class lifestyles available anymore at the same time prices for everything (but, believe it or not, gas) are only getting higher and higher while the VERY REAL REAL “2%” RICH are only getting RICHER and RICHER –

The following lightning struck Our Most Senior Fellow: “Maybe federal banking regulations should be rejiggered such that, to get a mortgage, not only the fact that one has a job but where that job is located was also somehow calculated in to give property owners an incentive to live in closer proximity (at or within, say, 20 miles)? Just like folks are given an incentive to perform such supposed public goods as, ahem, get married? According to AAA, the composite cost per mile average for driving in 2008 was .71$/mile  (up .09$/m from a year ago). Maybe a strategy to reduce the number of VMTs in this manner will free up more disposable income, which would make housing, among other things, more affordable?”

Francis Fukuyama: “What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

William Jennings Bryan (at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1896): “There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”

State of the Union: Is Obama Ready to Make the Middle Class His Priority? “

Obama’s Tiny Jobs Ideas for Main Street, A Big Spending Freeze for Wall Street

Federal Spending Freeze for Non-National Security Issues Proposed

George Santayana: “Those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.”

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