Saturday, January 30, 2010

Suburbs Under Attack

In the latest issue of The American (The Journal of the American Enterprise Institute), Joel Kotkin - ever more so, a delusional apologist for suburbia - writes about a War Against Suburbia.

In what can only be described as ultra-paranoid, Kotkin talks of the Obama administration as an "urban-centric regime." "The suburbs are under a conscious and sustained attack from Washington," declares Kotkin. The President is trying to impose an urban agenda on America? Or, as Kotkin puts it, "A deep-seated desire to change the way Americans live."

He rewrites suburban history as simply people voting with their feet. He mentions nothing about this being an auto-centric and unsustainable lifestyle. He mentions nothing regarding government and business outright pushing/subsidizing people out of the city. He appears unaware of the water problems many of these developments face.

Never does Kotkin address the fundamental critiques of suburbia as relating to long-term, sustainability. His defense is that of anecdote. Everything wrapped in an - gosh-golly; Leave it to Beaver; the people like their SUVs, highways, and stripmalls, and so it must be - attitude. The growth of suburbia has been present for the past 50 years and therefore it must be a natural process. He doesn't seem to realize that, just as the suburbs were encouraged, they can be discouraged. There is nothing in our DNA that hard-wires us toward low-density living.

And, his magical solution to congestion - telecommuting. Yes, everyone can just work from home. This is part of Kotkin's reasoning whereby "technology will undermine much of the green case against suburbia." We can slowly move our working environment to the home office. This would not do wonders for a sense of community, relieving isolation, nor the retail businesses located in business districts, which depend on the agglomeration of workers each day for their livelihood.

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