Republican RJers: State of our cities

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 19, 2010 8:48 PM GMT
    Hey,

    this is by no means an attack on any republican RJers I'm just curious what you think and if you agree with what the man in this video is saying about sprawl. It's a long video but you will probably get a general impression after about 15 minutes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss1htEgUlxQ

    I found it interesting but then again I'm interested in city planning.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14335

    May 19, 2010 9:03 PM GMT
    I don't have to see this video because I am already well aware of the serious urban and environmental problems caused by uncontrolled urban sprawl. I just sickens me after reading many books and documentaries on this issue on how the federal government encouraged sprawl and the racist and ethnic prejudices that were legislated into law during the 1900s. A now defunct federal backed organization known as the Home Ownership Loan Corp.(HOLC) was successful in discouraging investment in older urban areas through the use of color coded maps of every metro area. Instead of investing in existing housing and infrastructure, our nation's leaders instead decided to squander billions of dollars into interstate highways and encourage home building on the periphery followed by retail malls with free parking and industrial parks and later office parks and even high rise office towers. Our older central cities particularly the old northern cities rapidly deteriorated and declined despite the implementation of urban renewal programs which were costly disastrous failures. Also the abandonment of public rail and bus transportation for the private automobile by the majority of Americans has also added to the appeal of suburban sprawl and all its so-called freedom. If one wants to see the sorry condition of many of our older American cities, they should take a good look at these four cities: St Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. Probably no four other cities have suffered such a heavy loss during the second half of the 20th century as these four cities.
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    May 19, 2010 11:03 PM GMT
    Couldn't agree more with everything you just said however the reason I wanted people to watch it was because the guy claims that freeways, interstates and sprawl in general was invented by extreme socialists and communists like LeCorbusier and other innovators of the modernist movement. Basically saying that sprawl is un-American and un-Republican. This is so different from what comes to mind normally when you think of sprawled out states and cities. Certainly in Winnipeg, the more conservative people live out in the burbs and drive their suv's everywhere and claim that that is "freedom".
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14335

    May 21, 2010 8:51 PM GMT
    Not only did middle class whites abandon Detroit, middle class blacks soon followed suit which has caused Detroit's population to rapidly drop from around 1.5 million in 1970 to around 900,000 today. No other city suffered the population loss and disinvestment as bad as Detroit, although St. Louis, Cleveland, and Buffalo also took a severe beating with their dramatic population losses since 1950.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    May 21, 2010 9:02 PM GMT
    TrollMonger saidCouldn't agree more with everything you just said however the reason I wanted people to watch it was because the guy claims that freeways, interstates and sprawl in general was invented by extreme socialists and communists like LeCorbusier and other innovators of the modernist movement. Basically saying that sprawl is un-American and un-Republican. This is so different from what comes to mind normally when you think of sprawled out states and cities. Certainly in Winnipeg, the more conservative people live out in the burbs and drive their suv's everywhere and claim that that is "freedom".



    After taking courses in American Political Thought and Municipal Government, I have some insight in what you're saying and your point at the end is correct for American cities as well. The affluent and middle class fled to the suburbs because of the increases in migrant workers in the cities. Additionally, it was the Eisenhower Highway Act that made it possible for scores of people to move to the suburbs and commute to work in the cities. But the whole notion of urban sprawl and it's negative effects on the environment as being some evil scheme is completely false. Instead, it was an unintended consequence. Additionally, the whole concept of the modern environmental movement wasn't really realized until the mid-1960s.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    May 21, 2010 9:05 PM GMT
    roadbikeRob saidNot only did middle class whites abandon Detroit, middle class blacks soon followed suit which has caused Detroit's population to rapidly drop from around 1.5 million in 1970 to around 900,000 today. No other city suffered the population loss and disinvestment as bad as Detroit, although St. Louis, Cleveland, and Buffalo also took a severe beating with their dramatic population losses since 1950.


    And the same could be said of other northern big cities. Many minorities, especially blacks, moved to the big cities of the north because of manufacturing jobs being so prevalent and because of the harsh social environment of the South during the Civil Rights era. But all that began to change by the mid-1990s when blacks began returning to the Sun Belt, like Atlanta - big time, as the economy boomed and allowed more upward social mobility. Right now, it's a guess as to what will happen next. Will the Sun Belt resurge, or will a new location redevelop?
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    May 21, 2010 9:42 PM GMT
    TrollMonger saidCouldn't agree more with everything you just said however the reason I wanted people to watch it was because the guy claims that freeways, interstates and sprawl in general was invented by extreme socialists and communists like LeCorbusier and other innovators of the modernist movement. Basically saying that sprawl is un-American and un-Republican.

    President Eisenhower and the Republican Congresses of the 1950s would get a big kick out of that. since Republicans to this day still point with pride to being responsible for the US Interstate Highway System, which is named after Eisenhower, as someone here has already noted. And owning your own home in suburbia away from the city epitomized the American Dream during the post-World War II prosperity, which the Republicans also claim as theirs.

    Now it was done by "extreme socialists and communists?" Really? The ones run out of government by right-wing Republican witch-hunts, and banned on Hollywood Blacklists? And Le Corbusier built only a relatively small number of homes that GI loans couldn't afford nor even emulate, Middle America instead going into cookie-cutter split-levels and ranch houses that were much closer to Communist ideals of social sameness. This must be a joke, right?
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    May 21, 2010 9:44 PM GMT
    TrollMonger said Certainly in Winnipeg, the more conservative people live out in the burbs and drive their suv's everywhere and claim that that is "freedom".


    One of the truly ugly things about north america is how the word "freedom" is debased with selfish trivialities. Freedom in democratic societies is always a partial illusion (we are not free in as many ways as we are free), but to make it be about the "freedom to pollute" or get fat or whatever is insulting to those who died to preserve us from the totalitarianisms of the left and right.
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    May 21, 2010 10:41 PM GMT
    roadbikeRob saidI don't have to see this video because I am already well aware of the serious urban and environmental problems caused by uncontrolled urban sprawl. I just sickens me after reading many books and documentaries on this issue on how the federal government encouraged sprawl and the racist and ethnic prejudices that were legislated into law during the 1900s. A now defunct federal backed organization known as the Home Ownership Loan Corp.(HOLC) was successful in discouraging investment in older urban areas through the use of color coded maps of every metro area. Instead of investing in existing housing and infrastructure, our nation's leaders instead decided to squander billions of dollars into interstate highways and encourage home building on the periphery followed by retail malls with free parking and industrial parks and later office parks and even high rise office towers. Our older central cities particularly the old northern cities rapidly deteriorated and declined despite the implementation of urban renewal programs which were costly disastrous failures. Also the abandonment of public rail and bus transportation for the private automobile by the majority of Americans has also added to the appeal of suburban sprawl and all its so-called freedom. If one wants to see the sorry condition of many of our older American cities, they should take a good look at these four cities: St Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. Probably no four other cities have suffered such a heavy loss during the second half of the 20th century as these four cities.


    Living in suburban Detroit I see evidence of this everyday. In the late seventies and eighties, another time period when things were bad in Detroit and unemployment was even higher than it is now, it was assumed Detroit was losing it's population to places like Florida and Texas, when in reality the city was losing most of its people to the suburbs. It is now a 70 mile drive from the south end to the north end of the suburbs. After the 2000 census the city of Ann Arbor, 40 miles to the west lost its designation as its own metro area and became part of the Detroit metro area. Now there is a movement in the country to move back to the cities. Detroit, however, sees none of this. People who have not left the area are returning to the inner ring suburbs instead. The city is like a doughnut, with nothing left in its center. It is a shame to keep destroying wilderness when there is so much room to build in the miles of vacant lots and destroyed homes in the city.

    detroit-house18.jpg
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    May 21, 2010 10:44 PM GMT
    It's not so much about republican versus democrat (despite all the apparent democrats replying here). The issue is with government interventions and unintended consequences. By and large I don't think that the stated pursuit of social goals is evil - the problem is that to use government as the instrument of "progress" it tends to be heavy handed and often the opposite happens. I think republicans are often guilty of this though there is more a tendency by democrats to believe that government can play a more positive role for social good.

    Subsidize highways and roads (making them free) for instance, and there should be no surprise when people actually use them. Personally, more controversially I think the US military subsidizes oil because of the stability internationally it creates (like it or not) - especially in places like the middle east. This in turn keeps prices down which reduces incentives for alternatives to be developed.

    The same thing is now happening for things like supposed green jobs and green subsidies in Europe. With massive crippling budget deficits, the cutbacks are causing these projects to fail. That said, the other reality is that Europe uses "green" as a cover to develop alternatives to depending on resources that come from Russia so I doubt all of those subsidies will end up going away.

    Another bizarre area of subsidy is forced recycling. You can make the argument recycling is actually bad for the environment based on the fact that not only is it more efficient for sorting to be done in a single facility versus everyone sorting it themselves in blue/green bins but that when it is economically inefficient to recycle (that it costs more to do so), you are essentially dumping materials into the market driving prices lower so more consumption occurs.

    The most interesting environmental solutions actually bother to take into account things like congestion pricing (London) or tolls. This is why economists including Republican leaning ones like Greg Mankiw (who was CEA chair under GW Bush), call for Pigovian taxes (more efficient than things like cap and trade which is a massive source of graft in Europe): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116131055641498552.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries
  • KissTheSky

    Posts: 1980

    May 22, 2010 12:01 AM GMT
    If Republicans can convince themselves that suburban sprawl is an evil socialist plot, all the better! Maybe that will help put the brakes on pouring all our money into highways and strip malls.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14335

    May 22, 2010 2:36 PM GMT
    Another major mistake both Detroit and Michigan made was the legalization of casino gambling. The foolhardy notion that casino gambling would revitalize the city and strengthen the economy is totally baseless. Casinos are not economic catalysts, they are economic disasters that feed off the remaining components of a depressed urban economy. In addition casinos also help generate more crime and destroy families through gambling addiction. The casino exists to lure the people inside with fancy slogans and silly gimmicks to encourage them to gamble away all their hard earned money that would otherwise go to patronizing other businesses in the community. The end result is a spiraling increase in bankruptcies and increased crime of robberies, muggings, and assaults because the gambler has to keep feeding his or her addiction to gambling. Detroit has experienced these serious problems from the proliferation of casinos downtown. A good example of the casino gambling failure is in Atlantic City, NJ. After almost 30 years of successful, profitable casino gambling and the massive skyscraper luxury hotel construction that changed that city's once stagnant skyline, Atlantic City is still one of the poorest and slumiest cities in the US. That valid evidence that the promise of casino gambling revitalizing an economy and a city are all fiction and folly. It is time to tell the politicians to stop supporting casino gambling and permanently stop the spread of this toxic, social disease known as legalized casino gambling.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14335

    May 22, 2010 2:51 PM GMT
    In response to trollmonger's complaint about Winnipeg's situation, despite some of the problems your city is facing, Canadian cities overall are in far superior shape when compared to many American cities. Even though you have urban sprawl and a neglected downtown district, your city has one power that most older American cities would drool over, the lawful right to expand central city boundaries and take in almost all that suburban development thus keeping the City of Winnipeg's tax base financially strong. The number of local jurisdictions is kept to a very low number around most Canadian and European cities. Here in the US, cities like St Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo do not have the legal power to expand and annex suburbs. Annexation is largely prohibited in the States of Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, and New York as well as most other northern states. Because of this horrible scenario, city boundaries are permanently fixed and suburbs remain totally independent of the central city. Older first ring suburbs are also in a similar situation with their fixed boundaries and new development and investment fleeing to the newer, younger, more sprawled out outer ring suburbs. The problems are being spread out and exacerbated as old inner ring suburbs join the central cities in their collective misery of severe decline and disinvestment.
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    May 22, 2010 10:40 PM GMT
    coolarmydude said
    TrollMonger saidCouldn't agree more with everything you just said however the reason I wanted people to watch it was because the guy claims that freeways, interstates and sprawl in general was invented by extreme socialists and communists like LeCorbusier and other innovators of the modernist movement. Basically saying that sprawl is un-American and un-Republican. This is so different from what comes to mind normally when you think of sprawled out states and cities. Certainly in Winnipeg, the more conservative people live out in the burbs and drive their suv's everywhere and claim that that is "freedom".



    After taking courses in American Political Thought and Municipal Government, I have some insight in what you're saying and your point at the end is correct for American cities as well. The affluent and middle class fled to the suburbs because of the increases in migrant workers in the cities. Additionally, it was the Eisenhower Highway Act that made it possible for scores of people to move to the suburbs and commute to work in the cities. But the whole notion of urban sprawl and it's negative effects on the environment as being some evil scheme is completely false. Instead, it was an unintended consequence. Additionally, the whole concept of the modern environmental movement wasn't really realized until the mid-1960s.


    I never really thought of it as an evil plan. However, I do think that a lot of sprawl was planned to a certain extent. In the video he doesn't speak of Corb with disdain or anything... just that he sort of botched up the prediction of what would be sustainable and healthy.

    Much like the guy in the video, I see the increased efficiency as a perk to urbanism, not the sole reason to pursue it. To be completely honest, I know very little of the political history of the US, so I don't have much to say there. Just that sprawl often associated with the red states and trendy Euro things with more liberal states.
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    May 23, 2010 2:32 AM GMT
    roadbikeRob saidIn response to trollmonger's complaint about Winnipeg's situation, despite some of the problems your city is facing, Canadian cities overall are in far superior shape when compared to many American cities. Even though you have urban sprawl and a neglected downtown district, your city has one power that most older American cities would drool over, the lawful right to expand central city boundaries and take in almost all that suburban development thus keeping the City of Winnipeg's tax base financially strong. The number of local jurisdictions is kept to a very low number around most Canadian and European cities. Here in the US, cities like St Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo do not have the legal power to expand and annex suburbs. Annexation is largely prohibited in the States of Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, and New York as well as most other northern states. Because of this horrible scenario, city boundaries are permanently fixed and suburbs remain totally independent of the central city. Older first ring suburbs are also in a similar situation with their fixed boundaries and new development and investment fleeing to the newer, younger, more sprawled out outer ring suburbs. The problems are being spread out and exacerbated as old inner ring suburbs join the central cities in their collective misery of severe decline and disinvestment.

    I feel like studying this now. It seems like if you wanted to be a city planner a degree in law would compliment it quite nicely.