Strong Towns Podcast
Episode 204

America Answers

Charles Marohn published on

Politicians on the left and right struggle to speak coherently about transportation infrastructure.

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  • Eli Damon

    To the guy who said that it's hard to bike in your 30s and 40s with kids and groceries, I say bullshit. There are people all over who do this and more, and not just in their 30s and 40s, but in their 70s and 80s.

    To the guy who said that the country's infrastructural wealth was built was hard-working Americans, I say that's technically true, but not the way you're implying. Most of those hard-working Americans were coerced and exploited. They were slaves or something close to it. They were treated brutally while working and they were abandoned or imprisoned when they were done. And the building was incredibly destructive. It involved massive destruction of plant and animal habitats, pollution of air, water, and soil, and the dispossession of whole communities. So, yay American. Look at our woundrous achievements.

    To the guy who said that our transportation system is old, I say the following. This might sound tangential and pedantic, but I think it is necessary for a deep understanding of our problem to make a distinction between a system and its parts. I would say that the system itself is very new, albeit older than that of some other countries. It is the parts of the system that are old, but the essence of the system -- the way those parts are put together and process by which they operate together -- is very new. We destroyed our old system, which was extremely durable, to build the new one, which is the opposite of durable. The new system is built in such a way as to demand frequent replacement of expensive parts, and many of those parts have not been replaced recently. The countries that did not destroy their old system are not in same predicament as us.

  • Jonathan Hay

    After all the warning labels at the beginning I really wanted to dislike something about Chuck's stance, hard to disagree with much here (sadly). Instead, I will give a short rebuttal in defense of Keynesian economics and how this could be done in a better in a more "strong town" way. Ideal world we would run a budget surplus which would allow for counter cyclical spending in recession years. Not enough to make the states budgets whole, but enough to break them out of a death spiral. For example if the budget went from 100 to 70 you might fund it back to 90, so there are still signals. The current paradigm is to build an addition when your roof is leaking after you have become unemployed. A more prudent scenario would be to only provide transportation recession funds if the state agreed to build no new roads or infrastructure. IE they would only use there money towards maintaining what you actually had. This would be equivalent to paying down debt in hard times. I would love to hear comments or even better suggestions.