In yesterday's New York Times, beard-having liberal Paul Krugman mused about why we Americans can't give up our cars: He says it's because we all live in suburbs and exurbs that were built with cars in mind. He compares this state of affairs to some neighborhood in Berlin (Germany, not Connecticut) where he's hanging out: "a pleasant, middle-class neighborhood consisting mainly of four- or five-story apartment buildings, with easy access to public transit and plenty of local shopping."
Krugman says that there aren't enough such places in the U.S. of A., but here's the thing: I live in such a place - it's called West Hartford (well, not so many four- and five-story buildings, but otherwise similar). And you know what? People still drive everywhere. I live about six blocks from the grocery store, and I am the only person I ever see walking to get groceries. My house is under a mile from West Hartford center, but none of our neighbors ever walk there. There is a bus stop at the end of our block, but I have not seen anyone take the bus from there in the eight months since I moved in. Frankly, the only people I ever see on foot in my neighborhood are (a) children, (b) people walking dogs, and (c) joggers.
Ken had a recent post on this here blog about the American love affair with cars and he called it "Americans Still Stupid . . . or Trapped." In the comments, Caitlynne took issue with the title, saying, Krugman-style, "It's not us- people are great! It's the SYSTEM, man!" The example of West Hartford (and of so many other close, accessible, walkable suburbs) makes me want to throw my lot in with Ken and say that dumb Americans are in the grip of some deep foolishness. Paul Krugman's beard (and, to a certain degree, his eloquence) and Caitlynne's earnestness make me want to throw my lot in with them and blame years of bad planning (and more than a little racism and classism, which have encouraged people to flee the cities whenever possible). So I ask you, dear readers, who's right?
(Don't click on "read more" below. There's no more to read, but "read more" shows up automatically.)
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Posted by El Presidente de China at 1:23 PM