The folks over at The League have kindly given me a forum to talk about why I believe that the end result of increased fuel costs, fuel taxes, or road taxes will result in the strengthening of the suburbs at the expense of cities:

Peak Oil has been right around the corner for decades. Global warming requires a response that is going to make energy – oil in particular – more expensive. Commuters and drivers are subsidized with general funds. The solution to all of this is, of course, to stick it to the commuters. It’s nothing personal (ignoring everything negative we’ve said in the past about suburbanites), but we’ve got problems and it’s going to be up to them to change their lifestyles (which, coincidentally, we’ve never really approved of anyway). They’ll just have to take public transportation and live in walkable neighborhoods, like we do (or would like to, if it weren’t for the car culture making it nigh-impossible).

There seems to be an assumption, on the part of a lot of urbanists*, that solidifying our future (in terms of energy needs and/or the environment) or basic fairness (in terms of taxing negative externalities or subsidizing roads) will lead to a world more of their liking. If we just taxed gas or stopped requiring highways and parking (or if gas simply gets more expensive), the world will simply have to acclimate to their preferences.

As it happens, I do not oppose a carbon tax. I am in favor of increasing road taxes and fees so that the car culture subsidizes itself (though I do worry about it being regressive taxation). But I get off the train when we talk about the effect that these policies are going to have. Namely, while road construction and maintenance (for instance) subsidize suburban residents, they also subsidize downtown business. While the growth of suburbia was assisted by tax policy, now that people have gotten used to it, and now that our urban/suburban infrastructures have been built, I have enormous difficulty seeing mass conversion to smaller abodes, more restricted mobility, and so on. Not without a fight, anyway.

“But whether they want to or not, they’ll have to!”

Except that they won’t. Arguably, they will not be able to.

{Continue Reading…}

Category: Road, Statehouse

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2 Responses to TLOOG: The Car & The City

  1. Mike Hunt says:

    Will you be paying it forward by allowing some of your readers to have guest posts on Hit Coffee?

  2. trumwill says:

    You’re the second person to ask that within a week. Sure. I am rather particular about what can and cannot be posted about, though.

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