Obama Should Tell Americans That the Days of Happy Motoring Are Over: James Howard Kunstler

freeway traffic photo

photo: Kim Scarborough

Recently Lloyd pointed out how public tranist is getting shortchanged by the stimulus plan. Last week James Howard Kunstler rather more verbosely expounded on the same issue, and pretty much nailed it. We in the United States really have to have up the fact that as Kunstler would put, the days of happy motoring are over (good riddance) and we need to move on to something else. "Mr Obama needs to go on TV and tell the American public that we're done cruisin' for burgers." Here's part of what Kuntsler posits we ought to be doing instead on spending more money on highways:

-- We have to rehabilitate thousands of downtowns all over the nation to accommodate the new re-scaled edition of local and regional trade that will follow the death of national chain-store retail of the WalMart ilk. Reactivated town centers and Main Streets are indispensable features of walkable communities. The Congress for the New Urbanism http://www.cnu.org ought to be consulted on the procedures for accomplishing this and for rehabilitating the traditional neighborhoods connected to our Main Streets.

-- We have to reform food production (a.k.a. "farming"). Petro-dependent agri-biz will go the same way as the chain stores. Its equations will fail, especially in a credit-strapped society. That piece of the picture is so dire right now, as we prepare for the planting season, that many crops may not be put in for lack of front-money. This portends, at least, much higher food prices at the end of the year, if not outright scarcities and shortages. And the new government wants to gold-plate highway off-ramps instead? Earth to Rahm Emanuel: screw your head back on.

-- As mentioned above, we have to get passenger rail going again because the airlines are going to die the next time there is an uptick in oil prices, or a spot shortage of oil. Let's not be too grandiose and attempt to build expensive high-speed or mag-lev networks -- certainly not right now -- because they require entirely new track systems. Let's fix those regular tracks already out there, rusting in the rain, or temporarily replaced by bike trails.

Ccheck out all of Kunstler's thoughts on this one: State of Cringe
Public Transit vs Highways
Obama to Republics : Drop Dead
No Infrastructure Investment for Concrete!
Could 42nd Street Get a Light Rail and Go Car-Free?
Thoughts on Freeway Widening and Public Transit

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