A New Conservative Path

That some conservatives have become disillusioned with the GOP both in Virginia and nationally is no secret. The reasons are many and they seem to be growing with each passing day. But what to do about it?

In this American Conservative piece, Paul Weyrich and William Lind say there’s a whole heap of things to do, not all of which bode well for the GOP:

Real conservatism rejects all ideologies, recognizing them as armed cant. In their place, it offers a way of life built upon customs, traditions, and habits—themselves the products of the experiences of many generations. Because people are capable of learning over time, when they may do so in a specific, continuous cultural setting, the conservative way of life comes to reflect the prudential virtues: modesty, the dignity of labor, conservation and saving, the importance of family and community, personal duties and obligations, and caution in innovation. While these virtues tend to manifest themselves in most traditional societies, with variations conservatives usually value, they have had their happiest outcome in the traditional culture of the Christian West.

From this it follows that the next conservatism’s foremost task is defending and restoring Western, Judeo-Christian culture. Not only does this mean the next conservatism is cultural conservatism, it also tells us we must look beyond politics.

In looking “beyond politics,” takes Weyrich and Lind to culture, where they believe the true battle for a conservative future will be fought (though not, they say, coercively, but by example).

That many people, and not just conservatives, believe modern culture is a cesspool of corruption, the authors believe that countering its influence effectively means to turn ones back upon it. Who hasn’t had the inclination to toss the television off the roof (as they note Russell Kirk did)? Who hasn’t rolled their eyes over the wall-to-wall coverage of Anna Nicole’s death, or the latest L.A. car chase? I certainly have. Modern culture’s banality can be maddening and suffocating. But it’s also a reflection of who and what we are, or at least who and what the ratings tell the programmers we are. Does this mean we should march back, as Weyrich and Lind suggest, to a 1950s world, where communities were simpler, progress slower, and everyone’s children above average?

No. Such a world never really existed, at least not for the mass. If anything, this gentle age was golden only for some — while others suffered mightily and needlessly.

However much their yearning for the past strikes me as unreal, some of the ideas they put forward for a new conservative agenda are worth pondering — including an embrace of New Urbanism, a distancing from the automobile culture and a profound reshaping of the political culture. Are the authors skeptical of the political class? Oh yes:

Restoring the Republic requires breaking the monopoly of professional politicians and two parties that are for the most part one party—the Party of I’ve Got Mine. The next conservatism should promote increased use of ballot initiatives and referenda, term limits, putting “none of the above” on the ballot and requiring a new election with new candidates if it wins, and ending legalized bribery under the name of campaign contributions. Yes, they sell their votes. The two-party monopoly has generated a vast culture of corruption in Washington, and corruption is any republic’s deadliest enemy.

I can relate to much of this, having pursued (with assistance from Weyrich) the issue of term limits. There is a rot in the political class today. They are, as a group, profoundly shallow and unserious about the nature of the challenges and threats the nation faces. They are also, as a group, lacking in self-awareness, or even something as basic as common sense. None of this behaviour is new. And, to give them credit an ounce of credit, politicians no longer beat one-another senseless on the floor of the House or Senate (though the occasional weapons discharge behind office doors is still not unknown).

While this is just a part of the Weyrich/Lind thesis, it is representative of what is a much larger and far deeper disconnect between some conservatives and the world around them. For politicians, not just in Virginia, but nationwide, the possibility of these ideas gaining broad acceptance ought to be immediately troubling.

But I suspect they are not. We have to regulate teen cellphone use first. Then we’ll get to the big stuff. Just so long as it isn’t an election year.

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82 responses to “A New Conservative Path”

  1. E M Risse Avatar

    Mr. Leahy:

    Nice post! Well stated. Views held (or potentially held) by 80% of the population. See the 20% / 60% / 20% Guideline.

    The current system is a political Duopoly, not a Monopoly but that is a minor point.

    The major point is that there is a path out of this downward sprial that is not mentioned.

    It will take comprehensive governace action, not just good solid families and carring neighbors in Balanced, Alpha Communities to achieve a sustainable trajectory for society.

    That means Fundamental Change in governance structure. The idea that citizens, no matter how enlightened, can run the publics business with a structure that was well suited, but not perfect, for 1770 is daft.


  2. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Norm: This may be a long post.

    I buy part of the Weyrich/Lind arguments, but not all of it. (Met Lind years ago in the 80s when I was teaching).

    The dissatisfaction with politicians being politicians and the political class is more about human nature than R and D or Red and Blue. People are people. Any party in power will grow corrupt. Even a “Christian” party would grow corrupt. (I refer you to the Owner’s Manual of Humankind, The Holy Bible, or Shakespeare for ample examples)

    The fundamental issue with dissatisfaction with the GOP in Virginia and Nationwide is approaching the Whig Crisis that birthed the Republican Party.

    The op eds I write, (which are ideologically driven, unlike this website which is policy and pragmatically driven… allowing the partisan perspectives to illuminate the different sides to issues, not to proselytize for the ideas behind the perspectives) and my activism in the RPV earn me emails and comments in person that illustrate the crisis the Republicans and Conservatives may have.

    Conservatives are a third of the Nation. A bit more in Virginia.

    There are non-negotiable issues, principles, where the Conservative positions are over 50% nationwide and a more so in Virginia.

    Yet, Republicans in Congress, the President and the Virginia Republican Caucus in the GA regularly sell out these principles.

    1. National survival means fighting and winning the WW IV, the Long, Long War against Islamists. It isn’t a police action. It is a world war that will last a long, long time.

    2. National survival means controlling our borders. No excuses and no amnesty for illegals. The when and how you ship out the lawbreakers is TBD and splits the electorate like ice – unevenly and unpredictably – based on the answer.

    3. Lower taxes and limited government means lowering taxes, and lowering spending or the rate of spending.

    4. Strict Constructionalist judges, means approving them – no matter what it takes (nuclear option in the Senate) and is key to lessen judicial tryanny.

    5. Pro-life means being pro-baby, pro-crippled, pro-ill, pro-senior for their right to life.

    6. Pro-Second amendment means not grabbing guns or other restrictions on an individual right.

    7. Pro-family means no homosexual marriage, civil union or faux family.

    8. Pro-property rights means restricting black-robed priest-kings (judges) and bureacrats from stealing private property.

    Did I miss a principle that will lead to a divorce of Conservatives from the Republican Party?

    There are alternatives. I believe the US and the Commonwealth have a Munificent Destiny. This not a plan for the 1950s. We just have to find the leadership to take us there.

    The Republicans may not be it.

    I been getting emails – more and more each year – asking or demanding when ‘we’ leave the GOP.

    We are in the midst of a long Great U.S. Culture War and ACW II – every bit as significant as the ACW I or War of Northern Aggression, but without the bloodshed (hopefully for the duration). Conservatives are going to win this ACW II with or without the GOP.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Norm, Very nicely put. I agree with much of the Weyrich/Lind critique and your comments upon it, especially the emphasis on the virtues of modesty, the dignity of labor, conservation and saving, the importance of family and community, personal duties and obligations … and (I’m not quite as sure about this one) caution in innovation.

    Here’s my question, though: Does the emphasis on tradition and caution conflict with the capitalist ideas of free markets, innovation and creative destruction? Does the Weyrich/Lind version of conservatism value social cohesion and stability over economic and entrepreneurial dynamism?

  4. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Jim Bacon: The conflicts you cite aren’t permanent conditions. There probably is a syncretic solution. Or, just a political compromise that is palatable.

  5. Norman Leahy Avatar
    Norman Leahy

    So much to consider…you guys really do eat your Wheaties every day, don’t you?

    As I noted in the post, there are parts of this essay that really do strike me as valid critiques not only of the political structure, but the cultural as well.

    But jim highlights the one thing that really bothers me about this piece — it’s almost summary rejection of the modern.

    I believe innovation is absolutely essential to the continued expansion of liberty. Free markets — or at least as free as the public is willing to accept — are the main drivers of that innovation. Without that dynamic and, yes, destructive force, liberty is impossible.

    A traditional, cautious society would provide few of the advances we enjoy, let alone those we hope to realize.

  6. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Norm: I need to post the summary slide to the 1991-92 Army 21 Future Study I lead (for 2005-2015) that said the key to the future at home and abroad is the political perception of economic changes.

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Conservatives – worldwide usually align themselves with either Social Conservatism or Fiscal Convervatism. They can hold thin majorities if they can hold together on some issues.

    JAB thinks the social conservatives in the US are 30%. I would not disagree. I think another 30% tend to lean conservative especially in places like RoVa.

    What Karl Rove did was develop a brilliant strategy to cleverly exploit “wedge” issues that would convert folks who are ordinarily not one issue voters – into one issue voters – like pro family values Hispanics.

    The R’s though won’t keep them if they pursue actions that harm Hispanics (in Hispanics opinions).

    The more our society is diverse in race and ethnicity and modern values such as working spouses and more mobile – national and state emmingres the less that disaffected social groups will find social convervative principles appealing.

    What the fiscal convervatives have done .. is work mightly to maintain a big enough umbrella to try to KEEP these folks.

    This will work as long as the Social C’s don’t gain control of the Republican Party apparatus.

    In places where they succeed in taking over the Republican Party apparatus – disaster awaits at the POLLs in my view.

    What we see going on in NoVa and HR/TW is going to expand – not shrink.

    Here is an interesting perspective.

    The Episcopal Church – is not relying on GOD to settle their differences – they are going to the STATE – the entity where the social conservatives say is subordinate to their beliefs in GOD.

    Think about this – in a bigger world – like Iraq where two groups of social conservatives can’t abide each other in life or for governance.

    If we did not have a strong Government in this country – I would not be suprised to see social conservatives gain that same power if they could.

    You can tell I’m not a fan.

  8. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Larry Gross: You need a time date stamp on your term ‘social conservatives’.

    The Muslims in Iraq are 800 years behind Western Civilization. They haven’t even had a Magna Charta moment in understanding the Rule of Law. They are more barbarian to us than the Barbarians who destroyed the Roman Empire in the West were to the Romans.

    All cultures are not equal in the civilizations they produce – and their level of advancement.

    You can oppose Social Conservatives in the US, but you should understand them in their proper context in American Civilization in 2007. Then, oppose them (us).

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    “This will work as long as the Social C’s don’t gain control of the Republican Party apparatus.

    In places where they succeed in taking over the Republican Party apparatus – disaster awaits at the POLLs in my view.”

    The Social C’s do have control of the Republican Party apparatus in in VA….think Gilmore, Early, Kilgore, etc.,….and look what happened…..it was a disaster and as far as I can tell the party is still heading down that lost highway.

    IMO, the VAGOP needs to nominate candidates that can do more than win a primary….the objective needs to be the general election. I’ve been voting since 1996 and it always seems like the VAGOP would rather eat their own and “primary” someone rather than focus on winning the general election….this is a waste of time, money and resources.

    “The Muslims in Iraq are 800 years behind Western Civilization. They haven’t even had a Magna Charta moment in understanding the Rule of Law. They are more barbarian to us than the Barbarians who destroyed the Roman Empire in the West were to the Romans.”

    Good observation….I agree….but why is our job to try and force a Magna Charta moment upon them?

  10. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    We recognized some time ago that the old conservative agenda, comprised largely of anti-communism and free-market economics, had run its course.

    Me: Those were only sideline aspects of Conservatism – strong nationalism, faith, community, civic duty, and public decency are the hallmarks of “old conservatives” – that and the belief that elected representatives are SERVANTS of the people – and not the other way around.

    Real conservatism rejects all ideologies, recognizing them as armed cant. In their place, it offers a way of life built upon customs, traditions, and habits—themselves the products of the experiences of many generations.

    Me: Not really. Real conservatives understand that black and white, right and wrong exist as moral truths – and that principled individuals are to be emulated more than pragmatists. Real Conservatives do NOT reject all ideologies – but real AMERICAN Conservatives respect the right of other Americans to have an ideology that differs from our own. Yet, we don’t believe the moral relevant garbage that professes that ALL ideologies are equally valid – real Conservative believe that a fair debate can take place and if the facts are in your favor, you can prove that your views are more correct than the views of someone else.

  11. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    From this it follows that the next conservatism’s foremost task is defending and restoring Western, Judeo-Christian culture.

    Me: Not really. While as a Christian I am devoted to doing what I can to share the good news of my faith, I leave it up to God to do what God will do. Sure, I’d like to “restore” our nation to a state of biblically compliant societal standards – but I also am an American and I believe in Freedom. Interestingly, the tenets of my faith support freedom of choice. Basically myself and many Conservatives don’t believe it is our mission to change the way other’s live – nor is it the role of government to do so. We believe that it is up to each individual to follow the path God set out for them – yet, God gave them the freedom to reject that path to – and, at the end of the day, its all God’s plan. The point being that while I feel our nation would benefit from returning to following the tenants of Christianity – that isn’t MY TASK, nor anyone else’s task – to undertake. It is up to each individual to decide for themselves. My job is to do what I can to help them – but not to try to force them.

    While conservatives have won many political victories since the election of Ronald Reagan, the Left has continued to win the culture war.

    Me: Not really. Many Americans are rejecting the leftist culture, you just aren’t hearing too much about that – because – well, it doesn’t help the leftist media and entertainment business. Many Conservatives aren’t going around proclaiming this – they are simply doing it in the privacy of their own homes, churches, or lives – and relationships. Look at the success of Mel Gibson’s movie – The Passion of The Christ. The MSM/Entertainment cabal were beside themselves over that. Look at the backlash opposing the Secular movement to strip Jesus Christ out of Christmas. The left believes they have “won” the “culture war” – but I think they really haven’t looked too hard to understand the depth to which we American Conservatives have rejected their garbage. Nor, do I suspect they want to look to hard.

  12. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    The next conservatism includes “retroculture”: a conscious, deliberate recovery of the past.

    Me: This doesn’t appeal to me. I’m a Conservative. IMO the past wasn’t as comfortable as the present. I embrace the future – and I look forward to a better future with new ideas, new inventions, and finally – the end of the anachronistic internal combustion engine! I anxiously hope to live to see colonization of space and other planets. I don’t want our nation to devolve into some sappy imitation of an old rerun of Happy Days. That would be horrible. Nor do I want to have my 10 year old daughter transformed into a new version of the Stepford Wives. No thanks. The past wasn’t so glamorous – nor open, or as exciting as the times we live in now. While I am a strong advocate for promoting traditional families (a biological Dad in a faithful and loving relationship with a faithful and loving biologic Mom) – I also see how our nation can move forward with new types of families. Being Conservative doesn’t mean to me that we return to the past – it means that we LIVE NOW with strong values, ethics, and the understanding of citizenship and our responsibilities to our community, state, and fair dealings will everyone. It also means we stop living in debt up to our eye balls and we begin to live within our means – even if that means no HUGE large screen TV and a new Hummer in the drive way. However, a return to good manners and civil discourse does appeal to me.

  13. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    The model here is the home-schooling movement. Home schooling has rescued more than a million children from the culturally Marxist Skinner boxes that most public schools have become.

    Me: Yes, public schools have been infected with liberal-Secular- Multicultural clap trap – but – don’t assume that Liberals are not home schooling their children too – because they are. And some are using “home schooling” to create the new Leftist Taliban – or using home schooling to create brainwashed children with a radical agenda – tomorrow internal terrorists. Yes, it is happening too. Home schooling is a good idea – IF the parents teaching their children are qualified to teach them – and IF the children are not being isolated from society – such that they are not well prepared to DEAL with the horrors of many that now walk our streets – or walk beside us in public places. One flip side of home schooling we Conservatives seek to avoid is to avoid producing maladjusted children or tomorrows social “freaks”. Many home school parents I know are building “trophy kids” – and they are obsessed with proving to the world that THEY can teach children better than those “awful public schools”. To have a common culture we must share common experiences – having everyone attend a common public school COULD be a powerful way to help create a future generation of Americans that actually feel that all off us are on the same team. But – that means we Conservatives need to CHANGE the public schools – not abandon them. Conservatives believe in a melting pot united by assimilation into a common culture. Public schools CAN be a force for “good”. Real Conservatives don’t seek to throw the baby out with the bath water.

  14. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    This points to the third thing the next conservatism must do: restore the American Republic by stripping the state of culturally Marxist ideology in all its dimensions.

    Me: Agreed. But I’ll upset many here when I explain that the foundations of “New Urbanism” are rooted in the teachings of Karl Marx! I have observed that the ULI is an offshoot of Marxist ideologies. Karl Marx did not believe in FREEDOM for “human settlement patterns” – nor do many that post on Bacon’s Rebellion. That’s okay – we all have our views, but my research reveals that “New Urbanism” has derived from the urban planning models of Karl Marx – and, patterns of human settlement are KEY FACTORS is “crafting” a society – and the resulting “culture”.

    The other side has no compunction about using state power in all its hideous fullness to ram its ideology down our throats.

    Me: True. The Left feels that the Elites know best – and the masses are children that need to be protected from their own poor choices in life.

  15. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Another old conservative issue the next conservatism should revive is aesthetics. America may be the richest nation in history, but that has not made it the most beautiful. Strip malls, suburban sprawl, and hollowed-out cities have created an environment few people can love. The New Urbanism offers an alternative that looks to the past to recover traditional designs for towns and cities. The next conservatism should incorporate New Urbanism . . .

    Me: I think Karl Marx would be so happy! Annnt – those “urbanism” disciples have drunk too much Kool-Aid – “urbanism” is a road we should not embrace as “conservatives”. There really isn’t anything wrong with suburban neighborhoods, nor convenient strip malls. Just like the Internet transformation – everyone keep thinking that people have to physically move around to work or shop. The future offers far more options that can reduce traffic congestion. Flying cars is a way to think outside the box – thinking in three dimensions opens up all kinds of possibilities for retaining the American Dream of a private SFH with our own pool in the large backyard – while looking for a b better way to move around. Just as “Smart growth” advocates scream “Build UP, not OUT” – “Smart Transit” advocates need to begin promoting “Travel UP, not on the ground”. Rent Back to the Future – or watch old Jetson’s cartoons – where is our innovation and new solutions? Conservatives believe in American innovation and old Yankee know how.

  16. nova_middle_man Avatar

    I had this long post and Blogger locked me out I will try and reconstruct it

    All of these are IMHO statements

    The strategy of bringing out the base and offsetting the NoVA effect is over. Even if it worked it is a losing strategy. Just look at a population growth map.
    Not enought people in the R structure get this. It will take actual losses in Metro Richmond for people to finally wakeup. Its coming believe me last election cycle was very close especially in the fast growing counties. The other kicker might be the presidential election. For the first time Virginia is going to be competitive.

    Fiscal conservatives can compromise and refine their message to adjust to a more purple area

    Social conservatives are mostly black and white on issues. There is no room for compromise in purple areas they get killed

    Comments on this what do you think of Tom Davis. Before you answer think if a social conservative could win in his district. Think about why Black lost in Loudoun county. Loudoun is a mess there is a civil war going on.

    Virginia is majority independent. Ds and Rs are a smaller percentage.

    We need statewide Right of center candidates in 09.

  17. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Reid, I don’t know where you get your info, but I’m not aware of any connection between New Urbanism and Marxism of any kind. If anything, New Urbanism is a reaction against the utopian leftist, central planning vision of huge skyscrapers and giant freeways that moved people around like widgets — the kind of thinking that gave rise to Brasilia. One of New Urbanism’s patron saints is Jane Adams, the profoundly conservative, market-oriented writers of the 1960s who extolled the virtues of cities.

    I haven’t studied this stuff formally, so perhaps one of our readers can articulate the intellectual origins of New Urbanism better than I.

  18. E M Risse Avatar

    I thought I understood what Mr. Leay was saying. The same with what Mr. Bacon, Mr. Gross and NoVa Middleman added.

    I have no idea what Mr. Bowden and Mr. Greenmun are trying to say.

    Whatever it is, the words are frightening and the reason many many of the RHTC do not see a future in Politics As Usual.

    RHTCs believe there are far more important issues facing society than stiring up another 19th century war by calling others barbarians.

    On to other observations:

    Mr. Bacon asked:

    “Does the emphasis on tradition and caution conflict with the capitalist ideas of free markets, innovation and creative destruction?”

    “Does the Weyrich/Lind version of conservatism value social cohesion and stability over economic and entrepreneurial dynamism?”

    And Mr. Leahy answered:

    “Jim (Bacon)highlights the one thing that really bothers me about this piece — it’s almost summary rejection of the modern.”

    “I believe innovation is absolutely essential to the continued expansion of liberty. Free markets — or at least as free as the public is willing to accept — are the main drivers of that innovation. Without that dynamic and, yes, destructive force, liberty is impossible.”

    “A traditional, cautious society would provide few of the advances we enjoy, let alone those we hope to realize.”

    Both Mr. Bacon’s questions and Mr. Leahy response assume the posibility of continuing to burn through natural capital the way we have for the past 150 years and especially for the last 60.

    That is not possible.

    Growth, innovation, winner-take-all-competition and “expansion” (even of Liberty) are luxuries that must be rationed with care and shared with all of those on the planet if a sustainable trajectory is to be achieved for civilization.

    Democracy and market economies would be the among the first historical artifacts to be swamped if any nation-state tries to we wage a war to protect “We have ours” self-centered consumption.




  19. E M Risse Avatar

    Jim Bacon:

    While I was writing you were posting.

    I think it is Jane Jacobs, not Jane Adams to whom you refer.

    New Urbanism is sometimes called New (1920s) “Suburbanism.

    It is lots of things to lots of people but I have never heard it related to any political philosphy.

    ULI a Marxist group? That is only one of the things that make that whole series of posts questionable.


  20. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    EMR: I think it’s funny that we are mutually incomprehensible. So, it goes.

  21. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    New Urbanism? Is that like the old urbanism?

    You know, the one everyone moved to the suburbs to escape?

  22. Anonymous Avatar

    What a horrible post.

    Virginia is a solid centrist state.

    Conservatives represent 30% of the state’s GOP’s core voters.

    Some 40% of the state’s voters
    are middle of the road, good independents.

    Democrats draw from the other
    30% of the voters.

    Virginia has rejected a number
    of conservative candidates in
    recent years including Mike Farris,
    Paul Jost and Oliver North.

    The horrible job the president and
    recent conservative GOP Congress
    has done is harmed the country for

    Bacon’s Rebellion Blog represents
    a dying force in our country.

  23. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Thank you, Ed, I *was* referring to Jane Jacobs (not Jane Adams), the author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Written in 1961, it is a classic that everyone interested in human settlement patterns should read. (Obviouisly, I need to re-read it, as I couldn’t keep the author’s name straight.)

  24. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Awesome posts.

    At first I thought “too much info” especially with Rieds posts but then truly understanding another person begates a much better appreciation of what is behind some of their posts sometimes.

    Reid said: “Basically myself and many Conservatives don’t believe it is our mission to change the way other’s live – nor is it the role of government to do so.”

    Reid – you sure could have fooled me especially in Virginia.

    If social conservatives actually kept to themselves – in Virginia, in the US and worldwide – we’d have a lot less killing in my humble opinion (IMHO).

    The problems start when social conservatives attempt to enforce on others – through government – their own beliefs.

    Here’s a perfect example.

    Labelling a religion that is as old or older than Christianity and has over a BILLION adherents- as ALL barbarians that must be killed because ALL of them want to kill us .. justifies this country preemptively invading ANY country that “harbors” these evil muslims.

    .. When our Country is taken over by folks that believe this and our foreign policy replicates this view – then I do wonder where is GOD in all of this.

    The more of these kinds of views I see expressed in the Republican Party – the more odious I find them as a group and the more fearful I am of them to govern despite the fact that I think the fiscal conservatives in that party have got it right.

    I just cannot risk voting for a fiscal conservative if hiding behind him .. ready to sneak into the room is a social conservative intent on “spreading” his faith via government.

    I don’t think I am alone.

  25. Jim Bacon Avatar

    From an Amazon.com book review of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”:

    “Jacobs begins her book with a brief history of where modern city planning came from. According to the author, the mess we call cities today emerged from Utopian visionaries from Europe and America beginning in the 19th century. Figures such as Ebenezer Howard, Lewis Mumford, Le Corbusier, and Daniel Burnham all had a significantly dreadful impact on how urban areas are built and rebuilt. These men all envisioned the city as a dreadful place, full of overcrowding, crime, disease, and ugliness. Howard wished to destroy big cities completely in order to replace them with small towns, or “Garden Cities,” made up of small populations. Similar in thought to Howard, Mumford argued for a decentralization of cities into thinned out areas resembling towns. Le Corbusier, says Jacobs, inaugurated yet another harmful plan for cities: the “Radiant City.” A radiant city consists of skyscrapers surrounded by wide swaths of parks where vast concentrations of people herded into one area could live and work. Burnham’s contribution to planning was “City Monumental,” where all of the grand buildings (libraries, government buildings, concert halls, landmarks) of a city could be clustered in one agglomeration separated from the dirty, bad city. Jacobs writes that all of these ideas continue to exert influence on the modern city, and that all of these ideas do not work.

    “For Jacobs, the key to a successful city rests on one word: diversity. This is not specifically an ethnic diversity, although Jacobs does vaguely include this in her arguments. Rather, diversity means different buildings, different residences, different businesses, and different amounts of people in an area at different times. The antithesis of diversity is what we see today on a stroll through downtown: a bland uniformity of office buildings, apartment dwellings, and houses that stretch as far the eyes can see. In the author’s view, this lack of diversification leads to economic stagnation, slums, crime, and a host of other horrors that are all too familiar to viewers of the evening news. Especially egregious to Jacobs is the tendency to isolate low-income people in towering projects surrounded by empty space. The lack of embedded businesses in these areas, along with closed in hallways and elevators (which Jacobs calls “interior sidewalks and streets”) creates a breeding ground for criminal elements and bad morale among the residents. Cities that work best employ a wide range of diverse interests that attract, not repel, people. Unfortunately, bureaucrats and social planners always believe top down planning is better than bottom up initiative. Jacobs tries to show the fallacy of social planning.”

    Bottom line, Norm: The socialist utopians were the ones who invented the rigid separation of land uses — they were the intellectual forebears of our modern-day zoning codes and comprehensive plans.

  26. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    IRT: responses to my posts – my response will be in bold and the posters comment not bolded, as before. I think this makes the reading easier?

    Both Mr. Bacon’s questions and Mr. Leahy response assume the possibility of continuing to burn through natural capital the way we have for the past 150 years and especially for the last 60.

    That is not possible.

    Growth, innovation, winner-take-all-competition and “expansion” (even of Liberty) are luxuries that must be rationed with care and shared with all of those on the planet if a sustainable trajectory is to be achieved for civilization.

    This smacks of Elitist “One World Government” thinking to me.

    How is this thinking different from Socialism or Communism?

    Who will “ration” all global resources?

    Who “owns” resources and the property where resources are found, grown, or exist?

    This worldview is, with all due respect, myopic – in my view. This “thinking” is confined within a “box” and fails to look to future exploration of space and the colonization of new planets – the discovery of sources of new resources.

    Once the world had societies that pretty much stopped at the water’s edge. The vastness of the oceans was a physical barrier that prevent those humans living on one landmass from traveling to another land mass.

    Space is the same thing – on a larger scale.

    We look back on those that were born, lived, struggled, and died – all within a 30 mile radius and we pity their “world” – and their lives lived without the benefit of global travel – and the ability to interact without regard for the physical borders of large oceans and great distance.

    We built ships – then we built aircraft.

    We haven’t even begun to explore the possibilities of space travel.

    Thinking that we need to ration Liberty – NOW THAT is scary!!!

    Thinking that we can no longer live in a world of innovation and expansion – Holy Cow! Such thinking takes us all down a path leading to no true FREEDOM – only “rationed shares of our “fair share” of the global collective!!!

    Wow! And someone thought my views are frightening?

    Liberty is not a “luxury” – it is our right. I’m am not wishing to be too harsh here, but “liberty” is NOT a “luxury”, it is our RIGHT.

    Those that fail to appreciate this, in my opinion, fail to understand what it means to be “An American”.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident ..Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness … incredible words on which our nation is founded.

  27. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Speaking of global rationing – –

    “United cooperative societies are to regulate national production upon a common plan, thus taking it under their own control and putting an end to the constant anarchy and periodical convulsions … of capitalist production.”

    — Karl Marx ([1871]

  28. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Reid – I HEAR your words but I’m in disbelief!

    They do not sound like the words of social conservatives – at least the one’s I’ve heard.

    You sound like a Republican when the name meant having a government that stayed out of people’s lives and fostered individual responsibility.

    The government’s main role was to provide for the health and safety of it’s citizens and to insure that opportunity was available to all on an equal basis.

    Now.. we call those folks Libertarians… 🙂

    The two other parties are tax&spend and the party of REPENT or ELSE!

  29. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Larry, there are many people that are Conservatives that believe as I do. I am a die hard Christian and I am what some would call a “Social Conservative”. But I am also an American – and that means what we each choose to do with our lives is each individual’s choice – not a function of government to dictate.

    Yes, I am a member of the Republican Party – but, as you point out, the GOP has wandered far off the path that it is supposed to follow.

    That does not mean it’s members have.

  30. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Part One:


    The information in link I just provide is long – but it is well worth reading.

    It discusses urban transit. I believe this to be a core element/topic of Bacon’s Rebellion and a cornerstone for the entire discussion of what to do about transportation – and future planning of human settlement patterns.

    Free market – or government control? – and who pays – who decides?

    Or – some hybrid solution of government cooperation with Free Market in the lead?

    Or, government dictates – and Free Market plays within a government defined “box”?

    Hint: the much-ballyhooed PPTA – Public-Private Partnership folly.

    The link discusses Karl Marx’s desire to control production – and, as a byproduct for efficiency, to control the location of humans because they are an integrated aspect of production, as Karl Marx viewed production in his day.

    This link discusses the free market and examples of urban transit and concepts for future development and how transit is an area that seems to be assumed to “owned” by government planners and not allowed to be “owned” by the free market.

    It also helps expose the problems we will face if all transit/roads/sidewalks were totally under the control of the private sector – a private sector having personal profits as its prime objective, not a altruistic goal of equal access and equal service for all – but clearly the model of those who pay the most – get the most.

    Those that LIVE where transit is not in enough volume (e.g. low density settlement) sufficient to merit the cost of transit services – oh well, no transit from the private sector for you (think Soup Nazi here).

    Jim, this is the beginning of my effort to explain the nexus between “urbanism” and Karl Marx – the ULI – and how “New Urbanism” is built upon the notion of “old urbanism” – and mobility is the central challenge in high density – and low density “patterns of human settlement”.

    Karl Marx was a rabid disciple for urban organization and dictates of efficient human settlement. New Urbanism – as very eloquently explained in a previous post here (nice post!) is focused on contrasting the differences between old urban design that resulted in areas that were allocated for one use, and intelligently juxtaposition next to areas having another use – such as housing separated from employment centers – and from shopping centers. The fans of “New Urbanism” focus on how it differs from Karl Marx’s “old urbanism” in that it seeks to mix up all elements of human living in every area of human settlement.

    Where both share common ground is the notion that a government has a right to control such matters as where people are allowed to live, work, shop, play, go to school, pray (or NOT to pray), and be buried (or not be buried – after all cemeteries are such an inefficient use of land, aren’t they??) when they die. Cremation is so much more efficient from a “productive land use” perspective, right?

    Notice the name of the ULI – it is the Urban Land institute, not the Rural Land Institute – not the Suburban Land institute – that should be a clue as to a preconceived bias in the thinking of its membership.

  31. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Part Two:

    Much of the discussion on this blog centers on developing a better way for human settlement and mobility between employment, shopping, education, and home. But much of the emphasis has been on the role of government to dictate a solution based on the notion that we can’t keep doing what we have been doing. Of course, government is a part of the problem – as they have been in control of development and providing mobility – for the most part. Well, once we began constructing urban centers that is.

    In the wild, wild, west – you were on your own in regards to mobility. Have horse, will travel. Roads? Not really. Stagecoaches offered by the free market place? Yes – for long distances and settlement-to-settlement transit. Next up, railroads – again “corridors” of development – like today’s’ TOD “model”; communities sprang up along transit lines. The big difference was that “transit” was a provided by private business, not a taxpayer subsidized “right”.

    Conversely, the free market is based on profit – and those that pay the most – can get what they can afford – and desire.

    But that means the low-income segment of our population will suffer due to the catering to the wealthy – and the abandonment of serving the mobility needs of the lower income “work force”. Privation of public roads can lead to private corporation deciding WHO can have access – when – based on profits to be earned and return on share holder equity.

    Public-Private Partnerships are touted as the “way to go” – and Karl Marx would be spinning in his grave, however – the link I provided points our that the private sector can become a force of extortion – demanding endless price increases – or having the power to cut off our mobility.

    That is a bad thing to – so government is needed to “balance” our need for mobility with the ownership of mobility.

    “New urbanists” envision a new utopian society whereby we all live, work, shop, play – in the same nearby “mixed use community” – you know, the “diversity” mantra. That sure sounds great, but how will every 15-mile radius support enough jobs to serve what I do for a living? Or what anyone else does for a living?

    This “New Urbanism” vision fails to address the need for adequate diversity of jobs and the reality that companies specialize and then hire a workforce that offers skills related to whatever product or service that company offers to the public at large/customers.

    I love living in Sandbridge – because I can walk to the ocean – and my backyard opens into a pristine wilderness – National Wild Life preserve.

    I have a 1-hour commute because that is how far I had to travel to find a job that paid me enough for what I know and do – and to be able to afford to live where I want – in Sandbridge.

    The Coast Guard put all of its C4IRS Engineers into one building so that we can collaborate together to build new generations of C4ISR systems – and because there is a need for security and classified conversations.

    Yes, we have a VTCs set up – and yes, we could use telecommuting and VTC to “collaborate” – but the folks paying my salary don’t want to do that – they prefer having control over humans suiting in assigned cubicles that they can see and touch. It is a management decision. http://www-pam.usc.edu/volume1/v1i1a1s7.html

    The idea that every “human settlement” community can possibly offer adequate diversity of employment to make the transit problem – and thus “congestion” would go away is flawed. Face it; density creates mobility congestion.

    Back on my tiny 600-acre family dairy farm in Harpursville New York we did not have any traffic congestion problems. Low density results in low traffic congestion. Harpursville is (I think) 400 square miles of land – population 6,000. Sure, shopping was far away – in the city of Binghamton, but we drove on the two-lane, pothole filled Farm-to-Market Road once a week to do our shopping – and to stock up on “supplies” for the farm. Our 2 tenth mile road connecting our farm to the County Road is still dirt – because we built it and we have to “maintain” it. We used to plow it with our bulldozer, but the County does that now because the school bus comes up to the small cluster of family farmhouses now.

    In contrast Virginia Beach is nearly 400 square miles of land – population 435,000.

    “New Urbanists” tout high density as a foundation on which their vision is built – they decry the redundant public services required to support “sprawl” (i.e. sewage lines, water, expanded road capacity, new schools, fire stations, etc.) – okayyy, which is it, rural and suburban “sprawl” – thus lower density and less congestion? Or high-density “new urbanism” and traffic congestion? Pick one – or the other.

    Reid you missed the point – New Urbanism is mixing up employment, shopping, schools, and homes all in close proximity to each other – thus removing the need to long commutes to centralized employment centers!

    No, the “New Urbanists” failed to account for how free market corporations organize for their own efficiency and that traffic congestion is due to many people going to the same place at the same time – that being from home to work and back. In order to succeed, “New Urbanism” requires that the control of production belong to the government to manage. Without tat – how does the New Urbanists” planner control where the “diverse” jobs are located?

    Wow – there’s that pesky Karl Max again, how did he show up?

  32. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Reid, You have your doubts about New Urbanism. So, what’s your solution — continue to zone it out of existence as we’re doing now (except in cases where developers have enough money and patience to go through a lengthy and uncertain rezoning process)? Isn’t that *government control*? What do you have to fear from allowing developers the freedom to create the kinds of communities that marketplace demand calls for? No proponent of New Urbanism says that you can’t live in Sandbridge. Why would you restrict the rights of others to live in mixed use communities if they choose to?

    One more point: No one is saying that New Urbanism is a panacea. There are no panaceas. There are no silver bullets. But New Urbanism is one tool in the toolkit of solutions — too numerous to recite, but all of which have been explored in Bacon’s Rebellion — that can get us closer to a solution if applied.

  33. nova_middle_man Avatar

    Good posts RG I nominate them as backgrounders for new folks

    haven’t chewed over the whole link yet. Agree switching to a total private market would hurt the less well off the most

    That is the argument for affordable housing and mass transit

    Mass transit I can see running at a net loss to benefit the less fortunate. The problem being where to put the lines but anyway.

    The problem I see is where do you draw the affordable line and the line naturally increases as folks are “given” housing the market adjusts upward and a group on the next rung of the ladder needs “affordable housing”

  34. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Karl Marx aside …

    excellent discussion and post from Reid….

    What is the role of government with respect to mobility?

    What is the role of private industry with regard to mobility?

    Is mobility a “right” that needs to be secured and protected by the government?

    Is mobility – in terms of government priorities – merely to serve the needs of those who can afford to own cars and commute long distances between work and home?

    Give Karl Marx credit. He DID have a plan for living arrangements for folks whose work contributions were manual labor ….

    And recognize that pure capitalism escews the transfer of wealth from one group to another.

    The point that Reid makes about New Urbanism being a dictated planning paradigm as opposed to letting private interests build what the market wants …

    leads me to ask… a simple question about sidewalks…in an urban area.

    and that question is … is it “okay” for each business to build it’s own version of a sidewalk rather than conform to dictate?

    In other words.. shape, width,depth, material.. all of it.. up to the descretion of each individual business.

    If you DISAGREE with this approach – please tell me why planning dictates are not akin to Karl Marx philosophies rather than Capitalism.

  35. Anonymous Avatar

    So many words for so little said
    by the social elete who have so little to do with their lives except to ramble on and on ….

  36. nova_middle_man Avatar

    Steer back to original topic

    Split on the way forward for the Rs


  37. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    “Much of the discussion on this blog centers on developing a better way for human settlement and mobility between employment, shopping, education, and home. But much of the emphasis has been on the role of government to dictate a solution based on the notion that we can’t keep doing what we have been doing. Of course, government is a part of the problem – as they have been in control of development and providing mobility – for the most part. Well, once we began constructing urban centers that is.”

    Another view is that most of the emphasis has been on decreasing the role of the current government dictated solution.

    When I look at positions that oppose urban centers, I look for their solutions to the 10x rule. How are costs allocated so that the advantage of building in the “sweet spot” is eliminated when building at low densities?

  38. Anonymous Avatar

    There a mnajor problem with Bacon’s Rebellion as evidenced by this post.
    You have 40 or more entries and only about six or so participants. This is not really a wide-ranging, multi-faceted, penetrating discussion but a pseudo-intellectual “circle jerk.”
    Can’t we raise the level?

  39. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun


    Let me attempt to answer your question and explain my far too many points.

    You wrote:

    “Reid, You have your doubts about New Urbanism. So, what’s your solution — continue to zone it out of existence as we’re doing now (except in cases where developers have enough money and patience to go through a lengthy and uncertain rezoning process)?

    Isn’t that *government control*? What do you have to fear from allowing developers the freedom to create the kinds of communities that marketplace demand calls for?”

    I don’t fear allowing developers to develop their land the way they wish.

    But what we are observing is that as available land disappears, “developers” are using local (and now – coming soon to a region near you) all-appointed regional government to force land owners to surrender their property for the “assembly of large tracts of land” to force a certain type of development where government and developers have met in secret to negotiate about the future use of other people’s property.

    The issue we are discussing is solving our transportation needs – better described, as “mobility” needs.

    In order for “New Urbanism” to solve our existing traffic congestion is follows that we would have to REDEVELOP existing “human settlement patterns” to get rid of what we now have – too much traffic congestion.

    This is not only a zoning issue for future new development, but in practice has become a matter of developers selling “visions” to local government – government that feeds off of increased property taxes – and working to force SFH home owners into selling regardless of if these SFH citizens want to sell – or not.

    “New Urbanism” advocates (developers) are also TOD advocates – looking to replacing private cars and SUVs with some sort of “more efficient” “people movers” – meaning buses and mass transit such as fixed rail people movers and a system of “feeder buses and vans” (door-to-door taxis someone called them).

    The GA is debating how to “fix” Virginia’s Transportation “needs”.

    Many “New Urbanists” point to diverting new “transportation funding” away from more lane capacity and new roads – and into “mass transit” – “investment”.

    This means that what will happen is not “allowing developers the freedom to create the kinds of communities that marketplace demand calls for …”, but instead forcing our tax dollars to subsidize new development and redevelopment that is based on NOT OFFERING CAR DRIVERS what the real marketplace “demands” – better roads, less congestion.

    The point being that “the marketplace” is not “demanding” to be crammed into high density urban “mixed use” housing and commercial development, people are still buying suburban homes in nice, all SFH with private backyards neighborhoods.

    The “problem” we are having is not where we are living – it is the traffic congestion we face trying to get back and forth to work.

    But Reid – you make our point! “New Urbanism” is all about mixing jobs in with residential “housing”.

    No, I make my point – we are back to Karl Marx in order to make this happen – government would need to control the means of production in order to demand that “the proper diversity of jobs” exists within 10 miles of each “New Urbanists” development.

    Otherwise the house of cards collapses as a “solution” to reduce commuter traffic congestion.

    Of course – if not “government” to dictate WHERE the “right mix of jobs” is located – then who? Developers?

    Why, of course – THUS we understand the dogged determination to FORCE all-appointed REGIONAL AUTHRORITES on all of us!

    Thus the effort in SB 1415 and HB3202/substituted SB 1101 to FORCE Urban Development Zones and developer-controlled REGIONAL AUTHORITIES that supplant local elected governments and the CTB as “decision-makers” regarding land use and transportation/mobility.

    Jim, what is going on in Richmond this year is not about “allowing developers the freedom to develop what the market demands” – it is about government doing the bidding of developers to use tax funds to fund a “strategy” that DEVELOPERS want – and that local governments “demand” – and abusing the power of eminent domain in the process.

  40. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun


    “Anonymous said…

    There a mnajor problem with Bacon’s Rebellion as evidenced by this post.

    You have 40 or more entries and only about six or so participants. This is not really a wide-ranging, multi-faceted, penetrating discussion but a pseudo-intellectual “circle jerk.”

    Can’t we raise the level?”

    Here is an idea – why don’t YOU actually contribute something meaningful – other than to denigrate others that do?

    (((rolls eyes)))

  41. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Jim writes:

    “One more point: No one is saying that New Urbanism is a panacea. There are no panaceas. There are no silver bullets. But New Urbanism is one tool in the toolkit of solutions — too numerous to recite, but all of which have been explored in Bacon’s Rebellion — that can get us closer to a solution if applied.”

    I was going to write “I agree”, but this begs the question – a solution for – – -what?

    If reducing traffic congestion – or increasing mobility is the goal – then No, New Urbanism isn’t a solution – unless we can dictate the proper “balance” of JOBS to be available to the residents living in the New Urbanist mixed-use development.

    Otherwise it really doesn’t do too much to solve our commuter traffic congestion. It does “solve” other problems, such as ugly urgan jungles and perhaps some of the urban crime problems – maybe.

    “New Urbanism” does offer RETIRED PEOPLE a great option – and the use of mass transit makes sense for RETIRED PEOPLE without kids to taxi around to all types of after school activities.

    “New Urbanism” can offer SINGLE PEOPLE a viable alternative to a SFH in the ‘burbs/Ring Cities.

    But families with a few children?

    It doesn’t really offer anything close to a nice suburban neighborhood with a very good nearby public school.

  42. E M Risse Avatar

    This new conservative path has led us back to the issue of human settlement patterns as any discussion of the future must. More on that in a moment, first to clear out some underbrush:

    I miss stated my position in my 8:51 PM Post. I do understand what Mr. Bowden and Mr. Greenum are saying, I do not understand why they are saying it.

    Surely they do not think that rants of xenophobia and jingoism will garner support for whatever their real position is.

    In one string of posts Mr. Bowden and Mr. Greenum insulted Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Burgaundians and Anglo-Saxons (whom the majority of current citizens of North America also call ancestors) as well as Muslims, non-radical Christians, Europeans, Farmers and others.

    Radical Christians calling Muslims “barbarians” is as silly and radical Muslims calling Christians “crusaders.”

    The fact that Mr. Bowden says he does not understand what we write is not funny, it is frightening, at least to RHTCs and the vast majority of those we hear from off line.


  43. E M Risse Avatar

    Before going on to the substance at the end of the string, we have one reservation about the initial posts:

    Jim Bacon endorced “the emphasis on the virtues of modesty, the dignity of labor, conservation and saving, the importance of family and community, personal duties and obligations.”

    Many agree with these “conservative ideals.” In our first post we said that number might reach 80 percent with the right presentation and were not chased off with jingoism and zenaphobia.

    The problem is that these are the traits and ideals that most favor “in public.”

    “In private” humans seem not to have evolved far enough to be trusted if they think they can get away with exploitive, zenophobic, jingoistic, selfish behaviors.

    Humans do things because they can and get away with it. More like Robert Hansen, the FBI snich, than the Cleavers and Nelsons of conservative lore.

    One thing that functional human settlement patterns will do is give families, especially extended families, the opportunity to stay closer together and thus preserve the social control that got us here. Human genetic behavior is based on the maximum that one does not do anything you cannot tell your mother about because she will find out if you do.

    It appears that a lot of the “right of privacy” rhetoric is not aimed at preventing governments from snooping but from allowing behaviors that people are ashamed to admit they enjoy if they can get away from it. Such behaviors range from porongraphy to child abuse to … (This is a family blog but you get the idea.)


  44. E M Risse Avatar

    Finally, let us consider the comments near the end of the string about human settlement pattern:

    There is nothing more frustrating than those aflicted by Geographic Illeracy using their individual experience and observations to justify their persoanl decision. In the process they make sweeping statements about how human settlement patterns should evolve.

    We will leave aside the discussion of “New Urbnaism” because it is not relevant but there is a comment that suggests the Balanced Communites in sustainable New Urban regions have something to offer retired people and singles but nothing for those with a few children.

    Here is a quote from a recent note to a friend who is helping craft parts of TRILO-G:

    “Every place you turn there is evidence that functional settlement patterns would benefit those of all ages and all stages of life. When raising three children we moved when the oldest was big enough to kick a soccer ball into her mothers flowerbeds.

    We moved from a single family detached house on ½ acre lot on Maple Street with a flower beds, a small garden, a nice lawn, a climbing fort and a grove of trees.

    We moved to an attached townhouse on 1/10 acre because in the Planned New Community there was a play field in the Cluster (72 units) of over two acres where all the cluster children gathered to play soccer.

    There was also common openspace with a stream valley out the back door where the younger generation looked for crayfish and collected wild flowers.

    The elementary school and WaWa (7-11) were within walking distance for a 6 year old. Later from the same house, the grocery store, drug store, library, middle school and then the high school and places to get a summer job were also all within walking distance as the children grew older.

    At the same time I could walk to the Town Center, my office, shopping and concerts or to a secluded stream valley and lake where swan research was being carried out by the Nature Conservancy.

    The same is true for the Planned New Communities that are served by the rapid transit system in the Stockholm New Urban Region. (Our friends had recently visited Stockholm to see their son accept the Nobel Prize in Medicine.)

    These same criteria guided the places with 10s of thousands of dwellings we planned and the same opportunities are avaliable for millions of families who have chosen to live in intelligently planned and developed places in the United Stated and elsewhere.

    What does the market say about these places. A house in a Planned New Community is valued up to twice as much as the same house by the same builder on a bigger lot in scattered locations or in random “subdivisions.”

    Now we have to get back to work. We are trying to make this point even more clear in TRILO-G.


  45. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Me: Sorry, but this is complete and utter baloney.

    Not even a nice try – and certainly no cigar …

    “In one string of posts Mr. Bowden and Mr. Greenum insulted Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Burgaundians and Anglo-Saxons (whom the majority of current citizens of North America also call ancestors) as well as Muslims, non-radical Christians, Europeans, Farmers and others.”

    Me: I was responding to points made by the writers this topic was created to discuss were making.

    In laying out their understanding of social conservatives they attempted to make a case that social conservatives should look to return to to the past and return to living the way their ancestors did.

    I pointed out that that was foolish – living as we did in the past. I pointed out that a better path is to live BETTER than our ancestors did – LONG AGO.

    I’m not insulting the people that lived in the past – many did the best with what they had – the hand they were delt.

    The world is a better pace TODAY – I am saying Conservatives aren’t looking to throw the baby out with the bath water – we are smarter than that.

    The way forward isn’t to go backwards – it is to go forwards but to do so with ethics, intergrity, morals, and civility – dare I say it – to stop the non-Conservative practices of endless DEBT and living beyond one’s means?

    It is a false accusation to claim that I “insulted Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Burgaundians and Anglo-Saxons (whom the majority of current citizens of North America also call ancestors) as well as Muslims, non-radical Christians, Europeans, Farmers and others.”

    What I wrote was that Conservatives don’t seek to abandon their way of life to return to living on a family farm – and I correctly pointed out that having grwon up living on a family farm, it was NOT a better life than the one I now enjoy.

    That isn’t “insulting” anyone – it is disagreeing with what was stated in the American Conservative piece written by Paul Weyrich and William Lind.


  46. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    EMR – you make my point so well … the entire house of cards was based on this statement from your description of the joys of “New Urbanism” – the friend states:

    ” . . . at the same time I could walk to the Town Center, my office . . .

    Exactly! That person lived next to their job. There was a job there they could perform that paid a acceptable salary for that person.

    How nice for that person – that, how did you put it?? Oh yeah –

    “Geographic Illeracy using their individual experience and observations to justify their persoanl decision. In the process they make sweeping statements about how human settlement patterns should evolve . . .”

    Nice try though . . . but you might address the point I raised that unless adequate “diversity” of JOBS are within walking distance the whole grand endorsement of “New Urbanism” falls apart.

    Now how do we force the private corporations to equally ditribute their workforce during the work day throughout all the non-centralized utopian “New urbanist” communities so everyone has a appropriate JOB they can walk to?

    Ops – there’s that Karl Marx fellow again – with the state controlling the means of production.

  47. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    You know Doc, if you really want your views accepted by the mainstream, you need to drop all this thesis crap. That’s the problem with most of these obtuse proposals that I’ve read over the years. The authors seem to think that their opinions carry more weight than the common man simply because they have some academic title and write in a scholarly manner.

    While that style of delivery may work with wide-eyed students at UC-Berkeley, it doesn’t produce even an echo in the hills of Virginia. The people who live in those hills are the ones you will have to convince, not some business group or secret Friends of Virginia. Without The People, your little utopian communities will remain models in a glass case.

    So climb down out of that ivory tower and share your views over a cup of coffee and apple pie. Oh, and use vocabulary the people understand instead of trying to change theirs. You are, after all, a foreign guest in their country.

  48. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    EMR: I didn’t say Muslims are Barbarians. Islamic Civilization is barbaric compared to the West – today.

    If you look at any good history of the World ( I recommend Toynbee, Braudel, and McNeill) you will see that (given any taxonomy of what ‘civilization’ is) the measures of civilization put the Barbarians who destroyed Rome at about the same level as the Romans were 600 years prior.

    Not that the Barbarians couldn’t immigrate to Rome and join their military, learn their language and become lovely people. Nor, after the great Volkerwanderung could the Barbarians not settle nicely into the syncretic civilization that followed their conquest (the Burgundians settled Burgandy France and make very nice wine for quite some time now – as Frenchmen).

    Likewise, the authors of better histories note the stagnation, regression and decline of Islamic civilization from the dynamic force it once was. Sorry you missed that.

    It can be traced to the 13th century. Maybe when the Imans got together and decided that there was no new knowledge to be gained, because the Prophet had revealed all there is – so no new science. Name one invention to come out of Islamic Civilization since 1250 – other than the suicide bomber vest.

    Thus, Islamic Civilization by the measures of civilization (again name your taxonomy and metrics for each component of civilization – assuming, of course, you accept the Rational Empiricism of the West) is about 800 years behind the West.

    Are Westernized Muslims barbarians – no, unless they root for the Dallas Cowboys. Is Islamic Civilization, the one that springs from cultures – more than one culture – that are defined by Islam, barbaric – yes if compared to the West.

    That isn’t xenophobia. It’s history and anthropology and sociology.

  49. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Any group of people that refer to themselves as Christians that also happen to support elected leaders that are responsible for kidnapping, holding humans incognita with charges, not allowed a lawyer and tortured in secret facilities or turned over to “allies” to do the deed…

    that then refers to Muslims as “barbarians” … impresses me in so many ways that words fail me.

  50. Anonymous Avatar

    From Anon Zeus:

    The prior posts by Mr. Greenmun, Mr. Bowden and Darrell document the futility of trying to communicate with those who believe there is value to themselves in pursing narrow and dogmatic, religious, political or philosophical strategies to maintain what they perceive to be an economic, social or spatial advantage.

    They will go to any end including bending and warping history, science, logic and civility to convince others they have facts or morality in their corner and thus preserve their personal advantage.


  51. Anonymous Avatar

    Just to further “educate” EMR,

    After the Huns,the Visigoths, the Barks, Blowhards and the Turds raped and plundered Europe, they bred their own kind.
    Eventually, the fruit of their seed spread to the the New World. After morphing several more times, they evolved into conservative Republicans and military “futurists.”

  52. E M Risse Avatar

    Anon Zeus:

    You are right as usual. I agree with everything you say except use of the word “spatial.” It is one of the Core Confusing words because it is not well understood. We would say “economic, social and physical.”

    A new Vocabulary and a comprehensive Conceptual Framework are both required to understand human settlement pattern and how to evolve Balanced Communities is a sustainable New Urban Region.

    Repeated use of words such as “spatial,” “sprawl,” “city,” “suburban” and “rural” in confusing ways and the intentional misuse of phrases such as “New Urbanism” are the hallmarks of obfuscation.

    Civilization has a short time to change trajectory and the cliff is now in view. Discussion with those who see Business As Usual as their best strategy to secure advantage for themselves may well be pointless.

    One good indicator of futility is the spouting of dogma that exalts one religion or one political party. Business As Usual fanatics see misuse of religion and politics as tools to preserve the rights of a few over the best interests of the majority. In the process they doom both democracy and free markets.

    As luck would have it, most of the citizens and the vast majority of RHTCs do not hold these views.

    It is my fault, I walked into this by posting on a string about “conservatives.” It started constuctively but quickly went south and sour.

    While these strings bring out the true colors of some, it is not worth the effort. A long time ago Eric Hoffer told me that over lunch. As luck would have it True Beleivers make up 20 % in the 20% / 60% / 20% Guideline.


  53. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    Well Zeus, I didn’t invent Business as Usual. But I sure as heck have to live under it. I view this with a sense of survival, not with some pie in the sky idea that businessmen have somehow changed their philosophy in the past four hundred years.

    California played the game of making business pay ‘true’ costs. That’s why Phoenix, Seattle, and a host of other west coast cities grew beyond their means. In a world of megamergers, it makes no sense to add more infrastructural costs when business can fold their tents and head to greener pastures. If you force business and workers to occupy your little pods, well then Reid is right.

    Autism is more prevalent in the business community that altruism.

  54. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    EMR: That is pretty cool that you knew Eric Hoffer. I loved his books.

    What is a RHTC?


  55. E M Risse Avatar

    Jim Bacon is away from his computer taking care of important persoal matters. Only he can judge if the posting of Anon 8:22 is beyond the pale.

    While it is up, however, it demonstrates the heat and furry that is generated by posturing over “Culture War” issues.

    Citizens need broad concensus on something as important and Fundamental Change and no cultural war issue; religion, politial partisanship, sexual orientation, etc. contibutes to understanding and concensus.

    I can understand how, without a comprehensive Conceptual Framework and acquiring facts by happenstance and random experiences, someone like Darrell…Chesapeake can come to the conclusions he exhibits above about California.

    Latching onto a simplistic True Believer “solution” and lashing out at anyone who does not agree with his notion of truth (or a functional Vocabulary) is not a path forward.

    James Atticus Bowden:

    Eric Hoffer was an impressive man in preson. He was one of the best speakers we hosted while at UC Berkeley Law. Dean Atcheson and Robert Kennedy were good, but not as good as Eric.

    On RHTCs: Sorry for the initials, I was in a hurry and thought since Jim Bacon had mentioned them and we have also in columns and perhaps in the summary of TRILO-G that it would not raise questions.

    RHTCs are Running as Hard as They Cans. They are the most important demographic to implement Fundamental Change and the focus of PROPERTY DYNAMCIS.

    The top 5% is doing very well for now in the current economic, social and physical context.

    The bottom 50% are loosing ground – income, health care coverage, quality of housing, but mainly the growing disparity between themselves and those at the top of the economic food chain. For generations they were improving their lot, now they are not. They have no time to worry about esoteric issues such as Fundamental Change.

    The RHTCs are the 45% in the middle. They are running as hard as they can to keep their heads above water. They have the education, they vote and they spend but they have no time for anything except what is most important to them and their families. Enter PROPERTY DYNAMICS.

    I know you will have some strong opinions about all this, but if you cannot say it nicely, better not to say it :>)


  56. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    I decided to ‘educate’ myself since Ed seems to think I am some sort of True Believer. I guess the highly respected Hoffer didn’t think much of intellectuals either.

    Education over. Now back to your regular diatribe from the ivory tower.

    So why did all those Californians take over my town in Washington?

  57. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    EMR: I posted but it didn’t take – second try.

    Thanks for the explanation and numbers. I’m not sure about the numbers.

    Last year the Harvard Alumni magazine reported the findings of a longitudinal study of the median income families in America from the 70s to now (median not average).

    The two income family of 2004 has less discretionary income at the end of the month than the one income family of the 1970s.

    Some costs went up. Some went down. There were new expenses – computers.

    But, the biggest factor is taxes. If taxes had NOT been increased so much a single income family would have more money now than a single income family in the 70s. A two income would have way more income.

    I wrote the numbers about it (http://www. americancivilization.net/articles/ 2006/Harvard_Tells_the_Truth_on_ Taxes.htm)

    Interesting, huh?

    Finally, EMR, my posts may be forthright, but I don’t think they are rude. I think they are always ‘nice’ and, occassionally, nicely done.

    Best wishes.

  58. Jim Bacon Avatar

    I’m back from my emrgency out-of-town excursion, and I see that a vigorous conversation has taken place in my absence. I am pleased that B.R. is a blog where people of diverse viewpoints can debate, even heatedly at times, and I appreciate the fact that the vast majority of participants address the arguments of their foes rather than descend to ad hominem attacks and vulgarity. In that light, I would observe that the comments of Anonymous 8:22 crossed the line into personal invective with absolutely nothing constructive to say. In the future I will delete such comments.

  59. E M Risse Avatar

    James A Bowden:

    Four Quick Points:

    1. The Harvard Alum numbers do not conflict with the RHTC breakdown.

    The median family income for the whole population is interesting but not the real story. Break the population down into 20, 5% steps and do the median family incomes for each group. What you will see is vastly different from lumping everyone together.

    The biggest threat to democaracy and free markets is the growing gap between the richest 5% and everyone else, especially the bottom ten 5% groups (50% of the population).

    2. The largest reason for the rising cost of government (taxes)? Dysfunctional human settlement patterns reflected in the cost of almost every service provided by public, utility and private supliers (the later becomes a cost of doing business for the government).

    The dysfunction is growing and what citizens want is service, not low taxes. Low taxes is the mantra of a small sector of the population who think it is “just the right thing to do” and some who see it as a way to get votes because no one likes taxes so swear you will not raise taxes and blame someone else for dysfucntional government.

    As the data has shown over and over, if citzens see where and how the taxes are to be spent, they will vote for them and for the representitives who pass them.

    Lets stop beating on “low taxes” and start addressing the reasons for the high cost of governing and why the cost is going up much farther if there is not Fundamental Change.

    On 14 Feb Robert Samuelson had a great column in WaPo about the growing welfare state. Check it out. I was amazed at the growth in numbers and percentage for “federal payments to individuals.”

    The answer is not lower taxes, it is Fundamental Change in governance structure.

    3. If you want to look disaster in the eye, check out, in the same edition of WaPo, the graph on Balance of Payments and then check todays WaPo Magazine cover story on China’s new rich.

    When the US of A is broke, we will not be able to afford to protect our borders or do anything else. Of course, by then no one will want to come here.

    4. Your submissions may seem nice to you but perhaps you have been too busy talking to those who agree with you. For example in your 1:20 post in this string you list 8 things the Elephant Clan should stand for. Seven of those are repugnant to the majority of Virgina citizens if they understood the full impact of the perspective from which you present them.

    Take the fist one on the long war…

    Read the front page story on Walther Reed in WaPo today and then tell me how any president, with any excuse will be able to launch another war.

    Big bloody wars may not be possible with instantanious feedback from the front to the mothers and fathers and wives and children.

    Take a Muslim from Poquoson to lunch. Make peace, not war….

    You get the idea.

    Pushing on cultural wedge issues, rather than ways to lower the cost of goods and servcies or fairly distributing the costs location-variable goods and services hastens the day when the US of A will run out of options.


  60. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    1. I’d love to see the disaggregated numbers, if you have them, on incomes.

    As long as the golden goose of capitalism isn’t killed and capital is produced the disparity isn’t a problem by itself. If there is access to capital – Friedman discusses this in his Monetary history of the US – then there is opportunity. The key is capital creation not an arbitrary standard of fairness.

    2. Maybe human living patterns cause increased costs in govt – roads, police, fire, sanitation etc. I dunno.

    But, the increased costs of government aren’t equal to the products of government in services. A dollar in is less than 23 cents out.

    Reducing taxes increases the income of families. It allows more families to be one income families with less stress and better social dynamics. It creates opportunities and more personal freedom for individuals to do as they please with more money.

    3. If balance of payments bothers you then look at the trillion dollar transfer of wealth to oil-producing states in 06.

    Buying stuff from China will not destroy the US. It’s a global economy.

    4. Virginians understand the issues well enough to support the 8 issues I listed 60/40 or 55/45.

    We are engaged in WW IV and ACW II (my acronyms). You can ignore them as you wish. Winning both conflicts is essential to National survival.

    If you can reduce the cost of living and doing business, then super, but you’ll have to explain it language more people can understand. I have a great education, but I don’t understand what you mean when you use words of your, or others, creation.

    The Muslims I know have very high US security clearances. They are members of Western Civilization. They are helping us destroy the Islamists. To the best of my knowledge they don’t support making the Sharia the law of the land. So, they are willing to compromise that part of the Koran and Haddith to accept the Western concept of the Rule of Law. They have reformed Islam inside themselves and made the compromises to their religion to live peacefully and contribute productively here.

  61. “The biggest threat to democaracy and free markets is the growing gap between the richest 5% and everyone else, especially the bottom ten 5% groups (50% of the population).”

    Maybe. But I’d push the point further. Look at the top 1/10th of one percent, and the top 0.5 of one percent. See how much they have increased in wealth compared to the rest of us.

  62. Autism is more prevalent in the business community that altruism.

    I love it, but let’s be fair. Their can be no altruism without profits, which is what the business community is all about.

  63. How much is Fundamental Change going to cost? Who will bear the costs?

  64. “When the US of A is broke, we will not be able to afford to protect our borders or do anything else.”

    I agree. Where we part company is that I believe your proposed policies will result in the S of A going broke sooner, with the result we will have catastrophic effects, sooner.

  65. “Oh, and use vocabulary the people understand instead of trying to change theirs. You are, after all, a foreign guest in their country.”

    Inventing vocabulary is a way of rigging the game such that you can always win the argument by way of making up the rules of engagement. You can then “win” by claiming no one else understands.

    Even if people don’t overtly recognize a cheap shot in argumentation, it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

    It it a terribly bad way to sell some (sometimes) good ideas.

  66. “I’m throwing the B.S. flag of this! I grew up on a family farm in Upstate New York (Harpursville)– are you kidding ME? I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough!!! No thank you. Being poor all the time is no “American Dream” that I embrace.”

    Thank You, Reid.

    The family farm is a good place, still. It is a lot better place if it includes a decent off-farm income. Sneer down your nose at hobby farms if you like, but they are(for the most part), what we have, and they still offer a lot to suburbia and new urbanism.

    It is time to recognize what they are and what they are not. Taxing and restricting them into oblivion is a course we will soon regret.

  67. “The government’s main role was to provide for the health and safety of it’s citizens and to insure that opportunity was available to all on an equal basis.

    Now.. we call those folks Libertarians… :-)”

    Maybe there is still hope.

  68. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Words have meaning.

    Communication depends on understanding the meaning of words.

    Ray – hum, we are not in disagreement. When the term “family farm” was used, I understood it to be the same as the meaning of a “family farm” in upstate New York – that meaning the sole source of income for the family living and working on the family farm.

    I thought what we were discussing were family farms that are a source of one’s income – not a “farm” that someone buys that is not their source of income.

    Your last post suing the term “hobby farm” means something completely different to me.

    I don’t snear down my nose at “hobby farms”, I wasn’t even discussing them in my comments.

    So now I am beginning to understand something about “New Urbanism” that I did not “get” before on these blogs – Ray, is what is being suggested is that “Hobby Farms” are to be “positioned” (reserved space?) within the “New Urbanism” “pods”???

    Or, are you saying that city Comprehensive Planning is zoning the ability to purchase and keep a “hobby farm” in too many localities?

    Growing up on a “Family Farm” that is the family business is a vastly different “life” then growing up on a “hobby farm”.

    I can sort of “get” why someone would feel that life on a “Hobby Farm” is better than life in say – high density, multiuse urban mixed-use development – but then I am getting a sense that the “plan” is to “locate” “Hobby Farms” into the “mix” and to consider such places as “open space” to offset the higher density development that “New Urbanism” preaches???

    So Ray, who pays for these “hobby farms”?

    Is this another way of “reserving” a way of life for the wealthy that is far better than the life of the rest of the masses?

    Are families going to be allowed to actually live on these “hobby farms” – or are they going to be “community open spaces” shred by everyone in the “pod”?

    Sorry for the confusion here, but a “Family Farm” and a “Hobby Farm” in my experence are two very differnt “Quality of Life” lifestyles.

    I am not knocking a “Hobby Farm”, they are probably very nice places to live. Lots of private open spaces. Your own horses to ride. The kids can raise farm animals. Your own ponds to fish in.

    What’s not to like?

    Your own private Mayberry RFD, so to speak. Right smak dab in the middle of those great high density urban “pods” we keep hearing so much about.

    Wow. Life is good – for the few that can afford the “hobby farm” corner of the “pod”.

  69. E M Risse Avatar

    James A Bowden:

    On the four points:

    1. Maximizing capital creation means maximizing “Growth” which leads to Mass Over Consumption and that results in “Collapse.”

    Karl Marx’s equality ideals are far less of a threat to democracy, free markets and conservation (conservatism) than advocates of maximizing capital expansion.

    2. In an effecient governace structure, lower taxes yield lower services and this plus widening disposable income gap (top .1% is very bad but top 5% is still bad and much more obvious to more in the bottom 95%)results in South American government “stablitiy.” How many socialist governments have been voted in by a majority of the voters in the past 5 years?

    3. There must be a Balance between Global Economy and Regional Sustainability. That requires Regional, Community, Village, Neighborhood, Cluster and Dooryard Import Replacement not Mass Over Consumption.

    Let us all face the need to be real conservatives if there is a desire to conserve civilization as we know it.

    4. On the topic of the long war: Today, BBC Worldservice features a pole of 28,000 citizens world wide and a very good story. In the United States the numbers are 64% “Can find common ground,” 31% “Inevitale violent conflict.” (Just the opposite of JAB Crystal Ball).

    On another of the 8 point Elephant Clan program which sparked the diverstion from considering the merits of conservatism: For a vivid picture of the sort of problem a fair but robust ED program can address see the photo of 9th Street on the front page of the Metro section of WaPo today. Those boraded up building are owned by speculators, including Aunt Mary.


  70. E M Risse Avatar

    By the way:

    The 65% / 35% sort of split is a reflection of poor infomation / educaiton in the application of the 20% / 60% / 20% guideline.


  71. Anonymous Avatar


    We are sure Dr. Risse would be pleased that you embarked on a mission of self education. He has focused in recent years on the development of a strategy for Citizens to educate themselves about human settlement patterns. There is a good chance he would be sorry that you abandoned your quest so soon.

    Had you pursued your self-education mission you would have found that Dr. Risse’s 50 years of work in human settlement patterns is just what Mr. Hoffer would have supported. Dr. Risse actually got his hands dirty building places for citizens to live, work and play. There were mistakes along the way which he points out in his lectures but these places meet the market test of success.

    Your attempt to paint Dr. Risse into an Ivory Tower is silly on its face. He did attended several colleges and earned several degrees. He did teach in graduate architecture and planning departments and in law schools during most of the years his professional practice. However, as any search of his background will indicate he earned his way in life in the private sector.

    Dr. Risse primarily designed, built and managed large scale developments that now provide functional housing and places to work and seek services in many states. As we recall from a recent lecture, the places for which he provided key leadership house over 50,000 citizens, are places where over 20,000 work and where far more seek goods and services.

    As far as we know, he is the only professional in the United States with this background who then devoted a decade to research of the economic, social and physical forces that create and shape the patterns and densities of land use and went on to articulate strategies to create functional human settlement patterns.

    Along the way he found the need, for reasons he has articulated well in his writings and lectures, to create a Comprehensive Conceptual Framework and a Vocabulary with which to understand human settlement patterns. While inventing vocabulary and conceptual frameworks can be used to obscure reality, he has provided clear definitions and articulated well-founded relationships accessible to any who have a sincere desire to learn and understand.

    As to what happened in California and on the West Coast, we doubt that attacking his intelligence and intentions will generate a positive response. If you are interested you might start by examining his view of what happened to his own home stomping grounds in Montana that was the subject of a recent column.

    Anon Zoro and Zora

  72. I should have been more clear. My comments about hobby farms was directed at the frequently sneering tone we hear when they are discussed, as if they are parasites on the economy, populated by wealthy long distance commuters, etc.

    With regard to family farms, I agree with your definition. but the hobby farm could run anywhere from a family farm where the owner is semi-retired to a whole spectrum of other activities.

    I think they run the gamut, from homesteaders who attempt to live primarily off the land, to places that are entirely supported by off farm income for the purpose of maintaining large pets, to places that pay their own costs and more, yet not enough to live on. This continues all they way up to the edge of what you call the family farm, which supports its residents fully. Beyond that, there are commercial or industrial farms. Not to say tha family farms are not commercial, just that the scale, capital and professional management are a lot different.

    You raise good points. There are now equestrian oriented residences, in the same way that there are golf oreinted residences and even residences that share a communal airstrip for their hobby planes.

    We need a certain amount of open space. The way we get it now is by simply placing it off limits to development, either by gift or by fiat. Of course, we don’t really have that open space, someone else does. Market pressures make it harder and harder to maintain that space every year, and we have ambiguous and mixed feelings and regulations concerning them.

    I don’t beleive you can plan for high density mixed use development and just expect open space to take care of itself. It is going to have to be planned for, and preferably it will be planned profitably.

    It seems to me that one of three things is going to happen: 1) such spaces will become the tax protected habitat for the truly rich 2) They will become public parks and farm museums, or, 3) They will become recognized for what they are and supported appropriately. The “farm” that is a livery stable for the surrounding homes being one example, community based agriculture being one example, high intensity farms that serve a strong local market are an example, and farms that raise landscaping products for housing developments are another.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the real economy will support as much open space as we need, so we will neeed to create a market for non-market goods, as New Zealand has done.

  73. E M Risse Avatar

    I have now reread this string from end to end and offer these observations:

    Jim Bacon:

    That review of Jane Jacob’s book you quoted is the worst review of “Life and Death…” that I have ever seen.

    At one time we taught a semester long course with two texts. Jacob’s “Life and Death…” and Mumford’s “City in History.” The course would be far different now than then but I was surprised at how bad the review was.

    While the review seems to support some points you were trying to make, it should be banned, and not just in Boston.

    Since you had quoted the review, I tried to figure out why it was so bad.

    Bottom line: The review tries to make simplistic ties to other thinkers complicated by political philosophy and grossly misrepresents other writers and their views.

    There is no place in the discussion of human settlement pattern in 2007 for use of “Marxist,” “Socialist,” “Conservative,” “Liberal,” “Libertarian,” etc., etc.

    That is like saying a person has a Marxist liver or a Liberal fibula or that a specific cloud forest is “Communist.”

    Those who hold strong religious / political / philosophical views (as contrasted with economic and social views) make simplistic and confusing connections between settlement patterns they like or hate and philosophies they like or hate to rationalize, justify or explain their personal choices. That is as silly as saying ULI is Marxist.

    As noted above, in 2007 Mass Over-Consumption is a bigger foe of democracy, free markets and functional settlement patterns than is “Marxism,” et. al.

    Anon Zoro and Zora:

    Thank you for the clarification of our experience and perspective.

    Actually there is truth to Darrell – Chesapeake’s observation re California business relocation.

    It is not the whole story but part of it. Vermont and Oregon suffered the obverse due to citizens and families relocating to find great place to live and work.

    But what is the alternative?

    Do not fairly allocate costs (California) or try to create undesirable places to live and work (Oregon and Vermont)?

    Overall the string has a number of good, useful ideas but demonstrates as well as any string on BaconsRebellionBlog to date the problem / frustration / ?futility? of trying to discuss human settlement patterns in an open-ended / non-face-to-face format where the agendas are not clear and the context is not specified and the vocabulary is Humpty Dumpty. (“Alice in Wonderland – Humpty Dumpty: “Words means just what I intend them to mean.”


  74. Anonymous Avatar

    Anon 8:22 at the controls.

    EMR, you are so right that political labels have no place when you are talking land use planning or human settlement patterns. The problem with BR Blog is that it is too welcoming of the social hard-right wingers such as Bowden who either don’t really understand what they or you are talking about or do and want to subvert it to get an audience (admittedly tiny) for their own agenda. I think Bacon ought to split the difference and create a serious blog for policy issues and police the content or, if he so wishes, create another outlet for the wing nuts. It is a shame that some serious and good dialogue gets so diluted and polluted.

  75. I prefer to think of the contributors here as strong personalities, as opposed to wing nuts.

    That said, the more attractive you make a place, the more popular it will be, and the more likely to be ruined. Call it the land use corollary to mass overconsumption.

    Wasn’t part of California’s problem that they tried to allocate costs but did so mainly for those rapacious profit making businesses?

    I’m not sure how you can create “serious” policy for land use when the land is privately held by people who are likely to have views as diverse as those espoused here. What one person considers to be serious, another may consider to be Marxist babble. Whether he is right or wrong, whether he is a wing nut or not, he is entitled to his opinion, without reservation. Just let’s not confuse opinion with verifiable and repeatable facts.

    The idea that land use issues are so important that they transcend labels would seem to indicate a certain bias. Not everyone is going to sign up to have their property allocated transcendently for the purpose of achieving some unspecified and unmeasurable greater good. Any serious land use policy is going to have to be one in which all parties concerned parties walk away thinking they have got a fair deal.

    The degree of division displayed here implies we are far from reaching land use nirvana. In the meantime, people have things to do and lives to live. Even if you agree that what we are doing is unsustainable, it is grossly unfair to them to put their lives, as lived in the present norm, on hold while we work out the details of functional settlement patterns that aren’t likely to happen soon and may turn out to be no more sustainable.

  76. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    With regard to farms, farming, and hobby farms.

    Unfortunately many who rave about saving farms and rural character are really much more concerned with the view from their front porch than what actually happens on these “farms”.

    It’s about the “viewshed”. right?

    If someone has a choice of a front porch view of hundred of other houses that look suprisingly like their own… OR rolling open fields or mountain vistas or just plain woods… it’s a no brainer.

    It used to be that a family farm was productive beyond being a shelter.

    It would produce something of value that not only could be sold to others but would bring in enough money to provide the things that were needed for the “family” on that farm.

    For myself – I don’t see a hobby farm (let’s call it an “unproductive” farm if it does not provide enough income and one or more of the folks that live there must find non-farm work – off the farm).

    Ray may disagree.

    A hobby farm that is mostly unproductive is, in my mind, no different than a guy who has converted his basement to model trains or a Nascar toy car collection.

    EXCEPT – as Ray does opine not infrequently – A Hobby Farm does provide amenities to the homes around it.

    It is much more “scenic” that 300 townhouses.

    It also is much less costly to the taxpayers than 300 townhouses.

    But as Ray said – He is actually charged to maintain something that does not provide him with an income and, in fact, he may have to seek outside employment to pay the taxes.

    Ultimately – at some point – when he no longer can work and the value of the property keeps going up – the available options reduce to one – sell.

    This is how farmland is converted to suburbia.

    Farms like this are where new subdivisions come from.

    Some would say – “sprawl”.

    We have family farms in Spotsylvania in exactly the same circumstances and their owners who I have talked to – KNOW that when they pass and their sons and daughters take over – that the “farm” will likely to sold to a developer and within a few years become hundreds of new homes.

    I’m sure the situation is the same in Loudoun and Prince William.

    I’m sure that Fairfax …years ago had dozens of Family Farms that are now office buildings and townhouses and roads.. etc.

    As long as this conversion process continues to produce ubiqutous available land for “Greenfield” development opportunities – the market will generate an endless supply of “commutable” homes – rather than Alpha Communities.

    Even if you try mightly to insure that this new development is Mixed-use … with retail, schools, trails, walkable, bikeable, et al -if the folks who live in that psuedo Alpha “pod” commute to work – it will be necessary to continue to expand the infrastructure that they need to commute.

    Until we figure out.. how to change that – my opinion is that each commuter is offered the choice of congestion hell for about $150 a year in gas taxes or “reasonable” congestion for an additional amount – about what it costs one already in lost time and gasoline – why not?

  77. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun


    “There is no place in the discussion of human settlement pattern in 2007 for use of “Marxist,” “Socialist,” “Conservative,” “Liberal,” “Libertarian,” etc., etc.”

    This is simply not true. While some here may desire to make this true (through censorship) – some appear to me to be advocating limiting views that they disagree with (so much for “diversity” – eh?). The simplistic debating tactic of defining one’s own taxonomy in hopes of controlling the “box” one wishes a discussion to be kept within is a characteristic of individuals that many everyday folks have learned to identify as “Elites”.

    Throwing around resumes is another sign of an “Elite” attempting to claim superior status in a discussion.

    On countless blogs I am sure many of us have “been there, done that” – in dealing with “Elites”. To be sure, “Elites” offer any discussion a wealth of information and well considered views.

    My response to the quote at the beginning of this post? Of course “human settlement patterns” “in 2007” have a place in the discussion for use the terms “Marxist,” “Socialist,” “Conservative,” “Liberal,” “Libertarian”.

    When the “solutions” being discussed that require government to impose or force citizens to adhere to a certain restriction or surrender more of their money or quality of life to government such that government (and its “Private Sector Partners”) can control where and how people live – then these terms certainly philosophical approached to governance certainly apply.

    What part of “Freedom” don’t many of the learned folks hereon discussing “human settlement patterns” understand?

    Folks, it is great to pretend that someone can be God and dictate how others will live, but that really is not the case, is it? Or, is that what some of you are advocating? In this nation we don’t have non-elected Elites dictate where people must live, at least not in keeping with the Constitutional freedoms and liberties we citizens of the United States enjoy.

    I believe that there is a great deal of honest desire to promote new ideas here such that we can all live better in the future. The goal of a better strategy for creating “balanced” “sustainable communities” is obviously a noble and worthy goal.

    But at what cost? And I am not discussing the “cost” in terms of money and capital, but rather in terms of freedom, quality of life, and liberty.

    Sadly, those that support the notion of this blog’s moderator removing the views of those that join the conversation they disagree with, are, in my view, dictators at heart. Though I doubt they think of themselves in such a manner. I believe they consider themselves to be “enlightened” and sharing “wisdom”. They are impatience being challenges in the base assumptions or in areas they do not wish to discuss.

    So, which is it? A discussion – or do some of the “Elites” wish to “lecture” to the unenlightened and taxonomy-challenged “masses” and simply share their pearls of wisdom – refusing to “waste their time” responding to the “uneducated” – which, to be truthful, may actually mean the un-indoctrinated?

    Folks – someone stated here that they believe that to goal of achieving “sustainable human settlements” is more important than maintaining our “liberty” – advocating their view that “liberty” should be “rationed” with a global view towards “fairness”, and “sustainable” solutions trump all else.

    Gosh – and then some of these same folks (Elites?) claim that this discussion should not be allowed to have other contributors point out the obvious Socialistic or Communist views being embraced and expressed?


    I guess I can understand why Elites feel this way. I also understand about academics resenting their well-researched opinions (called “conclusions”) being challenged by those they perceive as not adequately educated to be worthy of debating the sage wisdom the academic is “sharing” with the “community at large”.

    Sorry fellas, but you are discussing spending my tax dollars to build your utopian visions. That means I do have a seat at the table.

  78. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Typo – the following in my last “uneducated” diatribe should have read:

    When the “solutions” being discussed that require government to impose or force citizens to adhere to a certain restriction or surrender more of their money or quality of life to government such that government (and its “Private Sector Partners”) can control where and how people live – then these terms (philosophical approaches to governance) certainly apply.

    I was rushed being as my lunch break is only so long.

    Yeah, I know – how “tacky” and “low rent”, I actually work for a living . . .

  79. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I feel like I’ve covered the same ground that Reid has – in a slightly different way but pretty much along the general theme of.

    “Let folks make choices, let the Market “work” and be careful (be honest) about how much government dictate is required to achieve some goal though to be desireable by any and/or all.

    It get’s diceier if the “liberty” part is based on inequities – subsidies.

    And there are those who will AGREE that a policy or subsidy actually is not equitable but that to “undo” it for the current crop of folks without going back and taking away from previous groups is – in itself not equitable.

    I’m thinking specifically about home mortgages that reward those that buy rather than rent, a one size fits all gas tax where it doesn’t matter if most of your driving is on congested roads at rush hour.. you pay no more than someone who avoids rush hour so – every one has the same “liberty” but the outcome is to essentially deny “liberty” also.

    And people who pay the same gas tax and live in town houses whose surface streets are incorporated into their rent .. their gas taxes go to pave and maintain subdivision roads and cul-de-sacs – and because those funds are used for that purpose – there are no more available for congestion relief that would benefit the folks in the town houses.

    Ditto for the guy that walks to work or takes transit… and then buy’s goods/services of which 1/2% is taken to be spent for those who chose to commute in SUVs at rush hour.

    What I am saying is that we have a system that is inequitable and some folks consider leveling the playing field to be taking away from folks who were unfairly favored to start with.

    Only when each of us pays our full equitable share of the costs of the infrastructure that we need and use – can we really begin to talk about liberty as if it were itself equally allocated already.

  80. ” Their gas taxes go to pave and maintain …..” “Ditto for the guy who walks or takes transit…”

    These might be valid observations, but they are only partial. They guy who takes transit is enormously subsidized by those who drive AND those who walk, except, those that walk are small in number so the totall subsidy is small from that quarter.

    As you noted in the previous post, I pay the same tax as everyone else, plus more, for which I get to provide amenities and savings.

    Therefore, I’m all in favor of paying a full equitable share in the costs of infrastructure: It would mean I’d get a rebate big enough to retire on, even though I’m (presently) a long distance commuter.

    As for the farm, I’ll admit to being a hobby farm (presently). But soon it will be my sole income other than my retirement funds. Without the off farm income, there would be nor retirement funds, and the farm would be sold sooner.

    AS it is, depending on luck, weather, demands of my off farm job, and how carefully I do my accounting, the farm roughly breaks even, on the farm operations. It pays the hired labor, machinery, seed, fertilizer, and taxes. This means that it drops something like $25,000 on the local economy, plus the additional taxes it pays.

    What it doesn’t do is pay me for 1500 hours of labor, or any land rent.

    So, it isn’t that the (hobby) farm isn’t productive. It is that it is not productive enough to induce me to leave my off farm job. It is also that a fair portion of it’s productiveness benefits others than myself: same as your description of town house owners that pay for their own streets, plus more for others.

    We DO have a system that is inequitable, if you describe it the way you have. BUT, the same guy who is paying “extra” in one arena, it getting a bonus in another. So, I pay extra taxes, and my land benefits others at no cost to themselves, meanwhile, I’m a long distance commutere sucking up more than my sahre of the infrastructure resources (maybe).

    I kind of think, that after you did all the math, you would find out that, on average, our system isn’t so bad. After you do all the math, and put into place all the extra bureaucracy and toll gates it would take to charge and bill everyone exactly fairly that here is what you would find:

    We would still have to pay all the money we are paying now. We would still need more money to make up for thirty years of deferred maintenance and insufficient investment. And on top of that, we would now have to pay for the bureaucracy to support all those new billing systems – which produce nothing of value.

    Even my farm does better than that.

    I’m not going to feel guilty about my driving habits. Besides that, I know that when I “retire” to work the farm full time that it will produce a small profit, but I will actually drive farther and burn more fuel to do it than I am now.

    I’m convinced, that when I work the farm as a full time family farm, it will be LESS of an asset to the community and county than it is now as a hobby farm.

    Beyond that, I’m also convinced that you are correct. Eventually it will be worth too much, and cost too much to keep in in its present condition to stay this way. Then it will be sold, under conditions such that it’s new owner thinks it is a deal.

    Since it is not developable, under current rules, it won’t be sold to a developer. It will be sold at far less than its actual value to someone wealthy enough to continue the charade.

    Partially as a result, someone, somewhere, is going to be stuck in a townhouse development, paying not only for their own streets that serve them but als for the streets that serve others, among them the new owner of the farm, who is also likely to be a long distance commuter.

    I don’t think this argument is worth having. I think the answer to the premise will be, or turn out, far different from what we expect. And, I’m pretty sure that if we payed our full allocated costs, then ALL of us would be paying a lot more.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  81. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “So, it isn’t that the (hobby) farm isn’t productive”

    “Productive” in the sense that it produces enough to sustain itself and it’s owner/operators.

    that’s the traditional term for any enterprise that seeks to operate not only break-even but enough to pay for food, electricity, shelter, etc.

    Any enterprise that does not do this is not “productive” in the standard since of the word from a business perspective.

    What you are saying.. is more akin to someone who has a hobby of collecting rare stamps.. and is able to buy/sell enough to have the hobby “pay for itself” but until that guy can fill out a Tax Form that shows a profit… it’s not a true business.

  82. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    There is an easy answer to transit.

    Take the 1/2% sales tax away from VDOT and use it for transit.

    Have a referenda and ask the public if they would sign on to more sales taxes for transit.

    One step further – let the public decide the gas tax issue.

    Tell them the truth about revenues and tell them exactly what will be built in their region for the increased gas tax.. then let them vote.

    At the same time let them vote on TOLLs instead of gas taxes.

    I’m betting that folks in urban areas will vote FOR transit and FOR Tolls and AGAINST the gas tax.

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