EMR will move on from THE SKETCH soon but several key points were raised by Larry, Groveton and others in comments following ONE MORE NOTE ON SKETCH COMMENTS that may be lost without special attention. This is the last post from which EMR will NOT delete comments intended to belittle, confuse, embarrass and waste time. That will make multiple posts on a single topic required less often.

Larry said:

“well – at least you looked.”

More than that Larry, EMR appreciated the lead to the Melissa Data Carrier Route site.

“while the data is not quite a granular as you might prefer, I think it does get past the zip code dilemma and I find it interesting that someone has melded/fused income and wealth data to end up with a geographical distribution.”

There is one reason they did this:

A lot of advertisers are willing to buy the information and for them, it is ‘accurate enough.’ They are not concerned with the need to achieve a Balance of economic, social and physical activity – in fact they sell more stuff if there is no Balance within and no Critical Mass of settlement pattern components.

And sell they do. Since signing on to the site EMR has received two personal Emails and a newsletter from Melissa employees. EMR put a tracer on the registration and it will be interesting to see who they sell the information to. All this advertising frenzy will end when citizens wake up and advertising is phased out because it is no longer effective in convincing citizens they need to consume. (More on that soon.)

Larry went on to say:

“so maybe not academic nor implementation …”

Glad that is now straight!!

“I dunno.. but it sure looks like data that could form a better basis for looking more closely at actual settlement pattern attributes.”

The big issue is, as EMR noted before, WHO WILL PAY for the data and analysis that is needed. More on that below.

“I wonder what would be the things that would need to be looked at in particular?

Same things, just looked at within a Comprehensive Conceptual Framework – and through the right end of the telescope.

Later Larry said:

“Here’s a gift for you EMR:

” CNT has updated our Housing + Transportation Affordability website to now cover over 330 metros in the U.S. with expanded and improved data. And our analysis shows that only two in five American communities—or 39 percent—are affordable for typical households when their transportation costs are considered along with housing costs.”


“The Housing + Transportation Affordability Index is an innovative tool that measures the true affordability of housing based on its location.


This REALLY IS a gift! EMR had not checked in with Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) for a long time. EMR worked with some of their colleagues on “Blueprint for a Better Region.”

CNT, their colleagues in other Institutions such as STPP and the funders behind CNT, STPP, et. al. were (are) the driving forces behind Location Efficient Mortgages.

Recall that a Location Efficient Mortgage criteria could have avoided the meltdown at Fannie and Freddie.

The idea of location efficiency is what the expanded H + T Index is intended to support. Take a look at those maps! Almost all the affordable places are inside R=20. The ones that are outside R=20, based on a quick review, are also the places with high foreclosure rates for ‘cheap’ houses.

SO!!! The Index is not ‘perfect’ but those places are reselling. It is the WSH, WL that are bringing down the economy.

The reason that the H + T is not perfect is that CNT had to rely on the same coarse data granularity that was the topic of earlier discussions. Even the foundations (Institutions) that fund CNT cannot afford to capture and aggregate data at that scale. It will take every Agency working together to do that job. At the present, governance practitioners see no reason to rock the boat. They get paid every two weeks and / or enjoy contributions.

So, while H + T is great and CNT gets the big picture, the data is open to spurious, mean-spirited, and misleading comments by the advocates of Business-As-Usual.

In a comment on the BACK TO THE FUTURE? post by Peter G., Groveton said:

“Interestingly, I am in Bad Homburg Germany today (outside Frankfurt). Looking for examples of EMR’s functional human settlement patterns. I see some of what EMR describes – dooryard, cluster, alpha community, clear edge, etc.”


When you read Chapter 34 of TRILO-G you will learn that Fahmah had the same observation. Once one has a handle on the Vocabulary, it is easy to see the physical ramifications.

Groveton went on to say:

“However, I see some of what Jim Bacon worries about too – sky high taxes, lots of restrictions, nanny statism.”

There is a much finer grained governance structure in Germany. Also, the governance structure is much more closely aligned to the settlement pattern. So the Agencies responsible for many of the Services and controls are much closer to those governed (no million population ‘municipalities’). If that were not the case, there would be much more carping than you heard.

“Hard to say whether the relative calm of relatively functional human settlement patterns is worth the loss in personal freedom.”

Actually it is not that hard.

The ‘personal freedom’ part of the equation is an illusion. That is because those who are enjoying the ‘freedom’ are not paying the full cost and the vast majority are not enjoying very much of anything.

In a recent comment TMT almost put his finger on the issue. He said “too many people lose.” The problem is that too many citizens THINK they are losing.

The vast majority of the citizens, especially those at the top of the Ziggurat, have been convinced by pandering politicians and those who profit from Business-As-Usual that they DESERVE Big Rock Candy Mountain. Larry said something like: “Those who have IT do not want less of IT.”

Well, it is quite simple:

Five percent of the population cannot continue to consume 25 percent of the resources.

It has been suggested that over the past 30 years a third of the total global natural resource base has been consumed (wasted). That may be a stretch but over the past 140 years it is clear that far more than half have disappeared. Even in the nation-state where those fortunate 5 percent live (the US of A) there is a widening Wealth Gap. Only 0.5 percent are really enjoying themselves.

In a global society with high literacy, instant communications and weapons of mass destruction, market economies and democratic governance processes cannot survive with the current trajectory.

The citizens of India and China what their share and so do those in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. There is not just that there not enough oil (cheap energy and cheap feed stocks), there is not enough water, top soil, marine and mineral resources, etc. to support anything like the current US of A consumption rates and settlement patterns for 6.5 Billion humans.

As Amitai E. says: There must be a balance of private rights and community responsibilities.

To do that with democratic processes and a market economies, the prices must be adjusted to reflect the true total costs determined by democratic processes.

In addition, the illusion of being able to live ‘the way we have been’ must be replaced by a realistic understanding of the real alternatives.


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19 responses to “SORTING WHEAT FROM CHAFF”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    "the prices must be adjusted"

    Pretty much paints the color of failure on EMRs ideas, because adjusting the prices simply cannot be done.

    Investors are reluctant to commit capital if they cannot be assured of a reasonable return on their investment. Attempts to enforce universal pricing rules lacks any plausible basis in American constitutional law.

    What EMR is suggesting is regulation of every industry and a total regulated market.


  2. Larry G Avatar

    there's another resource for settlement pattern doodling.

    It's called the Census American Community Survey (ACS.

    It tells us how many people commute and how far as well as quite a few other things.

    The ACS, for instance, is used to determine how many people are "underserved" with regards to transportation and in turn, how much Fed tax money a community could receive for buses and vans to transport those who are unable to be mobile with their own resources.

    This would include people who live in assisted care facilities who would then need transportation to medical care and the like but it also includes students and others who may not be able to afford their own transportation.

    I'm not sure how granular it is but in theory since it is not a random survey but specific to the residence… it would, in theory, have a carrier delivery code on it.

    One of the interesting things about the Fredericksburg Area is that it is becoming a retirement place of choice because of it's less intense mobility environment.

    People in our area can fairly easily get back and forth to their medical destinations whereas up in the NoVa area – it's pretty problematical at certain times of the day.

    I'm not sure where those who no longer work fit into EMR's H/W/S/P paradigm.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Morris Udall died this week. He was a conservationist who understood that the value of conservation is equal to the value of resources we can take from the environment.


  4. Anonymous Avatar

    "…whereas up in the NoVa area – it's pretty problematical at certain times of the day."


    Yup, this has resulted in an increased use of helicopters.


  5. Anonymous Avatar

    "An Israeli lawmaker is hoping to butter up voters and pass a law that would limit outrageous popcorn prices at the movies.

    Carmel Shama, from the governing Likud party, plans to bring the "popcorn law" for a vote when parliament returns from its Passover break next week, the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported Wednesday.

    "We have to put an end to this. The public should not have to mortgage their houses for a soft drink and a snack," Shama told the paper."


    This is amusing because it is obviously ridiculous. Shama thinks he can make the public "better off" by adjusting prices.

    To paraphrase EMR the illusion of popcorn eaters being able to live ‘the way we have been’ must be replaced by a realistic understanding of the real alternatives.



  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Mo Udall died in December 1998. Stewart Udall died last week.

    This is typical of the accuracy of the “RH” posts and we hope a good example of what EMR plans to delete from future comments.

    R. J. Sommers

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    R. J. Sommers:

    What is even more typical of the RH posts is the fact that RH dwells in an 18th century fantasy land of pure markets and the illusion that the impact of individual property right excesses trump all community interests.

    Adam Smith lived in a time of slaves and when the vast majority had no ability to really participate in ‘the market.” Property rights were a critical way for subsistence farmers to overcome the strangle hold of those who controlled ‘the market.’

    That was then, this in now. If one reads Adam Smith with care it is clear that what he would now champion is transparent markets not ‘free’ markets.

    The vast majority are at the bottom of what Dr. Risse calls the economic, social and physical Ziggurat. The vast majority are less and less well off as compared to those at the top – the Wealth Gap. But they can vote for demagogues. Demagogues can acquire weapons of mass destruction. The end of freedom to mass over consume is near, one way or another.

    That means citizens through their democratically elected government Agencies must regulate markets to benefit the majority, not just those at the top of the Ziggurat. Gasoline costs $7.50 in Germany for a reason. What is the reason that the US subsidizes sugar? To make sure a lot of people can afford to get diabetes?

    The issue is Balance, and a sustainable trajectory, not just freedom.


  8. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse


    We are aware of the ACS. In fact, at one time EMR served on a panel created by a subgroup of the National Academy of Science to advise the Census Bureau on the questions that would most effectively plumb the details of home / work relationships and the feasibility of Telework.

    ACS is useful but like all Census efforts it lacks an overarching context, a Comprehensive Conceptual Framework to understand human settlement patterns. Only when that exist can useful data be gathered within that Framework.

    The same is true for the governance structure, the economic system, the Use and Management of Land and the Metrics of Citizen Well Being. These Frameworks must guide the evolution of health care and with where, how and when to drill for oil, natural gas and how to survey the flight path of Whooping Cranes.


  9. Anonymous Avatar

    I meant Mo Udall of course, it was an simple mistake, not an act of stupidity.

    "RH dwells in an 18th century fantasy land of pure markets and the illusion that the impact of individual property right excesses trump all community interests."
    You obviously don't pay attention. Either that or you formed your ideas and then quit thinking.

    I have never said any thing about toatally free markets, and I freely admit that there are things such as market failures, externalities, and inefficiencies.

    I believe in publicly owned property as well as privately owned property, and I observe that publicly owned property is strongly defended. If you want to learn how important property rights are, just go mess with some that are owned publicly.

    The policies I promote are thouroughly modern. More and more market based and property based solutions to environmental problems are being found every year.

    Moriss Udall recognized that part of the value of the environment is what we use it for. Unfortunately, and inevitably, PART of what we use it for is a recycling garbage dump. It is important not to over use this asset, it is a limited resource of high value, and it is in our interst to see to it that we get the most we can out of it, which means don't wreck it.

    Frequently, if you want to learn or discover what the most you can get for something, you hold an auction, just as FCC does with frequency bandwidth, and FAA does with landing slots.

    But this requires that we recognize and protect ownership, so that we as a community can get the most from our resources. The first time we auction something off or even give it away, and then take it back,we guarantee that the next time we will get lower bids.

    This is no way to balance private liberty and public welfare.


  10. Anonymous Avatar

    I'm indifferent as to whether you call them transparent markets or free markets: If what you are buying and getting is truly transparent, then you are free to buy it or not.

    For example, the Supreme court decision that upheld the concept of zoning did so because it allowed landowners to plan ahead: it made the market transparent.

    Before long, that was subverted by government practitioners to the point that some misguided people think government is or should be free to alter the market any time they please, without compensation to those who made "plans" previously.

    You are so busy beating up on me personally (and inventing thoughts for me that I never had) you fail to see that whether you are at the top of the ziggurat or the bottom, property rights is the only way to define what you have. Without them there is no way to rectify the situation.

    I have no problem with regulating markets to benefit the majority, providing that they do not steal from the minority in the process. As soon as you allow that, you lose the accountability necessary to prove that you are benefiting the majority.

    I insist on Pareto efficiency. "It is commonly accepted that outcomes that are not Pareto efficient are to be avoided, and therefore Pareto efficiency is an important criterion for evaluating economic systems and public policies."

    Pareto efficiency means that at least one person is better off (because of a change in policy or a change in market regulation) and no one is worse off.

    But Pareto efficiency depends on determining who is better off, and that means deciding what they own. A better measure is Kaldor-Hicks efficiency in which an outcome is considered efficient if a Pareto optimal outcome can be reached by arranging sufficient compensation from those that are made better off to those that are made worse off so that all would end up no worse off than before.

    There is nothing in those ideas that suggest anything selfish or socially divisive. And although those ideas were not claimed until many years later, our founding fathers recognized the essence of Kaldor-Hicks efficiency and made it a principle part of our Constitution: you cannot take private property for pubic benefit without compensation.

    The constitution is there to promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty, so it is the preeminent document which secures the balance between private rights and community responsibilities.

    Nothing I have ever said suggests anything different. It is EMR who once suggested that we fund our schools by confiscating the profits from the entertainment and advertising industries.

    What I propose is a simple philosophy based on fundamental principals that does not require or advocate stealing from those at the top, or anyone else, including all of us who own the environemtn we live in. In fact, you cannot make the majority better off if you allow or advocate stealing.

    The Fundamental Change I propose is simply reverting to fundamental principals. When we all understand who owns what, and how it will be protected, then we will have transparent markets, and ALL of our property will be properly protected, including our environmental assets.

    This philosophy doesn't take 1250 pages to explain. It follows a rational progression and does not depend on any logical leaps like getting from the wealth gap to sugar subsidies in one sentence.

    And by the way, we are not subsidizing sugar, just the opposite, we have a high sugar tarriff which (allegedly but falsely) protects American sugar growers at the expense of sugar consumers (and foreign growers). If we lower the tarriff and stop protecting Amnerican sugar growers, then sugar prices will drop and by your reckoning diabetes will increase.

    If you are trying to make an argument at least get it halfway right. I won't bother to pounce on you for a Udall type mistake,or claim it represents a character flaw.


  11. Larry G Avatar

    " Pareto efficiency means that at least one person is better off (because of a change in policy or a change in market regulation) and no one is worse off."

    Actually Pareto Efficiency also addresses ALL forms of transactions including buyer beware.

    The govt-required Nutrition labels are an example of requiring a private company to disclose to potential buyers what they are buying.

    You could have this same approach for any transactions including private sales of cars and homes.

    Instead of the buyer having to pay for an evaluation, the law could require to seller to pay for the evaluation and this would affect a lot of transactions where the buyer was unaware of a value-affecting condition.

    For instance, the govt could REQUIRE that the level of mercury present in Tuna be disclosed to consumers.

    But this again is yet another area where Ray is advocating something that, as far as I know, does not exist in any govt that exists to date on the planet.

    And to carry it on a uniform equitable basis would require disclosure on every single transaction.

    In effect, a govt implementation would require disclosure of moral hazards and any/all conditions that would affect buyer-beware transactions.

    Ray would be required to disclose to potential buyers of his hay – how it compared to his competitors offerings in quality and price, eh?

    In a Pareto efficient world – we'd see a dramatic reduction in transferring risk from buyer to seller…

    Credit Card companies coming under new regulations to protect consumers would also be legally sanctioned for find and using "work around" strategies that just sought a different way to accomplish the same intent.

    I'm not arguing against Pareto in concept but rather – as some other concepts that Ray supports, there is no practical way to implement such a system without adding huge costs.

    You'd end up with a car that cost quite a bit more because the seller would have to pay to have a certified evaluation of the car – and the person doing the certifying would also be at risk if he did not do his job properly and failed to uncover all potential problems.

    The Manufacturers of cars could no longer have non-public service bulletins and discretionary recalls.

    Every time a defect was found, it would require complete public disclosure of it and free repair once it was decided how culpable the manufacturer was in the defect.

    Our court systems would be completely overwhelmed with every Tom, Dick, and Harry claiming that every X,Y,Z manufacturer knowingly sold a product that they knew was not as effective as their ads promised.

    Ray thinks it's the govt that needs to be held accountable for inequitable treatment of property rights – as if the govt was the biggest threat to property rights.

    I would assert that the govt pales in comparison to private party transactions.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    "I would assert that the govt pales in comparison to private party transactions."

    I was unable to follow your logic in how you get to this conclusion from the starting position that pareto efficiency means at least one person is bette off and no one is worse off.

    I think you made this conclusion first and filled inthe words in front of it to fit.

    I happen to agree with the conclusion. Full protection of property rights means full disclosure, transparency, of what you are buying and not.

    It is governments job to protect what you have bought (Property rights). If you bought an efficient appliance and it turns out not to be so it is governments job to protect the buyer.

    It is expensive for government to do that, so it frequently requires certain disclosures.

    Ordinarily it is the seller that has incentive to hide information, not the buyer.

    The government has little interest in whether my new mantle clock keeps accurate time or actually works for more than six months. Multiplied by millions of sales this amounts to a lot of money and it is not Pareto efficient: therefore allowing this to continue is bad public policy.

    But my mantle clock won't break me: what I have seen government do to people via real estatge regulation will break people. This is not Pareto efficient because some people are worse off, and it is worse than the mantle clock situation as a matter of scale.

    Government is responsible for bad policy in both of these cases and therefor I maintain that it is government that is primarily responsible for doing a better job on property rights.

    In one case you have many small transactons and a large dollar amount in the other you have a large dollar amount. Both situations are wrong, but we have every right to expect we can hold government to a higher standard than private vendors.

    The main point is that neither government nor public interest groups can fully claim that their policy of choice is a public benefit if it results in a disbenefit to anyone.

    That single person is a member of the public and if they don't benefit it cannot be said that "the public" beneifts. A single exception disproves the theory. It is not efficient and it is bad policy.


  13. Larry G Avatar

    okay.. just to be clear…

    you think it is the job of govt to protect you from dishonest people who would take advantage of you in a transaction?

    not a trick question..

    but you see the role of govt as riding herd on all private market transactions?

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    I already disclose nutrition content of my hay to anyone who asks. Most of my customers are repeat or experienced buyers, so this does not happen often.

    "You could have this same approach for any transactions including private sales of cars and homes."

    There are services that provide car history. Similar for termite inspections etc.

    What we do not get is disclosure or warrnty from the government that they won't pull the rug oput from under us on THEIR part of the deal.

    If I buy a lot suitqable for three houses, I expect to own a lot suitable for three houses. If the government wants to change that, then they need to do so at the time of the sale, or make Kaldor Hicks commpensation later.

    Otherwise the govenment is participating in a policy that is not efficient.

    Not to mention unethical.


  15. Anonymous Avatar

    It is a primary, irreducible responsibility of government to protect people and property.

    The vast majority of transactions are acceptible to both parties, or the grivancesa re too small to worry about.

    Government already rides herd on transactions where public safety is concerned. And we have expedited court services and small claims court to ajudicate complaints. Plus federal mail fraud investigations (I have provided expert witness for some of these.)

    Government demands cleanliness and honest weights and measures. Records liens and deeds and titles.

    etc. etc. etc.

    Yes, i guess I think government does a pretty good job of riding herd on most transactions.

    It also looks the other way a lot. Warranties, for example often take away protections you would have been allowed by law, absent the warranty. It issues "licenses" that are supposed to protect you but don't.

    In Virginia an insuror can rescind your policy retrroactively for up to two years. In favor of tranparncy in transaction, the state should at least require disclosure of this, and not let you find out the hard way.

    Government can do better in protecitng people and their property, but I think they alrady ride herd on most transactions.

    If governments responsibility is toprotect people and their property then government needs a clear picture of who bought what.


    But, have disagreemnet with government over what you bought, and then good luck, buyer beware, and all that. Forget about courts or due process. Even if you get to court and the court sides with you the government will still fight you tooth and nail.

    What would you think about a vendor if youwent to the homepage and there was a warning to hire an attorney before commencing any business?

    If government only handled its own transactions same as others, there would be fewer complaints.


  16. Larry G Avatar

    re: "buyer beware" an the role of govt…

    Now Grovteon and Bacon and others will tell you that the govt has no businesses messing with health care and that in doing so we'll become more dependent as people and less responsible for our own decisions and destinies.

    That if you want to have your gizzard xrayed – that it's between you, the x-ray technician and the yahoo in China who put that thing together that is now pointing at your gizzard?

    Now.. if you like the idea of the govt protecting your gizzard then why would you dare question the govt deciding what kind of settlement pattern suits you best?

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Now.. if you like the idea of the govt protecting your gizzard then why would you dare question the govt deciding what kind of settlement pattern suits you best?


    Because there is almost no reliable data on what the benefits and drawbacks of various settlement patterns are.

    By comparison, we are idiots savant in Gizzard protection.

    If I get a gizzard scan, I pay the allocated costs of government protection and regulation and intervention.

    But if I live in a subdivision in Warrenton, having outmigrated twice, I can lobby and blog for any kind of settlement patten or controls I like, knowing I won't have to pay and others can't get what I have.


  18. Larry G Avatar

    and you're much more sure that you won't have your gizzard fried?

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    and you're much more sure that you won't have your gizzard fried?


    I've already had my personal economics fried. Yes, my gizzard is much safer than my pocketbook is.


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