Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Some of the first things to go in a time of economic recession are grand ideas of public policy. But David Brooks –- sometimes dismissed as merely “the conservative” columnist for the New York Times –- laments this week that president-elect Obama’s leading economic plan for 2009 –- pouring money into infrastructure proejcts as soon as possible –- will fail to foster metropolitan density and good planning that the 21st century –- and especially a more sober 21st century society -- needs. I think he’s correct in his skepticism that Obama will do little to link the money to urban planning; – after all, Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, appears to be a traditional Democrat for whom issues of job numbers and social justice are far more important than green or land use ideas. And of course even if Obama were Al Gore or James Howard Kunstler, it’s often difficult for the federal government to use money to effects plans at the local level. So we’ll likely see billions funneled into new roads and bridges, with relatively little of it heading to public transpiration of transit-oriented development. After all, there’s a recession on, haven’t you heard?
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