Thursday, May 19, 2011
Newt Gingrich on land use stuff:
This whole problem of intellectuals who live on university campuses and take mass transit and then have no idea what the rest of the country is like. I mean, it’s nice to have a physicist as the Secretary of Energy, but maybe his experiences of real life on an everyday basis aren't the same as those of people who live in rural Georgia or people who live in north Georgia. I’m always reminded when people talk about Europe. I did my dissertation on Belgium. Belgium is one-third the size of South Carolina. So when you start talking about traveling in Europe, they’re not driving very far and they’re not driving cars that are very big. And that happens to be different than America on two grounds—we travel a long way and we like bigger vehicles. Now liberals don’t like us liking bigger vehicles, so they want to find a way to punish us economically. Hit our pocketbook, make us change, because they’d like all of us to live in big cities in high rises, taking mass transit. That’s their idealized utopia.
Oh no. Gingrich finally has our number. How does he know that when I'm at my country club, sipping organic tea and making fun of people who watch NCIS, I love plotting about how I can get all the Bubbas to live in one-a-them newfangled apartments and ride the trolley car.
More substantively, Gingrich has things completely backwards. He tries to argue that liberals are attempting to force everyone to live in dense urban areas. In fact, zoning regulations -- championed by suburban homeowners -- have made it more or less impossible for these "liberals" to build new walkable neighborhoods. Gingrich's bluster is really dishonest and incredibly frustrating. A supposed champion of free markets should be advocating a role-back of land use regulations so that high-density developments can compete on an level playing field with low-density suburbs, not demonizing intellectuals. The "argument" he's making is all identity-politics nonsense.
(hat tip: Matt Yglesias)