Skip to main content

Transportation and Freedom of Choice

This post on public transit by Yglesias makes many good points, including a response to the argument that public transit is a socialist ploy and infringement on liberty:
But of course [conservatives] have nothing to say about genuine infringements of liberty like minimum parking requirements, maximum lot occupancy rules, building height limits, prohibitions on accessory dwellings, etc. that are mainstays of America’s centrally planned suburbs. That’s because to them what really matters isn’t socialism or liberty (certainly nobody who cares about liberty could be as enthusiastic about torture as National Review writers are) but Americanness.
I generally agree, but see it a bit differently. When George Will writes that Ray LaHood is the "Secretary of Behavior Modification," he gets away with it because good mass transit, mixed use developments, bicycle infrastructure, etc. are things that most American metropolitan areas do not have. If a city builds awesome public transit, and lots of people ride it (which is hopefully the goal), then indeed, behavior will have been modified.

(from Flickr user caribb)

To these types of conservatives, it doesn't matter who builds, maintains or operates roads and highways; it doesn't matter that local governments have draconian zoning laws because those things represent the status quo. The status quo is comfortable. For some, it's all they know. Thus, retaining the status quo, no matter how much sense it makes ideologically, is better than making changes, because retaining it requires no modification or adaptation.

There's this perverse notion that the status quo exists in its current form because that's how we, individuals, want it to exist. We don't live different lifestyles than the Europeans because of social and economic incentives that evolved throughout history. Oh no, we live differently than the Europeans because we want to live differently; it's how we've always wanted to live, and to argue otherwise is to somehow deny that we are rational beings able to exercise our ability to make free choices.


Cavan said…
Well said. It's about fear, plain and simple for those Conservative columnists. It's also about intellectual uncuriousity. They refuse to ask about the failures of the status quo.

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Mixing Sports and Business

In the last two days I've devoured every article in the Washington Post about the Nationals painful and epic defeat on Friday night in the NLDS. It was a tough way to see the season end, there's no doubt about that.

(from wallyg on Flickr)
These articles make it clear that there are a lot of people emotionally invested in professional sports. I think they sometimes they forget that, ultimately, Major League Baseball is big business. Each team is a major corporation and the league itself is an organization governed by a bunch of executives. The television networks that show the games are under contract with the team owners and the games aren't usually available to those without cable.

This is why it can be so hard to be a fan in this game. It's the multi-millionaire and billionaire owners that call most of the shots. They get to decide how much they're willing to spend on players. They get to decide who to hire as the CEO of the company. They get to decide how much t…