Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Joel Kotkin on the suburbs

Here’s a challenge to all the James Howard Kunstler supporters out there:

[Suburban] success revolves around many of the basics that William Levitt recognized as critical--affordable homes, good schools, nice parks and public safety. As long as suburbs continue to deliver them, the master developer’s legacy is likely to live on for another 60 years.

Those all strike me as sound reasons for suburban living. The familiar critiques of the suburbs--lack of diversity, blandness (especially of cuisine), and no culture--have much less force than they did a couple of decades ago. Which leaves the cost of transportation....

How high a price are we willing to pay for good schools and public safety? How long before we can confidently expect these "amenities" in densely populated areas?

Discussions - 2 Comments

Blandness, lack of diversity and of culture are simply not very unusual things for people to want. "How high a price are we willing to pay for good schools and public safety?" Not very, if you're maybe twenty-five and single. Otherwise, the longer commute is worth it for the vast majority of our fellow Americans, who have been voting with their feet on the subject since at least 1946.

Kunstler's critique of suburbia--what he calls "nowhere"--goes beyond the aesthetic and points in the direction of the concerns Patrick Deneen has been raising over at his blog: is it possible that the days of relatively inexpensive transportation are over? If so, then greater residential densities may in the long run become all that most of us can afford.

Whether "urban" governments can provide us with the services we need then becomes a much bigger issue.

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