Mike the Mad Biologist

Sunday Sermon: Building Surburbia Prediction

I recently finished Dolores Hayden’s Building Suburbia, and I recommend it highly.

Hayden describes how all of the arguments we have today about land use and transportation have been with us in one form or another for over 150 years. But what struck me was this section–and keep in mind, this book was published in 2003 (italics mine):

In 2003, Americans have had almost two centuries of experience with suburban boosters and their growth machines. Living farther and farther from older city centers, Americans spend an increasing proportion of their income on home mortgages and car payments, and purchase freezers, washers, computers, and barbecues as if there will never be a shortage of oil, electricity, water, or air. American corporations promote consumption around the world, building highways, shopping malls, and single-family houses. At home, underneath the apparent prosperity lies anxiety. Can the United States sustain growth at the rate of 1.5 million new housing units a year? Is there something inherently shaky about the whole edifice of credit, consumption, and public subsidies for private development?

No it can’t, and yes, there is.

That is today’s edition of simple answers to simple questions (Atrios®)