Category Archives: News commentary

Robots Want Your Job

America has more than three million transportation workers, more than any other occupational group, and they are all about to lose their jobs to self-driving vehicles. They might fight it, says this video, but “the workers always lose; economics always wins.”

Fortunately, the creator of this video doesn’t understand economics (for example, it is not something that wins or loses). He equates humans with horses, saying that horses never expected that they would lose their jobs to motor vehicles, but as it turned out their population peaked in 1915 and has been declining ever since.

Continue reading

Share

Farewell to an Honest Planner

I never met Sir Peter Hall, who died last week, but I feel like I’ve lost an old friend. His books helped guide me through the history of urban planning and its growing obsession with densification.

Cities in Civilization is his most-frequently mentioned book, mainly because its 1,129 pages made it such a formidable reference. Though I have two copies of that book, the book I really love is Cities of Tomorrow, which traced the history of the urban planning profession.

In it, Hall noted that the earliest urban planners were anarchists who sought to free the working class from their high-density hovels. But that changed when Le Corbusier, who Hall called “the Rasputin of the tale” of urban planning, proposed that all cities should consist solely of high-rises. Planners flocked to this idea, and after World War II, nations all over the world rebuilt their slums or bombed-out areas into high rises. Far from freeing the working class from density, planning became all about forcing the working class into density.

Continue reading

Share

Back in the Air Again

The Antiplanner is in the Twin Cities this week giving presentations on land-use and transportation issues in that region. Here are the sessions, most of which are open to the public:

  • “Thrive Planning vs. the American Dream,” sponsored by the SW Metro Tea Party, Chanhassen Recreation Center, 2310 Coulter Blvd., Chanhassen, 7:00-8:30 pm, Monday, August 4
  • “Rebalancing Transportation Planning,” sponsored by Expose the Truth, Dayton’s Bluff Recreation Center, 800 Conway St., St. Paul, 5:00-8:00 pm, Tuesday, August 5
  • “Transportation and Your Business,” sponsored by the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce (must pre-register), Harvest Grill, 12800 Bunker Prairie Road, Coon Rapids, 11:15 am to 1:15 pm, Wednesday, August 6
  • “The Folly of High-Speed Rail,” Goodhue County Fairgrounds, 8:00 pm, Friday, August 8

By coincidence, the Antiplanner’s faithful ally, Wendell Cox, will also be speaking in Minneapolis about the Thrive plan at 7:30 am, Wednesday, August 6 at the Doubletree Hotel Park Place, 1500 Park Place Blvd., pre-registration will save money if done by noon, August 5.

If you are in the Twin Cities area this week, I hope to see you at one of these events.

Share

The Dead Billionaire’s Club That Runs the Environmental Movement

A new report from the minority staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works shows just how a handful of left-leaning foundations have taken control of the once-grassroots environmental movement. These foundations both shape the environmental agenda and help put people in power in the Environmental Protection Agency and other bureaucracies.


Click image to download the 2.3-MB report.

The report uses the unfortunate term “Billionaire’s Club” to describe the funders who give groups like the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club Foundation millions of dollars a year. In fact, in most cases it would be more accurate to describe it as the “Dead Billionaire’s Club,” as most of the money comes from foundations set up by wealthy people who were often fairly conservative, but their foundations are now run by their liberal children and/or left-wing staffs.

Continue reading

Share

Autonomous Cars Yes, V2I No!

Yesterday, President Obama gave a speech in Virginia calling for mandatory installation of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications in all cars. By coincidence, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is holding its annual symposium on autonomous (that is, driverless) cars in California.

V2V allows vehicles to communicate with one another to allow them to avoid accidents, while V2I allows highway infrastructure (such as traffic signals) to communicate directly with motor vehicles. While Obama touts the safety benefits of these technologies, there are at least four reasons why they should not be mandatory.

First, V2V and V2I communications pose serious security risks for travelers and cities. With V2V communications, an automobile that suffers a fender-bender would communicate to all nearby vehicles that they ought to take a different route to avoid congestion.

Continue reading

Share

San Antonio Petition May Stop Streetcar

San Antonio streetcar opponents submitted a petition today to allow voters to decide whether the region’s transit agency, VIA, should spend $280 million on a 5.9-mile streetcar. They needed about 20,000 signatures, and submitted well over 26,000 of which they personally pre-verified nearly 24,000.

SApetition
Streetcar skeptics hold a press conference on the steps of San Antonio’s city hall as they present signatures for a ballot measure requiring that voters approve any streetcars built in city streets or rights of way. Photo by Michael Dennis.

Unfortunately, this petition still has several hurdles to leap. First, the city is claiming that signature gatherers didn’t follow proper procedures; the petitioners claim they did, and that the procedures the city wants them to follow only apply to recall petitions. Second, even if the measure makes it to the ballot and is approved by voters, VIA argues that it won’t be bound by the results.

Share

Is MagLev a Game Changer?

Much like the proposed Florida passenger trains that can be run without government subsidies (but can we have some anyway?), train supporters are gushing over Japan’s tentative decision to build a magnetically levitated (maglev) line from Tokyo to Osaka. Japan apparently sees this as a way to revitalize its economy, especially if it can sell the trains to the United States and other countries.


Maglev train being tested in Japan. Wikimedia commons photo by Yosemite.

The Antiplanner has maintained that transportation improvements are economic game changers only if they make travel faster, cheaper, and/or more convenient. Maglev meets only one of those criteria: at projected speeds of a little more than 300 mph, maglev would be at least 50 percent faster than existing high-speed trains and possibly even faster than flying over short distances. Flights from Tokyo to Osaka, the route of the proposed maglev, take about 80 minutes, and the maglev promises to reduce times to little more than an hour.

Continue reading

Share

Funny, Funny Men

Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver are very funny men. Their humor also has a distinct liberal bias. It’s possible that they don’t think they are biased, because they sometimes criticize Democrats as well as (though not nearly as often as) Republicans. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t biased.

By “liberal bias,” I don’t mean they always support Obama. Most of their humor is directed to two targets: first, government officials who lie, waste money, and/or support policies that kill innocent people; and second, people who don’t trust government.

Continue reading

Share

Good-Bye Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

Antiplanner readers know that I have no sympathy for Clive Bundy, who has been trespassing on federal lands for two decades and somehow made people feel like he was the victim. Perhaps it seems strange, then, that I have a lot more sympathy for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, whose operations in California’s Point Reyes National Seashore the National Park Service is trying to shut down.


Incompatible use? As long as the oyster company could avoid using motorized equipment in the part of the bay designated wilderness, oyster growing should be compatible with wilderness. Flickr photo by Earthworm.

At first glance, the facts are similar. Both Bundy and Drakes Bay
used public lands or waters for decades, and were allowed to continue to use those resources after the BLM took over the former and the Park Service took over the latter. Then Congress passed laws–the Endangered Species Act in Bundy’s case and a wilderness law covering the oyster farm–that restricted the use of those resources.

Continue reading

Share

Solar Conways

Crowdsourcing is one of those great ideas that could only come about because of the Internet. But it also opens up the possibilities for con artists, or at least advocates of really bad ideas, to get money from people who don’t know any better.

One of those bad ideas is solar roadways, which–thanks to a tweet by George Takei (because actors on science fiction TV shows know so much more about science than other celebrities)–received more than $2 million in pledges when its promoters asked for only half that. The pledges kept coming in even after numerous web sites debunked the proposal to turn roads into solar energy collectors.

Continue reading

Share