George F. Will Nails It

Mild-mannered Republican Ray LaHood has been transformed into the Secretary of Behavioral Modification. As Will notes, the behavioralists don’t know their history and fail to recognize that behavioral tools are costly and produce little benefit. Moreover, once they get started, there is no end to the amount of meddling they are willing to do in people’s lives.

Portland Congressman Earl Blumenauer has offered to defend the behavioralists in a debate with Will. The Antiplanner would be willing to make a rare return to Portland to see that.

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44 thoughts on “George F. Will Nails It

  1. ws

    So no “behavior modification” was created when a new highway slammed through an existing neighborhood to build an urban freeway. Get real.

    I’ve lived in suburbia my whole life, it is the biggest social engineering experiment there is. There are hardly any options other than the car.

  2. Tad Winiecki

    From a recent PowerPoint presentation “The Tipping Point?” May 13, 2009 by Alan E. Pisarski

    “WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?
    Why do they want what they want ?

    Why can’t they want what we want them to want ?

    If this keeps up our government will
    have to elect new people !

    What are we going to do with the American people – they insist in having such terrible goals”

    My goal is to replace fixed schedule mass transit with personal automated transport.

  3. D4P

    My goal is to replace fixed schedule mass transit with personal automated transport

    That seems more like a means to a goal than a goal itself. Which is ironic because the Antiplanner has accused planners of becoming so tied to particular means that they start to confuse the means with the goal.

  4. the highwayman

    ws said: So no “behavior modification” was created when a new highway slammed through an existing neighborhood to build an urban freeway. Get real.

    I’ve lived in suburbia my whole life, it is the biggest social engineering experiment there is. There are hardly any options other than the car.

    THWM: Like why do cars ads often say “professional driver, closed course”?

  5. Tad Winiecki

    D4P is correct that replacing fixed schedule mass transit is more a means than a goal, or it could be a secondary goal.
    My actual goals listed on my website are to:
    * Reduce traffic congestion,
    * Improve people’s mobility and
    * Make a profit for the transit system owners.
    A better, more rational approach to planning can be found on Ian Ford’s website http://www.abqtransp.org – I recommend that all of you read Ian’s reports.

  6. craig

    If the roads fill up and we build more roads and freeways to accommodate them, we are not forcing anyone to drive a car, because they did not have to move to the suburb.

    They could have stayed downtown, but they chose not to.

  7. ws

    In ways some roads do force people to drive, especially considering ones that fragmented existing neighborhoods and limit their alternative mobility options.

  8. C. P. Zilliacus

    ws asserted:

    > So no “behavior modification” was created when a new
    > highway slammed through an existing neighborhood to
    > build an urban freeway. Get real.

    Sounds to me like you’ve been spending too much time (re)reading
    Caro’s The Power Broker recently.

    Please name 10 (or even 5) instances in the past 25
    or 20 years where a new freeway “slammed through”
    an existing neighborhood.

  9. C. P. Zilliacus

    ws also asserted:

    > In ways some roads do force people to drive, especially
    > considering ones that fragmented existing neighborhoods
    > and limit their alternative mobility options.

    O.K.

    Why don’t you explain the impact of the I-66 freeway
    (relatively new as compared to most urban Interstates, only
    completed in 1982) on Arlington County, Virginia?

    And please explain how I-66 (bitterly opposed by Arlington’s
    elected officials at the time) “fragmented” existing
    neighborhoods and “limited” their mobility options?

  10. C. P. Zilliacus

    And ws also asserted this:

    > I’ve lived in suburbia my whole life, it is the biggest
    > social engineering experiment there is. There are hardly
    > any options other than the car.

    So I have a suggestion for you. Why not move to one
    of the following downtowns (I have visited all of
    them, and you should be able to manage just fine without
    a car in any of them, though some are more costly than
    others):

    Atlanta
    Baltimore
    Charleston, S.C.
    Chicago
    Cleveland
    Harrisburg, Penna.
    Long Beach, Calif.
    Los Angeles
    Miami
    Minneapolis/St. Paul
    Morgantown, W.Va.
    New York City
    Philadelphia
    Pittsburgh
    Portland, Oregon
    Sacramento
    San Diego
    San Francisco
    Washington, D.C.
    Wilmington, Del.

  11. D4P

    Why not move to one of the following downtowns</b

    One is also left to wonder why Oregon’s biggest critics (e.g. The Antiplanner, Jim Karlock, etc.) choose to live there.

  12. Borealis

    Why does everyone want to impose either an auto-centered landscape or a non-auto centered landscape? Why not let people freely choose?

    Clearly people chose suburbia for most of the last 60 years. You can argue if there was a subsidy, or a financial disincentive, but there is no chance that at most the minor subsidy made the difference for an overwhelmingly majority of people.

    Today is a different world. Certainly there are many people who like a modern urban non-auto environment. But it might be 10%, or it might be 60%. I have lived in both worlds and found good aspects of both. But I greatly object to centralized planning that seeks to impose those lifestyles on widespread areas.

  13. the highwayman

    George Will nailed it like Jello to a wall, it’s a paradox that there are libertarians that want to impose limits for others.

    Not all suburbs are the same either, there are suburbs with good transit service and there a suburbs with bad transit service.

  14. prk166

    “Please name 10 (or even 5) instances in the past 25
    or 20 years where a new freeway “slammed through”
    an existing neighborhood.” –CP

    IIRC e-470 forced some prairie dogs to move.

  15. prk166

    “it’s a paradox that there are libertarians that want to impose limits for others.”

    There are about as many actual libertarians that want that as there are Christians that don’t believe in Jesus.

  16. Otto Maddox

    “it’s a paradox that there are libertarians that want to impose limits for others.”

    Control freaks come in many sizes, shapes, and political persuasions.

  17. ws

    C. P. Zilliacus:Please name 10 (or even 5) instances in the past 25or 20 years where a new freeway “slammed through” an existing neighborhood.

    ws: Most of the urban freeways have already been constructed before this time period. I can think of one urban freeway that had to remove a good amount of structures that is in “my area”.

  18. dmccall

    I find it very odd that liberals are pro-choice while tending to be behavioralists (their incessant meddling with environmental law, bans on smoking, bans on garbage disposers, etc).

    Yet those very members of government who stand for liberty are also the most vehement anti-abortionists.

  19. Dan

    Most of the urban freeways have already been constructed before this time period. I can think of one urban freeway that had to remove a good amount of structures that is in “my area”.

    This is a red herring (as is implied), as it is very expensive to pay fair market value to all the properties along a corridor. And, as prk166 read recently, the expansion of freeways means people have to move and businesses have to close.

    One is left wondering: who are you trying to dupe, Zilliacus? Such a patently transparent “argument”.

    DS

  20. C. P. Zilliacus

    > This is a red herring (as is implied), as it is very expensive
    > to pay fair market value to all the properties along a corridor.

    Expensive or not, that’s the law in every state that I
    am familiar with.

    > And, as prk166 read recently, the expansion of freeways
    > means people have to move and businesses have to close.

    Same thing happens (in some cases) when an area is hit by
    tornados, hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes.

    But in a democracy, the construction of a new highway
    (or mass transit line or airport) is reached through
    democratic processes, and society decides that
    a project benefits society as a whole in spite of
    certain objections.

    > One is left wondering: who are you trying to dupe, Zilliacus?
    > Such a patently transparent “argument”.

    Transparency is a good thing, according to President Obama.

  21. Dan

    Expensive or not, that’s the law in every state that I am familiar with.

    And it is why your “argument” doesn’t work and your thrashing around for play in 24 looks silly.

    DS

  22. prk166

    DS, I agree modern examples like T-Rex and US 36 involve emminent domain and buying property. But those aren’t projects slamming through neighborhoods, so to speak. They’re expansions of an existing corridors taking a few homes and businesses. Neither seem right but there’s a difference between widening the Boulder turnpike and the construction of I94 in St. Paul that swallowed and destroyed the historically black neighborhood of Rondo[sic].

    The Boulder turnpike expansion isn’t just for the freeway itself, it’s also for transit (BRT). T-rex did the same with both of its freeway and LRT portions. The West Corridor of Fastracks has all sorts of homes and businesses being swallowed up. e470 had the same.

    I’m not sure where exactly this point gets anyone.

  23. the highwayman

    Otto Maddox said:
    “it’s a paradox that there are libertarians that want to impose limits for others.”

    Control freaks come in many sizes, shapes, and political persuasions.

    THWM: This blogs shows that all the the time.

  24. the highwayman

    C. P. Zilliacus said: In a democracy, the construction of a new highway (or mass transit line or airport) is reached through democratic processes, and society decides that a project benefits society as a whole in spite of certain objections.

    THWM: That’s great, now stop bashing rail & transit, because it’s rail & transit.

  25. Dan

    But those aren’t projects slamming through neighborhoods, so to speak. They’re expansions of an existing corridors taking a few homes and businesses.

    And the added noise and emissions expand their impacts even further in addition to the homes and businesses being destroyed, lowering even more property values as a result.

    So as we can see, there is ample evidence for why the red herring above is a red herring.

    DS

  26. Borealis

    I don’t know about all the state laws, but it really doesn’t matter. Property seized for a highway or rail line or other public purpose must be paid for. Its called the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    There is a lot of debate on what is just compensation, but if the government takes all of a piece of property, it must pay full market value.

  27. ws

    Yes, we all understand what eminent domain means, Borealis. However, it’s not a “nice word”, and in regards to highway development, you never see eminent domain used against people who have money (and thus representation). White man’s highway through a black man’s bedroom was the saying.

    Not to mention the concept of eminent domain goes against the grain of libertarian ideology. It wreaks of an overstepping government force, regardless if it’s in the Constitution.

    I always hear that stacked roadways being the future of highways to reduce ED cases, but these types of highways in earthquake prone areas are a bad idea, IMO, or will be vastly expensive.

  28. prk166

    But I don’t get the point of all of this in general let alone whatever conversation is involved with the red herring stuff.

    Neighborhoods aren’t being destroyed because we don’t build new freeways through them. That was done long ago. Where freeways are being expanded is occurring in areas that grew up around the freeway. There’s not neighborhood to split up, it was already oriented toward the freeway.

    As for property values, I’m skeptical of this having an impact. The freeway is already there. This doesn’t change it, it only expands it. If you live at 78th and Zuni, does it matter that the freeway will be a block away instead of two? If you’re living at 70th and Lipan will the Boulder Turnpike being another 22 feet closer to your house really make a difference in property values?

    And at that how much noise is added? I don’t go that way often but I remember there being some sound walls. And what is the added pollution, if any at all? The pollution and noise come from cars, not the road itself. So if the cars aren’t stuck in congested lanes as much, is there more pollution or less even if more vehicles use the route.

    And might any possible property fluctuations or air pollution not be offest by the transit nature of the project? This is the first step in adding the US 36 BRT corridor for Fastracks, right? Isn’t that going to help reduce congestion? Won’t having more and better transit options help raise property prices?

  29. Dan

    There is a lot of debate on what is just compensation, but if the government takes all of a piece of property, it must pay full market value.

    No. That is not in the Constitution.

    DS

  30. Scott

    Most of you don’t get the “gist.”
    (especially h-man & dan, just making tangential comments, w/no sense).

    What the gov., via the DOT, & other arms, is trying to do, is have people “drive less, or not at all”.

    Is public transit for you? Do you like far fewer options?

    Get it?!
    You want transit, often?
    Then live in a dense core city.
    There are only about six.
    NYC, Chicago, SF, DC, Boston, Philly.

    Why should general taxes pay for <4% of users?

  31. the highwayman

    Scott, go back to your teabagging & no one is preventing you from being a hermit either.

    So get use to it, there are other people living in America besides you!

  32. Scott

    I’m not the only one in 2 continents (America)?
    Thank you for pointing that out.

    Now I see part of your shortcoming, when you have trouble with the obvious and bring up items that have no relevance.

    What does a freeway have to do with changing behavior?
    It offers better options for faster driving.
    A century ago, transit was used a lot more. Since then most people have chosen not to use transit, thus declining ridership.

  33. Scott

    Thank God for government waste. If government is doing bad things, it’s only the waste that prevents the harm from being greater.

    There are 4 ways to spend money:
    1. Own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.
    2.Own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.
    3.Somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!
    4.Somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get.
    That’s government, having little concern for taking others’ money & wasting it. That’s 40%+ of GDP.

    Can anybody name the source?

  34. the highwayman

    Scott,#3 & 4 happen a lot in the private sector too.

    Scott said: What does a freeway have to do with changing behavior?
    It offers better options for faster driving.
    A century ago, transit was used a lot more. Since then most people have chosen not to use transit, thus declining ridership.

    THWM: That’s a major double standard, you want big government with roads, but no support for transit.

  35. Scott

    “Laws change behavior.” ???

    People don’t disagree w/the basic laws of protection: robbery, battery, murder & such.

    That’s “preventing” bad behavior which harm others, obviously.

    BTW, even laissez-faire ideology has basic tenets against slander, fraud, cheating & such.

    So some of you say that if you support laws to prevent behavior that harms others, then you support all gov coercion into one’s personal tastes, actions, purchases, transport method, etc.
    Get real! How much should government force us how to live?

    People get mixed up with binary choices versus a broad spectrum.
    For example, many think that those who prefer a limited government, believe in anarchy–no rules, no protection, no public infrastructure for “all” (stadiums not included), no police, no schools, etc.
    Not true.

    That has been really bastardized.
    The nanny state is doing too much, & w/out enough revenue/taxes.
    If you leftists want all these “things” from gov, you need to be willing to pay–not force others to pay for your crap.

  36. Dan

    Most of you don’t get the “gist.”
    (especially h-man & dan,

    I usually am not so blunt, but I question your capacity to understand what I write here. Sorry. You may want to re-“think” before you become a poster child.

    DS

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