Now questions are sure to be raised about a self-policing system that trusted a commercial operator to take care of its own mishap even as it grew into a menace imperiling Gulf Coast nature and livelihoods from Florida to Texas.
Will this be Obama’s Katrina? Should the federal and state governments have done more, and earlier? Did they learn the lessons of the devastating hurricane?
— CBS News
Golly, I wonder…
“We believe in capitalism; we believe in people getting rich.” — Barack Obama
ROFLMAO. The lessons at hand are of no interest to Zerobama and everybody else in our bought and sold, election-by-dollars political system.
Our overclass has done such a bang-up job demonizing public spending and public enterprise, nobody ever bothers to comment on the vast, ecocidal private-sector waste on which the corporate economy utterly relies.
The cardinal form of such waste is cars-first transportation, to which corporate shareholders are intractably addicted.
The lavishness and logic of the waste entailed can be appraised by these facts about the construction of parking spaces for automobiles, as reported by UCLA’s Donald Shoup:
Urban planners often ask questions about parking requirements. The Planning Advisory Service of the American Planning Association (1991, 1) reports that it “receives hundreds of requests each year about off-street parking requirements for different land uses–in fact, we receive more requests year after year on this topic than on any other.” Yet, to my knowledge, urban planning education offers students no instruction in how to set parking requirements.
Urban planning textbooks offer no help in learning to set parking requirements. Consider the four editions of Urban Land Use Planning by F. Stuart Chopin and his coauthors (Chapin 1957, 1965; Chopin and Kaiser 1979; Kaiser, Godschalk, and Chapin 1995). This distinguished text is considered the “bible” of urban land use planning, yet no edition mentions parking requirements.
What possible explanation could there be for this, other than that the system needs to make sure that business requirements always and everywhere easily trump engineering calculations?
Meanwhile, here is the method deployed in actual construction practice:
The only source of data that systematically relates parking demand to land use is Parking Generation, published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers. The ITE (1987) reports the “parking generation rate” for 64 different land uses, from airports to warehouses. The parking generation rate for each land use is defined as the average peak parking demand observed in case studies…. The objective of the survey is to count the number of vehicles parked at the time of peak parking demand.
Even this peak “parking generation” number, however, is not enough for cars-first:
Planners often set minimum parking requirements higher than the ITE parking generation rates. For example, a survey of 33 cities in nine southeastern states found that parking requirements averaged 3.7 spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space, or 32 percent higher than the ITE parking generation rate of 2.79 spaces per 1,000 square feet (Polanis and Price 1991, 32). Similarly, a survey of 117 cities in California found that parking requirements averaged 3.8 spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space, or 36 percent higher than the ITE parking generation rate (Shoup 1995, 18).
The generous parking capacity required by planners often goes unused. Studying office buildings in ten California cities, Richard Willson (1995) found that the peak parking demand averaged only 56 percent of capacity. Gruen Associates (1986) found that peak parking demand at nine suburban office parks near Philadelphia and San Francisco averaged only 47 percent of capacity, and that no office park had a peak parking demand greater than 60 percent of capacity. The Urban Land Institute (1982, 12) found that the recommended parking requirements for shopping centers provide a surplus of parking spaces for all but nineteen hours a year, and leave at least half of all spaces vacant for more than 40 percent of the time a shopping center is open for business.
Apparently, China’s Stalinist-capitalist ruling class has quite consciously copied the American system/unchecked corporate capitalism’s somewhat more bumbling but still tightly logical pursuit of cars-first transportation as a pillar industry:
According to Mugyenyi and Engler:
The Chinese government understands, in the words of The Economist, that “the car industry more or less invented modern industrial capitalism.” Which is why, according to The Financial Times; “China’s car-centred model of development has been a mainstay of economic growth in recent years…the spin-off benefits from burgeoning car sales have been enormous. Each car requires several thousand parts, hundreds – if not thousands – of suppliers, roads, car parks, driving schools, petrol stations and other service industries.”
For the past 75 years the automobile has been the number one source of capitalist profit. An industry with a voracious and varied appetite, automakers are among the leading consumers of copper, aluminum, plastics, iron, lead, rubber, textiles, vinyl, computer chips and steel. 9 of the world’s 10 biggest corporations in 2007 were car and oil companies (Walmart, the largest, is highly dependent on the private automobile).
The Communist Party has worked vigorously for China to join this capitalist heaven. In 1994, the auto industry was named one of five “pillar industries” by the government. “The Chinese government wants to emulate America’s rise to industrial glory by making the car industry a pillar of economic growth,” noted The Economist.
So, it looks like the USA and China, through car-induced energy waste and oil war, are going to be the center stages on which the human race will either make it or break it in this pivotal century. Killing cars-first is an absolute requirement, and hence a very high priority, for those of us living in the belly of these beasts.
Keep an eye out for Mugyenyi and Engler’s book, Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the road to Economic, Social and Environmental Decay, which Yves Engler says will be out in 2011.
My own book, Courting Carmageddon: Capitalism, Transportation, and the Approaching Collapse of the United States, should appear around the same time, from Monthly Review Press.
Under an outline already approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gonzalez Jan. 21, the remainder of the company will wind down, giving the U.S. no predicted recovery on its $5 billion loan under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
The “free market” in action, folks.
Icelandic ash is presently exposing the extent to which Europeans have permitted their transportation arrangements to be stupidly built. According to today’s New York Times, there are now about 28,000 daily airline flights in Europe. This, in the land of walkable/bikable cities, world-class trains, and supposedly relaxed time attitudes?
According to the Times, the volcano’s grounding of these airplanes has meant that “millions of…travelers were left with no realistic options, caught in a web of misery that reached across the globe.”
Meanwhile, according to Transport Revolutions, by Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl, intercity electric rail is ten times more energy efficient than intercity air flight. (See page 240.)
Add to this the fact that because (despite their far superior welfare states) Europeans remain subordinate to corporate capitalism, they have also been allowing their elites to push cars on them. Germany, France, Italy, and Spain have even pursued their own versions of the monumentally corrupt and stupid “cash-for-clunkers” subsidy.
Conclusion? Europe has its own need for radical reconstruction to achieve anything resembling sustainable transportation.
One logical effect of the corporate capitalists’ century-long cars-first transportation dictatorship in America has been the thorough intimidation of even its most ardent critics. With that in mind, see if you can guess what the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition agrees to call the reality depicted in this photograph:
To quote the SFBC:
According to a press release issued today by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, “Responding to the growing interest in bicycle transportation, the city began installing its first physically separated bike lane on Market Street today.
“Physically separated”? From 3,000-pound rolling metal boxes? Seriously, SFBC? Looks like even the slightest, most feathery concessions can bowl you right over.
Meanwhile, the DoubleSpeak involved in U.S. transportation planning rolls merrily along, aided by even the would-be reformers.
Car marketers (a.k.a. corporate capitalists) peddle their monumentally wasteful and dangerous products as indispensable bundles of joy and comfort.
Switzerland: #2 in happiness, #15 in automobiles per person
Austria: #3 in happiness, #10 in automobiles per person
And how does the USA, by far the world’s most car-intensive society rank in terms of human happiness?
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