Monday, October 31, 2011

Driving makes you fat

The article Driving Makes You Fat, Urban Sprawl Bankrupts You, Other Life-Saving New Urbanist Epiphanies undermines individual freedom and liberty. Greg Lindsay attempts to support his new urbanist heroes by sharing some of their ideas. Lindsay blames obesity, diabetes, asthma, and auto fatalities on increased amounts of urban sprawl and commuting done by many Americas. Lindsay and his ilk are creating a Bootleggers and Baptist scenario. Lindsay attempts to show the increase in commuting as an extremely dire situation. Lindsay is a dedicated disciple of the Bootleggers (who tend to be mostly politicians). These bootleggers will benefit their pocket books by ‘fixing’ whatever situation the Baptists like Lindsay were clamoring about. Lindsay claims that increased driving is harmful to “public health.” Issues such as obesity and asthma are not public health issues. They are private issues. Furthermore, if an individual is fat, it is their right to be fat as long as they are not impeding others liberties. Lindsay’s connection between commuting and obesity is weak as dietary changes, increased computer and game time, and television are logically more suspect as causes for obesity. One source Lindsay uses commented, “A [woman was] victim of lack of transportation alternatives.” This statement is flawed; unless the government was forcing an individual to live in a certain place, they were not a victim of transportation alternatives. The individual likely knew the risks when they moved to the area, if the risks exceed the benefits the individual will move to a new place. This is economic liberty in action. Perhaps Lindsay is implying that there are negative externalities. This cannot be the case, however, as the housing market is never at equilibrium; people are constantly moving, there is never a static model. The cost (if there was one) cannot ever be internalized. Therefore there is negative externality. One of Lindsay’s sources commented that urban planners wished to stop, “the causes of causes of death.” Urban planners by this admission want to guess the causes that might cause death in the future. This is not only impossible, but also, another Baptist and Bootleggers scheme. Obviously, Lindsay and his urban planning friends advocate a command control economy and government. Only through a command control economy could they successfully establish and prohibit what they wish, in effect killing private liberty.


1 comment:

Larry Eubanks said...

The negative externality issue is not answered by suggesting the housing market never achieves a locational equilibrium.

Rather we should note that efficiency is a property of equilibrium. So, the question is whether the locational equilibrium in our conceptual analysis involving a negative externality would still includes a marginal external cost or if the adjustment that would take place to reach the locational equilibrium would have internalized the marginal external cost. I have suggested that it seems to me in each of the cases we've considered that the otherwise external costs in a static model do become internalized in a locational equilibrium.