Subsidized Indulgence

This guy’s indignation really hit a nerve for me:

There is a bike crisis. Every pole in the neighborhood is littered with them. … These Yuppies are running [sic] the whole damn city, and I’m left to my own devices.

How did our culture get to this point, where using an affordable, easy-to-service machine to commute about is for the “Yuppie” bourgeois and Real Americans use their disposable income to transport themselves in comfort using expensive, wasteful, complicated machines that insulate them from the public? It doesn’t take Steven Levitt to see that government subsidy of automotive infrastructure has encouraged this upside-down view, or the self-fulfilling prophecies that urban density (and public transportation) are for the “limousine” elites or the “inner city” poor. Joe the Plumber has a country house, just like Louis XIV.

Joe also eats a lot of meat, which Uncle Sam also hides the actual financial cost of, to say nothing of the social/ethical, public health, or environmental costs.

Americans like their cars and their hamburgers, but it’s unwise to continue voting ourselves this largesse from the public treasury. The Gosplan, at least, made an effort to rationalize their unsustainable market distortion.

But Joe the Plumber would probably call me a (carless, urban, vegetarian) socialist because I believe government has a role in protecting the commons from externalities in education, conservation, and healthcare.

I posted this in August 2010 during week 1901.

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