Cities for People—or Cars? | The American Conservative

Some good notes from the American Conservative:

Auto-based development patterns follow a now familiar cycle of growth, stagnation, and then rapid decline. During the growth phase, when everything is shiny and new, the affluent move in and enjoy the prosperity of a place on the rise. But as those random failures emerge and things start to decline, those with the means to move on tend to do so, leaving behind cities of dwindling wealth. As the decline steepens, local governments borrow money in the hopes that their revenue problems are simply a temporary cash-flow crunch. The result over decades, however, is an insolvent city with huge debts serving an impoverished population poorly situated to bear the financial burdens of an auto-dependent existence.

Source: Cities for People—or Cars? | The American Conservative

Los Angeles’s Great Flood by Rory Cohen, City Journal 15 August 2014

‘Fixing L.A.’s century-old water pipes, according to DWP officials, could take 300 years. “That’s probably longer than we would like it to be and we will be looking at all of our infrastructure, in light of this incident,’ DWP Senior Assistant General Manager Jim McDaniel said at a news conference.”

via Los Angeles's Great Flood by Rory Cohen, City Journal 15 August 2014.

Orem bows out of Macquarie UTOPIA proposal | Deseret News

Well, I have a few comments. First, I think the main reason this got voted down is the same reason Obama was re-elected; people made opinions without a solid understanding of the facts. This decision is foolish and short-sighted. The Macquarie deal is likely the best offer we could have expected. I believe that from this point the network will go dark, wasted. Where there is no vision, the people perish.

The principal objections seemed to be as follows:

Objection – Internet infrastructure isn’t the proper role of government.

Response – Infrastructure is EXACTLY the role of local governments and has been time out of mind. Sewers, streets, power lines, etc. are provided by municipalities, paid for by taxes in almost every case. There may be public-private partnerships, such as trash collection or power generation over the city’s wires, but the infrastructure is the role of local government. I think this misunderstanding comes from a very simplistic application of national politics at the local level.

Objection – Internet technology gets obsolete so quickly. This network will be obsolete before the commitment expires.

Response – While technology changes rapidly, the infrastructure does not. The copper wires we get our internet on right now are very old technology. We have the internet speeds we have now because technology advanced to take the most advantage of coax and telephone lines. The top end for copper is close, though. Fiber has much higher throughput and we can expect similar long-term usefulness of a fiber backbone as technology improves.

Objection – We can do this with wireless technologies.

Response – While there have been advances in bandwidth over the air, the very fastest wireless technologies are 1/20th the speed of the slowest fiber connections. Wireless is inefficient and notoriously bad at handling both high throughput and high traffic (multiple users connecting to the same access point). Fiber is a better solution in the long term.

Objection – Internet access is not a basic service.

Response – This is 2014. Access to the Internet is a gateway to education, enterprise, and community like we’ve never seen in this world. A fiber backbone can handle phone and television as well as data, for less cost than over copper. I challenge anyone who thinks that our poor don’t need internet access to go to the Orem Library and watch who is using the computers there. This is a basic service and only a Luddite would deny it to the poor in our city.

Here’s the quote and link from the Deseret News:

Members of the Orem City Council voted 6-1 to reject an offer by Australia-based Macquarie Capital Group, which would see the firm assume management of the embattled UTOPIA fiber optic network for 30 years in exchange for a monthly fee of initially $18 to $20 levied against all residents.

via Orem bows out of Macquarie UTOPIA proposal | Deseret News.

President Rand Paul: What would happen if the Tea Party controlled American government.

Deep divisions notwithstanding, there are a number of principles that unite the movement. The most important of them is a devotion to subsidiarity, which holds that power should rest as close to ordinary people as possible. In practice, this leads Tea Party conservatives to favor voluntary cooperation among free individuals over local government, local government over state government, and state government over the federal government. Teatopia would in some respects look much like our own America, only the contrasts would be heightened. California and New York, with their dense populations and liberal electorates, would have even bigger state governments that provide universal pre-K, a public option for health insurance, and generous funding for mass transit. They might even have their own immigration policies, which would be more welcoming toward immigrants than the policies the country as a whole would accept.

More conservative states, meanwhile, would compete to go furthest and fastest in abandoning industrial-era government. Traditional urban school districts would become charter districts, in which district officials would provide limited oversight while autonomous networks of charter schools would make the decisions about how schools are run day-to-day. Parents would be given K–12 spending accounts, which could be spent on the services provided by local public schools and on a range of other educational services, from online tutoring to apprenticeships designed to provide young people with marketable skills.

via President Rand Paul: What would happen if the Tea Party controlled American government..

Forget the Cellphone Fight — We Should Be Allowed to Unlock Everything We Own | Wired Opinion |

While Congress is working on legislation to re-legalize cellphone unlocking, let’s acknowledge the real issue: The copyright laws that made unlocking illegal in the first place. Who owns our stuff? The answer used to be obvious. Now, with electronics integrated into just about everything we buy, the answer has changed.

We live in a digital age, and even the physical goods we buy are complex. Copyright is impacting more people than ever before because the line between hardware and software, physical and digital has blurred.

The issue goes beyond cellphone unlocking, because once we buy an object — any object — we should own it. We should be able to lift the hood, unlock it, modify it, repair it … without asking for permission from the manufacturer.

But we really don’t own our stuff anymore (at least not fully); the manufacturers do. Because modifying modern objects requires access to information: code, service manuals, error codes, and diagnostic tools. Modern cars are part horsepower, part high-powered computer. Microwave ovens are a combination of plastic and microcode. Silicon permeates and powers almost everything we own.

via Forget the Cellphone Fight — We Should Be Allowed to Unlock Everything We Own | Wired Opinion |

Privatize Airport Security « Commentary Magazine

Rather than use sequestration to trim waste, the Obama administration has viewed the deadline—and the Republican desire to curtail spending—as an assault on big government. If it’s a choice between defending big government and hurting the individual, President Obama appears much more inclined to punish the individual, hoping that a backlash against government-instigated inconvenience will lead Republicans to cave.

via Privatize Airport Security « Commentary Magazine.

Op-Ed: How to end overcriminalization |

Take Eddie Leroy Anderson, a retired logger from Idaho whose only crime was loaning his son “some tools to dig for arrowheads near a favorite campground of theirs,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Anderson and his son found no arrowheads, but because they were unknowingly on federal land at the time they were judged to be in violation of an obscure Carter-era law called the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

The government showed no mercy. Wendy Olson, the Obama appointee prosecuting the case, saw to it that father and son were fined $1,500 apiece and each sentenced to a year’s probation. “Folks do need to pay attention to where they are,” she said.

Statutory law in America has expanded to the point that government’s primary activity is no longer to protect, preserve and defend our lives, liberty and property, but rather to stalk and entrap normal American citizens doing everyday things.

After identifying three federal offenses in the U.S. Constitution — treason, piracy and counterfeiting — the federal government left most matters of law enforcement to the states. By the time President Obama took office in 2009, however, there were more than 4,500 federal criminal statutes on the books.

“Too many people in Washington seem to think that the more laws Congress enacts, the better the job performance of the policymakers,” Lynch notes. “That’s twisted.”

via Op-Ed: How to end overcriminalization |

Why the Choice to Be Childless is Bad for America – Newsweek and The Daily Beast

“I like seeing people with their children, because they have their special bond, and that’s really sweet, but it’s not something I look at for myself,” says Tiffany Jordan, a lively 30-year-old freelance wardrobe stylist who lives in Queens in a rent-stabilized apartment and dates a man who “practically lives there.”

Jordan and her friends are part of a rising tide. Postfamilial America is in ascendancy as the fertility rate among women has plummeted, since the 2008 economic crisis and the Great Recession that followed, to its lowest level since reliable numbers were first kept in 1920. That downturn has put the U.S. fertility rate increasingly in line with those in other developed economies—suggesting that even if the economy rebounds, the birthrate may not. For many individual women considering their own lives and careers, children have become a choice, rather than an inevitable milestone—and one that comes with more costs than benefits.

“I don’t know if that’s selfish,” says Jordan, the daughter of an Ecuadoran and an Ohioan who grew up in the South Bronx, explaining her reasons for a decision increasingly common among women across the developed world, where more than half of the world’s population is now reproducing at below the replacement rate. “I feel like my life is not stable enough, and I don’t think I necessarily want it to be … Kids, they change your entire life. That’s the name of the game. And that’s not something I’m interested in doing.”

via Why the Choice to Be Childless is Bad for America – Newsweek and The Daily Beast.