Here is the second end-of-summer recommended read from Nat. Please enjoy and cogitate on John Wasik's The Cul de Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream. Buy it here.
John Wasik, financial columnist for Bloomberg News, is like "Moe" in the "Three Stooges." He's lined us all up, and I do mean all of us, and engaged in one looooooooong slap. But unlike Moe, he gives us options after "Curly" does his signature bark and whine.
Regard: "One of the primary causes of the housing bust was that homes cost too much to begin with, forcing Americans to take desparate measures--getting subprime loans, lying on loan applications--to secure financing. Everyone, from the southern Californian desparate for a tiny starter home to Wall Street billionaires, was complicit in the crisis."
But according to Wasik, there's a another more troubling layer under even that nasty loam: our fairytale notion of the American Dream. The Cul de Sac Syndrome. The fairy tale becomes nightmare: of sprawl, traffic, pollution, land use decision based on politics, sucking up natural resources, emotional (and intellectual) detachment, de facto race/class segregation, mindless NIMBY-ism. To Wasik, it's about ecology. That's not moonbat environmentalism; ecology means us as humans, too.
This is no screed. Wasik produces a scholarly, expository narrative supported by stats and quotes and non-partisan reasoning. Anyone who isn't a banker, urban planner, architect, environmental engineer, etc. can follow it; even if you disagree, you can nod your head and say "Ok, I see his point." That's all to rare these days (and that's not the fault of authors like Wasik).
The material and data is not dated--it may have been overtaken by other issues, or our own fear, but it's as apt in August 2009 as it was when it went to press this past Spring '09.
As Wasik warns, the future of the American Middle Class, and the planet, is entwined and at stake. Let's not get distracted, or drown ourselves in ignorance & jingoism, as a passive shield against that reality.