Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Cul de Sac Syndrome: John Wasik's slap of reality

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.


Anonymous said...

I love the Moe and Three Stooges imagery. Pretty accurate. Ecology's always been the answer, but we want to do things the hard way.

Anonymous said...

...yet I still have my wasteful "McMansion" we can barely afford, about 20 miles from any well-planned spaces.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris-you left somne crap behind in your inimitable driveby commenting over on the TigerHawk. I thought I could clean it up and leave it here and we would all have an Internet good time about being outrageous.

Turns out to be really hard to edit your stream of consciousness ad hominem garbage. Who knew?

Anyway, below, we have a semi-cleaned up version of the nonsense you drop and then never come back to defend. I'd have done better with it all, but in my defense, you're a complete buffoon and therefore hard to parody.

"So the analog would be you putting some racist dickhead like Al Sharpton up to holler about how the American dream excludes blacks. Compelling. LOL

But I leave you with this, as I applaud the new Black Panther/rallying cries not heard since the Obama Justice department issued a politically motivated pardony(and billyclubs slung in proud stupidity at elections) and liberal pols just shrug:

"I want MY America back."

I guess Wasik wants his America back. Maybe take back Woodstock--or us? Then we could re-live Freedom Summer. Nice try. >>>>

Pebbles Flintstone said...

Wow--who was that scumbag who left that message.

Anyway, I would love to get this book as long as there are options for fixing this mess presented. Will check on Amazon. Thx!

Derek said...

Bwa hahahaha. "Anonymous @10:29pm" is such a scholar. And too much of a pussy to leave his real name. You must have hit a cracker nerve!

I'm sure he was one of the people who caused or profited from the clusterf*%k described in your book review.

Osiris said...

10:29 is the same troll who leaves nasty comments after each one of Nat's posts.

Not sure what his(her?) agenda is...

Anonymous said...

Maybe go by and see how Nat treats other folks blogs one time-the message is a direct adaptation of what he left on tigerhawk. In short, he dishes it out plenty.

As for being anon, yeah, it's a bitch move. Then again, if Nat had any respect for others, maybe he'd get some in return. You can bet that I'll be back, cuttin' and a-pasting the good professor's own words back to him. Cause I'm just that bored and that tired of Chambers' routine

Lisa said...

Perhaps if you'd listen to the admonition in the last part of the book review, Nat wouldn't have to school you all. Just a thought?

Yes, you are a bitch. What are you afraid of?

Snowman said...

Interesting and thoughtful review. I will consider the book. The sustainability-ecological lynchpin is something with which I usually don't agree but I'm curious to see how this applies to the crisis.

Anonymous said...

from Joseph Corso, UM-CP

Mr. Chambers does Wasik actually work for Bloomberg or is he freelance? Is there a link to his website or a speaker's bureau?

Anonymous said...


Nat lives to troll in other parts of the Net and now he sees what it's like.

Is it boring and stupid? You bet. Am I going to keep it up for as long as he does? Absolutely.

Anonymous said...

SoCal 82Tiger Says:

So another writer tries to tell us how wrong and selfish we are for wanting the “American Dream”? I am forever suspicious of people, organizations, or countries for that matter, who after getting theirs set out to tell everyone else they can’t have or pursue the same!

Desire and consume as I say not as I do or I’ve done is a ridiculous, elitist, and I might add slightly racist way to condescend down to others trying to climb up the ladder….

It’s easy to pat yourself on the back for finding your new found principles when the pain it causes you is minimal – Try telling the same to the millions of people here and in other countries still trying to make a better life for themselves.

When those of means who are talking down to the masses give up what they’ve got and stop trying to confabulate absurd rationalizations to permit there own continued bad behavior, then I will begin to take their pontifications more seriously… Until then developing secular penitence programs such as “carbon credit” indulgences just doesn’t make the grade…

Hate to say it but I got to admire some one like Ed Begley Jr. who seems determined to walk the walk, talk the talk, and lead by example – When is the rest of Hollywood, and Washington while I’m on my rant going to do the same???

Christopher Chambers said...


Buy the book and THEN give me an opinion lol

Genevieve said...

I am a new reader of your commentary, and I have to say this is a very thoughtful commentary and good recommendation.

As for Anon@10:29 -- get a life! You sound like the big farting playground bully that no one wants to play with. If you are going to criticize, be constructive, not wimpy.

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