Tuesday, August 11, 2009

coming home to roost



Kunstler | For decades we measured the health of our economy (and therefore of our society) by the number of "housing starts" recorded month-to-month. For decades, this translated into the number of suburban tract houses being built in the asteroid belts of our towns and cities. When housing starts were up, the simple-minded declared that things were good; when down, bad. What this view failed to consider was that all these suburban houses added up to a living arrangement with no future. That's what we were so busy actually doing. Which is why I refer to this monumentally unwise investment as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.

Even this interpretation -- severe as it is -- does not encompass the sheer damage done by the act itself, on-the-ground and to our social and cultural relations. Suburbia destroyed the magnificent American landscape as effectively as it destroyed the social development of children, the worth of public space, the quality of civic life, and each person's ability to really care about the place they called home.

The week past, some so-called "conservative" political action groups (read: brownshirts pimped by corporate medical interests) trumped up a few incidents of civil unrest at "town meetings" around the country, ostensibly to counter health care reform ideas. The people behind these capers may be playing with dynamite. It's one thing to yell at a congressman over "single payer" abstractions. It'll be another thing when the dispossessed and repossessed Palin worshippers, Nascar morons, and Jesus Jokers haul the ordnance out of their closets and start tossing Molotov cocktails into the First National Bank of Chiggerville.