Kunstler On The Long Emergency and New Orleans

Will New Orleans and the devastated region around it be rebuilt on the hollow premise of cheap oil and suburban sprawl?
September 9, 2005, 7am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"The dirty secret of the American economy for at least a decade now is that it has come to be based on the creation of suburban sprawl and the activities associated with it -- the building of cul-de-sac McMansions, highway retail pods, car sales, real estate sales, the creation of false liquidity in the form of easy mortgages and the deployment of that debt into tradable instruments. The sprawl-building industry comprises over 40 percent of what we do in this country. If you subtract it from the U.S. economy, there isn't much left besides hair cutting and open heart surgery.

...Much of the stuff just outside New Orleans, and along the Gulf Coast, was largely post-war suburban fabric -- housing subdivisions, collector boulevards with their complements of fry pits, malls, muffler shops and big box out-parcels. We'd hope that the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana will not undertake to rebuild them they way they were. But the existing template reflects a pattern of property ownership that is not easily changed. The New Urbanists have a good record of retrofitting some of these things. For instance they have had some success in turning "dead" malls into mixed use town centers. But some of this stuff, in particular single-family housing developments, do not lend themselves very well to reform."

Thanks to AlterNet Headlines

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Published on Thursday, September 8, 2005 in AlterNet
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