Politics & Media
Feb 11, 2009, 06:00AM

Fisking the progressives' environmental legacy

The history of government and the subsidizing of road construction is a bit more tangled than one might imagine.

And it goes all the way back to Teddy:

Theodore Roosevelt might be more commonly remembered for his conservationist work, but it’s important for people today to remember the unforeseen consequences of the progressives’ other grand plans. The “good roads” path that he helped put America on has shown itself to be an enabler of global climate change, encouraging Americans to live farther apart, travel farther each day, have bigger houses, and fill those houses with more things. The common telling of the roading of America is that it oiled the gears of commerce and is an integral part of the “American dream,” but it’s impossible to know what sort of advances in mass transit technology would have come about and how we’d be living had the government not favored the automobile and the truck over the streetcar and the train. Theodore Roosevelt’s conservationist efforts are indeed praiseworthy, but might both the environment and the economy be in better shape today had the progressives not interrupted the rail-based urbanization of turn-of-the-century America and put us on the car-based sprawling sub- and exurbanization that characterizes America today?


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