Monday, June 01, 2015

Diversity we seldom hear about

There are pedestrian islands in most large (auto-oriented) American cities. Shopping malls are a superb example and why not? Making eye contact, people watching, random encounters are still popular.

I have always enjoyed living in pedestrian friendly parts of West Los Angeles. I walk every day -- and encounter awful sidewalks as well as desperate homeless. There are, of course, less of each in private shopping malls.

But none of this should suggest that walking to work is plausible for any but a small sliver of big-city Americans. David Levinson calls our attention to data on how many jobs are accessible in major American cities via a 30-minute walk.

Studies like this are misleading.  First, not all jobs are interchangeable. Some people have very good reasons for rejecting very accessible jobs. It also appears that walking to work seriously constrains options -- and economic opportunities.

This is all obvious but romantics (locavores) cling to the dream that a car-less/motor-less world is within reach. Consider the cost.

All this leads me to recommending Charles Murray's "The United States of Diversity." Some of his themes are as in his Coming Apart.
It is difficult to exaggerate how different life is in a city of a million people or more and in a small city or town. I don’t mean that people in big cities lack friends or even that they cannot have an important a sense of community in their neighborhood. I refer instead to differences in quotidian culture that bear on the nature of the role of government.
Many from America's elite know very little about all this. They do know a little bit about the big cities where they may live but give little thought to the America they do not see. The America that they do see is beset with "problems" that are amenable to the "programs" elites love -- and love to run.  Thank you, Charles Murray.