18 December 2007

Freakonomics Quorum

Some interesting quotes at Freakonomics site. The discussion was triggered by an announcement that more than 50% of the world population is now considered urban.

Edward Glaeser
… cities remain important because they create the intellectual connections that forge human capital and spur innovation.

…Humans are a social species, and our greatest achievements are all collaborative. Cities are machines for making collaboration easier. Thus, I am delighted that our planet has become increasingly urban.

Robert Bruegmann
… public authorities have once again tried to slow or halt the process, now pejoratively called “sprawl,” often with the explicit aim of preserving the distinction between the urban and the rural. This effort is likely to be just as futile as the effort to stop people from moving into the cities….

Dolores Hayden:
… we are a predominantly suburban nation. After almost two centuries of peripheral urban growth, American suburbs have overwhelmed the centers of cities, creating urban regions largely formed of suburban parts. …..” It is urban society trying to eat its cake and keep it, too.”
… government has encouraged green field development on raw land outside of urban centers, usually through tax subsidies rather than direct spending. These incentives account for extended metropolitan expansion promoted by “growth machines” — alliances of bankers, developers, and business leaders profiting from hidden federal subsidies for suburban development. Excessive green field growth lies behind the national energy shortage and the mortgage crisis. Using federal incentives to constantly expand urban peripheries with commercial and residential development has had serious consequences. Reliance on imported oil, pursuit of war in the Middle East, and the credit crunch shaking Wall Street suggest that wise patterns of urban land use are more important to economic well-being than many Americans recognize.

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